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StryderK's Review: DOTM 'Dragon New Year' Ultimate Optimus Prime

Well, I'm not gonna write anything about Prime. People here already did that more than once. To do so would be reinventing the wheel, rather I'd cover a bit of history here.

Blast to the Past

Now, for those few "Trans Fans" (hehe) that don't know, back in 1987, just when the original G1 cartoon was winding down here, Hasbro took the entire series to a China that's still opening up to the rest of the world, and offered to two television stations, Shanghai t.v. and another local t.v. channel the entire show. Hasbro sales pitch was that the two stations can have the entire series for free, provided Hasbro has exclusive FREE promotional rights to do commercials for the toys during the show.

Legend has it that Shanghai t.v. basically said, "pfft, no deal!" but the other local t.v. channel (Shanxi T.V. if i remembered correctly) said yes and the end result was as they say, history! The result was beyond anything anyone could predict. Soon, Chinese kids would rush home as fast as they could, throw bookbags on to the floor just so they can turn on the tv to watch the fights between the heroic "Qi Che Ren" (aka, the Autobots) and the evil "Ba Tian Hu" (aka Decepticons). It would be the start of the "Bian Xing Jin Gang" or Transformers phenomenon and there would be no turning back. Names like "Qing Tian Zhu" (aka Optimus Prime) and "Wei Zhen Tian" (aka megatron) would stay in the minds of many Chinese kids well into adulthood. So much so, that when the full 99 episodes came to an end, Shanxi TV was flooded with requests asking bascially, "Hey, where are the rest of the epsiodes?" even though it was explained the story arc ended. Reruns did nothing to dampen the Transformers enthusiathem, in fact, it made it even stronger. It was at this point that legend has it, Shanghai TV, with regrets, went back to Hasbro asking if the original deal was still open. Hasbro said yes, but with one caveat, it's now $1000 per episode!

In 2007, Michael Bay's live action Transformers movie exploded in China. The movie not only did very well in China, creating a whole new generation of "Trans-fans", but also awakened the many "lapsed" and "regret" Transformers fans.

What that mean was back in the late 80's and early 90's, when the original
G1 wave was sweeping China, owning a Transformers toy was nothing but a fantasy for 90% of the kids who loved the show. This is because back then, Chinese disposible income was nearly zero, and there wasn't a middle class to speak of. Even something as simple as a mini-bot could cost upward of 3 weeks of a parent's salary. One Chinese fan remembered that period in which he saved 6 months worth of allowances and his parents skimped on 3 months of savings to buy him "Blades", allowing him to become only the few Chinese kids to own a Tranformer.

But by 2007, with an exploding middle class full of disposible income, China looked nothing like back in 1987. Many of these middle class were kids that watched Transformers cartoons and comics growing up, and now are adults with kids of their own. A lot of them were "regret" fans that dreamed of playing with Transformers toys when they were younger, but can't because their parents can't afford them and now are buying up toys not only to play with their kids, but also to finally fullfill a long lost childhood fantasy. Hasbro, being the smart company that they are, recongnized just how huge of a market this is and have always produced "China Specials" that are only on sale in China. The latest one being the "Limited Edition Ultimate Optimus Prime Dragon New Year Special".

The Whole Kitten Kapuddle

This Chinese New Year special is obviously a repaint of the previous DOTM Ultimate Optimus with trailer that transforms into "Power-Up" Optimus with the Omega armor. With 2012 being the year of the "Dragon" on the Chinese zodiac calender, the trailer comes with overall a bright red paint job (Red being the color of luck and good fortune in Chinese new year mythology) and a brilliant golden yellow dragon sprawled across the trailer. The tail end of the trailer features the traditional Chinese character for dragon or "Long" and near the front, the Chinese characters "Ren Chen" in a "flaming sun" motif because the year of the dragon is called the "Ren Chen" year in China. Overall, the tractor trailer combo is a simdget longer than the MP-4 complete Optimus Prime Masterpiece but slight smaller. See my comparison pic for refrence.

The Tractor/Optimus

Overall, the tractor/Optimus part of this "kit" falls a bit short. This is bascially a specially modified Voyager Optimus so as to fit into the trailer component. Tractor wise, some of the color are all wrong. The grill section of the tractor is red, rather than the expected silver (nothing but an airbrush and some silver model paint would solve). There are also holes everywhere to fit into the trailer. Transformation wise, this is easy. Though it can get annoying since the whole entire lower body is squeezed into the truck cab cavity and you need to pull this out, then turn 90 degrees downward and snap the forward chest/torso into the rear chest/torso. That's the only hard part. The rest you can figure it out on your own.

The Optimus part is just "plain Jane". The biggest weakness is that the grill end holds the hands, instead of become the footplate that we used to know. This is to make the legs easier to insert into the trailer armor. Overall, even though it looks like the movie Optimus, it's again, nothing to write home about. But then again, you buy this kit, you are not buying it for Optimus, you are buying the trailer. If you want a serious Optimus figure, then go get something like the Leader class Optimus from Revenge of the Fallen. The trailer on the other hand, is anything but average.

