If you’ve been reading my Power of the Primes reviews, you may have noticed that I’ve been peppering them with a general lack of interest in the whole Prime Armor and Prime Master gimmick. But don’t take that as a personal attack on the Prime Masters themselves, because I actually love these little guys and plan on buying every goddamn one of them. Why?
Well just look at them! They’re like a cross between Pretenders and Targetmasters. These little buggers replace the individual packaged Titan Masters assortments from the last line. I only picked up a few of those, and I don’t think I ever reviewed any of them, because they didn’t interest me a lot and I didn’t think they made for interesting reviews. Oh, I loved the Headmaster gimmick in Titans Return, but I was never big on buying different heads to swap out with the ones that came with the figures. But these? These are some tiny bots that I can really get behind. Each package features three components: The Prime Master figure, the Decoy Armor, and a weapon that attaches to the armor. The result is that there’s a lot of playability packed into these five dollar packets. Let’s start with Vector Prime…
Vector Prime’s Decoy Armor is based on G1 Metalhawk. I should at this point declare that I was already out of Transformers by the time The Pretenders hit the market, and while I’ve admired them and learned a lot about them since, I’m not all that familiar with Metalhawk. I want to say that’s because he didn’t get a US release, but I’m treading on unfamiliar territory there. Anywho, just check out the awesome paint and sculpting that went into this Pretender Shell! Keep in mind these aren’t all that much bigger than the Titan/Prime Masters. The blue plastic is quite brilliant and looks great with the silver, red, and yellow paint apps. I also dig how the helmet has an open face so you can make out the Prime Master’s face inside it. Have there ever been toy suits of armor for figures as small as these? I doubt it. The legs are static, but the arms can rotate.
From the back, we can see his weapon attached on a hinge for storage. It can be removed and Vector Prime can hold it while he’s in his Decoy Armor. Granted, it’s really big for him, but that’s because it also doubles as part of a the Decoy Armor’s Targetmaster gimmick. But before we get to that, let’s open up the armor and have a look at Vector Prime. Damn, these tiny guys are complicated!
The armor hinges open at the feet to reveal the little fella inside. The Prime Masters are basically the same as the Titan Masters in scale and articulation. You still get ball joints in the head and shoulders, and hinges at the hips and knees, but with the legs fused together. Vector Prime’s black and blue plastic matches that of his Decoy Armor, and you actually get a little silver paint on his teeny little face. These Prime Masters transform exactly like the Titan Masters, only instead of changing into heads, they change into little box-like chips that can be inserted into the Prime Armor that comes with the larger figures. Now you can transform the Decoy Armor into a gun and place Vector Prime in it. And since he didn’t come with any weapons, I’m going to use Grimlock to showcase the Targetmaster Gimmicks today.
“ME GRIMLOCK SAY HASBRO MARKETING GENIUS. NOT GIVE WEAPONS IN PACKAGE. MAKE YOU BUY TINY BOTS FOR WEAPONS!”
I think Grimlock may have a point. He might have been light on weapons as an incentive to pick up these packs. But even if that’s so, damn I love this! The Decoy Armors’ weapon modes are a tad large for Deluxes, but they’re very well suited for Voyagers or Leaders. Vector Prime’s armor makes a pretty good looking single-barrel gun, and you can stick him on top in his chip mode, or keep him in the armor. Brilliant! Moving on to Micronus…
Micronus’ Decoy Armor is based off of G1 Cloudburst, and here’s one that I actually remember. The shell is a little less rounded than the original release, but the resemblance is certainly there. Again, it’s a really nice sculpt for such a little toy and the coloring consists of some bright red plastic, black plastic, and some white and blue paint apps. Like Vector Prime, Micronus can be seen peeking out through the face hole in the armor and his gun hangs off the back for storage or can be equipped in either of the Pretender Shell’s hands.
Open up the Armor and out comes Micronus. His deco shares that of the Decoy Armor’s red and black plastic, and his little face is painted blue. How about the Targetmaster mode?
Micronus’ Armor changes into a double-barreled gun, which looks pretty damn good in Grimlock’s hand. And if you’d rather have Micronus plugged into Grimlock’s Prime Armor… go for it. Moving on to the final figure of the trio… Liege Maximo.
Liege Maximo is the lone Decepticon of the bunch and his Decoy Armor is also the most familiar to me as Skullgrin. Wait, he’s a Prime, but he’s a Decepticon? I gotta be honest, I don’t understand all the hows and whys of this whole Prime Master thing. I just know that Pretenders make me happy and this little Skullgrin doubly so. The blend of gray and neon mauve plastic is outrageously beautiful, with some white paint added to pick out his belt and skull. The sculpting on this guy is also fantastic.
A peek at the back reveals Maximo has a rather unconventional weapon stored there. Pop it off and put it in the Armor’s hand and it becomes… I dunno, a big slashing claw? Sure, why not!
Pop open the Decoy Armor and you can see that Liege Maximo shares the Pretender Shell’s amazing deco. I think he’s my favorite of the bunch because the sculpt on him just looks so crisp and the face paint is especially well done.
I’ll be honest, Maximo’s weapon mode doesn’t do a lot for me. It kind of just looks like a rake or something. Grimlock is not terribly impressed either, but the silver paint is sure nice. Besides, you didn’t come with jack-squat, Grimlock. Beggers can’t be choosers, so take the hot-pink claw thingie and like it!
Holy shit, these are some fun little toys! I know that the Titan Masters came with little vehicles, but in the end they were just Headmasters without proper bodies and were kind of lost on me. But here, Hasbro went in an entirely new direction and it pays off for me big time. When you consider that a big part of the Prime Master gimmick consists of big ugly armor pieces and pretend powers written down on the backs of cards, I really dig that Hasbro packed so much more playability into these little guys. The Pretender Shells are an impossible homage… Something I never thought Hasbro would ever revisit again in a million years, and yet here they are alive and well and swinging on the pegs down at my local Target. And if tiny action figures in armor isn’t enough, incorporating the Targetmaster gimmick into it as well just goes above and beyond. Keep making these little buggers, Hasbro, and I promise I will buy them all!