Transformers Prime: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

There were two figures in the TF: Prime line that made me hesitant to start collecting it, we already looked at Bumblebee. The other one was Optimus Prime. The official promo pics that Hasbro and other online sites used to sell it looked terrible. He looked too simple, lacked too much detail, he was too boxy, and too unlike the on screen model. And hey, you can’t have a good Transformers line without a good Optimus Prime figure, right? (SHUT UP, I LIKED ENERGON OPTIMUS PRIME!!!) So, I was really hoping that like Bumblebee, this would be one of those figures that would win me over once I got him in hand. And at risk of killing the suspense… yes he did. I still have more than a few issues with him, but ultimately, I think the good far outweighs the bad with this figure. Let’s take a look…

Optimus comes in the same style box we saw with Starscream. Again, I love the box’s deco and the window shows off the figure nicely. Prime is packaged in his robot mode with his weapons beside him. Once again, you get a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can see just how shitty the weapon is before dropping twenty bucks on the toy. I lie; you really can’t appreciate how shitty it is until you get it in hand, but more on that later. The back of the package shows photos of Prime’s robot and truck modes and these are the pictures that Hasbro should have been releasing early on, because armed with these pictures, I wouldn’t have been so hesitant to buy him. Let’s get him out of the package and start with his vehicle mode.

 

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say Prime’s truck mode looks so much better in person. There’s more sculpted detail on it, particularly the sides, where there are sculpted rivets and some panel lines. The windshield area looked blocky and featureless, whereas the actual toy has plenty of nice detail. I really like the sculpted circuitry like panels behind the clear windshields. Prime actually has full length smoke stacks, although they are a bit bendy. What doesn’t look so hot is the back of the cab, where the recessed legs are exposed.

I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh and clever Prime’s transformation works. You’ve got to hand it to Hasbro. After almost 30 years of designing Optimus Primes that turn into truck cabs, they can still come up with new ways to do it. This version gets a little fidgety where the arms and shoulders are concerned, but I was still able to do it without consulting the instructions, and once I knew what I was doing, getting him back and forth is pretty easy.

In robot mode, Prime looks pretty close to the on screen model. The biggest difference is in the chest area, where the show model’s windshields angle out of his chest and the ones on the toy are just a solid slab. The toy version actually looks more durable and practical, as the TV show model makes me wonder how Prime can get through a normal day without smashing those things to pieces. The body itself is nicely sculpted to look like the on screen model, but the kibble backpack works against it to give the figure a boxier look then it should have. In fairness, the backpack isn’t at all bulky or troublesome, but it does make the figure look more squared off, despite his sleek and sculpted torso. Originally, I didn’t think I’d be a fan of the clear plastic parts used on the forearms, but I’m warming up to them. It’s a shame that the design has the exposed screws on the front of Prime’s shoulders, rather than the back, but now I’m nit-picking. The head sculpt is great, but it feels a little too small, like it was designed for a Deluxe figure, rather than a Voyager.

Prime comes with two weapons: You get his awful Mech Tech blaster and a sword. Both weapons can be fitted to the cab hitch for storage when he’s in truck mode. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Blaster. Everything I said about Starscream’s Null-Ray Blaster applies here. Whether held in hand or mounted on the cab hitch, it looks like crap. The only problem here is that while I could happily toss Starscream’s weapon and not miss it, an Optimus Prime figure without a decent blaster feels like it is missing something. And yet, I’d rather have no blaster at all then display him with this horrible weapon. At least he comes with a sword, which looks good in his hand, but unless they’re Dinobots, I’m not a big fan of my Transformers wielding swords.

In the end, this figure features a lot of give and take. The robot mode is not the homerun that Starscream’s robot mode is, but then he is a better compromise between robot and vehicle mode. He’s also a nice solid figure that displays well and is surprisingly a lot of fun to play around with. In the end, he really won me over. Sure, the First Edition figure looks a lot more like the TV show’s model, but I find myself perfectly content with this guy representing Prime in this line of Transformers.

Tomorrow, we’ll keep the Voyager ball rolling with a look at Megatron.

