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Blackjack's Review: Battle Blades Optimus Prime

Name: Battle Blades Optimus Prime
Allegiance: Autobot
Series: 2010 Transformers Voyager Class
Accessories: Ion Rifles/Fuel Tanks (2x), Matrix of Leadership

"At the end of the day, one shall stand, one shall fall."

The Optimus Prime from the Movieverse continuity was the very first Optimus Prime I saw, considering that I was introduced to Transformers during the live action Movie brouhaha. Thus when you say 'Optimus Prime', the first image that came into my mind is the supercomplex, long-nosed cab, fire-decorated, retractable-faceplate Optimus Prime from the movieverse. Sure, the iconic, original Optimus Prime from G1 is great and all, but movie Optimus Prime always has a special place in my heart. Why shouldn't he? He's everything G1 Optimus is and more. He has all that heroic stuff noble, leader-like, ready to sacrifice himself, unwilling to give up etc, etc. Plus, he is voiced by Peter Cullen. Plus, he is a literal force of nature if the Forest Fight and the Mission City battle are anything to go with. Slice hack slice slice shoot shoot stab punch stab slice... when he's not tearing faces apart, he's also a deadpan snarker, and totally badass. I love him.

Plus, he has these twin swords that are simply made of pure win. That, added with the sheer awesomeness of heroic speeches mixed with trash talking and stuff like "calm down calm down" delivere d by Cullen's impressive speech... and his amazing design, mouth included. I am part of the minority that loved Optimus' mouth. It looks wrong in G1 Prime, but on this super complicated design it looks just right at home.

However, despite that I never had a proper movie Optimus Prime toy. I missed out on the Leader and Voyager class toys for the original Optimus, and Legends class hardly counts. I got the 'First Strike Optimus Prime' repaint, but that was a G1 homage. No flame decals, and the guns are lame. And the gazillion of uninspired repaints that followed suit aren't much better either. None of them have a sword, damn it!

So First Strike Optimus had to substitute for the local Autobot leader for my collection. Well, I got Alternity Convoy, but he wasn't a truck.

Come the second movie. None of the Voyager class toys (repaints from the first movie mold) impressed me, while the Leader class toy, while reputably a masterpiece, was simply too expensive in this part of the world. So I passed them on. Then came the Transformers line in late 2010, where Classics, Movieverse and other random molds get thrown into the mix. One of them is an all-new 'Battle Blades Optimus Prime' toy. Sure, he doesn't have a gun, but he has two blades. And he looks miles better than the crappy Voyager class Optimus Prime from the first movie. After buying the new molds they gave for movieverse Bumblebee and Ironhide, I was suitably impressed, and decided to give Battle Blades Optimus Prime a shot. After all, judging from the pictures on the internet, he is one awesome toy. Plus a Voyager class toy is totally in my budget. To make a long story short, at a Christmas shopping spree I got him.

Now Optimus can go on a rampage to beat the crap out of Megatron and Bonecrusher and Starscream and Grindor (well, Blackout) and Demolishor and Fallen and whomever I feel like being hacked apart by Optimus. At last, my collection is complete!

In short, if you don't have the leader class toy (which is a gem) get this Optimus Prime. I'll tell you why.

"Give me your face."
Optimus Prime is packaged in robot mode, to fit with the new Voyager class box. No longer are they unwieldy, long boxes that show off the vehicle modes, now they display transformers in all their robot mode glory. And truly, Optimus Prime deserves that. His robot mode is simply spectacular, translating the super-complex CGI model perfectly into plastic, something only the Leader Class toy have managed to done so far. And he does this while still being extremely faithful to his original design. I mean, compare the movieverse versions of Ratchet, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Starscream, Megatron and Sideswipe to their G1 selves, which whom they shared a common archetype. In fact, I daresay only Optimus Prime, Jazz, Brawl and maybe Long Haul are anywhere close to looking like their past counterparts, Optimus being the closest to his G1 counterpart.

I will try to describe Optimus as best as I can. Let's start from the top. Optimus' helmet is blue, his eyes are blue, and his nose and faceplate, as well as the grille on either side of his faceplate, are painted silver. This is exactly like G1, only more stylized and more complex at the same time. To be faithful to G1, the two front windows of the truck end up as Optimus Prime's chest, where the chest muscles should be in a human. The smokestacks are also conveniently placed near the shoulder, to evoke a sense of G1-ness. From then on, though, the animators and designers work their magic. No longer is Optimus' chest a solid block, but rather there are pieces that move around. The side windows angle forwards, those windbreaker things angle downwards... all of them are reflected onto the toy. And that's just the chest section.

The stomach and waist/groin are basically faithful replicas of the kibble seen in the movie. Extremely bristling with details, yet it does not look too busy as to detract from Optimus Prime's full design. His arms are faithful replicas as well, with those triangular things sticking out beside his smokestacks, and his shoulder being on a ball joint. Those silver things from the fuel tanks end up show-accurately beside the triangular things. His biceps are relatively thin, while his lower arms are thicker. This is a great move, so Optimus doesn't look all blocky, and the ball joint shoulder and thin biceps makes it clear where his hands are in action scenes.

