I’ve been meaning to get around to this one for quite a while now, but I never thought I had the time to do it right. This beauty was released back in 2003 as part of Toys R Us’ exclusive Commemorative Series, which were basically reissues of G1 Transformers. It was a great series of collectibles, and while many cases required Hasbro to ruin muck about with the molds for safety concerns, there were a few cases where Hasbro was able to improve on the originals and Powermaster Optimus here is one of them. This Commemorative release included parts that weren’t on the original US release, so outside of importing a Takara toy, this was the first time we Americans could really get this toy complete and as it was intended to be. After nearly 30 years of collecting Transformers, its hard for me to settle on a favorite figure, but if you were to put a gun to my head and make me choose, this one would probably be it. In fact, I loved this thing so much, I actually bought two so I could keep one in the package. There’s a lot to look at here, so I’m going to tackle this guy in two parts. Today we’ll look at the packaging and the vehicle modes, and then tomorrow we’ll look at the robot and base modes.
Prime comes in a huge box that just oozes G1 nostalgia. It has the same red grid pattern as the original issue toys did and the same Transformers logo. Even the side panels that show the various modes of the toy during conversion are similar to what appeared on the original box panels. The front has a flap secured with velcro that has some really awesome artwork of Apex Armor Prime. Fold it open and it reveals cutouts in the box with windows to show Prime in his truck mode, the extra Apex Armor trailer, the larger Prime head, and the Powermaster Ginrai figure.
The back of the panel features a gorgeous battle montage just like the ones that appeared in one form or another on the original G1 boxes throughout the years. There are also bio blurbs for regular flavor Prime, Apex Armor Prime, and Apex Bomber.
Open up the box and you find two sticker sheets, a large folded set of instructions, and the huge tray that slides out to reveal all the pieces of the set spread out before you. I can’t say enough great things about the packaging here. It really feels like those expensive collector sets that Takara releases for the combiners. It still baffles me that I was able to walk into a Toys R Us and buy this masterpiece off the shelf for a mere fifty bucks.
Optimus Prime’s basic truck form is fairly similar in design to his G1 version. The red cab with chromed front and silver striping should be readily familiar as is the blue and grey trailer with the stripe and Autobot emblem on the sides. There’s a little more kibble than on the original version of Prime. You can clearly see robot fists peeking out both behind the cab and on the front of the trailer, but to be fair, the designers packed so many modes into this toy, I’m amazed the basic tractor trailer mode looks as good as it does. The toy rolls along great and the cab detatches from the trailer, and as we’ll see later, transforms into a basic version of Optimus Prime, similar to the original version of Prime. This vehicle right here could have been released all by itself as a stand alone toy and it would have been just fine.
The Apex Armor trailer is a cool little battle wagon all on its own… sort of. Actually, its just a box on wheels with a big gun. The chrome front piece is made to look like a cab of sorts. And you can peg the big missile launcher onto the top. But this section really shines when its attached to the back of Prime’s trailer. Snap on all the additional weapons and parts and you get…
Optimus Prime’s Mega-Super-Destroy-You-Death-Train! That’s right, rolling along on seven sets of wheels, Prime is through taking crap and now he’s loaded for bear. This thing really strides the fine line between awesome and ridiculous, but you can hardly deny that its overkill. The cool thing about this toy is you can really customize the set up a bit by pegging the guns onto various places, but I tend to like the official version best. He’s got two angled cannons on the front of the cab, two giant guns on the front roof and one huge rotating missile launcher on the back. He’s also got a pair of wings for… well, they just look cool. You might as well be stylish while your running down Decepticons and blowing them into slag. This thing is so long, I barely have any shelves big enough to display it in all its glory.
So, that’s Powermaster Optimus Prime in all his vehicular glory. I’m going to break here and come back tomorrow to take a look at the base and various robot modes contained within this awesome toy.