Sunday, 23 September 2012

#33: Octane (1986)

I seem to recall (and forgive me if my memory is a little hazy) that my friend Jeremy had Octane when we were at school together. Certainly someone owned him. Because I remember quite clearly thinking that he wasn't very good. Not because the toy was bad or anything, even in 1986 I was quite aware that toy engineering had it's limitations. No, I didn't think he was much cop because he didn't have an offensive alt-mode. He transformed into a 767 jet and a fuel tanker, see. Not the usual military vehicles or outwardly offensive modes for a Decepticon.

Nearly 30 years later, and I see that it was actually a stroke of genius; Octane's capabilities were much more insidious then firing a weapon, or ripping someone apart. He, in fact, is one of the most evil beings in the whole universe; a bean counter. Those people who can deny life by a stroke of a pen, because it's not economically viable to keep you alive. Effectively, he's the Decepticon equivalent of a civil servant.

This was actually played out a little bit in the cartoon; Octane would make business decisions rather than out and out fight the Autobots. Even at the cost of his membership of the Decepticons. This meant that he'd join the Autobots for a little while, andeven become marginally noble, even being called 'good buddy' by Sandstorm; this slightly loses it's lustre though, when you find that all of this should be happening to Blitzwing, who was legitimately kicked out of the Decepticons by Galvatron at the end of 'Five Faces of Darkness'.

Even then, it would seem that the writers never really looked at Octane's Tech Spec bio. He was never really a bully, never really loud. He was just a businessman, in the same vein as Swindle. The comics have attempted to correct this on a few occasions, but as always, Octane ends up being nothing more than a Decepticon goon, a thug who gets his rear linkage handed to him on most occasions. These days he's not even called Octane anymore...

The toy, as I stated earlier, does have issues. The tanker mode doesn't really look like a tanker, more a big silver shiny cylinder with half a robot stuck on the front. Jet mode is a lot better, which leades me to believe that might have been the first of the modes that was designed. Robot mode is the best of the three modes, but his legs do suffer due to his three-mode configuration. By which I mean, they don't move. It's a G1 toy though. You get used to that. The detail, especially on his face, is great though. What G1 toys lack in articulation, they always make up for in character.

Octane then, is a toy and a character that grew on me over 30 years. I now think that he should be given a much more prominent role in the Transformers universe. In fact, I think that he, Swindle and Greasepit should all either be involved in the recent Dallas remake somehow, or team up and make a Cybertronian version of The Apprentice. You're fired!

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