Down to his feet. His feet are as detailed as the rest of his body, which is a far departure compared to previous Optimus Primes, where feet are basically where the long part of the semi truck cab go to. It's detailed, with equal parts armour (like the things sticking up on his knees), non-distracting kibble (the steps, the wheels). The lower legs are so beautifully sculpted that I am simply astounded. It's a pity that his feet are slightly off model, but it's probably about the last thing I'd care about. You get 85% of the robot mode as a near perfect duplica of the CG model, surely a little mis-matched feet is not going to kill you?

Instead of following the ever-classic red upper torso, gray waist, blue head and feet formula from the original G1 Optimus Prime, movieverse Optimus Prime doesn't do that. Sure, he still retains the basic colours and general body design, but the colours are spread around a bit more. After all, solid red and blue really isn't something anyone would take seriously in a live-action movie. So you improvise. Where it is iconic, the colours are left alone. Like, for instance, Optimus' helmet is still blue. But otherwise the red and blue are evenly spread out, and there's a heck lot more grays too. Ideally this would've been better if every gray part were painted silver like in the film, but Hasbro has a thing called a budget. Optimus' chest... well, the front part of his stomach and the area around the windshield are red, but the sides of Optimus' head (the cab's roof and sides) are blue. The rest of the things are done in gray. Smokestacks, the sides of the stomach, sternum, ball-joint shoulder, smokestacks... some parts, like the biceps and triangular shoulder pieces, are cast in dark gray, while some are painted silver, namely the fuel pipe thing on his shoulders. Optimus' lower arms are red as well, while his fists are gray. His crotch is mainly black, with darker gray superimposed on it. His thighs are light gray with blue decals, while two tires hand off each side of the tire. The lower legs are mainly blue, with the stairs painted silver, and inner parts of the legs coloured gold and light gray. The ankle had a red-and-blue kibble around the wheel hanging there, while the feet are light gray.

There's quite a bit more gold in this toy, most noticeably on the lower legs and the bits that holds the rear tires to his thighs. And a bit on his stomach. In the CG model gold was only used for the joints. Probably to break the colour palette up, something that is done pretty nicely. Overall, Optimus Prime looks as grand as he was in the big screen, and oh so accurate. Let me illustrate.

The pieces of kibble with the large fuel tanks end up on Optimus' back. The toy doesn't have to do this, but they slanted the pieces anyway to form a 'V' shape because the movie did this. Same thing for the rear wheel ensemble being able to angle backwards, or the wheels in his ankle able to be rotated a bit to more closely resemble the CG model. Little bits like that. Also, he has a very tiny molded insignia that's suspiciously similar to the Autobrand just below his sternum.

Oh, and the weapons. You don't talk for a half-dozen paragraphs about how Optimus Prime looks without mentioning his weaponry and articulation. The main selling point of the toy would be the two battle blades. Optimus' battle blades, or energon swords, have gained somewhat of a cult following his brutal usage of them. It first got a use in the first movie when Optimus' hand retracted and the sword came out for all of five seconds in order to stab Bonecrusher's head off. This was based on Optimus' energon axe from the G1 cartoon, but obviously a retractable sword is much more practical... and awesome. So much that it was used multiple times in the tie-in comics and the games. ROTF had Optimus Prime going all liberal with his sword, and then cranked it up to eleven. Forest battle: Optimus had just gotten his face bashed in by Megatron, who then proceeds to taunt Optimus by threatening to kill Sam. As the excellent Steve Jablonsky score speeds up to his crescendo, Peter Cullen's oh-so-perfect voice spoke out the immortal line: 'You'll never stop at one.' Saying this, Optimus Prime unsheathed a second sword. Then 'I'LL TAKE YOU ALL ON!' Cue Optimus Prime going beserk like a force of nature, attacking without abandon as he sliced around, tearing his way through Megatron, Starscream and Grindor, chopping off arms, stabbing, tearing out chunks, ripping Grindor's face apart until he was finally stabbed in the back and killed by Megatron. He was revived, and when he engaged in battle against the Fallen, guess what he did? Yup, he used his sword to slice the Fallen's face. And then he impaled the Fallen with the Decepticon's own staff and told him to GIVE ME YOUR FACE.

Psychopath Prime, maybe. But those swords were simply awesome. And Hasbro immediately cashed in by letting the Leader class toy have those swords (and on a later retool the hooks he used to tear Grindor's face) in addition to his classic arsenal of guns. Regrettably, Optimus Prime's sword dowsn't store well when folded upwards. It causes Optimus' elbow to be unable to bend since the sword gets in the way with the blue piece of kibble hanging off his biceps, but it's okay. Why store the swords when you can deploy them full-time? As a bonus, the fists can be retracted, so Optimus doesn't have both fists and swords out at the same time. The swords aren't nearly orange enough for my liking, but the two-bladed, almost axe-like shape is awesome. And the fact that Optimus has enough articulation to strike badass poses with them...