Transformers Prime: Starscream by Hasbro

Yesterday I looked at an Autobot Deluxe, so let’s switch over to a Decepticon Voyager, and who better than to start with Starscream. I may not watch the show a lot, but I absolutely adore Starscream in it. I love his creepy personality, I love his lanky design. They did a beautiful job crafting the same old scheming Starscream in a fresh new way, and it’s awesome. Even if I hadn’t committed to collecting this line, I would have still bought Starscream the moment I saw him. In fact, he’s the only figure I’m looking at this week that I did not get on clearance. Nope, I laid down a full Andy Jackson on him. Let’s see if he disappoints.

Hey, it’s the first look at the Voyager figure packaging here on FigureFan. Starscream comes in a nice window box with the figure packaged in robot form. I really dig the box’s deco. It’s cool, it’s flashy, it shows off the figure well, and above all it makes me want to buy the toy. There’s a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can reach in and activate the Mech Tech Weapon, which transforms and lights up. I think it’s great that they actually call it a Null-Ray Blaster, but as we’ll see in a bit, it’s a worthless piece of crap. The back of the box has a photo of the figure in both modes, and the side panel has his biography and his tech specs. Technically, the box is collector friendly, but I had to cut so many strings to get Starscream out, I thoroughly mangled it in the process.

 

Even though, Starscream is packaged in his robot form, I’m starting with his jet mode. Why? Because I don’t like to break up routine, and also because I want to get the bad stuff out of the way first. Ok, bad may be a little harsh. The jet mode is certainly passable, but because of a lot of hinges and seams on the top and some robot kibble on the bottom it isn’t terribly attractive. It’s also a little chunky. Bottom line, this jet is not the sleek and stylish jet we see on the show. The inspiration is certainly there, but compromises had to be made. Now, I’m willing to give the jet mode a lot of slack because Starscream’s robot mode is so amazing that it’s hard to believe that Hasbro could engineer it to change into a jet at all. The missiles are detachable, which is cool, and while there aren’t any flip down landing gear, there are tiny molded wheels that allow the jet to stand evenly and display well. I should also point out here that getting Starscream into his jet mode can be a bit fidgety, but once you know what you’re doing it’s actually pretty easy.

With that out of the way, we can move onto Starscream’s robot mode and everything is rainbows and cupcakes from this point on, because the robot mode is downright awesome. I seriously adore this figure. Hasbro did a great job capturing all the personality of his on screen design and the proportions are excellent. He’s got the same lanky arms and legs and you can pose him in that hunched over, groveling stance that he loves to so much whenever he’s in  Megatron’s presence.  The way the wings angle up on his back and they are hinged so you can swing them in and out a bit to help with posing. All the other jet kibble is strategically placed. Even the tail fins on his ankles serve to stabilize his ability to stand. You can also remove the missiles from the wings and clip them onto his arms as additional weapons. So cool! And the head! Oh, the head! The head sculpt is absolutely perfect and nicely painted too.

The paintwork is solid enough, but could stand a few simple improvements. I would have really liked to see the same silver paint used for his thighs to be used on the two pieces that make up his chest. I also would have preferred the Decepticon emblem on his shoulder to be right side up instead of sideways. But these are tiny little gripes.

And then you have the Null-Ray Blaster. What a steaming pile of crap! It’s a stab at continuing the Mech Tech weapon gimmick that was started back in the Dark of the Moon line. Now, I have no problem with this idea, and I can remember really digging some of those DotM Mech Techs, but Starscream’s weapon looks like a jumbled mess. Besides just looking like hot garbage, it suffers from the same problem as the DotM gimmicks, where you have to keep holding it to keep the weapon converted. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it lock into place? Doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t have saved this thing anyway. What’s worse is that Hasbro spent the money to put a light up gimmick in this thing. It can be plugged into Starscream’s jet mode or clipped onto his arm and either way it destroys the aesthetics of the toy. The best thing about it? You throw it in the garbage and forget about it.

So to sum up, Great Primus, this is an awesome figure! Apart from the few suggested improvements to the paint, I love every inch of him. I doubt he’ll spend much time in jet mode, but then most of my Transformers are displayed in robot modes and only converted when I want to play around with them or when it’s time to put them into storage to make room for some others. And speaking of storage, I have a feeling that when my Prime figures are finally rotated out into storage, Starscream will be the one figure that remains on display all the time. And that’s just about the best compliment that I can pay any figure in my collection.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out the big guy himself, Optimus Prime.

