REVIEW: KFC E.A.V.I. METAL Phase 11: A Stratotanker (part 3)

It’s been an entertaining and at times colourful journey through the world of third party Masterpiece-styled Decepticons triple changers, but at last, we’re at the end. All that’s left is to take a look at the final member of our troupe in robot mode, so let’s turn the spotlight onto KFC’s Stratotanker once more.

So far it’s been a bit of a mixed bag in all honesty, as although things began well enough with a very decent tanker form, the first transformation brought with it some quibbles, and the resulting jet mode was found a bit wanting in at least a couple of regards, too.

I mean, I could easily forgive a few compromises along the way – the very nature of requiring a toy like this to go through multiple distinct modes, all of them discernibly recognisable to the source material, is asking quite a bit after all. However, in this case, there were misaligned panels and other elements not fitting as they should, which is always a bit unfortunate to see.

Still, there’s been some fun to be had too, and I say that as someone who definitely knew what they were letting themselves in for with this release. After all, as I’ve mentioned in previous parts of this review, it’s not my first attempt at reviewing Stratotanker either, although I had hoped that this retail copy might fair a little better than the test shot version I originally appraised in 2017.

By and large, I’d say that’s been the case, despite the faults I have observed thus far – at least nothing has broken on me this time, eh? Still, it remains a remarkably fiddly and rather overly complex design, as evidenced by the final transformation to robot mode. There are at least a few moments, such as the way the backpack folds round into place, that defy all logic and will almost certainly require reference on repeat attempts in order to get it right.

That level of effort can be acceptable if the final result feels truly worthy of it, but how does Stratotanker measure up in this case? Well, there’s definitely some good and some bad about the robot mode, which at the very least is a decent approximation of the character’s appearance from the cartoon, if indeed that’s the standard required for your collection.

After all, all of the right cues are in place and the general shape, proportions and aesthetic are on point. I don’t know how much anyone is clamouring for a truly cartoon-accurate take on the character but there’s little doubt that this guy makes all the right noises in that regard, although as the only contender doing so on the market, he kind of wins by default, I suppose!

Keeping on with the positives for the moment, the colour scheme is generally fine, if perhaps a little unremarkable in a way. I would have liked a little pop of colour here or there, especially as the unpainted purple on the arms and feet looks a wee bit drab somehow, but still, it’s a fair stab at bringing the animation to life.

He also makes for a very distinctive shape in your Decepticon ranks, with that incredible wingspan being the most obvious talking point of all. There is no way to collapse or shrink down the wings so you’ll have to find a way to work with them as best you can given how unwieldy they can be at times, but again, it’s one of those things where it did look like that in the cartoon, so box ticked.

I’d also be lying if I said that Stratotanker didn’t at least have some element of presence going for him in robot mode. There are some definite compromises to be seen here, all of which we’ll get to in just a moment, but despite that I did find some fun taking photos of him along the way.

The thing is though, there’s just something a little… uninspiring about this toy. It’s hard to pinpoint, but it just feels a little devoid of life somehow, like it very mechanically gets all of the details correct without really imbuing the overall result with any sense of the character in question.

And yes, it’s not like Octane was ever all that prominent or fleshed out in the cartoon, but he did still have a definite sense of personality along the way, and I don’t quite get that coming across here. I think it doesn’t help that the headsculpt feels entirely generic, with a very lacklustre face and a set of oddly-pouty lips. The red eyes do look good when they catch the light but it’s not quite enough to get me excited in this case.

As for the rest of the body, it can’t help but both look and feel a bit over-engineered in places, particularly with so many obvious joints, screws and other mechanisms on full display. Again, I make allowances for the fact that Stratotanker is a complicated beast by its very nature of needing to contort into three distinct modes, but there’s a busyness to the design that can’t help but take off some of the sheen of the overall appearance.

That’s most apparent in the legs, which looks incredibly fussy from all angles, but also in how the panels bringing the arms up into place sit on the sides of the body. It all clips together nicely and forms about as tidily as you could expect, but I can’t help but feel that the result could have been made a little more pleasing on the eye somehow.

It then doesn’t help that the toy isn’t much fun to articulate or pose, either, never feeling particularly all that solid or stable at any point. Drab looks is one thing, but I feel like some figures can overcome that if the experience of fiddling around with them proves to be enjoyable. In this case, it can be a little cumbersome, unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nowhere near as frustrating as Ditka (who, as we previously ascertained, refuses to stand up properly!), but still there are some grumbles worth mentioning. For one thing, the way the ankles connect to the bottom of the legs feels very flimsy and looks a bit unnatural, yet the feet are also fiddly to get sitting at the correct angle for a flat surface. There’s then a lot of give in joints such as the hips and knees, as evidenced by picking Stratotanker up and giving him a little wobble to see how much he jiggles around, which makes him feel like he’s going to give way in certain poses.

The arms at least felt a bit tighter to begin with, although annoyingly they loosen off quite a bit over time as you’re posing him, meaning that having a screwdriver on hand to firm up the elbows a bit is going to be essential. That’s not really what you want.

That’s compounded a bit once you add his accessories on, of course, with the gun proving just a bit too heavy for the arms to hold up on occasion. Still, a quick twist and it should sit stably enough, with a little light-up gimmick providing some entertainment on the way. I quite like the riot shield accessory thingy too.

So, I don’t know, it’s not really an auspicious experience, taking everything into account. Yet, as I already mentioned, there is still some fun to be had with seeing the character of Octane brought to life in such faithful form, especially as one expects it might be a good long while before another attempt, assuming that will even come to pass.

After all, it’s not like he’s top tier fare with plenty of fans clamouring for him in their collection. This is a relatively niche product in many ways, so perhaps we should feel a little happy that it exists to begin with. It’s just a shame there’s a flavour of ‘box ticking’ to the proceedings, more than anything.

That said, if you are in the market for him, then Stratotanker definitely does fill the spot next to other similarly-styled toys.

There’s little doubt to my eye that this isn’t a product in the same league as stuff from TakaraTomy or even FansToys though, so I guess just be aware of what you’re letting yourself in for.

I will say that if all you’re really wanting is to fill a spot on a roster, then I think you could do worse, honestly. I’ve at least enjoyed him more this time around than previously, and maybe that’s because I tempered my expectations a little going in.

So, it’s a bit of a deflated note to end our little tour of 3PMP Decepticon triple changers on, maybe, but still, it’s been fun to check out each of these releases in turn and see what they have to offer.

They’re all hugely complicated designs in their way, but the differences between them are what really strike me. Whereas FansToys Thomas still manages to remain on the enjoyable side overall (at least as far as my experience goes), stuff like Stratotanker definitely errs into the arena of frustration.

For now though, or at least until FansToys finally gets around to completing characters such as Blitzwing, this is about as good as it gets, at least in terms of cartoon accurate representations. A triple threat indeed.

WHAT’S HOT? Really like the tanker mode and the way the cab can disconnect is cool.

WHAT’S NOT? The jet mode is hugely average and the robot mode is a bit drab, with weird engineering and iffy joints in places.


About Sixo

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


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