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Optimus Prime

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

This may sound weird coming from a site that prides itself on having the internet's best reviews, but you should never take other people's opinions as gospel - you can only really judge a toy after you play with it for yourself.

As leader of the Autobots, and their foremost warrior, Optimus Prime has gone through many changes over the years. He alters his weapons and body based on the needs of a mission, or as a result of damage sustained in combat. He learns from every situation, always coming back to duty tougher and more powerful than before.

The idea of Optimus Prime as a long-nosed truck didn't originate with the movie: it had been around since Generation 2's Laser Optimus Prime, and that's what this figure is homaging. Of course, the G2 figure didn't have flames on the hood, so we're not saying it's entirely free from movie influence, either. The truck is 5½" long, 2⅜" wide and the same 2⅜" tall, and aall the wheels rool, as long as you'e got them lined up so they all touch the ground at the same time. The front end of the truck may be long, but it's not as blocky as the G2 mold was: that was almost all right angles, while this is slightly more sleek and aerodynamic.

There are some really nice details on the truck. The tires all have sculpted treads, and the four rear tires are actually eight: they're each molded to look like two. There are vents on the sides of the engine, windshield wipers on the glass, lights on the roof, doorhandles, gas tanks and access panels with diamond plating above to create a step, and even a real trailer hitch in the back! No, he doesn't have a trailer, but he has a hitch, so that's at least something. Get working, third-party creators!

The worst part of this mode is the colors. G2 Laser Prime was no treat to look at, but this one is a horrible mishmash of colors. The front is red, with flames blowing back rather than actually blending into the black. That would be fine, except when you move from the engine to the actual cab, it suddenly changes to blue, making the entire front end look like a bad half-finished custom. The headlights, windshield and grill (for whatever reason) are translucent orange plastic, but the windows are solid orange.

The old toy had a conversion that was very simple, yet classic - it wasn't really one that needed to be updated. But there's a difference between "doesn't need to be" and "shouldn't be," and though the process is complex, it's not just change for change's sake. As you may recall, the old design involved quite a few cheats to take deatils from the vehicle mode and put them on the robot mode, but this one does it all for real. It's not just complex, it's clever, and that counts for a lot. The way you move the wheels up off the shins and embed them into the legs is particularly cool.

If you look at the old toy's head, it's very wide and has a flat face - it was a look that fit with the old, blocky body, but since the body's been update, the head has been as well. The new head's very harsh and angular, reminding me of nothing so much as the Sports Label Optimus Prime. Though in retrospect they look very little alike. It's just very, very pointy.

Many of the sculptural details on this figure directly reference the old one. There's the entire torso, obviously (though this time those really are the truck's windows, not a facsimile), but even things like the shape of the feet, shins and knees, or the design of the shoulders. But at the same time, everything is more rounded and "organic," for lack of a better term. There's a very cool Easter egg in the sculpt, too: when you're changing the truck into a robot, you fold the solid orange windows into the chest; when they come together in there, sculpted details on each line up to reveal the Matrix of Leadership. It's hard to see through the glass, but it's in there, and that's awesome!

Laser Optimus Prime was a highly articulated figure for its time, and this one carries on that tradition today. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders (on the body) hinged shoulders (on the arm), swivel biceps, hinged elbows, balljointed and hinged wrists, swivel waist, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, hinged ankles and balljointed feet. Very few Transformers move this well, particularly in the Deluxe scale. The only bad part is the peg that helps hold the two halves of the engine together: it sits low on the shoulder, and so bumps up against the body in most poses.

Prime includes one accessory: a sword, just like the old figure had. The blade is translucent orange, with a series of parallel lines along its length. It stores between the robot's legs in vehicle mode (another old reference), and the truck's hitch becomes the sword's hilt - brilliant! If you don't want to have him holding the sword (it can cause stress marks in his hand), it can store in a slot on his back.

This Optimus Prime is part of the "Reveal the Shield" promotion, so he has a heat-sensitive rubsign on the roof of the truck - yeah, as if there were any question where his allegiences lie. He's part of the final series of figures (along with Perceptor and Wreck-Gar) and is thus nearly impossible to find, since they never appeared in any kind of numbers. I personally saw him only once, at one of those puzzle stores in the mall, but passed (I was holding out for a black repaint to turn the mold into Scourge, hoping it would be one of this year's SDCC exclusives, but no such luck). If I hadn't received this figure as a gift from a reader, I wouldn't have bothered getting it, and that would have been a mistake: everything I heard about this Laser Prime homage was negative, but having played with the toy myself? He's great, and I can't believe anybody was badmouthing him!

-- 08/02/11


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