Transformers Kre-O: Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 2

And we’re back for the second half of a Kre-O Optimus Prime feature that is rapidly wearing on my patience. I say “second half” but this is going to go a lot quicker than yesterday. Having built Prime into his truck and trailer mode and shooting some pictures, last night I poured myself a generous glass of Jameson and set about to pulling him apart. I took the time to separate the parts by color, poured another glass, and dove in to rebuilding him as robot and battlestation. Having the parts separated was a huge help and overall this build went smoother and faster, but there were a lot more parts left over, so that might explain why. With a little perseverance, and two more glasses of Jamie, I was able to wrap up the build before turning in for the night. It would have been helpful to use the box as a tray for the parts, but after two days the cat has still not relinquished it.

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Ok, so let’s start with Prime’s robot mode.

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I like it a lot! I do wish I still had my Kre-O Bumblebee built so that I could compare the two in size, but after two days of wrestling with Kre-O, I would rather scrape my tongue with a cheese grater than build another one. So, sorry, but no comparison pictures. Prime strikes me as being about the same size, but a little less beefy and less complex. There are some really cool design features to him, like the way his chest is constructed, his smokestack backpack is neat, and oddly enough I really dig the construction of his feet. He’s very well proportioned and the head sculpt is particularly nice and a lot more evocative of G1 Prime than the Bayformer version. Only six of his wheels actually transfer to his robot mode, this may bother some people, but I’m ok with it. Still, he does look a tad skimpy in the arms and legs. Not bad, mind you, just like he could have used a little extra oomf.

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Prime features ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles, and his fists rotate. He has pretty good poseability and he holds together fairly well while I’m fiddling about with him. I know some people complain Kre-O doesn’t hold together, but that hasn’t been my experience.

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The other part of this build is the “battlestation” which is really more of a little base for the human Kreons to hang out and do maintenance on their motorcycles. There aren’t any guns or anything else to suggest it is a station for battle. Keep in mind, I tried to use as many parts as I could to build this, so mine’s a bit of an enhanced custom job over the suggested model. It’s not bad for what it is. You get a control center, a maintenance area with a rack for the tools. I added a place for them to keep their helmets, and both bikes can fit in the base. You also get a pair of barricades. The whole ensemble sort of looks like something that Prime’s trailer can transform into. I’m vaguely reminded of other trailer base modes. I’m fairly certain, the base is built only from parts using the trailer, but since I already pulled everything apart, I won’t swear on that.

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And that’s Kre-O Optimus Prime. He’s a cool set, but he definitely taxed my enthusiasm for building these things. All the modes are fairly well designed, and everything fit together pretty well, but building it still made me appreciate Lego all the more. Even the most complex Lego sets are still fun to build, because they’re carefully thought out with that purpose in mind. This Kre-O set felt like it was working against me and at times it plunged below my tolerances. It was originally around $60, which isn’t too bad considering all the parts and the play potential, but I picked up mine a while back on clearance for about $25, which is certainly a more appetizing price. Now, he’ll stand on a shelf for a couple of days before I can get the nerve up to break him down again and file him away with my other Kre-O, Lego, and Megabloks sets. I do know, that unless I can find some of the GI JOE sets, I’m going to be done with Kre-O for a while.

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Transformers Kre-O: Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 1

I’ve had this beauty sitting in my closet for months waiting for the right time to build it, well I was on vacation last week and it seemed like a good time. While I have been more or less impressed with the three or four Transformers Kre-O kits that I have built, Prime here was the last one that I plan to pick up. The direction the new stuff has taken doesn’t interest me as much and I just think my brick-monies are better spent if I kept channeling them into Lego. Anyway, this thing is a beast of a set and, like all Kre-O Transformers, it needs to be built twice, so I’m doing this guy in two parts because considering the amount of time I had to spend on him, I’m damn well going to get two features out of him. Today I’ll kick it off with the packaging, Kreons, and the vehicle mode, and tomorrow I’ll be back to check out the robot and the battle station!

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Holy hell, this box is HUGE. I guess that’s to be expected since I’m pretty sure this set is the largest Transformers Kre-O kit to date. Prime comes in the same briefcase style case that is designed to close up and store the pieces. The front shows off an illustration of the toy, while the back shows actual pictures of what you’re building. Keep in mind, if you want to put the stickers on as they are in the picture, you won’t be able to take the cab apart. Also, I’m not sure how their “3-in-1” math works out. You can build it as a vehicle or as the robot and battlestation. That’s more like “2-in1” in my book. Anyway, I’ve kept the boxes for all my other Kre-O sets, but I doubt I’ll keep this one. It’s been leaning up against the wall in one of my toy closets for a while now and I’m kind of anxious to get rid of it. Besides, once I break this set down again and put the pieces into baggies, it’ll take up a lot less space.

