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

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Ocular Max Remix RMX-01 Jaguar

Mastermind Creations, under the guise of Masterpiece-focused Ocular Max branding, have introduced a sub-line into that sub-line! The Remix line begins with RMX-01 Jaguar, a figure that homages the Generation 1 Decepticon cassette Ravage. Now why bother launching a line with something already covered by the official TakaraTomy Masterpiece collection? For a start, not everyone seems to share my high opinion of MP Ravage, it's true to say some actually dislike the figure thoroughly. While the MP Ravage is scaled to a micro cassette like the original G1 rendition and fits inside MP Soundwave's chest, Ocular Max believed that it was too small in kitty mode. Their reasons for developing this product are for a better experience in transformation and posing, as well as scaling with other associated Masterpiece figures like Soundwave in jaguar mode. For the moment, this has been offered as a Planet Steel Express exclusive.

Ocular Max have gone to pains in order to communicate the die cast metal content of their products (I wonder if "Metal Position" would have been a more appropriate touch on a cassette sleeve) and they are of course eager to see if collectors will pay a premium for the most expensive materials to be used in the construction of products such as this. It is as yet undecided whether or not the second non-exclusive run of RMX-01 Jaguar will have the same die cast content or be all plastic. Remix Jaguar comes packaged in the extremely classy compact cassette box that our generation will remember fondly, and is not entirely unlike the original Micro Change Series Jaguar cassette packaging either. 

The cassette sleeve that comes with Remix Jaguar contains transformation instructions with photography credited to U.NEM Studios. I do like how Ocular Max have been crediting community members like Paik4Life, U.NEM Studios and Chogoking for contributing to their products, although that list is not always exhaustive. There is also a nice collector's card and a warning sheet that describes how to separate parts of the cassette so as not to cause damage, damage to parts that Ocular Max will not be providing replacements for.

I was immediately struck by how heavy this compact cassette-scaled alt mode for Remix Jaguar was, a definite "whoa" moment, so there's a fair amount of die cast there in the silver kitty legs and the central silver innards. Like Masterpiece Laserbeak/Buzzsaw/Ravage/Ratbat cassettes, Ocular Max have incorporated the signature Ravage weapons into Jaguar's cassette mode, but the chrome on one of mine was chipped. Jaguar also does not have the G1 Ravage tape markings and design, you have to make do with what amounts to a mostly plain black cassette with silver highlights around 3 of the edges. I do love that he has the teeth in the tape spools and the correct general shape and outline of a compact cassette, but he lacks all of the paint detailing because the key priority here with RMX-01 is kitty mode, a cartoon-accurate Ravage which did not show off tape detailing on screen. Apparently he does fit in a Walkman or a cassette player, but it's an extremely tight squeeze and damage can be caused on removal. 

The transformation of Ocular Max Remix Jaguar is extremely interesting. I got all into a mess the first time through but after a few trips back and forth, it's committed to memory and fully sussed. There is one particular step that stands out above the rest. When rotating the two halves of Jaguar's upper body downwards, you have to simultaneously rotate the neck halves in the opposite direction while pulling the beast head outwards. It's just lovely when it goes to plan and everything folds into place. On occasion, one of the rear legs or the shoulders will pop off their ball joint during rotation in transformation, which can be annoying and interrupt the fluidity Ocular Max have worked hard to imbue this figure with. With the shoulder popping off, once a forum member informed me that the C-clip had a thin side and could have been assembled upside down, I fixed it and the shoulder stopped popping off! I was also really worried about those 4 thin panels that cover the bottom of the cassette mode and then end up on the inside and outside of the upper beast body, not because they are dangerously thin and made of weak plastic, just that if you don;t know what you are doing they could end up in the wrong place and tangled up mid-transformation. While I was able to figure out the transformation, I do thoroughly recommend using the instructions to avoid any damage first time through, and pay attention to the warning slip regarding the clipping/unclipping of the sides of the cassette (where front and rear legs connect in cassette mode).

So that's the transformation, one of the key selling features of Jaguar, or so Ocular Max hope. I do enjoy it, it is repeatable and something interesting. It helps elevate Jaguar a bit, so that it's not just a posable Ravage in scale with Masterpiece toys in beast mode and a novelty 1:1 scale compact cassette alternate mode. Both directions of transformation have individual challenges but it's a healthy level of complexity that ends up being an enjoyable puzzle. Once in beast mode, Jaguar is very screen accurate and initially quite strange thanks to its increased size over MP Ravage.

