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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Cal's Review: Optimus Prime

Name: Optimus Prime
Allegiance: Autobots
Function: Autobot Leader

ďI used to be the most popular Transformers toy ever!Ē

As leader of the Autobots, and their foremost warrior, Optimus Prime has gone through many changes over the years. He alters his weapons and body based on the needs of a mission, or as a result of damage sustained in combat. He learns from every situation, always coming back to duty tougher and more powerful than before.


Released as part of the second wave of Reveal the Shield figures, Optimus Prime is a remake of his G2 ĎLaserí incarnation, which was one of the most successful Transformers toys and the inspiration for the Movie design. I can only assume that his bio is based on the obscure G2 comic that came packaged with the Takara release, depicting Optimus Prime being reformatted as Battle Convoy. Itís not as if Laser Optimus Prime had much characterization to begin with other than burning down forests. *snigger* The first thing I noticed before taking him out of the box is that heís simply labeled ďOptimus PrimeĒ. I was expecting ďG2 Optimus PrimeĒ or ďLaser Optimus PrimeĒ (like the United version) or some other prefix shared among the likes of Tracks and Jazz. But I guess he doesnít need it because no matter his appearance, the essence of Prime stays true in any incarnation.

ALTERNATE MODE

This version of Optimus Prime transforms into a long-nose truck cab, amusingly called an ďarmored truck modeĒ on the back of the box, although I see very little thatís ďarmoredĒ about it. The tapering nose and flattened rims make it look more like a racing truck rather than the G2 original. As a Deluxe toy, heís quite small for a truck and clearly out of scale with his fellow Autobots, but I guess Hasbro figured he didnít warrant the Voyager treatment. The design still has plenty to boast about, including Optimus Primeís arms doubling as fuel tanks, painted air vents on the nose and a prominent trailer hitch. The hitch is cleverly formed by the hilt of Primeís sword and the weapon is held securely in place by no less than four pegs. While I havenít tested this myself, the original G2 trailer can apparently hook up to the hitch, although it looks ridiculously out of proportion. The design features a translucent orange grille reminiscent of Animated Swindle and exposed double-wheels at the back, which unfortunately donít roll all that well. The detailing is nice with molded bolts and criss-cross steps on the grey parts, but sadly there are no holes to be found on the smokestacks.

The toy features some of the better paint applications Iíve seen from Hasbro. As I mentioned before, G2 Prime was the basis for the Movie design and some of those elements have worked their way back into this incarnation. The flames on the nose have a long and thin tribal look and thereís a lot more blue on the cab than the original figure. The windshield, hubcaps and smokestacks are painted silver and the side windows are bright orange. Even without the paint, the truckís palette would still be quite varied because of the layout of the plasticís colours. Thereís no doubt this is one of the more vibrant trucks Iíve seen, but Iíd expect nothing less from a figure based on a G2 toy.


ROBOT MODE

Optimus Prime features a clever and involving transformation that keeps the robot mode relatively kibble-free. There are some extra steps on the legs to fold the wheels away rather than the typical flip-down-and-extend that youíd expect from an Optimus Prime toy. The weapon transformation is also quite original by sliding the trailer hitch down the blade of the Movie-inspired sword to form the hilt. I like how the grey rims fold back to create a sort of rocket pack on his back, which also doubles as a sheath for the sword when not in use. But the best part is that the side windows fold into Primeís chest to create a reproduction of the Matrix! The attention to detail is superb and other nice touches can be found on the shoulders and biceps where the translucent orange leaks through thin slits to create some Tron-like circuitry.

In robot mode Optimus Prime is an excellent representation of his G2 toy, only this time heís able to retain the same windshield on his chest used for his vehicle mode. While thereís a significant amount of grey and black in this mode, Prime features enough red and blue to show his true colours. The head sculpt is a bit more angular than usual and has a slight anime look, which I suppose is fitting since Laser Optimus Prime only featured in Takaraís continuity. Unlike Classics Prime, there are only small door parts to be found on the arms and the hands are better defined. As is common with most Transformers these days, Optimus comes with open hands, but he has a much better grip on his weapon than Tracks or Thunderwing and you wonít have to worry about the sword slipping from his grasp. Hasbro have clearly taken a cue from Drift and given Prime the ability to hold the sword with two hands. Luckily despite the size of the shoulders, Prime has enough points of articulation to reach across his chest and wield the sword from a number of angles with his double-jointed wrists. The overall articulation is quite good with ball joints on his head, hips and feet. While Prime comes with large heel struts, his feet have enough size and range to maintain his balance by themselves.

Thatís not to say the articulation is without fault. Iím a little miffed that Optimus canít bend his elbows or knees a full ninety degrees and he obviously has some trouble extending his arms sideways due to obstruction from the front wheels. While he does have waist articulation, the back kibble prevents him from turning any more than a few degrees. Another problem is the location of the rub sign, which folds into Primeís chest during transformation and hides his allegiance. The main issue, however, is that Optimus Prime is disappointingly small in robot mode. Heís about the same height as Rodimus, who I noted in an earlier review was already too short for a Deluxe toy, except that Primeís chest is lower than Rodimusí and makes him appear even smaller. I also have some trouble accepting the fact that nothing lights up in this version of Laser Optimus Prime. Itís not as if Hasbro canít fit electronics into a Deluxe toy, since the original Laser Rod figures were even smaller than this, but I guess the gimmick would be beyond the toyís price point. Yet remaking Laser Optimus Prime without the ĎLaserí part is like releasing a Springer toy thatís not a triple-changer. (Oh...) I canít help but feel that this figure would have benefited greatly from being released in the Voyager class with LEDís, but fans wanted a larger version of Galvatron and Thunderwing and that had little effect.

Still, youíd be wrong to dismiss Prime based on his shortcomings (no pun intended). Heís fun to transform and that big, chunky sword gives him a lot of potential for play and display. I suspect that Hasbro released this figure during the run-up to DOTM due to his resemblance to Movie Prime, but he remains nonetheless a great wee figure and a worthy homage to everyoneís favourite forest-burning pyromaniac.


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8/10 - Nicely thought-out and quite engaging, but not so complex that you need to struggle to get things in place.
Durability: 9/10 - Primeís small size means that heís less likely to break when dropped, but Iím worried that the tightness of his grip will leave stress marks on his thumbs.
Fun: 8/10 - Iíve always found swords to be more fun than guns, and two-handed swords make for some cool poses. Needs more LEDís though.
Aesthetics: 7/10 - Thereís no getting around the fact that Prime is vertically challenged, but heís bright, well-proportioned and has some wicked detailing. Gotta love that Matrix.
Articulation: 7/10 - Excellent balance and plenty of ball joints to be found, but some obstruction limits this toyís articulation.
Value: 8/10 - Currently selling for £10 at TRU. Iím glad that RTS continues to make retail in Britain, unlike the Generations line thanks to some wally over at Hasbro UK.
Overall: 7.5/10 - The score would have been higher if he was released as a Voyager toy with electronics, but Optimus Prime falls a bit short (again, no pun intended). Even though I never owned Laser Optimus Prime and I currently have Classics Prime in my collection, I can still appreciate this figure for being an affectionate tribute to one of the best toys in the franchise and a nice rendition of Optimus Prime in its own right. On a side note, apparently thereís a custom trailer in the works and that will surely drive up the toyís price the same way that City Commander and Protector did for Ultra Magnus and Rodimus respectively, so be sure to pick up Prime at retail while heís still cheap!
 
 
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