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

Name: Dragon Assault Optimus Prime
Function: Autobot Leader
Subgroup: Prime Beast Hunters
Size Class: Ultimate

With Ultra Magnus the latest casualty of the Predacon assault, Optimus Prime decides that enough is enough. Whether the new weaponry discovered by Bumblebee is ready or not, the Predacons must be stopped. Donning the heavy Firebreath Cyclocannons, Optimus Prime steps outside into the hot desert air, determined to find Predaking and bring him down one way or another. He doesn't have far to look. The Predacon leader has come looking for him, armed to the teeth and ready to destroy every last Autobot. That's when Optimus Prime receives a transmission from Ratchet. "Sir," says the scientist, "I've figured out how to activate our new weaponry. Sending the information to you now." Within moments, the Autobot leader feels power flowing through him, and he knows even before it begins that the fight against Predaking can only end in victory.

Just to clarify, I haven't watched much of the Prime series. At all. Not that I'm not interested, I just don't have the time. I don't have much connection to any of the characters of the series, but this is Optimus Prime. And who doesn't love them some Optimus? Most of the Prime figures have been a pass for me outside of the terrific Beast Hunters Shockwave. Normally, this figure would have been a pass for me, but walking by seeing this giant figure on clearance for $10 USD - that's a sure thing, especially with something so completely bonkers as 'Firebreath Cyclocannons' as a gimmick. I'm pleased with the purchase, but would have been really sorry had I bought this one at full retail.

Alternate Mode:

As is the standard with Optimus Prime, the alternate mode is a semi-truck of sorts. The design itself matches closely with the truck modes of the other Primes in the toyline, with the exception of the Cyclocannons on the top. The other Optimus toys have done the alternate mode significantly more justice. This one has the general look of a semi-truck, but there are several gaping holes in the middle. I feel that the holes are present only because of the cannon gimmick - the cyclocannon rack takes up a large chunk of space were panels might have resided to fill the gaps. Clearly the figure was designed to be a fun toy for a younger audience, and I think it fits that function incredibly well. As for collectors such as myself, the truck mode will feel that it lacks substance. To me, this mode feels like a second thought, where Optimus is folded in half with his head tucked in. In a way, it feels like the alternate mode of Cybertron Metroplex.

Don't let the aesthetics of the mode decrease the value of the fun though. However absurd the cyclocannon gimmick is, they are incredibly fun! The whole cannon assembly rotates easily with the use of the attached handle. The cannons only swing one way - but that's because of the mechanism itself. They rotate and 'lock' into place, where a small button on the handle can be pressed for missile firing. Once you get the hang of the mechanism, firing five missiles rapidly comes with ease. At first I thought the gimmick might come off a little flat, but the missiles shoot far and fast, and is surprisingly enjoyable. By far, this is the best feature of the truck mode, and possibly the only thing that saves it from being a complete bore.

Robot Mode:

What the alternate mode lacks in completeness, the robot mode gains in aesthetics. Obviously the cyclocannons become the backpack, but there is absolutely no kibble on Optimus. Even the front wheels in truck mode fold neatly into the lower legs, filling otherwise empty space. The design has a great look, and Optimus looks opposing and battle ready - with the exception of the missing faceplate. I'm not really sure why there isn't one in this case - the whole gimmick of Cyclocannons and an included sword and shield would peg this Optimus as a battle ready warrior. It's a curious decision to leave his faceplate out. There really isn't any detraction from the mode as a whole, just a little confounding.

As far as balance is concerned, Optimus is average. The gimmick makes him a little back heavy, and the way the lower legs are molded tend to give him some issues. However, there is enough articulation around to get him into some decent battle positions. Most of the weight bearing joints are of the ratcheting type, so keeping him steady is less of a chore. There's a decent amount of range for the articulation to work, though I would have liked Optimus to have some wrist joints.

This figure shines in the fun & gimmicks department. Optimus comes with a giant sword (which looks like a deadly butcher knife) and dragon shield. The combo looks awesome, fits the aesthetic, but falls a little flat with the bland grey plastic. The five included missiles are a mix of bright green and grey - they could have done a similar thing with the sword and shield. The cylcocannons are just as fun in robot mode too; the mechanism works smoothly, and the cannon above Optimus' head drops into place to fire straight away. The one thing that would have made this figure supreme would be allowing the cyclocannon assembly to be detached. Sadly, they are permanently attached via pins at all times. On the plus side of the permanently attached cannons, some green LED lighting is present when they are rotated: switch the cannons via the back handle or the small grey bar on Optimus' chest, and the chest windows and Optimus' eyes glow green. It's a neat little feature, but one that may have been even better with a sound gimmick too.

Overall, what this Optimus figure lacks for the typical collector, it more than makes up for with a lot of fun play features. This toy is clearly aimed at a younger audience, and it fits that facet quite well.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4. Not that it's difficult - far from it - but there wasn't really any thought put into this one. The truck mode is Optimus folded in half. With lots of holes. Good for kids, awful for collectors.

Durability: 8. Even though the plastic feels a bit cheap, Optimus is pretty rugged. I can see the mechanism of the cyclocannons going first.

Fun: 10. 'Firebreath Cyclocannons' - that oozes fun. Even though they are ridiculous, they're really fun. Rapid firing 5 missiles is fun. Having lights that go with it is fun too. And the sword and shield are added bonuses. Fun, fun, fun!

Aesthetics: 5. This one is lopsided. In robot mode, Optimus is absolutely terrific, with no kibble whatsoever. For a battle version of Optimus, I do have to question the lack of faceplate. Truck mode suffers horribly bad because of the awesome robot mode.

Articulation: 7. There's quite a few joints around, and none are hindered. Wrist joints would have been nice.

Value/Price: 2 or 9. Yep. You saw that score. Had I paid MSRP of $60, I would be sorely disappointed. I scored him on clearance for $10 - cheaper than most deluxes! If you find him at that cost, don't hesitate!

Overall: 6. Clearly aimed at a younger crowd, Prime is a lot of fun - especially for $10. Matter of fact, we bought one for a 5 year old and he absolutely loves it. As a collector you can pass, especially if he's anywhere near full cost. If you're like me and enjoy using it as something to play with your kids, you can't miss with this one on clearance.

 
 
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