Last week Takara announced that they are releasing a commemorative re-issue of Fire Convoy from Car Robots 2000, better known to us Yanks as Optimus Prime from Robots in Disguise. Also last week, I turned 41. If that didn’t already make me feel old then realizing that Robots in Disguise is already 13 years old really drove the point home for me. Anyway, RiD was the line that got me back into collecting Transformers and was also the gateway drug that got me back into collecting toys in general. If it hadn’t been for this guy, I might have spent the last decade blowing a lot more of my money on booze and other more distructive vices and who knows if I’d even still be here today. I thought it would be fun to run some Transformers Thursday features on the RiD line and where better to start than Optimus Prime himself?
Look, I actually still have the packaging for this guy! It’s a little rough around the edges, but Prime has lived in his box on a shelf ever since I came to the realization that I don’t have the room to display all my Transformers. The RiD line didn’t rely on a whole lot of nostalgia in the presentation. You got a brand new logo and an attractive black and red box. The toy is boxed in its alt mode and you can get a pretty good look at what you’re getting inside.
The back of the package sucks. It has a little clip out profile card and a lot of boring text in three different languages. When I was a kid in a toy store the first thing I used to do when I found a toy I was interested in was look at the back of the box. This is where all the cool photos of the toy should be. This is where you see all the accessories and action features and it interacting with other toys in the line. You don’t get any of that here. The box doesn’t even have a picture of Prime’s basic robot mode anywhere on it. Sheesh!
So, here’s Prime as a fire truck. I love the concept because fire trucks have always been innately heroic symbols to me. They represent courage and self-sacrifice, so a fire truck is a no brainer for a Prime alt mode. This is a great looking toy, with lots of attention to detail that gives it a nice sense of realism. You get big clear blue windshields, chrome wheels with real rubber tires, and big Autobot symbols on each side. Nice little touches also include the little ladder on the side and the seat where the ladder operator would sit. Sure, you can see one of Prime’s heads under the ladder, but that’s no big deal for me. Yup, he’s a great looking toy, but as soon as you pick it up, it’s going to fall apart, so it’s best not to handle it too much. It’s just one of the things about this guy that probably makes him better as a collector piece than an actual toy.
Besides rolling along, Prime has some play features. He has electronic lights and sounds, but I’ve never put batteries in him to test it out. That’s probably a good thing, because if I had, the toy would probably have been ruined with battery goo by now. His ladder can elevate and turn and it also packs a couple cool surprises. Push the button at the front and two water cannons pop out of the front. Push the button on the back of the ladder and four missile launchers snap up and are ready to fire. I was amazed to find that I still had all the missiles!
Transforming Prime is similar to a lot of Optimus toys in that you detach his trailer, or in this case the bulk of the fire truck, and just transform the cab. What you come away with is pretty unique in that most of his robot mode is rolled up into the shell of the cab. Prime features very organic looking legs and arms with some more boxy and angular bits for his lower legs and shoulders. His chest plate is vac metal plated, and while mine has a few little chips here and there, I think it has held up pretty well. The head sculpt is certainly influenced by the Prime I know and love, but it’s extremely stylized and one that I could never really get behind.
As an action figure, Prime features some fun and useful articulation. His shoulders rotate and have lateral movement. His elbows are hinged and have swivels, and his fists are ball jointed. His legs feature universal movement at the hips, have hinges and swivels at the knees, and his ankles and neck are ball jointed. Of course, when you get tired of playing around with this version of Prime, it’s time to build him bigger. Taking a page from the old Apex Armor concept, you can cannibalize the rest of his vehicle mode and armor up Prime to his Ultimate mode.
The first thing you do is build him bigger arms and feet and pop on his shoulder armor. I actually kind of dig the way he looks in this transitional stage. There’s some really cool engineering here. I especially love the way the wheels fold up to become the soles of the feet. But, you’re not done yet. Next you’re going to take the rest of the fire truck and put it over his head so he can wear it like a backpack and new chest plate.
Prime’s Ultimate mode is absolutely bitchin. No, it’s not very Optimus Primey to me, and that’s my biggest issue with this mode. The head reminds me more of Optimus Primal than anything else and there isn’t a lot in the robot mode to link him to the traditional Prime designs of the past or future. That having been said, I still think this is a spectacular looking robot mode. I like the proportions a lot, the detail on him is crazy, and the additional chrome bits really make the figure stand out.
Since Prime is basically the base figure wearing armor, he retains a lot of the same articulation and that’s both good and bad. Yes, you can still pose him, but his hip joints are a little too weak for the huge amount of bulk added to him so he tends to want to do the splits. The giant ladder coming off his back helps to serve as a third leg and stabilize him, but at the same time it really gets in the way of putting him in any great action poses. Also, the more I play around with him, the quicker I get frustrated over the ladder portion wanting to pop off of his torso.
I honestly had no idea how I was going to feel about this toy after he’s been in storage for so long. I’m a little surprised at how awesome I still think he is. I think a lot of my love for him comes from my fondness for Powermaster Prime as the two toys have a lot in common. RiD Prime even has a base mode, which I didn’t bother showing off because it’s pretty crap. No, this guy is definitely not a traditional Prime toy and he’s never been a default Prime in my collection, but I still love this toy a lot. The fact that you can get to his Ultimate mode from that fire truck is still an amazing bit of engineering, even if it does cheat a bit by being a parts-former. Now that I have him out and standing in front of me, I’m not eager to put him back into storage, so I may have to find a place for him on my shelf for a little while.
Such a cool figure. I picked up the “titanium” version of the RiD Firetruck Prime. Interestingly that version was hailed as one of the better executed titanium transformers even though it had the least amount of diecast metal of any of them- it was mostly plastic tabs. Anyway I was sucking on my momma’s tiities when this review transformer came out so maybe some day I’ll find it at a garage sale or Hasbro will paint it white and re-release it as Ultra Magnus!
He got a yellow repaint as… um… Yellow Optimus Prime! I had that one for a while but he was let go in The Great Toy Purge of 2006. A terrible time! Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you!