Transformers Armada: Optimus Prime with Overrun by Hasbro

Last week on Transformers Thursday I looked at a Deluxe Prime toy that left me less than enthused. I hate ragging on Transformers, so I thought this week I’d dig out one of my favorite Deluxe treatments of the character. He hails from the Armada line and while he was a huge departure from the G1 Prime we knew, I fell in love with this toy the first time Hasbro leaked the official pictures. If you haven’t already heard me gas on about Armada, the line holds a lot of nostalgia for me. Sure, I got back into collecting Transformers with Robots in Disguise, but that line always felt like a cobbled together mess. When Armada rolled out it felt like a real cohesive toyline and I was all over it. While I do still have a bunch of Deluxe Armada figures Mint on Card, Prime isn’t one of them, so let’s jump right in and start with his alt mode.

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As a red and blue semi-cab, Prime still honors his most iconic alt mode, but there’s enough of a futuristic bent to this new design that makes it totally distinctive. With the way the hood hunches up and the front fenders flare out, this truck looks like it would be at just as at home driving the metal freeways of Iacon City as it would the pavement of Earth. Back then we didn’t have an actual Cybertronian Prime, and this figure worked well as a stand in. The low and wide profile, chunky grill and ramming bar also makes it look like a powerful and rugged vehicle that’s ready for battle. The coloring here is firmly rooted in Prime’s past, using a very pleasing combination of red, blue, and grey plastic. With the exception of the silver painted windshield and some gold, the truck mode shows its paint apps rather sparingly, but it’s still a great looking deco. In terms of reinventions go, I just love this design.

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Of course, like most Armada figures, Prime comes with a Minicon buddy and in this case, it’s Overrun, a little silver jet. The jet mode looks pretty good, and he even has a teeny tiny flip down front landing gear. He is, however, a little bland and I think some extra paint operations would have gone a long way to make him more striking. His robot mode is alright for a Minicon, but I can’t help but think it could have been a homerun if they had managed to fold the nose down flush with his chest instead of having it stick straight out. My last gripe with this guy is that his connection port is on top, which makes attaching him to Prime in vehicle mode a little awkward. How cool would have been if he could just sit on Prime’s hitch and launch off the back, especially since Prime isn’t using that hitch for anything else.

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And then there’s the robot mode, and oh my, this is an interesting design. Like his alt mode, this looks like a Prime that is ready to charge into battle. Gone are the windshields on his chest and in their place is that beefy grill that he wears like a slab of armor. He’s got the shoulders of a linebacker, giant wheels studding his legs, and his exhaust pipes become dual arm-mounted guns. This is clearly a version of Prime that you don’t mess with. It’s a totally new look for the leader of the Autobots and it totally works for me. On the other hand, Prime purists should be very happy with the very familiar head sculpt, which is possibly one of my favorite portraits of the character in this size class. Whoever designed this guy gets my sincerest compliments.

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That’s not to say this figure doesn’t have a few problems. First and foremost, those exhaust pipes pop off at the drop of a hat. The fact that I still have them is just pure luck, as I’ve recovered them from rattling around in the bottom of a tote plenty of times. At least they aren’t clear like the ones on the bigger version of this figure. Next up, his forearms do not like to stay in the right position and tend to slide out over his fists when playing around with him. And speaking of playing around with him, the articulation on this guy is a little rough. It’s not that the points aren’t there, but rather a lot of the sculpt is at odds with good poseability. It’s like a guy in a suit of armor trying to do gymnastics.

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There’s nothing I love more than Targetmaster-style Minicons, and Overrun can indeed transform into a gun for Prime to wield in either hand. As for as tertiary gun modes go this Overrun’s isn’t too bad. That’s a good thing because the Minicon gimmick on this figure sucks. You plug Overrun into the post on Prime’s back and it creates this horribly lame punching gimmick. It really is dreadful and best forgotten.

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And yet I love this figure even with its blemishes, mainly because he just looks so bad ass on the shelf. When you have an iconic character like Optimus Prime, messing around with his look is a huge gamble, especially when you’re trying to re-launch the franchise. This new Prime was a bold move on Hasbro’s part and I think it paid off in spades. This is an Optimus Prime that looks like he’s built for combat and it’s a refreshing change. Of course, there was also a larger version of this figure that came with his trailer, but I still prefer this Deluxe version for reasons I’ll get into when I finally get around to covering the big guy.

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