Last month Hasbro showed off a lot of Transformers at the NY Toy Fair and a lot of collectors came away disappointed at what was clearly a focus on toys aimed squarely at children. Imagine that? Toys… for children! What is the world coming to? All kidding aside, I totally get what collectors are looking for, but I’m glad to see that Hasbro is still trying to cultivate interest in the Transformers at a young age. I think I’m more forgiving because I’m looking mainly toward the Third-party and Masterpiece stuff for my Transformers fix these days. Anything that interests me from Hasbro is just gravy. I suppose you could debate on whether or not kids really want simpler figures with play gimmicks over nicely detailed and complex figures, but that’s another story. Of course, Hasbro has been incorporating more kid-friendly sublines into the Transformers brand for quite a few years now. Today we’re going to check out one of those figures.
Fast Action Battlers! I believe this sub-line appeared on the pegs alongside the Revenge of the Fallen toys. They’re roughly Deluxe sized figures and, curiously enough, they came on cardbacks with no actual links to the movie. The package just reads “Transformers” and the bland cards and tri-lingual text make the presentation here look rather knock-off-ish to me. Although I like the sound of “Electric Crochet” Optimus Prime… it fills me with wonder. Anyway, there’s not much to say about the packaging here, so let’s tear this guy open and see what he’s all about. We’ll start with his alt mode.
“Power Hook” Prime features his Bay movie alt mode, although it’s a fairly deformed version of it. It looks wider and lower to the ground than it should, sort of like it’s been smooshed down. All in all, for what this toy is, it’s not a terrible recreation of the movie semi cab. Take a look at the alt mode of Hasbro’s current $60 “Premium Edition” Age of Extinction Prime and tell me that the sculpt and coloring in this $10 toy is really that much worse. Yeah, there’s actually plenty of sculpted detail on this little truck, particularly on the wheels and near the hitch. With a few more paint operations around the windows and roof, I think it could have looked a lot better. Still, it’s obvious that Hasbro wasn’t going for realism here. Nonetheless, this alt mode locks together securely, rolls along well, and there isn’t a lot to betray it as a Transformer apart from some seams and the tiny Autobot emblem on the hood ornament.
Of course, they don’t call him “Power Hook” Prime for nothing. He has a huge firing hook missile sticking out of his grill. It came on a string, but I untied the string to see how much distance I could get when I fired it. The odd thing is there doesn’t seem to be any way to fire it while he’s in alt mode. At least there isn’t a fire button that I could find. Naturally you can just pull out the hook if you don’t want it protruding from the front of your truck.
The whole purpose of the “Fast Action Battlers” was to have figures that could change quickly. I can certainly appreciate that because I can remember playing with my G1 Transformers as a kid. Most of those changed fairly quickly and it made them more fun when playing out scenarios. When you split the front of Prime’s truck mode open the rest of the figure practically springs into place. The only thing left to do is plug his backpack into his back and you’re ready for action.
In robot mode, Prime is a pretty good approximation of the movie Prime, which is no small feat for such a simply engineered toy. Obviously all the detail in his chest is faked out because he transforms differently than the official movie versions. Still, there’s a ton of sculpted detail on this guy and the diminished number of paint apps isn’t as apparent as it was in his alt mode. Sure he’s got a huge backpack, but so do some of the figures in the main lines, so I won’t hold that against him.
“Power Hook” Prime a fun figure to play with because he’s got ball joints in his shoulders and hips, and hinged knees and elbows. He also has a spring effect in his waist, where you can turn his torso and it will spring back like the punching effect on the old He-Man figures. Besides good poseability, he also sports that firing hook on his left arm and the fire button is finally revealed and you’ve got Sub Zero Prime. “GET OVER HERE!”
Prime is the only Fast Action Battler I own. While fairly impressive for what it is, it’s not something that I would even think about buying today. I suspect I bought him just because back then I had two or three shelves of Optimus Prime figures on display and I was pretty much buying every version of him. The main reason I featured this figure today is because I’m about to ship it off to my eight year old nephew. When my brother told me that the kid doesn’t have many Transformers, I told him that I was going to punch him in the mouth next time I saw him. My brother, not my nephew! At least the kid is heavy into Marvel and DC, but we still need to get him on the Transformers bandwagon. Granted, this figure is a pretty simple example of what the line has to offer, but I want to get some genuine feedback from the kid on whether he likes it or if he would prefer something a little more complex. It’ll hopefully give me a little insight on whether Hasbro knows what they’re doing. It’s not exactly a focus group, but it should be interesting to see what he has to say.