Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Universe Tankor (Octane, 2008)

When I discussed Titans Return Blitzwing a couple of weeks ago, I alluded to Octane as another of the three original Decepticon Triple Changers, although I also referenced that I don't have the Titans Return version of that character. Indeed, this Universe toy from 2008 is the only Octane toy I own, and as the entry title suggests, it was sold under a different name entirely: Tankor. Long-time fans will recognize by now that certain Transformers character names are hard to trademark, and thus tend to be released under other names. IMHO, the Titans Return attempt ("Octone," note the second "o") was better, but since that name was also alongside additional language for the "Titan Master" partner that came with that toy, I'm not even sure that Hasbro could have gotten away with "Octone" for this release, even if they had the imagination to consider it at the time. Instead, we got a name previously given to another character (who I'll get around to discussing in a month or so). The IDW comics of a few years back had some fun with this by calling the other character "fat Tankor" and this one "tall Tankor." For the sake of clarity, I'll just refer to him as "Octane" from here on out, recognizing that the toy was sold as "Tankor."

This version of Octane, part of the first wave of 2008 Universe line, was one of the earlier toys to revisit G1 characters (what is now sometimes called "neo-G1"), shortly after the success of the "Classics" line of 2006. At the time, the goal wasn't simply to recreate the G1 alternate modes, but to "update" them with similar, but different alternate modes. Thus, Megatron became some kind of NERF weapon, and Onslaught traded in his former flatbed anti-aircraft truck mode for an armored vehicle. Octane's new truck mode is in keeping with such an update, having changed from an extended cab to a flat-nose. Don't look at the sides too closely, however, as it really looks quite unfinished. It works if you squint, basically.

Octane's aerial mode, once a jet plane, seems like something of a downgrade, now being a four-propeller cargo plane. For a lot of years, people have said that it should be scientifically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, yet it does so anyway. This is because the bumblebee's body is so large in proportion to its wings that it seems to defy the laws of aerodynamics (of course, bumblebees don't actually defy those laws, and science has long been able to explain this, despite that conventional wisdom). That's pretty much how I think of this toy's cargo plane mode, but despite the odd proportions, I'd say this is the toy's best mode.

Octane's robot mode is unmistakably an update of the original character, with undeniably better articulation than the original toy, but it must be admitted that it's nothing special. The melee weapon (necessary to complete the truck mode) is unwieldy, at best, and by this era, one could typically expect more fully-formed hands (you can't see them in this image, but they're basically just round stubs with weapon holes). Still, one appreciates the attempt, and getting a triple-changer to look good in all modes has always been a difficult prospect.

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