REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase 11: A Stratotanker (part 1)

If you’ve already seen the corresponding first parts of my FansToys Thomas and KFC Ditka write-ups, then you might have noticed I’m on a bit of a Decepticon triple changer kick right now. And why not, eh? After all, the multi-converting misfits remain some of the most endearing bad guy designs in the Transformers franchise, even till this day.

After all, there’s not much that’s quite as cool as stuff like Blitzwing or Astrotrain, is there? A tank that’s also a jet? Amazing. A locomotive that’s also a space shuttle? Sign me up. Oh yeah, and then of course there’s the other one, isn’t there. Wassisname.

I jest, of course. I’m sure a lot of people still know who Octane is (do they?), although joking aside it is only fair to attest that his star doesn’t shine nearly as bright as the other two still. I’m sure a lot of that was down to him originally missing out on the cartoon’s second season, despite his original 1986 toy appearing at the same time as those of his triple-changing colleagues.

But even besides all that, I’d wager that he’s still just not as inherently epic as the other two, either. He’s certainly quite novel, especially in the world of Decepticons, as both his fuel tanker and his Boeing 767 alternate forms are unique to my mind, but still neither of them have the same instant appeal as what the other lads have to offer, somehow. I mean, I had the original toy as a kid and even I was a bit non-plussed when he did eventually show up in the cartoon’s third season.

And really, I guess it’s that lack of “cool bad guy” presence than means we’re not exactly inundated with attempts to replicate this character in Masterpiece form. Sure, everyone would like a Blitz’ or an Astro’ for their shelf, but Octane? He’s a little D-list in many ways. All of which makes KFC’s Stratotanker here one of only two real contenders for the slot, should you actually be looking to see this guy realised in your collection.

Actually, I’ll go one further – depending on your aesthetic preferences, Stratotanker could well be considered *the* option. After all, his main rival, Unique Toys Provider, is definitely a more stylised affair, eschewing the cartoon look quite considerably in a way that some fans just won’t make do with. That’s not me saying it’s not a good choice by any means (I’ve heard good things, actually), just that if you want a cartoon-accurate Octane, this is really your only possibility right now.

Which is probably why I’ve ended up writing all of this to begin with, in all honesty. You see, I actually have reviewed Stratotanker before and, let’s be fair, it wasn’t a great experience. In fact, it ended up being amongst the lowest-rated toys reviewed on my original blog, compounded by the fact that the thing up and broke on me halfway through. Never a good experience!

I should mention that it was a test shot that I had in hand at the time, mind, which doesn’t excuse everything but is an important distinction all the same. It also appears as though there are more than a couple of changes that have been made to the final version, so that’s certainly worth taking into account, but why the sudden desire to check him out again after all this time anyway?

Well, as I say, it’s really the fact that no-one else has seen fit to bring us a potentially superior version in the years since, leaving this lad on the table as a bit of a curiosity in my brain. I couldn’t help but wonder how he would have fared if he hadn’t have broken, for starters, so the opportunity to reassess the thing alongside the other Decepticon triple changers was one that seemed appealing, in a rather perverse way, I suppose!

And you know what, I have to say that despite looking forward to this guy the least out of all the three courses on the menu, I’m still struck by that tanker mode, somehow. I feel like I’m going into this review with my eyes open on this figure as a whole, but still I can’t help but admit there’s an instant appeal here.

For one thing, it’s remarkably tidy and looks, at least to my untrained eye, suitably real-world enough to be considered a strong attempt at the alternate form in question. I’d actually go as far as to say there’s a lot to like here.

That’s especially true given some of those changes I’ve observed to the test shot. One comment I made on that version was how it lacked a bit of a nice finish, and whilst there’s still nothing too remarkable in that regard about the retail version, there are now chrome smokestacks and cylinders, as well as a few painted highlights along the way. Small touches, but they all add up to create a bit of a finished feel at least, versus how unpolished the test shot came off in hand.

Most of the changes I’ve observed fall on the cab section, and I’d be hard-pushed to say that KFC haven’t done a good job with it here. It really does have a very strong look on the whole.

There’s even a very cool gimmick whereby you can unclip the cab from the tanker section, leaving the two parts to function independently. It’s a small thing I suppose, but still this is somehow nifty for a design of this kind and not something you can guarantee to be included (such as with several of the recent third party attempts at Motormaster).

As for the tanker section itself, it’s still a bit plain on the whole and the plane mode’s wings are somewhat too obvious down the sides, but I actually do think it works rather well all the same, and I do love that you can stand it without the cab section attached.

In fact it might sound strange, but handling this thing again, I’m feeling a remarkable sense of goodwill towards it, at least so far. I guess maybe I’m saving some of that up in the knowledge that this is, in many ways, the strongest mode on offer from this figure, but still, it’s a decent first impression for now.

Perhaps the only real oddity about it is how teeny it is, then. I feel like I say this all the time (probably because I do!) but of course vehicle mode scaling doesn’t apply to Masterpiece (and by extension 3PMP) toys, but still some collectors may find that Stratotanker looks a bit too small for their tastes.

That’s particularly true next to most of the Masterpiece-scaled car forms that you’ll find, but still I think there’s an appeal here nonetheless.

And besides, he does offer something a bit different to the usual assault of war toys, as I already mentioned, eh? In a sea of tanks, jets and whatever else, it’s somehow interesting to make room for the odd oil tanker, after all.

Maybe I was too harsh on Octane before then. Perhaps he does bring an innate sense of cool all of his own somehow. I mean, he certainly makes a good case for that when lined up next to the likes of FansToys Thomas. He may lack the sparkly finish of the rival company’s product, but still I think they work surprisingly well together here.

The same is no doubt true with Ditka, although I was astonished to see that this is perhaps the first time I’ve actually taken photos of the two of them together! I have to say it works for me pretty well, and though I stand by every word I’ve written about both of these toys in the past, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t enjoyed the chance to take a fresh perspective on them again today.

Really then, round one of this whole endeavour has proven to be a bit of a success on my part. I’ve been a little apprehensive about having Stratotanker in hand once again, but seeing the three of these toys lined up together, well, there’s definitely an appeal to it, let’s say that for now.

The real test begins next time though, as we’ll be getting Stratotanker transformed up into his second alternate form to see if it’s as good as this, or if it’s just a little plane.

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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