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Blackjack's review: Nemesis Prime

Name: Nemesis Prime
Allegiance: Decepticon
Size Class: Voyager Class
Accessories: Smokestacks/Stellar Converter Cannon, Wind vane/Disruptor Cannon

Broken by a nightmare eternity of torture at the hands of Straxus, Nemesis Prime does not remember what he was before he was this. He is the culmination of a grand plan never realized by Straxus before his destruction; a lowly warrior reconstructed to be the very image of Optimus Prime. Imprinted with memory engrams and combat algorithms recovered from hundreds of sources, he possesses much of the knowledge of the Autobot leader, but without any framework by which to organize it. Despite his incredible power, he is deeply unstable, a threat to Decepticons and Autobots alike. He cowers in the shadows of Cybertron, living only to stalk and destroy his fellow Transformers.

Taking place in a sci-fi setting, it is practically inevitable that somewhere down the line the writers would think of the often-reused plot of making an evil clone of our hero, Optimus Prime. The first real evil Optimus that was a character was Scourge from 2002’s Robots in Disguise, who kickstarted a trend of evil black-and-teal repaints of Optimus Prime. However, with the singular exception of Scourge, most of these repaints are named Nemesis Prime: from the evil brainwashed clone in Armada and Universe, to the man-made clone from Prime, to the ancient member of the Dynasty of Primes in the IDW continuity…

And despite the various origins he has gotten over the many continuities, Nemesis Prime ended up being an acceptable repaint of Optimus Prime, because it’s a pretty beautiful paint scheme and far, far more eye-catching than the relatively more boring white-and-blue Ultra Magnus. It’s like how most Bumblebees get turned into Cliffjumpers, most Starscreams ended up being turned into Skywarps and Thundercrackers and Acid Storms, and so Optimus Primes get repainted into Nemesis Primes.

This particular Nemesis Prime came from the second Universe line in 2008, where there was an explosion of repaints and homages to older lines. This particular Nemesis Prime, repainted from Classics Optimus Prime, started off first as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive before being released once more as a Hasbro Toy Shop exclusive. According to the bio above, this Nemesis Prime was a badass clone made by Straxus, and is an unstable psycho who lurks in the shadows of Cybertron.

Back when I was first collecting, I never really had a good Optimus Prime toy. The Voyager Movie mould left a lot to be desired, and airbrushed photographs of the Classics Optimus Prime from the so-called Ultimate Guide really made me want it. Ah, the na´ve days before I knew how to look for better toys in the internet! So imagine my surprise when I found the very same toy I have been salivating over repainted in this gorgeous black, silver and teal deco. I bought him on sight, and he has been many times the main character during my playtimes with my Transformer toys.

Alternate Mode:
Nemesis Prime transforms into a semi-truck cab. What a shock! Despite the many flak this mould has gotten for its various reuses over the years, I’ve always liked it. Maybe it’s because it isn’t exactly Optimus Prime so I’m less inclined to point out inaccuracies, or maybe it’s because it simply looks better in black and silver. He’s mainly black, with sharp silver accents on the sides of the truck and on the wind-vane. His lights are all painted in teal, and the rear portions are cast in a nice shade of dark blue. A small Decepticon insignia is placed on the upper portion of the left toy. Nemesis’ windows are cast in clear dark blue plastic. It’s a brilliant, striking paint scheme that flows together well. The slightly angled windows and the wind vane give a more dynamic feel to him than Optimus’ classic square truck cab. He’s a solid, powerful looking truck.

Nemesis rolls well on his six wheels, and the general amount of details are pretty satisfactory. It’s not all good, though. His smokestacks are pretty obviously a gun split in halves, and Nemesis’ feet pretty obviously sticks out of the rear of the vehicle. The kneecaps are also visible although not as conspicuous as the other two problems. There are also a fair amount of join lines on the side of the cab if you don’t align the plates comprising it just right. Still, thanks to the generally darker shade of plastic used, it’s nowhere as noticeable in Nemesis as it is in Optimus. And it’s actually quite plausible for an evil truck to have machineguns as smokestacks so he can shoot at Aerialbots flying above him.

There’s really not much to do with Nemesis in this mode other than rolling him around and admiring the nice evil truck. I suppose you can transform the wind-vane into its cannon mode and have some sort of evil battle truck with a cannon shooting up the highway, but that’s about it. Still, back then it was some sort of an achievement not to have all sorts of random Minicons or Cyber Keys gimmicking up the place, and when I bought him I really appreciated Nemesis greatly for that.

Robot Mode:
The general paintscheme in vehicle mode translate itself into creating a dark and moody entity that screams evil. He looks powerful, just like Optimus Prime, but seeing Optimus all painted in black feels like such a glorious desecration of the hero we’re so familiar with, and the general feel of this evil Optimus Prime ends up giving the feel of an enemy the Autobots will certainly have trouble with facing.