Transformers Prime: Bumblebee by Hasbro

So, yeah… I just got a heap of Transformers: Prime figures in the mail, thanks to a certain someone who decided to clearance a bunch of them out. I’ve been pretty tentative about buying these toys, but the three I already have were all pretty good, and hey… clearance! So, let’s kick off this Transformers Prime week with a look at everyone’s favorite, spunky little scout… Bumblebee!

We’ve seen this packaging here on FigureFan a few times already. I like it well enough. The oversized card with the character art really draws the eye. I do have to deduct a few points for the bio on the back mentioning one of the annoying human kids from the series. Bumblebee is carded in his vehicle mode, with his two blasters on the tray beside him. Bumblebee is one of the figures in this line that sort of kept me from wanting to commit. I just haven’t seen many appealing pictures of him in robot mode, so here’s hoping that having the figure in hand can sway me. Let’s start with his sports car mode.

 

 

Ok, so not bad. The fact that the car is held together by rubber bands had me a little worried, but truth be told he’s a solid enough car. He’s a little camero-ish with a twist of anime style. The similarities are there without Hasbro having to pay the royalties. Win-Win. Bumblebee’s windows are all clear blue translucent plastic, and anyone who’s read a few of my Transformers features may know that’s a big plus in my book. There’s not a lot of paintwork going on here. You get the car molded in yellow plastic, with some black stripes. For the most part, this seems ok, but the total lack of paint apps on the back of the car really upsets me. The exposed engine in the hood is cool and that’s where you can plug in the guns if you want your Bumblebee rolling into battle. So far, so good…

Transforming Bumblebee is pretty easy, but not overly so. In fact, I think this guy has just the right balance of ease and complexity. In robot form, Bumblebee’s big problem is his shoulders, which make him way too widely proportioned at the top of his torso. Posing him with a wide stance helps a bit, but the way his shoulders jut out makes me think he’s mis-transformed, when he’s really not. He also suffers a bit from the hollow factor. When you view him from the side, there’s a lot of empty space in his torso, but the down sloping chest and the roof that covers his back helps to make the figure look solid from the front and back.

Everything else about the figure works ok for me. He isn’t the most original of designs, borrowing heavily from the Bayformer look and one thing I do like a lot is the way the final robot form looks like the transformation should be a lot more complex than it actually is. A lot of this illusion comes from the auto-morphing in the torso. I’m not usually a big fan of the auto-morph features, but in this case it works really well and the exposed gears give him a cool mechanical look. I really dig the dual laser cannons that clip onto his arms, and they can also be combined into one quad-barrel gun to be held in either hand or clipped onto the hood of the car when he’s in alt mode.

Articulation? His arms rotate and have lateral movement at the shoulders and swivels and hinges in the elbows, but no wrist articulation. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, with additional swivels just below those ball joints. He’s also hinged at the knees and ankles. There’s no torso articulation, but the head is ball jointed on the neck. All in all, you get fairly satisfactory articulation for a small Deluxe Transformer.

I do have to take some issue with Bumblebee’s coloring. The bulk of the figure is left in the bare yellow plastic, and there’s something about it that feels kind of cheap. But my real issue here is the paint apps that have been stricken from the final figure. They’re on the product image on the back of the card, but in final production, they apparently didn’t make the cut. What really irks me about it is the fact that the Hot Shot repaint (we’ll get to him soon) is brimming with great paintwork. Why, Hasbro, would you cut paint apps on the main character of the line and then go hog wild painting a repaint that only completists are really going to care about?

So, yeah, in hand, Bumblebee is not so bad. In fact, if the shoulders had only recessed a bit into the torso, or flipped around to lay flush with it, I think the figure could have looked down right amazing. As he is now, it just takes some acceptance, and with the right posing, he can look pretty good. That all having been said, he’s a solid enough figure, with a fairly clever transformation and he is tons of fun to fiddle about with. Of course, my satisfaction with the figure also comes from the fact that he was about $6 and at that price, I’m willing to be pretty forgiving. At $10 I think he would have been a satisfactory purchase. But right now he’s hanging on the pegs for $15, and I just don’t think he warrants that at all.

