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Tankor

Transformers Classics
by yo go re

Back in G1, Astrotrain and Blitzwing were the only triple-changers anyone knew. But it turns out they weren't the only ones around - Hasbro's dredged up one of these obscure third-stringers for the second go-round of their Classics line.

Other Decepticons would call Tankor a dirtbag, if it wasn't for the high-octane fuel he supplies to them. He's a sleazy liar who will steal or manipulate anyone, so long as it helps him get his way. As such, he fits right into the most dangerous battlegrounds across the universe, where survival depends on maintaining an advantage. The only reason other Decepticons will have anything to do with him is that he always seems to have a supply of fuel when everyone else is tapped out.

"Tankor" is actually a new name: this is the same character who used to be known as "Octane," thus the little joke about the "high-octane" fuel he provides. Pause for laughter. It's just another case of the trademark being unavailable. Why not just call him "Decepticon Octane" like they do everything else? Eh, who knows? The name Tankor has been around since Beast Machines, so they probably felt it had a nice classic quality. Anyway, when reviewing Astrotrain, we went in the order of his name: first Astro, then Train. Since Octane's name... sorry, Tankor's name doesn't lend itself to that, we'll start with the way he's packaged.

Tankor's first mode is a large cargo plane, like a C-130 Hercules. The body is pale gray, with black panels and purple stripes on the wings and tailfin. There are two spinning props on each wing, and the plane rolls on three wheels on its belly. There are double-guns mounted under each wing next to the body.

The middle of the plane is fairly hollow, but that is mostly concealed by the gray skidplate on the bottom. Plus, since the gaps line up directly beneath the wings, those help cover them, too. However, the same ca't be said about the big blue blocks of kibble under the tail. Those things are entirely blatant, and there's no disguising them. If you're going to leave him in plane form, you're going to have to get used to them - fortunately, that's not too hard.

To change Tankor into his next form, begin by removing the guns. Raise the rear stabilizers, then rotate the entire tail (including that kibble) forward. Fold the wings upward: they're connected by a gear mechanism, so moving one moves the other, as well; that's always a little bit cool. The propeller blades overlap, so they don't bump into each other when you fold them together. Split the tail section in half, rotate the halves, then fold them up to surround the wings. Tip the entire thing over so the airplane's nose is now pointed up, then split it in two. Use the hinges to move the halves around to the sides and lock them in place.

Congratulations, you now have Tankor's second form - a fuel truck. Now, this isn't a normal tanker truck, like you might pass on the road; this is a heavy-duty, military-grade transport. It seems to be based on the HEMTT M978, but with a lot of stylistic changes to make it STBLDF - "Similar To But Legally Distinct From."

The truck is 6¼" long, and has six rolling wheels. Yes, it's an eight-wheeler, but two of them are just for show. The original plans for Tankor would have included clear plastic windows, but that didn't survive to the final product. The plane's skidplate is now the top of the truck's tank. There's a sizeable gap behind the cab, but the weakest part of this mode is the back end: there's no sort of cover back there, so you just see a big hollow and two halves of the cockpit. Whoops. The cab is blue and the body is mostly black, but the roof is gray and some purple comes through, as well.

The instructions show the guns attached to ports at the back of the truck, but that seems strange. Those will eventually be the robot's fists, and if the guns are supposed to go there, why are there similarly sized ports up by the cab? While a plane would need guns, a fuel truck wouldn't - it seems more likely they're meant to be smokestacks. Plug them in at the front of the truck, and point them straight up, and there you go.

Okay, robot time! Again, remove the guns and set them aside, but this time follow that up by taking off the top of the tanker, as well. Raise the front windshield, split the cab and lift it straight up. Hinge the plane's nosecones up, then fold the pieces down to the sides. Raise the head out of the chest (in a move Hasbro calls "an exciting head reveal"), unfold the plane parts to become arms, and position the wings however you feel.

Tankor has two weapons: the big gray panel splits to become a "melee blade," while the two guns stack to form a "quad laser." The big blade is kind of goofy, but it's certainly not the worst TF weapon we've ever seen, and it has the distinct advantage of being removable, rather than permanently attached, like so many weird armaments of the past. The double-gun never stops looking like one gun stuck on the top of another, but the arrangement is a throwback (intentional or not) to the "Double-Targetmasters" of G1: TFs with two Targetmaster weapons that could be plugged together.

Octane's head, in robot mode, is 5½" tall, but the big shoulders add another 1¼" to that. The articulation allows for plenty of action poses, with hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel wrists, balljointed elbows, double-balljointed shoulders and a swivel neck. The design is very "leggy," particularly below the knees, but in general he's pretty good. The body is mostly black, with purple on the arms, and white and blue on the legs. Other than the wings, he's fairly kibble-light.

No, Octankor isn't a perfect toy. There are some real design oddities in both vehicle modes, but the transformation process is fairly clever and the robot mode is nice. Okay, so his weapons could have used some more work. But go back and look at the original G1 Octane, and it had all the same problems this one does, plus several others. Giant gap in the truck mode? It's there. Top of the tanker pops off to become goofy weapon? Of course. The robot's arms are blantantly visible in both truck and jet modes, and there are some pieces you have to remove and set aside, rather than transform? Oh, wait, no - that's just the original. Octane may have been a super-obscure character to choose for an update, but Tankor shows that Classics 2.0 is going to be every bit as good as the first effort.


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