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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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The Reverend's review: Octane

Name: Octane
Generation: One
Faction: Decepticon
Function: Fueler
Sub-Group: Triple Changer

"He who has fuel, has power."

A greedy, mean-spirited bully. Enjoys watching fellow Decepticons become painfully inoperative from lack of fuel. Forces Autobots off roads and Aerialbots to abort landings just for fun. Crashes make him laugh. In jet mode: range 700 miles, maximum speed 750 mph. In tanker mode: range 65,000 miles, maximum speed 90 mph, carries 10,000 gallons of fuel. Carries fuel-powered flamethrower and deflecto-shield.

Octane was the only Decepticon Triple Changer released in 1986, appearing alongside the previously-released Astrotrain and Blitzwing in that year's toy catalog. (This was the same year Autobot Triple-Changers Sandstorm, Springer and Broadside were released, so I guess Hasbro was trying to keep things somewhat equal.) He appeared in a key role in one or two episodes of the cartoon. Frankly, I didn't much care for him at the time, finding him to have a rather annoying characterization of whininess. I guess that's classic bully syndrome - talking tough when in control, whining like a little girl when overmatched. Who knows? Dreamwave's "More Than Meets The Eye" character profiles added another character trait - that Octane is paranoid about taking injury because he doesn't want to die in a massive fuel explosion. Anyway, as Octane's supposed to be a "fueler", he's got two alternate modes fitting this - a tanker truck and a cargo jet. About those...

Alternate Mode:

I'll start with the tanker truck as that's what is sitting on my desk right at this moment. (I keep my G1s in a glass-front cabinet, but it's plenty crowded, so the relatively narrow truck mode is what he stays in when in the cabinet.) Octane was released right before most G1 alt-modes became "futuristic" approximations of vehicles, but the resemblance to a current-day tanker truck (then or now) is somewhat cloudy. A little longer than G1 Motormaster, he has a "cab" with very large fenders over each purple front wheel, grey smokestacks embedded in the sides, and stickers on the hood and fenders for detail. Interestingly, there's no windshield represented either by insert or sticker - Octane's either blind or maybe you're just supposed to imagine these things. (I thought my secondhand Octane might just have had them peeled off or never applied, but from what I can see in the toy catalog there's just no obvious windshield.) The truck cab is a dark blue, except for the white fenders, and there's no real detail on the front grille (no etched headlights, no bumper). This might be because the fenders have to fold forward in front of the cab for transformation (meaning there's a joint in the way, but it still looks lazy to me on the part of the designer. There are also two small purple wheels on top of the truck cab; these are part of the jet mode. As for the rest of the truck, much of the "trailer" portion is chromed and somewhat rounded (suggesting a liquid-carrying tank). There's a rub sign just aft of the midsection,and a few stickers for detail. The tank also has rounded side panels bearing Decepticon logos on a striped background. Each panel has two screws in it. At the back of the trailer, another pair of purple wheels provides support, but right behind them are a pair of fixed white plastic wheels, Most damning of all, there's a small set of wheels jutting out just behind the truck cab, which raise the cab up off my desk high enough that the front wheels don't touch the ground! I can see the purpose for these, but they're almost a little too tall. And lastly... (everyone who has ever seen this figure was probably wondering when I was going to mention this), there are two big purple blocks jutting out from either side of the truck; these are Octane's arms in robot mode and they just sit there awkwardly. Like I said, it's identifiable as a tanker truck, but it bears little resemblance to any you've ever seen. Still, it doesn't betray too much of the jet mode unless you know there's a jet in there. That has to count for something. You just know it's a weird looking truck.

Speaking of the jet mode, I might as well get to that. I won't describe the transformation in detail, as it's rather complex compared to many other G1s, but the main part of the truck's tank is removable (it serves no purpose in jet mode), and after extending a few parts and turning the truck upside down, jet mode only requires the attachment of Octane's smaller "hand shield", otherwise it won't have a tail. Octane's arms get in the way here again. This time it's more than just looks, the jet wings won't fit into position unless you carefully move the arms out of the way, and this is not always an easy process. Like the truck mode, the jet is identifiable, if not a dead ringer for its real-life counterpart. It does have a stickered windshield, some stripes near the cockpit, gray wings (bearing the chrome sides of the tanker underneath) with a similar striped pattern and some Decepticon logos, more stripes on the tail fins and a matching gray tail. Like his 2008 "Tankor" version, the truck cab is visible towards the end of the plane's rear, but it's not nearly as much of an ugly wart here, you can only make it out by looking at the bottom of the plane. G1 Octane's got his own warts in this mode, though; the large (useless) front wheels of the cab are now obvious towards the tail, and those annoying little wheels that were keeping the cab off the ground in truck mode are now sticking straight up from the top of the jet (and, since that section has to fold over the piece just forward of it for transformation to robot mode, there's a big hole in the top of the plane to accept those wheels). Octane's more white in this mode, with no chrome working itself into the design of the plane. They did try to preserve the aerodynamic look of the plane, with the the fuselage slightly narrowing toward the rear. The jet, being intended for fueling purposes, carries no obvious weaponry.

