I am a Decepticons man through and through, but Optimus Prime nonetheless remains pretty much the best Transformer out there. But as a kid, I didn’t actually own very many Transformers and Optimus Prime was certainly not one of them. Though my memory is probably not totally accurate, I think he was a pretty expensive toy even then – probably around $100ish by today’s standards. I only knew one kid who had him, and believe you me I was jealous.
Though I came close to buying one back in Transformers: Armada days, I never pulled the trigger on it. So today I present to you the first Optimus Prime I’ve ever owned. Was he worth the years of waiting (since 1991)? Read on to find out!
The thing I like about the Generations theme is that they pretty much always strike a good balance between kid’s toy and adult collectable. They’re reasonably well integrated with one another, so even though certain series within the theme (like Fall of Cybertron) are designed to be faithful to their source material, they don’t look radically out of place when viewed as part of a larger whole. I guess it’s like a “Greatest Hits” line. More dedicated collectors than I may disagree, of course, but other than the Masterpiece range, I think it’s the best Transformers line on the market.
Optimus here actually has three modes – robot, truck and head/torso of Ultra Prime. And not for the first time, I will complain about the instructions included. Hasbro needs to switch to using either photos or full-colour instructions – some of the instructions are frustratingly unclear – but fortunately Optimus is relatively straightforward to change. Still, though…
As is typical of all Transformers lines, scale is a joke. In real life a truck is noticeably smaller than an F-16 fighter jet, yet Optimus towers over Starscream, for example. Though I think he looks kind of right next to Devastator in bot mode; I base my idea of scale on how big characters “should” be in my own personal canon. Optimus should be big, as he’s extremely powerful and the leader of the Autobots. But it’s okay for other bots to be bigger – even Megatron. It’s a pretty loose standard but it’s helped me avoid a ton of frustration over the years.
The truck mode is perfectly serviceable. The edges are a little too rounded for my preference – I like my trucks blocky, rather than streamlined – but it’s still satisfyingly chunky. Kids will have a lot of fun driving him around, but I’ll probably keep him in bot mode most of the time.
I haven’t even bothered switching him to Ultra Prime. Though I’ve bought a couple of Aerialbot Combiner Wars figures, I’m interested in Optimus more as a solo character – and some of the bots who are his “official” companions are not Transformers I’m interested in buying at all. Still, the figure does look cool – so I may do it one day.
The real highlight for me is the bot mode. It’s not spectacularly different from most of the other 493287409325790732095732509 different Optimus Primes that have been released since 1984, but it’s a good distillation of the basic elements. Blue head, red body, blue legs, with grey/silver accents in the appropriate spots. Nothing flashy, nothing outrageously out of the ordinary – it’s exactly what I want for my first Optimus Prime. He has all the main points of articulation that you’d want, but some are a little less mobile than you might like. A lot of this has to do with allowances needing to be made for not only his truck mode but for his Ultra Prime mode. Nonetheless, the designers have done a good job of making him as poseable as possible, while still minimising kibble.
My main nit was that I think the head is just a little too small, even allowing for the necessity of transformation. No doubt a 3rd-party company will release an upgrade kit, if they haven’t already. But the main point of contention is likely to be the lack of trailer. I don’t terribly miss it myself, but it would have been radical to see how the designers fit it all into the Combiner Wars aesthetic. Still, the money spent on additional tooling would have driven the price of the figure up to a (personally) unacceptable level. And I’d rather have none than one of those cardboard ones that have been included in other Optimus releases.
Optimus comes with two guns, which can also combine to form one larger one (presumably for Ultra Prime mode). I would have liked them to look a little more like his G1 pistol, but as guns taken on their own merits, they’re pretty darn cool. They don’t sit terribly deep in his hands, due to the unusual shape of their handles, but they can be stored on his “legs” when he’s folded into truck mode.
He’s also packaged with a trading card, which is likely to vanish into the ether within the next couple of weeks. Cool art, but nothing to get too excited about.
Most of the Transformers: Generations figures sell out like nobody’s business in Sydney – and once a wave has gone, that’s generally it. But a couple of the Voyager Class figures, including Optimus here, seem to have gone through a couple of releases and actually been restocked. Incredible! So though he’s been out for a few months, you may still be able to track one down. I believe there’s also some kind of white repaint on the way – I assume it matches something going on in the IDW comics, but I don’t know.
So, does he live up to more than 20 years of expectations? Well, no. I don’t think any toy can really live up to those kind of expectations…well, maybe the Masterpiece version. But at $50AUD, this is a great, cost effective way to get hold of a nicely designed, well-articulated Optimus Prime. It may not be the classic that the 1980s toys where, but it can certainly move a lot better!
As a toy, he’s no Devastator – but he is an essential addition to any Transformers collection. Recommended for those who need a good, all-round G1-inspired Optimus.