We’re back for the second half of an extended look at Ocular Max Saltus! In case you skipped part 1, we ascertained that this lad put out a decent showing in his vehicles modes, despite the helicopter form clearly being the better option on the whole. Well, now it’s time to get him transformed up into robot form, where I’m pleased to say it just keeps getting better and better!
Like the process to get between the two alternate forms, the conversion to robot is a fluid affair on the whole, and can actually be achieved with minimal time and effort once you know what you’re doing. I’m a particular fan of how the legs come into play, especially as this has to be the most simple yet surprisingly effective solution I’ve seen on any of the many 3PMP Springers thus far! Getting the sides of the chest tabbed in is a touch more fiddly but tabs solidly once you get it, and the arms shouldn’t present any challenge at all. It’s actually incredible to see just how streamlined this whole affair is, especially with the result you get.
Phwoar! That’s all I can say. This chap is hot, hot, hot, and instantly recalls to life the character as we know him from the cartoon.
The 1986 movie designs are well-known for being some seemingly impossible renditions when it comes to how the robots are meant to look versus the toys at the time, and even a lot of modern takes have often struggled to achieve the right sense of cleanliness and curvature that feels so inherent to their appeal. Springer is perhaps a great example of that, as somehow two alternate forms worth of stuff is supposed to fold away into virtually nothing and give you an athletic and non-compromised robot form. Let me just say that rarely has it been achieved as well as this.
That’s not to say there isn’t some bumpf on the back side, mind, but even then it’s all handled pretty well in my opinion. Arguably the shoulder pad sections look the “messiest” in terms of design when it comes to this rear view, but even then it’s really something that you’d have to go looking for to be considered an actual flaw.
From the front? It’s about as close to perfection as I honestly think you’re going to find. He immediately makes a fine impression as soon as you transform him up, but it’s only solidified once you start to examine him closer. Case in point, the elbows. Now, I should be upfront and clarify at this stage that I’ve unfortunately neglected to tab in the elbows properly on a few of the photos here, such as the one above, but if anything it’s a great opportunity to highlight some of the excellent touches found in this design. There’s actually a small joint that connects inside the elbow itself purely to make sure they look “filled in” during posing, which is something that Ocular Max most definitely did not need to do, but they added it in anyway purely because they presumably knew it would make his appearance even better. That’s an attention-to-detail that other third parties should be taking note of.
And hey, it just gets more impressive from there, as once you pick this guy up and start posing him, the real fun begins. He’s about as dynamic a ‘bot as I can think of right now, so much so that he honestly puts a lot of other unofficial efforts to shame.
Seriously, the range of articulation on offer here is just excellent, with a lot of subtle touches involved to give him a real sense of fluidity overall. Stuff like butterflied shoulders and outwards ankle tilt are above-and-beyond what you find on a lot of 3PMP examples, so it makes this guy seem even more fun to pose as a result. It’s one of the more “lifelike” efforts I’ve seen in terms of how he can contort.
He can achieve all the old classics – the superhero landing, the kneel, the run – without any worries whatsoever. But it’s more than just that – it’s all exceptionally easy to crank out and he looks great whilst doing it too!
Oh and yes, he *does* have an ab crunch, something I erroneously claimed to the contrary in my recent Unboxing effort. I mean, he was still fun to pose without it, but with? Get outta here.
What is less successful, sadly, are some of the joints. He absolutely can hold all of the many magnificent poses that you see demonstrated here, but there’s no doubt a bit of give in some areas too. It’s mostly in the legs, where the complete absence of ratchets is both a blessing and a curse.
I say that because I do really like the less rigid feeling that comes from not having to notch his joints into place, and it does allow for a real sense of expressiveness when messing around with him, yet it’s really not ideal in terms of holding a stance steadfastly. The ankles are probably the worst offender for me, as there’s definitely at least a little wobble going on.
There’s a bit of that elsewhere too, including in the arms, but as I say he can hold well enough in spite of it all. He doesn’t have that rock solid feel that maybe would have been preferable, but he’s still a joy to pose, in my experience.
A large part of that fun comes down to his accessories, too. The sword is an accompaniment that will be forever intertwined with the idea of this character, and Saltus more than brings the goods in that department. In fact, he wields it like a champ!
It tabs in very solidly to either hand, but I particularly love how he can appear to grip it with both. There’s really no end to how creative you can get when posing him with the thing, and somehow it never fails to look pretty amazing!
Seriously. Just look at him.
So yes, *that’s* how you do a nice Springer wielding a sword, I’d say. In that regard he’s definitely the best of the 3PMP options thus far, in my book.
He’s no slouch with his rifle either, mind, and somehow manages to look equally as dynamic.
Seriously, I could just pose this guy and take pictures of him *all day*.
