REVIEW: Ocular Max PS-25 Navigant (part 2)

We’re back for the second part of our look at the new Ocular Max offering that isn’t a Combaticon for a change! Yes, it’s Navigant, which is their take on the Protectobot known as Streetwise.

As we ascertained in part 1, we’re already off to a stellar start with that exceptional alternate form, as it presents beautifully and immediately outclasses the current competition in several regards (but more on that in a moment!). Not only that, but as first impressions go, it gives me immediate confidence for the rest of the set to follow and makes me want to assess his comrade, Medicus, with some haste (but more on that very soon!).

For now, though, we still have the rest of Navigant to navigate, which means transforming him into robot mode. I admit I was very hesitant about this process going in on this toy, if only because the equivalent X-Transbots attempt had been such a mare at times. Perhaps Streetwise is just one of those designs doomed to always be over-complicated by its very nature?

Fortunately, I needn’t have worried because Ocular Max has excelled in again finding the correct balance between being satisfyingly complex and yet still repeatable and fun. Their Combaticons trod this delicate road with great results, and based on this initial look, their Protectobots are also off to a flying start.

Much of that is down to how inventive this transformation manages to be without ever feeling like a chore. It has various moments of surprise and even delight, such as the way the windshield folds up to come into place on the chest. Still, any complexity is served up with a side of incredibly graceful engineering and design.

That’s exemplified in the way panels glide into place with the kind of ease and precision that I wish more third-party offerings took notice of, making the entire experience one that you look forward to rather than something to dread. There’s also a sense of logic to it all that feels easily approachable and, dare I say, quite intuitive.

That can be a very overused word when it comes to transformations sometimes, but in this case, it’s fairly applied, given I managed to go through the motions without the need for instructions on my first attempt. If the rest of the set can achieve the same, assembling the combined mode should be a relative breeze.

In any case, it leaves with a robot form that looks remarkably on-point versus the character’s on-screen persona considering the ease with which we arrived here, as well as being rather handsome in its own right. Streetwise was always a quirky-looking ‘bot in many regards, and Navigant somehow manages to capture the essence of that whilst still packing in a decent sense of style.

Firstly, the proportions work well despite oversized forearms and a very pronounced jutting-out chest. Both of those elements are also where this guy deviates a little from the cartoon model, but if you are looking for 100% slavish in the case of Streetwise then you might be seeking the impossible. As it is, this works remarkably well, even if there are just those tiny smidges of aesthetic compromise here and there. I’m not sure you could ask for better, honestly.

Besides, it’s impressive to see just how many of the finer points Ocular Max has got right here. I’m talking niche stuff like the little row of moulded squares atop Navigant’s chest just in front of the neck, which is a direct callback to the cartoon look and only serves to make this guy feel that touch more authentic and accurate. That’s attention to detail.

Beyond that, though, there’s a sense of presence to this guy that ‘feels right’ somehow, or certainly as much as is needed for a comparative B-lister like Streetwise. It evokes the right flavour for the character, and I’m sure it looks ‘close enough’ as far as many collectors will be concerned.

It’s also a remarkably solid and stable affair, with little in the way of significant visual compromise. True, you can see some evidence of car bumpers peeking out of the sides of his torso, and yes, the insides of his forearms are a little panel-heavy. Still, truly, I think you’re heading into nitpick town if this kind of stuff will legitimately bother you.

Another element that is all win here is the head design. I’ve talked at some length in previous Ocular Max reviews about how they’re producing some of the best facial sculpts in the 3P arena right now and I stand by that assertion based on today’s evidence. Streetwise is a hard one to capture in a way that also looks decent in 3D form, especially given he doesn’t even appear to have a nose on some occasions! On balance, the right decisions have been made about how best to present the character here and overall, given it looks and feels like the cartoon brought to life without being so overtly slavish that it seems ridiculous. In other words, they crushed it, in my opinion.

There are additional options, should you prefer, which can be quickly and easily subbed out by simply pulling off and replacing the entire head. The first is a grimacing expression that looks suitably expressive and certainly makes for a different look.

However, I prefer the alternative, which is a rather breezy and mellow-looking smile. It’s not like Streetwise ever had all that much personality in the cartoon, but this at least gives me a sense of the character underneath and works extremely well.

Otherwise, the only other accessory you’ll find here is Navigant’s small hand blaster, which clips into the palm solidly using a similar method employed for Ocular Max’s Combaticon designs. It makes for a fairly straightforward package, but how much other stuff did you need to be included here?

In any case, the true fun on offer comes mostly from just how poseable the robot mode is, with a boatload of articulation, all allowing Navigant to pull off any number of dynamic poses. Again, articulation was a strength of the Combaticon team overall, but Ocular Max has taken things up quite a sizeable notch in this case.

That’s mostly thanks to great range on all the limbs but also a wicked ab crunch that helps manipulate Navigant into some unusual but also striking poses. I had a great time putting this thing through its paces and taking photographs, especially as all the joints are nice and tight, and there’s a good feeling of solidity and balance, too.

It all adds up to make this a solid first assessment for the Ocular Max Protectobot crew, leaving me hugely excited for the rest of the set to come. If they can produce Blades, Groove and Hot Spot to the same level as this guy, then we’re on for something extraordinary come the final assembly.

Even taken as a solo outing, this is a remarkable success; frankly, it easily outclasses the competing effort from X-Transbots. I wasn’t all that sold on Fuzz on the first pass, and I’ve become less enamoured since. That’s especially true now that it flounders on several key aspects Navigant handles confidently and easily.

Firstly, where Fuzz is fiddly and frustrating to transform, Navigant leaves me actively wanting to undertake the process again. Where Fuzz feels somewhat shaky and suffers from looseness in some parts, Navigant boasts the kind of tolerances that every collector would be happy to see right out of the box. And where Fuzz looks rather messy and features some bizarre and often over-complicated joints, Navigant is surprisingly straightforward, showing the competition just how it can and should be done.

None of this is to say that I’m ready to write off the X-Transbots set thus far – one round doesn’t mean the whole war is won, after all. Besides, XTB’s Jocund figure is also up for full evaluation soon and based on first impressions, that seems to be a lot more positive overall, so let’s see how it all pans out.

For today, Ocular Max has capitalised on the bits that made their Combaticons work and provided a figure that almost feels effortless in approaching what could have otherwise been a very overcomplicated subject matter. It will be a real thrill to see these two teams together when all is said and done!

As with the Assaultus crew, Navigant here also fits in exceptionally well versus a Masterpiece-styled crowd, including official toys and other third party ‘bots. He’s a smidge taller than I expected for Streetwise, standing a good head and a bit larger than your average MP Carbot, but overall, it works well enough.

Besides, for a fan like me who has longed for the idea of Masterpiece Protectobots for years now, this is an absolute dream come true at long last. It often seemed like no one was willing to give these guys a proper run for their money, and now, finally, here we are, and the results are tremendous.

So… when’s Hot Spot getting released, then?

WHAT’S HOT? Excellent in both modes and with a smooth transformation in between. The design and execution are top-drawer.

WHAT’S NOT? If we’re being hypercritical, there are one of two elements that deviate from the animation model just a smidge and look ever so slightly out of proportion in the robot mode but really… who’s quibbling?

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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