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On second thought, I may have to keep it, as the cat has adopted it as his new bed… right in the middle of my attempt to build it. Here’s another illustration of why cats and Lego (or even imitation Lego) don’t mix. He may have thought he was helping because he did actually chew some of the parts off their sprues.

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Inside the box (cat not included) you get two large color instruction books and like a thousand baggies of bricks. Ok, it’s probably not a thousand bags. It’s probably more like six or seven bags. They weren’t numbered so I can’t be sure. And therein is the true fun or torture of this set. Since the bags aren’t numbered, or even grouped in any special way, you have to dump them all together and that leads to a ton of sorting and searching and hunting. I actually kind of enjoyed the added challenge on the 200-300 piece sets, but Optimus is nearly 550 pieces and to be honest, it got to be a real pain in the ass after a while. The color coding in the instructions is also a bitch. It’s tough to tell what’s supposed to be black, grey, dark grey, or metallic grey, and since a lot of times you’re dealing with the same piece in multiple colors, you need to just go with your gut and hope for the best. There were times when I realized I probably used a dark grey 2×2 when I was supposed to use a light grey 2×2, because that’s all I had left. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but it’s worth pointing out that building this was more challenging than any Lego set I’ve ever done. The recommended age group is 8 to 14, which I believe actually means that if an 8 year old starts it, he can be expected to finish it by the time he hits 14. Anyway, when you’re all done with the first build, you get five Kreons, two motorcycles, and Prime’s cab and trailer. Let’s start with the Kreons…

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The set includes three Transformer Kreons and two human Kreons. The Transformers are the ones I really care about. They’re the original kind that are just cute little collectible figures and cannot transform. I adore these stupid little things and I think they lost a lot of their charm when Hasbro started making them with crappy alt modes. The set has Optimus Prime, Smokescreen, and Skywarp. It’s an eclectic mix, but I love them all. They’re all excellent, but I think Skywarp is my favorite. I like the way they did the wings and the doors on him and Smokescreen. Prime also has little clip-on smokestacks on his arms. All three of these little guys are excellent.

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The humans are the same Kreon with their colors changed around. You get motorcycle helmets and hats for each, so they can be used to work in the battle station or drive the motorcycles. They’re ok. I’ll confess while I’m not a big fan of the human Kreon styles, it is nice to have some human figures in scale with the robots. The motorcycles are kind of shitty. They’re each made up of two ill-fitting halves with wheels popped on. I guess they’re ok for what they are, but I don’t have much use for them.

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Generally, I find the vehicle modes of the past Kre-O sets I built to be a bit wanting. Prime’s cab, on the other hand, is excellent and took me the bulk of the time to build. It’s very involved and the end result is well worth the effort. The instructions get rather silly with the placement of Autobot stickers, suggesting that I put two on the hood and three on the roof. I opted for just one on the roof. For a Lego-style vehicle, I think this thing looks great.

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The doors open and there’s room for one Kreon to sit at the wheel and yes, if you’re feeling wacky you can actually have Prime drive himself. The back portion of the cab can pull off to reveal a little workstation for the Kreons. I actually thought this would be part of the battlestation, so I didn’t shoot any pictures and then found that I had to cannibalize it for the second build. Oops!

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The trailer is scaled just a little shorter than I would have liked, but it still looks really nice when hitched up to the cab. It holds together pretty well for what is basically a shell. The Autobot symbols and striping on the sides are printed on, which is a welcome treat since the Kre-O stickers don’t stay on for shit. The back door can drop down to form a ramp and you can put both motorcycles inside. You can also break it apart at the top and swing both halves apart to give you access inside. There’s not much going on in there and it seems like Hasbro could have delivered a little more, but it’s cool nonetheless. I’m tempted to cannibalize my Lego City Police Mobile Crime Lab for parts and load this thing out with equipment.

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So far, this Kre-O Prime doesn’t disappoint. Yes, the build got on my nerves, and I definitely recommend doing a proper color-coded sort of the parts before tackling his build. It won’t eradicate all the frustration, because you’ll still spend some time guessing which color part to use next, but it will help. Once built, however, Prime is the best looking Kre-O vehicle I own, and I can’t deny that getting Kreons of Prime, Smokescreen, and Skywarp makes me very happy. Tomorrow, we’ll tear this bastard down and start all over again with his robot mode and his battlestation!