Transformers Prime Week!

I held out as long as I could, having only picked up just a few of these figures here and there. I suppose it was only a matter of time, seeing as I am such a shameless Transformers whore. I found some really good deals on TF:Prime figures last week and I went hog wild and picked up a whole heap of them, hence the commencement of Transformers: Prime Week. I’ll cram as many as I can into the week ahead. I’m not sure if I’ll continue it on into the weekend or not. I definitely have enough figures to go the distance, but I’m guessing I’ll be ready to move on to something else come Saturday. I will try to mix it up with both Voyagers and Deluxes, or whatever the hell Hasbro is calling the size assortments these days.

And yes, everything I’m looking at this week will be the Robots in Disguise versions, not the First Editions. I only took this plunge because I like what I’ve picked up so far, and I really did get these for laughably cheap. I’m not going to be hunting down the First Editions and paying premiums for them.

I’ll also take this time to confess that I haven’t been following the TV series. I’ve probably seen a majority of the first season, and I’ve had pretty mixed opinions on it. There was some great, there was some awful, and a lot that I just didn’t care about. In fairness, it takes a lot of interest for me to track down a show and watch it every week, so unless I own a series on DVD or love it as much as say Doctor Who or Game of Thrones, chances are I’m not going to stick it out.

So, enough preamble. I’ll be back later on today to start it all off with Bumblebee.

Transformers Prime: Knock Out by Hasbro

Yeah, yeah… so here’s the real reason I was staying away from TF:Prime figures, because I knew I couldn’t just buy a couple to check them out. The floodgates are opened and I couldn’t escape my last visit to the toy aisle without picking up another one. It didn’t help that there was yet another Decepticon car on the pegs and ya’ll know by now that I can’t resist Decepticon cars. This time we’re going to look at Knock Out. I thought he was the Decepticon doctor in the show, but based on the cardback, he seems to be more of the weapons outfitter. I guess I need to watch the show more.

Yay, I have an in-package shot! I’m still really digging on this presentation. The luxuriously oversized card features an awesome deco and really sweet character art. This is packaging that makes me want to buy a toy. Knock Out comes mounted under the bubble in his vehicle mode, and as always, we’ll start there.

 

Ok, I’m not a big fan of the colors here. It seems to be show accurate, so I’m not faulting it there, but I’m just not crazy about how they look on the toy. The two-tone matte purple and bare red plastic just don’t work at all for me, and the extra splash of silver on the sides isn’t helping. It’s hard to lay that aside, but once I do, I can certainly appreciate the sculpt of the car mode. It’s a sleek sportscar with clear windows and clear headlights and in general it just has a nice shape and feel to it, color notwithstanding. Knock Out has a weapons socket on each side just above and in front of his rear wheels, so you can mount his spear onto either side.

Transforming Knock Out was an overly fidgety affair my first time out and his crotch piece popped off the figure and had to be recovered from my cat’s lair under the desk. Besides the personal peril of having to venture into my cat’s treasure larder to retrieve the piece, I just hate when bits pop off my Transformers. It wasn’t broken and easily replaced, but it’s the principle of the matter that just upsets me. Anyway, let’s check out Knock Out’s robot mode.

Ok, not bad. Unfortunately the colors really don’t change, but they look a bit more forgivable on a robot than on a sportscar. Despite the fidgety transformation, there are some clever things going on here. I like the way the bumper wraps around and locks into place to become his waist. It’s actually mis-transformed on the back of the package. The arm designs are also pretty clever, although the windows interfere with the articulation a bit. The upper torso configuration is what’s tricky. You really have to get it just right or the whole thing doesn’t work. The head sculpt is really well done. I like his douchebag smirk that for some reason makes me associate this character with a reinvention of G1 Swindle.

I’m not a fan of Knock Out’s battle spear. It’s hinged and can also split apart to form two smaller “battle spikes” but he can’t hold it very well, which makes it a bit of a waste. He has a pair of sockets on his back so you can store it there, but I don’t think it looks very good on his back. All in all, I would have preferred a nice gun.

