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

Name: Optimus Prime (Protoform)
Group: Movie Preview Deluxe

Before the Movie line came pouring from the floodgate, two figures preceded it by about a month: Protoform Optimus Prime and Protoform Starscream. These two toys depict the characters in their default "entry modes" they arrive in, and before they claim their Earth-based alternate modes. Tis a pretty nifty idea as the protoform figures themselves were released in advance of the rest of the toy line.

Alternate mode:

Optimus' alternate mode is an odd thing, somewhat akin to a comet. The comet sits in a state of action when the yellow/orange flame piece is attached to the rear. Apparently, Optimus houses his stellar flight modules in his toes. The comet mode has sculpted details all over that blur organic symmetry (calve muscles), mechanical engine details (what become his forearms), and the truck mode he assumes in the film (the front of the comet has windows, headlights, and a small grill (!)).

The toy folds into this mold rather well, and does not leave major holes through which the robot is visible. However, this is not terribly difficult to do given that the alternate mode is essentially free-form for the designers, as opposed to having to shoe-horn a CGI design into an existing vehicle.

Robot mode:

Optimus' robot mode is a different sort from the typical Prime: mostly blue, rounded edges, and lanky instead of bulky. He matches his CGI counterpart that appears in the movie for two seconds fairly well, from what I can tell. He still has the familiar window-chest design along with tires on his hips and ankles, though.

The painted details are very nice. Most of the parts that are cast in blue plastic also have silver highlights airbrushed on. The effect is subtle, but it produces a weathered figure that looks much better than if the plastic had been left bare.

The figure is also extremely articulate, almost to the level of Classics Mirage. The reason is that the ball/socket joints in the hips also rotate on their mounts. Prime also has big, stable feet allowing him to use that limberness without falling over.

Lastly, Prime's weapon is a nifty rifle thing that transforms too. Additionally, the flame piece from the comet mode can be attached to the barrel for a display of the weapon's fire. Or it might be a flamethrower... I can't really tell.

Transformation: 7. Fairly well thought-out a fun to transform for what is essentially a 'free form' alternate mode for the designers.
Durability: 8. Prime himself is solid with no weak points, but the flame piece is soft plastic which can be bent out of shape easily. Shouldn't break, though.
Fun: 7. Depends on how enthralled you are with Prime having a comet mode, I suppose. The robot itself is rather nifty, regardless.
Price: The retail price of $10 is basically fair: it's the same size as the other Movie Deluxe figures, even if less complex since it doesn't have to contort into a specific model of car.
Overall: 7. Protoform Optimus Prime is an interesting little fellow, and a great example of how the fiction has trumped the toys themselves: what started out as a way to sell toy cars that turn into robots has become popular enough in-and-enough itself to justify merchandise that can only be relevant with prior knowledge of the story. Prime's an oddity in that sense, though there have been others (the Titanium line featured several "War Within" figures, which are essentially in the same boat as the comet Prime). It's probably best if Hasbro limit themselves to making these oddball figures infrequently, though in small doses they're neat.
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