Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Ocular Max Remix RMX-03/04 Volture and Buzzard

It's been a long time since the last Ocular Max Remix figure was released - the RMX-01 Jaguar (Ravage) - but the promise of more excellent figures to come has always kept expectations high for RMX-03 Volture (Laserbeak) and RMX-04 Buzzard (Buzzsaw). The Perfection Series has rumbled on, with hits and misses, but with a 1 out of 1 strike rate for the Remix sub-line, a lot is riding on these birds to keep up the good name of the initiative. Based on full size cassettes instead of the original microcassettes, these figures were never going to be compatible with MP or G1 Soundwave in cassette mode, but the idea was always that they'd make excellent Masterpiece companions in beast/robot mode.

Presentation has never been a problem for Ocular Max, and certainly with the nostalgic element of cassette tapes in proper cases with sleeves, Volture, Buzzard and Jaguar before them hit the highest notes. The instant impact of the weight is really staggering, they've taken the "Metal Position", for sure. With post-Sphinx releases never quite living up to their debut, it's so nice to see them rediscover some much-needed form with Volture and Buzzard here.

What I love is that for Volture and Buzzard, Ocular Max have gone to greater lengths to decorate Side A of the cassette so that it resembles an actual labelled cassette tape and the original Laserbeak figure. Their Jaguar was decidedly plain on both counts in cassette mode, although the result was a more screen accurate Ravage in cat mode. In order to not affect Laserbeak and Buzzsaw's more plain screen-accurate appearance in condor mode, OcMax have made sure the other side is as plain as can be, and that's the side that will show the most in condor mode. Smart.

The tape mode holds together well enough, although if everything is not aligned and tabbed as it should be, you might find the wings will lift from their finishing position. Also it's not too hard to distort the shape of the cassette as there are so many moving parts that more sit next to each other as opposed to tabbing in. 

The transformation, in my opinion, is every bit as slick and repeatable as that of Jaguar's. It does not have that genius moment like Jaguar where his head extends, the neck pieces rotate one way and the torso pieces rotate the opposite way, but it's an enjoyably different approach to Masterpiece Laserbeak while still retaining an obviously necessary conceptual similarity. The only part I dislike involves going back to cassette mode when you have to align the ball-jointed legs in such a way that when the connecting section is flipped back up into the main body of the figure, the legs align correctly as the sides of the cassette. It's as confusing to me to get it right as Jaguar's thighs are going back to tape mode. Those bits can pop off the ball joint on Volture and Buzzard regularly if you don't get the orientation right first time.

There are some really cool steps in the conversion, like the rotation of the wings and the whole thruster assembly. I do worry about those lasers on the backpack and the rotation of the legs on the ball joints long term. Be careful of paint wear when closing the cassette up, especially on the condor beaks when you clip together the silver thruster parts.

The posability and points of articulation are a strength with this figure, but there are some bizarre decisions in there too. While there is good motion in the legs/talons, they cannot be rotated outwards which is a really strange thing to have not been able to work in considering they went with a ball joint. The way everything sits in condor mode means that there is plenty of clearance for the wings, and yet they cannot be pointed back any further than you see, they only pivot 90 degrees from their starting position. Up and down motion is fine, though. The neck and head articulation is great, and there's even a movable chest/ab panel for further expression.

The beak opens too, which is awesome! As with the Masterpiece, Volture and Buzzard have the camera in the top of the head which is much easier to extract than with the MP condors. Another weird thing is that the two rear halves, upon which the thrusters sit in condor mode, cannot be pushed together flush. There is always a gap between them. That's a shame as it kinda makes for a less cohesive and final condor mode.

So let's talk about the winged elephant in the room. Just as Jaguar was too big in cassette mode for MP Soundwave, the condors are similarly not scaled to fit. However, Jaguar was very well scaled for the Masterpiece robot modes. I do not believe that you can say the same for Volture and Buzzard. When balanced on Soundwave's arms, they look more as though they are carrying him off than perching. I believe this will be the biggest obstacle to purchase for many a collector. There aren't many these days who will pay 70 odd quid for 2 toys that don't fit their collection scale. There's just too much around to buy now for many to be making standalone purchases.

Having said that, you cannot deny the allure of having these Remix cassettes lined up together in their cases as a wonderful throwback to the 80s, Synthwave and all the other great emotional attachments we have to the era. In a wonderful bit of contradictory logic, putting Jaguar and the condors side by side in beast mode, they don't feel so wickedly out of scale as when Soundwave is in the picture. Seeing how good the Frenzy/Rumble mould is coming along just means that there's a greater possibility of these being bought by collectors who want to complete the sub-set. Don't underestimate the cassette collector.

So to summarise, I think Volture and Buzzard are great fun with good transformations and a better degree of solidity as figures than some of the recent Ocular Max offerings. I think they have a wonderful look about them, although there are elements like the size of the feet and the gap between the neck and the thrusters in condor mode that may put some off. There's good potential there for enjoyment in posing and display, even though the multiple points of articulation on the condor feet don't create quite as much grip on things as you'd imagine, and the odd limitations to the wings and legs that I mentioned earlier. 

The price for the set is £70 in the UK, so that's £35 each, representing better value than Jaguar alone. They're not as natural a fit with MP Soundwave as Jaguar was, but they are great for those Sean Berger abduction-style re-creations where Laserbeak actually seems menacing in comparison to a human character like Berger or Spike. I think this set has to go down in the success column for Ocular Max, but with some room for improvement.

All the best

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of peoples issues with these is that the mp's fit so well whereas the ravage couldn't, and the size is too much here as you say.
    I do find them fantastic fun to mess with tho, and hiding around the house to 'spy' on my 4 year old daughter has become a firm favorite.
    Thanks Maz