If I seem to be coming away from this figure with a “meh” attitude, it’s probably only because Ratchet and The Vehicon set some incredibly high standards and I really don’t dig the coloring on him. Knock Out is a perfectly solid figure, and this is a case where I’m really excited to see Hasbro do a repaint of this one. I think a better paint job can do wonders to smooth over the few rough points about this figure. All in all, he’s still a solid pick up and I’d still come away recommending him. And besides, he’s a Decepticon car, and that almost always gets a pass in my book.

Transformers Prime: Ratchet by Hasbro

It’s time for more Prime! This time, we’re taking a look at one of the Autobots and also my favorite character from the show. Or at least the episodes that I’ve actually watched. Yep, it’s Ratchet. Not only do I love the way he’s portrayed (he’s crotchety and acts like everything is an imposition and a bother), but you can’t deny the greatness of Jeffrey Combs who provides his voice and personality. It also doesn’t hurt that G1 Ratchet always had a special place in my heart after he became the last Autobot standing back in the original Marvel comic. Suffice it to say, I was pretty happy to get this figure and to see if it does his TV counterpart justice.                 

What? No package shot. Here’s what happened. My computer died last week and while I’m up and running with a brand new setup, I haven’t had time to recover the files off the old computer’s hard drive. That means not only am I having to re-write this feature (and about three others), but the in-package shot of Ratchet is currently inaccessible. You can reference the general package design by looking back at the Vehicon feature from last week. Ratchet’s character art is fantastic and the bio blurb is downright disturbing, as it generally suggests that his intimate knowledge of anatomy makes him great at killing and dispensing pain. Wow! Pretty dark stuff for the back of a toy packet.

In his vehicle mode Ratchet is an ambulance. What? Crazy, I know. His general configuration is a bit more like a utility truck from the Bayformer movie-verse than most Ratchets from the past. The sculpt is pretty solid and there’s a lot of little panel lines and details. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of jigsaw puzzle seaming on the sides. Remember Classics Ratchet? Well, it’s not quite that bad, but it is close. The deco also feels somewhat unfinished. Ratchet is molded in white plastic, with some red paintwork on his front end and the roof of his cabin. There’s also some red striping. It’s pretty basic ambulance colors, but its missing the lettering you usually find on an EMT vehicle. Like I said, the deco just feels unfinished.

Ratchet’s ambulance mode has two sets of ports for his blade weapons. You can plug them into his front bumper for some pretty vicious ramming action, or you can plug them into his roof. Not real sure what purpose that serves.

Transforming Ratchet felt a little involved the first time, but once I saw where everything goes it’s actually pretty easy. He is a bit of a shell former, but most of the ambulance kibble forms the backs of his legs and a backpack that isn’t too prominent or intrusive. No, Ratchet has one outstanding looking robot mode. He’s not only very faithful to his onscreen counterpart, but he’s also just a generally clean, balanced and proportional design. What’s more most everything clips or tabs in very nicely to make a figure that is every bit as solid as he is great looking. It doesn’t hurt that Ratchet’s deco fares much better in his robot mode than ambulance. He’s still primarily white, but there’s a better use of the red paint. Oh yeah, in robot mode, Ratchet can wield those blades like crazy little daggers, one in each hand.

No doubt, Ratchet is an amazing figure. Yes, his ambulance mode is somewhat lackluster. It is by no means terrible, but the seaming on the sides can be an eyesore and I really wish Hasbro had tampo’ed some lettering onto him to make him more polished and convincing. This guy really feels like some of the coloring was nixed to keep costs down. On the other hand, once you get him into robot mode, he makes up for every one of his shortcomings as an ambulance. Of course, I may be a little biased because I tend to display my Transformers in bot form.

Transformers Prime: Vehicon by Hasbro

Ok, its come to this. I was pretty determined not to pick up any of the Transformers Prime toys for a number of reasons. Its true I’m pretty lukewarm on the show. I can watch it and enjoy it, but I don’t seek it out and therefore have only seen a handful of episodes. But let’s face it, if I only bought Transformers from shows I enjoyed, I wouldn’t have the dozen or so totes full of them that I do. No, the main reason was one of discipline. My Transformers collection has grown so out of control over the years that I can’t even display most of it and so I decided to limit myself just to buying the Classics/Universe 2.0/Generations themed figures. I’ll also admit to not being a huge fan of the overly stylized Transformer designs, but that never stopped me from buying a buttload of TF: Animated figures. Anywho, with things being so slow and no new Avengers figures showing up at the local retailers, I caved in this last weekend and bought a couple of TF: Prime Deluxes, The Vehicon and Ratchet. We’ll check out the first one today: The Vehicon!