What's that? Not a sword person? You like explosions and big guns instead of slicing and dicing? M'kay. Optimus Prime never fails to please. Like in the movie, a huge chunk of his fuel tank is stored on his back. He can reach out to take it, and it transforms into his ion barrage launcher. The barrel flips up, and Optimus Prime can hold two guns at once (like the sword, in the first movie Optimus only had one gun but he now has two as of ROTF). Optimus can hold one gun in each hand, obviously, and the tab isn't the standard 5mm circular thing, either. It's much thinner and is rectangular. Guess Optimus doesn't like others sharing his guns. It's a shame that the gun don't exactly look like the gigantic rifle that the CG model has, but it's a nice enough extra that's evidently added late in production (it's not advertised). So you get all of Optimus Prime's weapons! The guns store on Optimus' back, but the pegs are so loose that they fall off with a little jiggling. A pity, this, although another piece of kibble hanging off Optimus' butt does help to support the stored rifles with a little arrangements.

Articulation. Now Optimus Prime doesn't pull the punches. His head can rotate 360 degrees, and his neck can crane up due to his sternum being detachable (more on that later. His shoulder is triple jointed the triangular bits are hinged, the ball shoulder are obviously ball jointed, and the biceps are on swivel joints. His elbows are hinges, and his swords slide out. Sadly, his waist is stationary, but it's hardly noticeable with the articulation we get on his legs. His thighs are double jointed with ball and swivel joints, and the wheel ensemble can detach partially to allow free movement. Ace. His knees and ankles are both double jointed, on hinge joints sideways and front-and-back. This allows more durability than a ball joint, and more sturdiness as well. Indeed, Optimus can strike almost any pose with those badass swords and guns. Crouching, leaping, kicking, even simply standing still... His balance is just that good. Truly, he is an impressive work of art.

He's got great looks, kickass articulation, badass weaponry, great balance, show-accurate... what else could we want?

Oh, yes. THE MATRIX. While the movieverse Matrix of Leadership was basically a plot device to bring Sam and Optimus back to life, it gets included here. Move some layers around a bit, lift the aforementioned sternum up, and pull the stomach piece down. A pedestal vaguely similar to G1 Prime's Matrix moves up, and on it is the movieverse Matrix Dagger, cast in gray. No, it's not black. It is removable and does nothing other than getting itself lost and letting you spend hours looking for it on the floor, but it is a neat little accessory.

"Autobots, I'm in pursuit."
Optimus transforms into a long-nosed Peterbilt truck. It's about the largest semi truck cab out there, and the only one with enough mass to form a forty feet tall robot. The main body of the truck is blue, with red flame decals. The 'nose' and the things protecting the wheels are red (and slightly orange) decorated with blue flames. Everything else is either black, gray or silver. A tiny Autobot insignia is molded onto the front of the grill.

Optimus is a near perfect replica, as you would expect from a Movieverse mold. Everything is in its right place, and he looks just as he was on the screen. However, the gun parts form the fuel tanks, and they simply refuse to stick to Optimus' main body, since the tabs are a wee bit too big. Nothing a little force and maybe shaving wouldn't cure, though. It's also a bit jarring to see the smokestacks being coloured both silver and gray at different parts.

Those complaints aside, though, if you transformed Optimus properly (swords are a little pain to get into place) he is amazing. He rolls very well on his six wheels, and looks as if he could barrel through anyone if needed be. Sadly, unlike the robot mode there isn't particularly any showcase moment that I could associat with the truck mode.

That's about it for truck mode. What else can I say? I could write an essay on how a long nosed cab with flame decals looks vastly superior to the flat nosed G1 alternate mode aesthetically, but I don't want to ire the GEEWUN fans. So...

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability 8/10 Optimus Prime feels quite durable. The Matrix will go missing due to its small size, and I'm worried that the swords might bend (or worse, break). The side windows also seem fragile, but otherwise he's durable. Granted, I haven't dropped him yet...

Transformation Design 9/10 Beautiful transformation, although there are some quibbles like the odd choice of tabs for the guns, and there are some bits where transformation might be improved for better handling, but it's perfect anyway for something his size. And most importantly, it's fun to do. Not a chore like Leader class Optimus Prime. Shame that the guns don't stick so well...

Aesthetics 9/10Again, nearly perfect. Minor quibbles like gray being used instead of silver, the swords not orange enough and the fuel tanks and smokestacks being different colours, but both robot and vehicle modes look like they walked out of the screen.

Articulation 8/10 Above average for a Voyager class toy. The awesome knees, in particular, and his great balance, allows a great range of free-standing poses.

Price/Value 8/10 I don't feel cheated by buying this toy, so yeah.

Fun 10/10 I'LL TAKE YOU ALL ON! Come on, he has swords, he has guns... all you need is a Fallen, a Megatron, a Starscream, a Blackout Grindor and a Bonecrusher for an organ-ripping orgy.

Overall 9.5/10 What is there to say? Awesome robot and vehicle modes, great posability, great weaponry, additional Matrix included, and... what the hey, he's Optimus Prime! He rips faces off. He shoots people. If you don't have leader class versions, this one is supremely better than anything the Voyager class can chunk out.
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