I must admit, I’m still pinching myself about these Generation 2-inspired Ocular Max ‘Regenesis’ repaints.
After all, the initial set of not-Combaticon toys was so good overall that they have firmly cemented themselves as one of the most enjoyable third-party experiences of the last few years. Up there with the likes of the FansToys Dinobots in my book.
So the fact that we get to come back and do this all over again? Well, I’m not complaining, let’s say that. That they’re being overhauled in uber-vibrant, eye-searing G2 colour schemes? Even better.
Yes, I’ve never made much of a secret of my outright love for all things G2. Whilst the pre-Beast ’90s era of Transformers isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve never wavered in telling anyone who would listen how it’s “good, actually” over the years, nor how its delights extend far beyond the same toys you already know but with whacky new paint jobs. But that’s a story for another time.
What’s been encouraging is that it seems like G2 has undergone a bit of a popularity shift in recent times, almost as if a more general audience has come around on the whole idea at long last. After all, this isn’t the first set of 3P Masterpiece-styled toys to pay homage to it (those FansToys Dinobots did, for one thing!), nor will it be the last, I’m sure. Even the official Generations line is getting in on the act these days, although whether Hasbro will go the whole hog with their Stunticons remains to be seen.
Anyway, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the combination of an already-excellent set of toys being rehashed in one of my favourite repainted colour schemes of that era. Still, in this individual case, one final ingredient makes it a particular recipe for success: Ocular Max Probus, aka the Combaticon known as Brawl, was my outright favourite of the set.
To re-assert why he’s so good, you need to look no further than that outrageously attractive tank mode, which, for my money, stands up as one of the best-looking examples seen in Masterpiece style thus far. We’ve had more than a few of them now – including multiple attempts at characters like Warpath, Blitzwing and yes, even Brawl – but this is just about the peak of them.
Firstly, it’s remarkably tidy, not showing any compromise no matter which angle you look at it from, and boasts a remarkably cohesive finish as a result. True, there’s a slight caveat to that should you remove the rear set of additional cannons, which does reveal some folded-up robot feet there for all to see, but given how integral those are to Brawl’s overall look, the easy solution is to just never remove them, of course. Talk about your non-problems.
There’s then an unprecedented amount of play value to be had here, including a moveable turret and extending barrels and the like, but even little flip-up hatches and additional details, which all add to a feeling of real-world believability here and also give you a little extra something to admire on closer examination. Probus is most certainly both a treat to handle and to admire.
Then we naturally have to mention that new colour scheme, don’t we? I always appreciated the murky brownish-green Ocular Max chose for the original, given how faithfully it recreated the character’s presence from the 1980s cartoon. Yet it could not look more drab when sat next to its Regenesis counterpart. G1 Brawl may be the look most people will opt for in their collection, but there’s little doubt in my mind that the G2 colours make this thing come alive in ways its predecessor can’t quite match, even as lovely as it is!
If anything, the only downside to this mode is that it will eternally be mistaken for G2 Megatron, given they share the same form and colours. Still, as we’ve rather inexplicably yet to see that design tackled in Masterpiece-style either officially or otherwise, this is a true beauty that can currently sit on your shelves free from any such comparison.
Shifting gears into robot mode, Probus remains as straightforward and fun to convert as ever. It’s a relief that so many third-party companies now understand that the transformations on these toys don’t need to be headache-inducing to achieve the desired result and, furthermore, that their core gimmick should retain some element of being enjoyable. This design is an excellent example of that, as it does precisely what is required to make it from A to B; nothing more, nothing less.
It helps that all the various parts glide past one another with grace and ease and eventually click back into their new configuration with the kind of satisfying precision that not every such specimen can claim. It’s been a while since I undertook the process with my original Probus, but at no point did I feel the need for a refresher here, given how intuitive it all feels, so my Regenesis instructions remain firmly sealed for now.
Such a slick process leaves you all the more time to appreciate the exemplary form of the robot mode, which remains as much of a showstopper as its original incarnation. I’ve always been a major fan of Brawl’s cartoon appearance, and this toy design does it more justice than any other I’ve seen over the years, bar none.
Again, it’s quite a departure from the first outing, with Probus 2.0 boasting a severely dialled-up colour palette versus the muted tones we saw before. However, it only serves to make this re-assessment all the more distinct, not to mention enjoyable.
Perhaps the one element of the new colours that is ever-so-slightly lost in the shuffle is the orange on the face, which somehow stood out much more on the original version. New Probus’ head looks every bit as striking as the last, yet the visor and helmet highlights don’t pop quite as much as before, and if anything, are a little less vibrant in contrast to the other bright hues on offer here, making the eyes feel strangely muted.
Still, it’s a minor complaint on what is otherwise a gorgeous toy, now overhauled with the kind of paint job I have to pinch myself to believe. It’s a fantastic take on the vintage 1994 specimen, and once again, for this set, it manages to downright nail the original colour scheme in all its glory. I cannot see another 3PMP version of this character even coming close at this point.
My only other real grumble here is that the right shoulder on my copy is a wee touch loose when positioned out to the side, although I’m equally sure it’s something I could fix if it were to bother me. Aside from that, this is the flawless, top-tier execution you’d expect from an unofficial outfit at the top of its game, and honestly is as much fun to handle as many official toys these days.
All of this means it’s yet another big tick for the Regenesis Combaticons roster as we inevitably make our way towards combining the full Big Man for the second time over with these designs. Knowing what’s to come from my first experience, I must admit I’m enjoying them so much individually that I’m feeling bizarrely indifferent about getting them combined after too long. However, I’ve no doubt I’ll muster plenty of enthusiasm when the time comes.
Again, it also speaks to what an achievement each of these not-Combaticons is on their own merit. Where some combiner teams feel compromised due to their need to eventually smoosh together into a larger form, at least examples such as this manage to sidestep those concerns, by and large. It’s not universally true of the entire team, but Probus is a fantastic example of a toy you could pick up as a one-and-done and never think more of it.
Besides, for someone like me, who refuses to stop championing the cause for more G2 homages, this kind of thing is a true dream come true. It gives me a lot of hope that even if the official Masterpiece line has forgotten about the early ’90s Transformers line-up, the 3P scene will continue to bring the goods, at least every once in a while.
I only pray that Ocular Max continues the trend with their current Protectobot line-up and beyond, but even if that never comes to pass, I am still enjoying the absolute trip that is a full-on Masterpiece-styled set of G2 Combaticons for now. What a time to collect, eh?
This is all to say, if you fancy treating yourself to one of the best 3P designs of the last few years in an outstandingly vibrant new colour scheme, you could do a lot worse than this guy.
WHAT’S HOT? As before, a simply brilliant toy in both modes, now with a gorgeous new G2 colour scheme.
WHAT’S NOT? My copy has an ever-so-slightly loose left shoulder. Not a dealbreaker.