Numbat's Review: Sentinel Prime
Dark of the Moon Mechtech Leader Class
Sentinel Prime is a legendary warrior, thought lost long ago. The strength of his will and the power of his sword are spoken of in reverent whispers by Autobot and Decepticon alike. Now that he has returned, the final defeat of Megatron and the Decepticons is assured.
Sentinel Prime is a character steeped in history and perhaps more myth than character, despite his appearances in G1 and Animated. As Optimus’s predecessor, any writer attempting to represent him has his work cut out for him...
But, as one might expect, Michael Bay has leapt at the opportunity of including another poorly represented iconic Transformers character in his live action film series – even after the abysmal failure of The Fallen in Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF). When hearing Sentinel Prime would be included in Dark of the Moon (DOTM), I expected him to fall into a similarly formulaic role as did his brother – after all, The Fallen was presented as a typical pantomime villain, and was a terrible disappointment as a character, whatever you may have thought of the film. So, surely, Sentinel would be a shining knight, 2D hero character?
The news that Leonard Nimoy would be involved in DOTM was exciting, and not at all worrying as with Sentinel’s inclusion. (Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t care less how Sentinel Prime appeared in the film, it was just a concern that he would be yet another dull character and point towards an uninspired plot.) His performance as Galvatron in the original G1 film was superb. Surely he would be cast as a villain?
Roll on DOTM and we have Nimoy as
Sentinel Prime – who is a more complex character than could ever have been hoped for. While it might upset many a fanboy, Sentinel’s rendition in DOTM is absolutely superb. His overtly ‘traitorous’ acts are totally justifiable – from his logical point of view (a perfect counterpoint to Shockwave in presenting the failure of perfect logic). And it was fantastic fun in the cinema.
But, we’re not here to talk about the film, or even Sentinel Prime’s character – we’re here to discuss his Leader Class toy, so, moving on...
Sentinel Prime transforms into a Rosenbauer Panther airport fire truck – a nice nod to Robots in Disguise (RID) (where Optimus Prime
transforms into a fire engine). Oddly, I really love practical 4x4s and construction machinery, but have never quite got the excitement behind fire engines. But, seeing a Rosenbauer being transported by Stirling on the motorway recently – well, they’re pretty cool, if not as big as I expected.
Measuring 9 ½” (24.5cm), Sentinel Prime is a decent sized Leader Class figure in alternate mode, although is leaning towards being a bit compact, and placing him in at roughly 1/48 scale in Rosenbauer Panther mode.
The fire engine mode carries a lot of moulded detail, with many panels, grills and lights. The designers did a great job incorporating the full-size stand-alone bunny-ear mirrors, rather than having a compromise solid small mould or missing them altogether, and the small retractable nose-hose in the bumper is also a nice touch. The articulated hose on top is actually articulated (‘elbow’ joint and swivel base), and the nice big wheels roll well – although seem a little narrow when viewed from the front. The big plate windscreen is a single piece of colourless transparent plastic, which gives the most realistic effect but does reveal the back of the robot mode head clearly. The vehicle is three-tone – with pinkish-red and black making up most of the body, with grey plastic picking out the roof, articulated hose and rails. Two of the grill doors on the sides are picked out in silver paint, with a black Rosenbauer logo printed on, while silver is again used to print ‘FIRE-RESCUE’, ‘316’ and a large Autobot insignia on each side. The front lights are highlighted with white and yellow paint, while the rear lights are all yellow. The emergency lights are moulded in blue plastic, although light up bright orange when you press the button to active the lights and siren sound.
Other than the robot head which is visible through the windscreen and part of a foot peaking out at the back, the fire engine mode hides the robot parts very well. The robot mode weapons (a double bladed sword and massive shield) are stored in this mode, which is nifty – I prefer Transformers that carry their weapons in alternate mode, rather than just having to discard them. While the double blade is completely hidden in the roof of the vehicle, unfortunately the massive shield does protrude a little at the rear of the fire engine though...
As with many of the DOTM figures, Sentinel Prime has an ‘attack mode’ which involves flipping out hidden missiles and attaching blade and shield (opened into cannon mode) to the roof. It’s actually a bit more involved and thought through than some other DOTM attack modes, but still comes off looking a bit daft. While it works for the film, with extensive CGI effects, the dumbed down simplistic toy versions just don’t quite work (whereas those moulded in attack mode, such as DOTM Deluxe Topspin
look pretty awesome, but have limited alternate mode value). Still, great fun addition for the target audience – kids – adding fantastic play-value.
The vehicle mode holds together well, but only if you get the transformation perfect – it can be quite fiddly getting all the panels to fit into place just-so. However, once you’re there, Leader Class Sentinel Prime has a very nice Rosenbauer Panther airport fire truck mode, worthy of display and solid enough for play.
Sentinel Prime’s transformation to robot is great fun (although reversing it to turn him back into the fire engine is more of a challenge). There are very few false vehicle parts in his robot mode – the way in which the front of the truck collapses to form the chest and the fantastic leg design are particular highlights. So, while the number of panels in the fire engine mode suggests that Sentinel Prime is a shell-former, he is in fact a well designed Transformer indeed. The transformation does share similarities with Transformers the Movie 2007 (TFTM) Leader Class Brawl / Devastator
, but relies less on a collapsible shell and has a more intricate chest transformation, leaving DOTM Leader Class Sentinel Prime somewhere between Brawl and ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime
in terms of level of design and complexity. Seriously, this guy has a very enjoyable transformation! (Although be careful not to hit the siren button – that can be quite annoying!)