Trailer/Omega Armor

The trailer component of this kit is pretty big, and heavy (since it contains the "Mechtech" part of the kit). It's almost as big as the entire trailer contained in the MP-4 Masterpiece Optimus (see pic for size comparison). The biggest difference of course, is that a bright red paint job replaced the classic nostalgia metallic silvery grey paint job that we come to know and love with a golden dragon sprawling from front to tail. Overall, the trailer serve its purpose to satisfy the original G1 fans of giving Optimus his trailer back. and this version, with its bright red paint job actually fit the movie Optimus even better because of his flaming motif. In fact, in order to show off the trailer and its new red paint job and its golden dragon, the packaging comes in the tractor trailer combo instead of Optimus and Omega armor packaging like the regular version. this resulted in a box that's almost 2 feet in length when purchasing. The only real quibble is that if if you store the Mechtech gimmick where it suppose to go, then it will stick way out on the bottom of the trailer and ruin the clean line. The solution is simple. Just remove it and place the Mechtech thing somewhere else.

To transform the trailer to Omega armor mode, all you need to do is separate the trailer side and top into the various "wings" of the armor, open up the leg, groin/torso and arm armor, insert Optimus in and there you have it. Again, this is why you buy the kit. not for Optimus but the trailer, and now the armor. Inside its armor cocoon, Optimus becomes an imposing figure. It's easily the largest Optimus figure ever other than the "jet wing" Optimus Prime figure sold separately. The red coloring scheme makes Optimus looking like it burst out of a sun, making him far more vibrant and colorful than the original version. Overall, the entire figure combined together goes more than 18 inches square, making finding him a place to stay a hazard.

The only fault within this mode is that it's pretty filmsy. The trailer's sides and top all separate to become the armor's wings. They hang there no problem. But don't bang them against say, the sides of a shelf or something or else something will come off. This also meant that breaking them loose from their locking pins can be a problem since they are locked tight, and you are afraid of using too much strength. This is the only weakness of the trailer.

MechTech Thing-of-mah-Jiggy
br /> The biggest gimmick, well, if we exclude the trailer here, is the big piece of, well, it looks like to me, a turbine powered Super Duper Double Handed Massive Ion Drive Cannon with Double Rocket Pack thing-of-mah-jiggly. Bascially, it's just a noise maker that's inserted into the bottom of the trailer in trailer mode (again, I suggest you do not since it does ruin the clean line of the trailer) and is held in the power fists in Omega armor mode. To put it on Prime, you first fold out the visor, put this on Prime's head and then insert the jigs into the armored power fists. Then you can click the two red button or push back the ion cannon red pusher for some quick noise that you will soon get tire. Overall, I'd rather have my RotF Leader Optimus say "I'm Optimus Prime" over and over to me again and again. At least that's somewhat interesting. This isn't.

Transformation: 5 All are pretty easy to figure out. The only serious problem in the transformation is when Prime goes to robot mode and you have to fold his front half with his rear half and of course the trailer, when you separate the wings. They just stand there, alone, which mean they can get sliced off if you bump them into something.

Durability 7: Pretty durable. Although there are basically no metal parts, unless you count the metal axles that holds the wheels together, the figure and the trailer are all pretty durable. the only weak point again, is when those wings comes out. those are the only weak part of the kit.

Realism 6 (Prime), 9 (Trailer): The Peterbuilt truck is pretty accurate, if you ignore the big hole in the hitch section and the miscoloring of the grill (red instead of silver). Robot wise, it does leave a bit to be desired. But then again, you are not paying over 100 bucks for the truck here. Trailer wise, it looks awesome. It's accurae, the "Dragon New Year" thing maybe a gimmick but the paint job does suit Prime. Omega armor wise, combined together with the Prime figure and you got a head turner whoever shows up.

Fun Factor 8: It should please anyone from kids to adults. The transformation is easy, and as long as you are careful with those trailer section wings, you should have a blast.

Collectivebility 9: But the biggest reason why you would buy it is for its collectivebility. Again, this is llimited to around the Chinese New Year only. Once the supply is gone, its done because 2013 is the year of the Snake or Serpent and a "Limited Edition Ultimate Optimus Prime Snake Year Special" just doesn't have that kind of rhyme...Although if Transformers ever cross over to G.I. Joe...Nah Hasbro would not be that stupid...Ohh Wait! OHHHH SSSSNAAAPPPSSSZZZZ!!!!! **Get Down on Knees** Dear lord do not make the movie transformers cross over to the live action G.I. Joe series! So if you miss this out, then the next "Dragon Special" would be 2024, and who know what Optimus would look like by then?

Value 8: Value wise, well, it would've been even greater had Hasbro gave us a Leader class Ultimate Prime that combined a trailer with the Leader class Optimus Prime figure from RotF. But then what? What would that kind of figure cost? 200? 250? 300? And where would you put it? Remember this kit in tractor and trailer combo is slight shade under 2 feet across and more than 16 inches square when combined in Omega armor mode. I can't even begin to imagine what would be the size of a Leader class Ultimate look like and with the dragon motif, it's even more valueable, well, at least to a guy who was born on the year of the dragon (1976) and so, this year, anything that do with dragons pretty much interest me...and now combine THAT with the Transformers.....

Overall 8.5: Not exactly over 9.0 because of the weaker Optimus figure. But then again, it is seriouly limited by the size of the trailer and the overall size of the kit. Again, a Leader class Ultimate would raise quite a few eyebrows, but who would plunk down $300 (most likely the price of such a thing) for something say 3 ft across in tractor trailer mode and over 2 ft in robot combined mode? And with this being a special edition that looks pretty cool, I guess that would be a minor quibble. I don't know if stores like Big Bad Toy Store carry this. If not, next time if you are in China in the coming few days, it might be good idea to raid the local Toys r' Us for one of these things. I'm sure it will worth the while down the line.
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