Posability is another advertised selling point for this figure, and it certainly is impressive how sleek and natural looking his beast poses are. There are some limitations that get in the way of a fully posable and expressive Masterpiece-style Ravage, though. For a start, there isn't much sideways or upwards action in the neck, just the downward glances are well covered by the articulation. The front legs can angle outwards thanks to the ball joint, but that direction is limited for the rear legs. Both sets of legs can spread to about 45 degrees, helping Jaguar get closer to the ground and achieve a wide stance, but the lack of outward rotation on the rear legs hinders how natural such a pose can look. There is good movement in the paws themselves but even though the rear ones are on ball joints, they will pop out beyond a certain limit. That said, some very convincing feline crouches and pre-pounces are possible. He can even stand on his hind legs when balanced properly! The opening jaw adds a remarkable amount of expressiveness and accuracy to this mode.

It's interesting to compare Ocular Max Jaguar to Studio OX Ravage illustrations such as the coloured and lineart images above provided by GanguStars. I see a lot of similarities there, not surprising when you remember that ocular Max have made no secret of bringing back the OX style int heir products, but then the various G1 representations of Ravage have not varied all that much.

Where this figure truly shines, and probably as Ocular Max intended, is in display with other Masterpiece Transformers and 3rd Party Masterpiece-scaled figures. Recreating scenes from various episodes - especially the 3-part More Than Meets The Eye/Arrival From Cybertron pilot - is going to be common for owners of RMX-01 Jaguar. In terms of accuracy, he seems to be a cross between the G1 toy's box artwork (originally the Takara Micro Change Series artwork for the pre-G1 version) and the on-screen Ravage.

A fair number of people do not see Ocular Max Remix Jaguar as a collection necessity. The fact that he won't fit into Masterpiece Soundwave's chest seems to have turned people off, but if he was ever going to scale properly with the robots as Ocular Max intended, this was always going to be an impossibility. Surely one can just use MP Ravage for that? A Ravage that fits in MP Soundwave's chest as an accurately scaled micro cassette that also scales appropriately with the robot mode Masterpiece figures is a physical impossibility based on where we are right now. Maybe a micro cassette-scaled Ocular Max Jaguar would be ideal in terms of looks and complexity, but again I can only imagine how fiddly things would be at that size.

He may not fit in Soundwave's chest, but posed next to him it does start to make a lot of sense and looks the business. The size, curves and decent array of natural looking idle feline stances, or pre-attack stances mean that one can achieve a sweet selection of owner & kitty display options. Admittedly a lot of this is down to the posability and excellence of Masterpiece Soundwave, but Jaguar has to pull his weight in a way that maybe MP Ravage could not in direct interaction with Soundwave.

Ocular Max have teased silhouettes of the Rumble/Frenzy mould and also Laserbeak/Buzzsaw, meaning that should this experimental Remix line continue, we could conceivably have all of Soundwave's minions "in correct scale" with other MP robots. As a standalone figure Jaguar is good fun to transform and if nothing else he's the best looking Ravage figure we have, one that approaches believable levels as a mechanical feline better than much of the official stuff we have received. I'm actually a fan of Masterpiece Ravage and didn't particularly feel that it needed replacing, but one week with Ocular Max Jaguar, its addictive transformation and - most importantly - his interactivity with MP Soundwave's robot mode, and I am very much on board with Jaguar and the rest. Having said that, I don't feel there is a lot wrong with MP Laserbeak's scale in either mode, such is the paradox of trying to nail the scale of all modes on such a defined class of figure in each configuration and keep them as a uniformly displayable interacting set. 

As much as I like it, Jaguar is not a perfect toy, the popping off of limbs can be irritating and I did wince at how the plastic seemed to be flexing when I was snapping the shoulder back onto the ball joint - however this issue was eliminated when I attached the C-clip on the shoulder correctly with thin side up. There's also the possibility of chipping chrome, but I think mine was just that way out of the box. Nothing I've done during transformation would exacerbate that situation so you'll more than likely be fine there. As long as you follow the warning, you should stay on the right side of that clipping issue for cassette mode and not damage the plastic ridge on the rear calves. If you cannot get over the fact that he won't fit into Soundwave's chest, or buy into the notion that this figure's primary role is to improve the appearance of a Masterpiece robot mode display - with the inclusion of a novel and classy alt mode together with a fun transformation - then not a lot will convince you to make the purchase. Except maybe my last two images...

All the best

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