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

Name: Optimus Prime
Function: Autobot Leader
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Mechtech Deluxe Class

Unlike his nemesis, Megatron, Optimus Prime has done well with toys in the live action movie line, with one Supreme Class mould, two Leader Class moulds, three Voyager Class moulds and now a Deluxe Class figure. As you would expect, some Movieverse Prime figures are better than others, although they seem to have peaked with the Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) Leader Class figure (undoubtedly the best mould, although the Takara Buster Prime version is perhaps the best version to date) and Hunt for the Decepticons (HFTD) Voyager Class Battle Blades Optimus Prime coming a close second. Both of these follow a similar and extremely complex design, which is unlikely to have gone down well with kids (and I know it didn’t with parents, with a few friends having a very frustrating Christmas Day a couple of years back when they bought the ROTF Leader Class figure as a special present for their kids only to find they couldn’t transform him, let alone the wee-uns!). Therefore, while perhaps not so popular with adult collectors, the Dark of the Moon (DOTM) tendency towards innovative and more simple transformation designs is hardly surprising and a good move for what is, at the end of the day, a kids toyline.

Also, finally, DOTM provides a Deluxe Class Optimus Prime – it was only a matter of time, but it took longer than I expected. Sales on an affordable Prime figure would surely be massive, so it came as a further surprise when it was announced that Deluxe Class Prime would be a Wal-Mart exclusive. An odd marketing move for sure... But perhaps a figure destined to become one of the most immediately sought-after store exclusives in recent history.

With this news, I didn’t expect to ever see the figure in the UK. Although my hopes were aroused when other US store exclusives started turning up as UK store exclusives. Then, as a stroke of luck, when checking out the toy isle in Sainsbury’s during a weekly shop, I came across a single Deluxe Class Optimus Prime buried behind stacks of rally Sideswipe and Bumblebee repaints. As an added bonus, they were all on sale!

I had a quick look at the figure (dubious as to how good it would look given how poor the DOTM Voyager Class figure is for a collector), and without hesitation took it to the till.

I’m not normally in to getting multiple size versions of the same Transformer, but a manageable Prime appealed to display alongside Megatron (and to just have out more easily, in the same way as HFTD Deluxe Ironhide was a great buy – I love his Movieverse character almost as much as Prime’s).

Was he worth grabbing? Is he worth hunting down? Read on and decide for yourselves!

Alternate Mode:

Unlike Megatron, the Leader of the Autobots has not suffered much in the way of redesign throughout the three live action Transformers films. Prior to the release of DOTM, Bay announced that he had been redesigned for the new film – but all this meant was a minor robot mode tweak (discussed later). His alternate mode remains the flame adorned Peterbilt Model-379 truck, and it still looks awesome as ever.

Measuring 6 ¼” (16cm) long, the Deluxe Class version is a decent sized alternate mode, and brings the figure in at around 1/50 scale. This is a nice scale for display alongside DOTM Voyager Class Megatron, although puts Prime at a larger scale compared to Megatron’s 1/70 scale! (Take home message – Megatron is big!).

The truck is packed full of moulded detail, and is actually better painted in some ways than the ROTF Leader Class figure (less clear plastic that should be blue... Infact, none). Also, there are no obvious holes in the mode, unlike Movie 2007 Leader Prime or DOTM Voyager Prime. And, as a bonus, he has six rolling wheels – none are moulded on! All good so far!

In fact, the only small thing I can use to fault this mode at all is the fact that you get a hint of his fingers at the rear of the cab – something which could have been made less obvious by making the back plate silver / grey plastic, which would be more accurate anyway... But, as it happens, the fingers are largely hidden and look a lot more like the chains that hang from the back than part of a robot. Well, that and the gap underneath the cupola. But, hey, seriously minor.

For those interested in Mechtech, Prime is blessed with only a handful of ports, none of which interfere much with the alternate mode. Suits me fine (not being a fan). Of course, Prime’s Mechtech cannon can be attached, if you’re so inclined. If you’re slightly mental, you might even flip it out into energon axe mode – which I’ll touch on more in the robot mode section.

I am quite amazed at just how fantastically detailed and realistic this Deluxe Class Prime is in Peterbilt mode. He even has a tiny moulded Autobot insignia above the front grill. The designers really went all out sculpting this, and Hasbro in a rare move painted it up to the nines. Cracking Movieverse Prime to display in alternate mode (and fun to roll around to boot).

Robot Mode:

Prime’s transformation has been rethought quite thoroughly for this Deluxe Class toy. If you’re a fan of transformations that are as accurate as the film as possible (e.g. ROTF Leader Class Prime) then this figure is not for you. However, if you like interesting transformations that are no more complex than necessary and give you two great modes, you can’t go wrong snapping this guy up. The head reveal is particularly fun, and could be branded as Automorph. He’s really quite fun to fiddle around with!

The resulting robot mode captures Movieverse Optimus Prime’s silhouette perfectly, at a pint-sized 6” (15.5cm) tall. With two exceptions – the first are the enlarged shoulder plates (which the CGI model does have, just not quite so big) and the truck nose hanging off his back (which is not visible from the front, but massive from the side!). The latter is a bit of a shame – I’m sure the design could have been modified to allow this to collapse down a little at least. But, while on display alongside DOTM Voyager Megatron he looks ace – just make sure he’s positioned to hide his caboose!

