Name: Optimus Primal
Series: Beast Wars
Function: Maximal General
Alternate Mode: Gorilla
Height: 14cm Length: 16cm Width: 13cm
A black gorilla with a grey face along with grey hands and feet, Optimus Primal has blue eyes, beige teeth visible in his snarling mouth and grey ears. There's some white and red robot kibble poking out here and there - mainly on his rump. The colour scheme is pretty straightforward, but then you'd expect that of a gorilla. About the only thing I can say is that as a General you might expect silver (or at least grey) on his back, but I guess Primal didn't copy a silverback. The colours are realistic enough anyway, save for the white and red on his rump - and I can't see why you'd want to view this beast from that angle.
Optimus Primal is in a walking pose, standing on all fours with his face forward and down. You can stand the gorilla up, but the face will be vaguely skywards and straightening his knees exposes robot colours. No matter - all fours works for me. The toy is quite well sculpted, with a grey chest underneath, complete with a six pack on his abdomen, digits on his feet and fists, teeth inside the mouth, a wrinkled face and fur all over the black areas.
There are quite a few gimmicks in this toy, but only one is really designed to work in this mode. There's a lever on his back that you can slide back and forth, which will cause the arms to swing, for a chest-beating action. It's not terribly effective and as a result not really impressive, but the idea is admirable. There are robot mode missile launchers on his back which can be deployed, although they look really out of place.
The poseability is pretty good. His hips, knees, shoulders and elbows move - and while only the hips are ball jointed, there are two joints in the shoulders and elbows, giving the arms a good range of motion. He can stand upright with a little care and walking poses are possible, which is really all you'd expect of limb motion here. A movable head would be nice but is probably asking a little much considering how stocky gorilla necks are.
A pretty good gorilla mode, better than most primates we've seen in the Transformers line - only B'Boom is really of the same order. The colours and sculpt are quite realistic while the poseability is as good as I'd realistically expect it to be. The chest-pounding gimmick doesn't quite work, but there are more than enough gimmicks in robot mode for me to worry much about that.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Fairly simple, really. Stand the toy up, rotate the waist, fold down the feet and rotate away the beast toes to reveal heelspurs. Lift up the shoulderpads, slide down the beast face as a chestplate, flipping the face itself to reveal a grey chest feature. Arm as desired (I'll come to the weapons options!).
Height: 21.5cm Width: 16.5cm
While Optimus Primal is again mainly black, there's grey here and there while many of the robot-only parts are white with red highlights - namely the feet, thighs and upper arms. The robot head is blue with grey antennae and mouthplate, and has red eyes. The head is clearly a homage to Optimus Prime, although the grey mutant head is batlike, representing a link to Bat Primal, the first version of this character. The colour scheme works fairly well, even the blue head which doesn't specifically match the rest of the toy.
The sculpt is pretty good here - the head is necessarily simple but the while elements are sculpted with semi-organic detailing. The moulded fur is still prevalent, giving this robot a very organic feel. The fists are those of the beast mode, which naturally fit here. The mutant head is pretty silly, and you're best off folding it back out of the way.
The poseability is again good - the limb poseability carries over from the beast mode, and the heelspurs make this guy nice and stable. The head sits on a ball joint, and there's also a swivel, allowing Primal to look around. The waist rotates as part of the transformation, and this translates to useful poseability here. Other than the fixed wrists, the effective poseability is great.
There are four different weaponry options here. The first, which is almost part of his transformation, is a pair of missile launchers which flip out from his back when you press a grey button at the base of the spine (well, where it would be on a human). The twin launchers will deploy over his shoulders, with the covers flanking his chestplate. The blue missiles fire independently, and will happily fly across the room and under the bed (well, that's where mine just went...). Once the launchers are deployed you can access two sabres stowed in his back, which Primal can hold in each hand - and his arms are versatile enough to allow for some really cool sabre-wielding poses.
Both forearms open to reveal yet more weaponry. The right panel stows a grey mace, with spikes and a skeletal face. It has a cord about two inches long and a blue base that can fit into Primal's fist. The left forearm opens out like a flower, with the fist folding back, replaced by a red missile launcher that springs out. The blue missiles can plug into this launcher, which is just as powerful as those on his shoulders, and has two separate triggers, so you can fire one or both missiles.
The play value here is great - Optimus Primal is proof that you don't need a silly sound gimmick to make a worthwhile Ultra sized toy - something lost on the designers of Armada and later lines. Both launcher mechanisms are great, the sabres are well thought out and his poseability allows for some really cool posing. Visually Optimus Primal is quite striking, especially with a couple of weapons deployed. The Optimus Prime homage is nice, and really establishes this character as a leader of the good guys. I don't have any complaints about this robot mode, save for the mutant head (which is actually easy to remove and can be reattached).
None as such, although the mould saw a repaint in the Transformers: Universe toyline, also called Optimus Primal.
A very good Ultra sized toy that relies on cleverly engineering gimmicks rather than the bad soundchip gimmicks of many later Ultras. Optimus Primal has two good modes, with a realistic ape mode and a robot mode that works well as a faction leader. The play value is great and there aren't really any flaws that really hold him back - 9/10