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.