The upper half of the body is black, the waist and thighs are light gray and the lower legs are dark blue. Likewise, Nemesis’ head is cast in dark blue. Basically it’s a mirroring of Optimus Prime’s red-grey-blue paint scheme, only cast in extremely dark shades. And with a smattering of teal placed here and there. The teal is such a beautiful shade that spruces up Nemesis’ paintjob and goes a long way at making him look even more awesome. Nemesis, being an evil clone, has evil dark red eyes painted over the blue light-piping.

There isn’t really much kibble from the transformation, but that doesn’t mean a complete lack of it. The Classics Voyager Prime mould is famous for having the doors of the vehicle mode hang off uselessly on the sides of the lower arms, in what has been weakly justified as ‘arm-shields’. The sides visible from the door kibble are cast in a shade of clear blue plastic that actually lends this some credence, so he doesn’t really look that terrible. The fake grill and the bumper fold up neatly on Nemesis’ back.

Nemesis has a great amount of articulation, with the balance to support them. His head is ball-jointed and hinged so he can look down menacingly on you. His shoulders are double-jointed, his elbows are hinged, his waist can rotate, his thighs and knees are all double-jointed and his feet can wiggle a little. Nemesis can strike a fair amount of action poses and generally look awesome while doing it.

It’s a shame about the hands, though. They are basically just blocks with pegholes and finger sculpting. Although again, Nemesis being primarily black means this isn’t as obvious as it is here as it is with Optimus. Thankfully, the toy includes two brilliant-looking weapons that simply look impressive. I was overjoyed upon discovering these large guns, especially after being disappointed with the dinky excuses of weaponry that was the norm for the Universe line of toys. Appropriately as being an evil powerhouse, Nemesis lugs along two massive guns.

The ‘smokestacks’ fold out into a handgun somewhat resembling a submachine gun or an uzi, and generally looks pretty cool. It’s called a ‘Stellar Converter Cannon’, and generally looks cool. The windbreaker transforms into what is called a ‘Disruptor Cannon’, and while I initially thought it looked stupid, I grew fond of this space-shotgun looking thing. It is absolutely nice to see Transformers lug around large pieces of weaponry that look like they can do damage, and despite all the faults Nemesis has in the lower arm region, thankfully he can hold both of these weapons no problem. He has standard pegholes, so he can, if you are so inclined, hold even larger pieces of weaponry. Like, say, spears or swords or what-have-you.

Nemesis can store his shotgun on the peghole behind his head, which transforms to point backwards. Some instructions apparently have an alternate battle mode where this peghole rises above Nemesis’ head and the attached gun can point forwards in some kind of battle mode or whatever? I think it looks retarded. Hold the guns and shoot the enemy, Nemesis.

Nemesis is definitely far from being a perfect toy, and over the years there have been a lot of toys that blow him out of the water… but he remains one of my favourite toys simply because he’s got a solid robot mode, a solid alternate mode, a solid transformation and generally looking like a boss.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 7/10 the original Optimus Prime transformation scheme is one that has been tried over the years, and while Classics Optimus has gotten a lot of flak for ending up with crappy hands and a kibble backpack, it’s otherwise a pretty inoffensive transformation that delivers a nice-looking robot mode and isn’t too complicated for you to fiddle around with.

Durability: 10/10 Nemesis has survived a fair amount of rough play and came out with it without so much as a loose joint. I think he’s proven his durability well enough.

Aesthetics: 9/10 In case my review wasn’t clear, I think Nemesis is an absolutely gorgeous looking toy in both modes. It’s just a shame that the hands are so simple and blocky, but Nemesis holds two guns all the time anyway so I don’t see the hands that often.

Articulation: 9/10 He might not have the articulation range of newer toys, but Nemesis is a fairly articulated toy in his own right and can strike a lot of poses both stationary and dynamic.

Fun: 10/10 I personally had a lot of fun with Nemesis both as a toy and as a character to play around with. I do have a lot of fond memories of Nemesis and he often stands around my table for no reason than the fact that I like to muck around with him.

Price/Value: 9/10 I do love Nemesis. He may not be the perfect Voyager toy, but I do like him a lot not to mind the retail price I bought him at. Finding him now might be more problematic, though -- as an exclusive toy his prices might have increased over the years.

Overall: 9/10 I really like Nemesis Prime, despite all his faults. And I do find that I can ignore a few misplaced kibble here and there since the end result is a pretty impressive transformer that haven’t managed to bore me over the six or so years that I’ve owned him as of the time of writing this review. There are many versions of the Classics Optimus Prime mould released over the years, and I can easily say that this one is the undoubted victor among them even including the original usage of it. I may be a bit biased, but I don't think I can find anything particularly bad to say about Nemesis. He's a solid toy that you should check out if you can find him.
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