What. A. Lad.
Ahem, ok. So there really is a veritable ton of fun to be had with just playing around with Saltus, and yes, he looks rather stunning when armed-up too.
There’s also a recreation of the bomb that Springer is seen using in the 1986 movie, which is really well done on the whole although there’s not really any way for Saltus to actually interact with it. It doesn’t fit into his hand, so you just kind of end up balancing it in place. A decent-enough inclusion though.
What’s way more fun to see is the trident weapon the character uses in the G1 cartoon episode, The Nightmare Planet. It comes packaged in several pieces but quickly tabs together and looks really quite something. Whilst it doesn’t actually tab into his palms he holds it with no problem at all. In fact you may even say he does it “like a boss”.
Look at him go!
Of course, in the episode itself, Springer teams up with Razorclaw to defeat a fantasy dragon. With a little help from the Power of the Primes Decepticon figure, you too can achieve such levels of awesome ridiculousness in toy form!
I have zero idea why this very, very silly moment from the original series resonates so much with me, but honestly, the toy having this accessory is just wonderful.
Anyway, the fun doesn’t stop there, as there’s even a built-in flip-out blaster to be found in both forearms, recreating the equivalent scene from the beginning of the Autobot City battle in the ’86 film. Nice.
Finally, there’s several options available in terms of additional heads. To begin with, the stock head is really rather excellent, and features a set of striking eyes that catch the light really rather well.
I think it also does a brilliant job at capturing Springer himself in all his handsome glory, pulling off the cartoonish characteristics required.
Should you prefer then you can activate his more playful side with this grinning alternative.
It’s one of those that could have been horrendously goofy in the wrong hands, but here it’s an excellent mix of adorable and charming! I really like it.
Finally, there’s this more stylised version, which instead seeks to recreate the character’s classic “Studio Ox” appearance from the pages of Japan’s TV Magazine from the 1980s. It’s a distinct departure from how a lot of fans will imagine him, but it does look pretty good all in its own right.
You can then adjust his shoulder pads to suit, giving Saltus quite a varied appearance on the whole. I don’t think it looks quite as tidy as the more cartoon-accurate equivalent, but for Studio Ox fans this is a great nod indeed.
So, Saltus certainly brings it in terms of fun and play factor, but he’s also rather fortunately well-made and feels like a quality product too. Aside from my slight grumble on the joints not being ratcheted, there’s a lot to love here as the plastic is solid and there’s even a fair amount of diecast to be found coursing through the figure.
It really all adds up to leave you feeling like this is a very definitive option for the character on the whole, and that’s no small statement when you consider that there are so many other companies all vying for the same space with this guy.
If anything, I think Saltus comes off as most aligned with Open & Play’s Big Spring in terms of how fluid the design is, yet makes huge improvements on that release in terms of the fit and finish used (not to mention the night and day aesthetics achieved with the comparative face sculpts).
I mentioned in my Unboxing vid that I was still making up my mind which was my preferred choice out of this guy and FansToys Apache, but honestly I feel like I may very well be leaning in Ocular Max’s direction. Apache has some advantages, but this guy steals it when it comes to fun, posing, sleekness of design, transformation… it all quickly adds up.
I guess what you ultimately get with Saltus is the best of all worlds. It’s a fun and fluid design, just like Big Spring, but it matches the fit and finish of Apache (all whilst smashing the cartoon accuracy test versus something like Unique Toys Allen). It remains to be seen just what X-Transbots (or indeed anyone else) will eventually cook up with their release, but for now I’d be very hard-pushed to not tell you that Saltus is the best option on the market.
Besides, he also passes another test – he looks nothing shy of marvellous versus a whole roster of MP-styled 1986 ‘bots.
I think this is really where he seals the deal, actually, as once again Ocular Max have nailed that ‘toony look to one of their toys, meaning that he slots in rather perfectly.
There’s just a whole ton of personality shining through from the design, for starters, but they also come the closest to pulling off the required aesthetic on the whole.
I look at him and I can almost hear Neil Ross’ smooth tones just emanating from this thing, honestly.
He also lines up nicely in terms of size and colour, too. Really, it’s hard to argue with how great he looks on all fronts.
At this point, I have to say that I’m throughly excited to see what Ocular Max cook-up next. Between this guy and their Combaticons it’s been nothing but one smash after another, all things considered, and it really does feel like they’ve cemented themselves as one of the top tier third parties for not-Masterpiece ‘bots.
For today though, I can’t really recommend Saltus enough. He’s everything you need to put a spring in your step, after all.
WHAT’S HOT? The robot mode is pure bliss, the transformation is smooth and the helicopter mode is pretty swish too!
WHAT’S NOT? The joints could probably have done with being ratchets and the car mode is a little funky in places.