As with the truck mode, Prime is jam-packed with moulded detail in robot mode, although the finish doesn’t look quite as high quality due to the more extensive use of metallic-grey plastic for the arms, stomach and feet. Ah, the stomach... Unlike previous Movieverse Prime’s, DOTM’s Optimus now sports a biomechanoid style six-pack instead of the traditional grill. And that is the extent of Bay’s announced redesign. I think it looks good, and makes sense considering Megatron thrust his blade through Prime’s stomach in ROTF before blasting a hole the size of a Volkswagon Beetle with his fusion canon – effectively removing his entire abdomen and half his chest. It had to be rebuilt, and this is the result – snazzy. I also like the more organic look to the Transformers, which has evolved as the films have moved on, and this update brings Prime more in line with the other newer style robots.

The head sculpt deserves particular mention – it is phenomenal! I can’t believe how detailed it is, and the blue light-piping is perfect.

One notable absence, although perhaps not immediately obvious, are the four wheels on Prime’s thighs. While clearly not possible to easily have the actual wheels end up here on the robot mode due to the scale and transformation design, there are no false wheels, unlike on the Voyager Class figure. For me, this is a bonus, as it does not detract from the figure, and has avoided a situation where perhaps they an absence of paint would have been disastrous...

With 16 points of meaningful articulation, Prime is certainly very poseable. He also has superb balance, despite that truck nose hanging off his back (amazingly!). However, therein lies the rub – you can strike superb poses, and the figure looks amazing, but that truck nose is a real distraction...

On to the Mechtech weapon. This is one that I admit, I was interested in, despite not liking the gimmick in general (although it’s great for kids!). Prime uses an energon axe to end Megatron in DOTM, and this figure sports a blaster that purports to transform into this axe. And it does. Sort of. The effect, though, reminds me more of those guns in cartoons that unfurl a ‘BANG’ flag instead of firing. It looks quite like that, given Prime still holds it like a gun. With an axe sticking out the barrel. And a garish orange painted one at that (this is a case where clear orange would have really made the world of difference). Plus, as a Deluxe Class figure there is no way to keep the Mechtech weapon in its converted mode (unlike Voyager Class Mechtech weapons which can be locked in place). Still, not at all the worst Mechtech weapon I own, and one which may even occasionally find itself on display (although not so constantly as DOTM Voyager Shockwave’s, Voyager Megatron’s or Leader Sentinel Prime’s, which are either film accurate weapons or just look cool in Megatron’s case).

So... How does Deluxe Optimus Prime measure up?

Personally, I think he’s great, and has been out on display alongside DOTM Voyager Megatron and Shockwave since I bought him, and I imagine he’ll be out often. He has a perfect Peterbilt mode, really – far better than other smaller Primes, and with a really high quality paint finish that puts the standard release ROTF Leader Class figure to shame. His transformation is innovative and great fun, while not being too complex. The robot mode looks fantastic – from the front. The truck nose hanging from his back is a bit of an annoyance, and it is this which is likely to be the decider for most. If you can cope with the truck nose backpack, then grab this Prime – he certainly trumps the DOTM Voyager Class figure, and is really astonishingly good for this scale.

I am very pleased I bought him.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 6 – The transformation design is novel, relatively simple, and great fun. The only trouble is the fact that the truck nose ends up hanging off the robot mode’s back, and doesn’t even hide anything in truck mode. I think this could have been designed a little better – at least allowing the nose to collapse down a bit would make the world of difference.
Durability: 9 – Prime seems perfectly solid and is made of strong plastic. I have slight concerns about the spring-loaded head reveal (which is very cool, though!), and some of the parts lock together very stiffly in truck mode and require a degree of force to separate. Also, the instructions indicate that the legs are pulled out to form the robot mode – this is not strictly the case. They actually fold out (pull the lower section sideways, and then swing down to extend). Some people may break the figure if they try and slide the legs out instead, which is not really a durability issue but a failure in the instructions.
Fun: 9 – I think he’s fantastic! A Deluxe Class Prime that stands nicely next to Voyager Class Megatron, with two hyper-detailed modes. Only trouble is the truck nose on the robot’s back...
Aesthetics: 7 – The Peterbilt mode is sheer perfection. The robot mode is nearly perfect, but the one negative is a big one – that truck nose hanging off his back...
Articulation: 9 – Prime’s very well articulated, and well balanced, allowing many great poses – shame about the truck nose on his back...
Value/Price: 8 – At full price (£12.99 or so) I would buy him. At a sale price of £9.00 he was a total bargain. I really think this is a neat Deluxe.
Overall: 6 – Deluxe Class Prime is really cool. I love the transformation, can’t get over the detail (moulded and painted) for a mainline toy (or store exclusive, or whatever...). It’s just a shame about the truck nose on the robot’s back – if that had at least been collapsible, he would get a ‘9’. He’s that damned good, but the truck nose will be the make-or-break for most people thinking about buying him.
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