The problem with bashing a Triple Changer, though, is simply that not all of them had two equally good vehicle modes. Astrotrain's design was pretty good, but Blitzwing's jet mode was laughable (hey buddy, you got some thick wings), Springer's car mode almost looks like an afterthought (or is it the helicopter mode, with his arms sticking out?), and Broadside's jet mode... well, you know where I'm going. Stacked up against all of them available in 1986, this isn't the best, but it's not quite as ridiculous on all levels. (And it would get worse - Doubledealer is nice, but then you had Apeface and Snapdragon...)

Robot Mode:

Octane's robot mode is essentially the jet mode standing on its nose, with the wings rotated 180 degrees and the aft section of the plane compacted and folded down to make his chest. And he has a very big chest. His arms barely reach past it. He's still mostly white here, with a purple helmet and arms and the grey of his plane wings sticking out to the sides. The truck cab is facing down in his chest piece, so you also get the blue from that. Octane has a grey, well-sculpted face (in fact, I think the head overall is one of the better ones in G1, even if he has a slight "too much Imodium" expression) and can hold his flamethrower rifle in either hand. The chrome midsection of the tanker truck can be attached to the side of one arm as a "shield", and supposedly he can also hold his tail/shield as well. I say supposedly, because my tail-shield doesn't really fit well, and the larger chrome "shield" just looks weird to me - but I can see why a guy who lugs around fuel would carry them. He has joints at his shoulders and elbows, but the shoulders are limited due to the positioning of his wings. You can, however, fold the wings back a little bit to get more room to move the shoulders if you like. He's about the height you would expect compared to the other Decepticon Triple Changers - shorter than an earlier Decepticon jet, but not a midget. He's top heavy - having such a large chest piece and comparatively skinny legs, but the struts that make his feet keep him standing relatively well (not great, but it could have been much worse). The width of his chest compared to his lower body (and combined with the effect of the wings sticking up diagonally from his back) gives him something resembling the classic "triangular" body type - if his arms were a little bigger, he'd look like a powerhouse, but then you'd have even more of an annoyance with the arms in vehicle mode. He also has very detailed fists at the ends of his arms (minor, yes, but they really are good compared to so many of his comrades), and while his purple rifle doesn't particularly stand out, it's a very nice mold with lots of detail. There is no "melee weapon" as in the Universe version. Overall, I think he fits nicely in a crowd of Decepticons, even if he isn't perfect. I suspect he was designed by someone working with Astrotrain as a model, something about the two robot modes looks very similar in comparison. And the wings in his robot mode add a strangely nice touch that echoes the Decepticon jets in the previous two years.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 7 - The toy's not really fragile, but it is a tricky transformation for G1. While the jet's tail and the truck's upper tank detach, the bulk of the toy is still used in transformation.
Durability: 7 - Aside from the chrome wear, there's not really any weak points of consequence. The wing joints are automatically suspect to me, but they look quite strong, with a good sized pin holding them in place. I imagine they're an annoyance when they get loose though. Mine is somewhat loose in one wing, but it still locks into place well.
Fun: 7 - You know, even though his alt modes could be better somewhat, I really don't have a big problem with him. Like I said, I think you have to give a little with Triple Changers, and overall I think he's got a good character concept. After all, the Transformers are always bitching about fuel...
Price: 5 - I got mine for $20. The reason I knocked the rating up to 5 is because the problem with buying a secondhand Octane isn't so much the price as it is finding him with his parts and with intact chrome. But I got him for $20, if that helps, and while mine's worn it isn't that bad.
Overall: 7 - Not so bad in the Triple Changer lineup, and above average in the G1 lineup. Check it out.
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