Standing 10” (25.5cm) tall, Sentinel Prime is a similar size to ROTF and TFTM Leader Class figures in robot mode, and quite imposing. His design is influenced more by Japanese-style Transformers and mecha than any other character in the live-action Movieverse, although the head, shoulders and ‘cape’ are a nice homage to G1 Alpha Trion, while the overall effect is something more like Cybertron Vector Prime
. I really am impressed that the designers managed to pull of such a difficult design without much compromise or resorting to a complete shell-former design – the robot mode has so many curves, while the Rosenbauer Panther is as close to brick as you can get without actually being
The level of moulded detail is very high, without being detrimental to the sleek Japanese style curves and armour. The pinkish-red dominates this mode far more than the fire truck, with other details picked out in grey, black, silver and gold. The head is particularly impressive, with the dreadlock beard and intricate face, Alpha Trion eyebrows and RID Prime antennae – Sentinel Prime has a lot of character in the film, and this is carried through here in the toy’s face. Unusually, there is no Autobot insignia in this mode.
When you press the button on his chest, his eyes light up orange, his mouth opens, and he says ‘Sentinel Prime’ in a very un-Leonard Nimoy voice. I’d recommend avoiding this. In fact, probably best to take this guy’s batteries out.
Sentinel Prime is well articulated – you can position his cape panels as you like, with a great degree of freedom, while the robot has 17 points of meaningful articulation, as well as fists which can be opened or closed. Sentinel Prime does suffer from having a large section of the fire engine behind his head, containing the electrics, which affects his centre of gravity. Coupled with the unusual (but very cool) foot design, it is likely to take anyone a while to get the hang of posing him. However, he does actually have sturdy balance once you get used to those feet, and can strike many dynamic and imposing poses for display.
In keeping with Japanese warrior mecha style design, Sentinel Prime weirlds a massive double bladed sword and holds a huge shield covered in moulded Cybertronian glyphs (unfortunately not picked out in a wash of any sort). These suit the character well, and it’s one of the few cases where the Mechtech weapon is featured in the film. However, the conversion from shield to cannon is a bit strange – and not something I tend to do. The shield locks into cannon position automatically (unlike Voyager Class Mechtech weapons which need to be locked in place manually, and Deluxe Class Mechtech weapons which cannot lock in place at all) and is a great addition for play value for kids, but not something which excites me as a collector.
All in all, DOTM Leader Class Sentinel Prime is a great Leader Class figure. He has a great alternate mode, fantastic transformation, well articulated, detailed and quite different robot mode, stacks of play value and impressive poseability. The designers nailed the level of complexity perfectly with this figure – Sentinel Prime is everything a Leader Class figure should be, and I’d recommend him to any collector for the toy alone. Coupled with the great character and superb performance by Nimoy, DOTM Leader Class Sentinel Prime really shouldn’t be missed if you can afford to buy him. As much as I love DOTM Leader Class Ironhide personally, and enjoy the mind-numbingly complex perfection of ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime, objectively Sentinel Prime is far-and-away the better figure, and the second best Leader Class toy to have come out of the Movieverse lines. The best Movieverse Leader Class figure (and, perhaps best Movieverse figure to date) remains Hunt for the Decepticons (HFTD) Leader Class Starscream
, which has two perfect modes, an intuitive and fun transformation and a great voice box – but Sentinel was almost
Marks out of ten for the following:
10 – Sentinel Prime’s transformation design is really quite perfect. It’s not too complex to be an absolute pain (like ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime) and yet does not resort to a shell-former design despite changing from as close to a brick as you can get without being one (Rosenbauer Panther fire truck) to a sleek Japanese style mecha. The chest transformation is particularly impressive!
9 – Sentinel Prime seems sturdy, although I would worry about losing his weapons and parts such as the roof rails or nose hose snapping off. Still, none of these seem too likely, as the rails and nose hose can be folded down or away for storage, and the weapons can also be stored in the vehicle.
9 – Sentinel Prime is fantastic fun! The only negative is the poor sound box – if he said something more pointful than his name and possessed a voice more Nimoy-like, he’d be a ‘10’.
9 – The robot mode is superb, with the only negative being the block of fire truck behind the head holding the electronics. Similarly, the Rosenbauer Panther mode is almost perfect, but the foot peaking through and protruding shield are minor drawbacks, preventing him from achieving a ‘10’.
10 – Sentinel Prime is well articulated, and can strike a wide range of poses for display or play. The cape pieces are also very well articulated allowing these to be posed as required / desired. The transformation means that he does not have waist articulation, but this would probably weaken the robot mode anyway. I don’t think there’s a bit of articulation missing that I would think to add, and every joint has a wide range of unhindered motion. Can’t fault it.
9 – Despite the relatively high price point of Leader Class figures, I think a good one offers far more value for money than a Voyager Class or even Deluxe Class figure at current retail prices. At the lower end of shelf price (£34.99) I think Sentinel Prime is perfectly priced, and well worth the money. I’d be reluctant to pay as much as the higher end of retail (around £49.99) though.
9 – Leader Class Sentinel Prime is everything a good Leader Class figure should be, and presents a fantastic toy representing one of the best characters to have come out of the Transformers universe in decades. No matter how much I personally love Leader Class Ironhide, if you’re going to pick up one Leader Class figure from the DOTM line, Sentinel Prime should be it.