Transformers (Robot Enhanced Design Series): Optimus Prime by Hasbro

I’m checking in today with a look at the Walmart Exclusive Robot Enhanced Design Series of Transformers. These roughly 6-inch figures have garnered a bit of shade from collectors as being Transformers that don’t actually transform. I understand where the critics are coming from, but personally I happen to like the idea. A lot of these characters mean a lot to me, and as a result have evolved beyond the mere gimmick of their toy line. It also allows for some stylistic and articulation designs that are not always possible in true Transformers. Although, I’ll grant that Hasbro has been getting better and better at that solving those problems lately. The initial (and possibly only?) wave of these figures included Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Soundwave, and while I was a little tempted to start with Megatron, let’s just go ahead and kick off with Prime!

Wow, this is some kick ass packaging! The figures come in window boxes with a slanted side and some gorgeous wraparound character art. You get a good look at the figure inside, and if you look really carefully down at the bottom of the box, it states that the figure does not convert. Maybe, they should have made that a little bit clearer. Anyway, let’s rip this bot open and check him out.

So, RED Prime stands a little more than a head shorter than the recent Earthrise and Siege Primes, but stands at the same height as Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars, Marvel, or GI JOE figures. My initial reaction is that he looks really good. He has a stylized appearance that takes a little advantage of the non-transforming design. Most notably, he has no wheels visible, which some people may love. Personally, I don’t mind the wheels on the robot mode, as long as they’re well placed. The figure does take full advantage of being able to make him look just as good from behind as he does from the front. No need for hollow legs or kibble makes for a solid looking figure all 360-degrees around. The plastic used for this figure is very dense and comes across as softer than the regular Transformers. As a result, RED Prime looks a lot less hyper-detailed than Earthrise or Siege Prime. Part of this could be going for that simpler, animated look, but I think some of it has to do with this plastic not holding the details as sharply. I think the whether or not that’s a good thing will come down to personal preference. I will say that the plastic is nice and chunky and makes this a fun figure to handle.

Prime’s deco makes use of colored plastic as much as possible. The upper legs and lower waist are off-white, there’s a dull silver on the abdominal grill, as well as some dark gray. The red and blue are both darker and duller than I would have liked, but it’s not a big issue for me. You do get some yellow paint on the lower waist, but sadly none on the roof lights. It’s hard to tell whether that was an effort to cut costs, or make the truck parts blend in more in robot form. It’s also worth pointing out that the upper pins in the knees are not painted to match the upper legs. I can’t really excuse this, since it doesn’t match on either side and the pin just needed to be cast in the same color as the legs.

The head sculpt is good, but I think it’s here where the plastic quality mars the figure the most. It looks really soft, especially when compared to his transforming brothers. Again, not bad on its own, but really apparent when comparing the figures. And while we’re talking about this region, I might as well mention how unfortunately bendy those smokestacks on his shoulders are.

The chest windows are tinted clear plastic and chow off the Matrix of Leadership, which resides inside. The chest panels do open and you can remove the Matrix. It looks kind of plain inside the cavity, but again that may be intended for the cleaner, animated look. The Matrix itself looks great.

I believe articulation is intended to be the real selling point of this figure, and I’m happy to say that it does deliver in some areas. The arms are pretty standard with rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. The legs have have rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles that allow for lateral movement in the feet. There’s a swivel in the waist, and the neck is ball jointed. All this articulation means that the figure is tons of fun to play around with, but is it a huge improvement over the transforming Earthrise figure? Not really. In fact, I found that the Earthrise Prime could do most of what this one could do as well.

You do get some nice accessories, including a total of two pairs of hands, and some extra right hands. These include fists, relaxed hands, a gun holding hand, and The Pointing FInger of Leadership. These just pop out of the arms and are pretty easy to swap out.

Next up, you get Prime’s iconic Buster Rifle, which is a bit soft, but still a very nice sculpt. It was a bit of a chore getting it into his hand for the first time, but now that it’s in there, I can leave it in there and just swap out the hand when I want him to wield it.

And finally, he comes with his Energon Axe, which can be swapped out with either hand. I’m not usually a big fan of this piece, but it does look great on the figure, and I may wind up using it to display Prime’s fight on top of Hoover Dam once I open Megatron.

I like this figure a lot, but I can tell right now it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s safe to say that it’s among the best figures of Sunbow Optimus Prime that I have handled. He’s lots of fun to play with, and I think Hasbro did a decent job taking advantage of the non-converting nature of the figure to deliver a clean and stylized figure. On the other hand, the transforming versions of Prime are getting so damn good, that as a figure, I still prefer the Siege Prime over this one. It looks better, it has nearly the same level of articulation, and he does it all without having to give up his transforming ability. Now if this type of figure had been released 10 years ago? Well, that would have been something. I’m still very eager to check out Megatron, as I think he will benefit a lot from this Robot Enhanced Design series.

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