I gotta say, I really dig this packaging. Sure, its a simple bubble on cardback, but the deco is gorgeous and really jumps off the peg at me. You get an extended card at the top with the series logo, a nice piece of personalized character artwork and a giant Decepticon logo with lightning shooting across it. Holy hell! The bubble has an insert showing the figure’s name and allegiance and has the “Robots in Disguise” monikor, which distinguishes it from the rarer and superior figures most of will never see “First Edition” versions of the line. Its best not to get me started on that nonsense. The figure is carded in his vehicle form with his “Snap On Blaster Cannon” mounted beside him.
The back panel of the card shows a shot of the figure in both modes and has a little bio blurb that is not only better than what we usually get, but better than it has any right to be, considering who this character is. You see, the Vehicons are the cannon fodder of the show, similar to the Vehicons in Beast Machines or the drones in the Fall of Cybertron game. They’re there to be blowed up and get the slag beaten out of them. That having been said, the bio gives them a lot of personality. But enough preamble. Let’s rip this guy open and check him out. We’ll start with the vehicle mode.
Awww yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure I’ve expressed my irrational love for Decepticon cars before, so straight away The Vehicon is tugging at my heart strings. Plus, I love this car mode! Ok, it is somewhat smallish and yeah, it is seriously lacking in the paint apps department, just some little bits of purple accent, but the design is killer.  The wedge-shaped wall of a front end makes it look like it was built for ramming Autobot fools off the road. The rear spoiler fins give it a bit of a Batmobile look and the tranlucent plastic on the windows and front headlamps make me happy. There are sockets just above the rear wheelwells on either side that let you plug the Vehicon’s gun into. Its a shame Hasbro couldn’t have engineered some flip-up guns into this thing somewhere. Anyway, I love it.
The Vehicon is a bit of a shellformer, but his transformation is clever enough to make me easily forgive this sometimes lazy method of design. The entire top of the car from the back to the windshield splits and folds up into his legs. The result is you have no real car shell kibble, only a sleek and sexy looking Decepticon badass.
And badass he is! He’s got that lean and spindly look many of the TF:Prime robot designs feature, although he still remains very well proportioned. What’s really cool, though, is that despite being largely a shellformer, its tough to see where it all goes, thanks to the clever design of his legs. The only real car kibble lands on his shoulders and sides of his legs, and these pieces look strategically placed as armor. The head sculpt is great. It took me a while to place it, but it definitely has a little Battlestar Galactica modern Cylon thing going for it. I’m also a big fan of the little exposed part of bare metal on his chest with a Decepticon logo and a piece of clear plastic laid over it. Very nice! The Vehicon’s robot mode features more of a purple and black deco make for classic Decepticon colors. He and Skywarp could definitely hang out.
Articulation is, in a word, solid. He’s got balljoints in his neck, shoulders, and hips. His elbows feature a weird combo balljoint and hinge. His knees and wrists are also hinged. You can get some nice poses out of him. At first I wasn’t sure about his funky arm construction, but I’m growing to like it.
As a Deluxe, The Vehicon ran me $12.88 at Walmart. Yes, Hasbro has been scaling down their Deluxes and Voyagers and while this guy can still hang in scale with other Deluxes he does look diminished. We also seem to be getting less in the way of paint apps. Even with all that in mind, I think the price is pretty reasonable here. Its only about three bucks more than your average 3 3/4″ figure and let’s face it, this toy required a lot more engineering and careful tooling than a Spider-Man or Star Wars figure. No, the price is fine, and I was actually surprised to be able to find him on the pegs, since he is a very highly sought after figure and I’m sure some collectors are army building them. The final point here is that my initial foray into the TF: Prime toys has been a positive one. I’m very anxious to rip open Ratchet and check him out next week.