Cliffbee.com: ROTF Optimus Prime Toy Review

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Name: Optimus Prime
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Peterbilt 379 Truck (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the model)

Thanks to Morkus for loaning me Optimus Prime for this review.



TRUCK MODE
Height: 12cm Length: 28cm Width: 9.5cm

   A blue longnose truck with blue flames on the red nose, red rear wheel guards and some red flames on his roof - which more or less covers the traditional Optimus Prime colours. The colours are essentially the same as the previous leader class Prime. The grille, front bumper, sunguard over the windshield, running boards and fuel tanks are all grey, the exhaust stacks also grey this time (with soft plastic tips). He has six grey wheels - two at the front and four at the back - with rubber tyres. The windows are transparent, losing the blue tint to become colourless, along with his headlights. Prime sports a black painted hitch and a grey tray behind the cabin - fully formed this time, without the protruding robot gun. The colour scheme is quite attractive - the flame pattern is very well done, with gold at the very front although the flames no longer carry over seams. The overall look is more cohesive than the first Prime - since the gun is gone, but it's very similar in this mode. There is a small black Autobot logo on the left side of his sunvisor.

   The detailing on this truck is fantastic - we have grip on the running boards, rivet lines all over, door seams, roof lights and even a tiny Autobot logo badge as a maker's badge on top of the grille. The wipers are not painted, sadly. The bodyshape is great - everything is as it should be.

   As seems to be the case on movie toys, the truck mode doesn't feature much play value - instead concentrating on realism, which I appreciate. Having said that, Optimus Prime rolls fairly well for a toy without axles, and rolls quite straight. There are no weapons in this mode. The tyres here are plastic, unlike the rubber ones on the first toy. They wont crack over time, at least. There's a grey button on left side of the grey trey at the back, pressing this button will activate an engine revving sound and some flashing lights (thanks to Alex, kurdt_the_goat and christalcase for this info).

   Optimus Prime is a great looking truck with slightly more accurate details and shape, but loses out to the original on the tyres (although that could be argued either way) and some minor painted details. The fact is that both truck modes are very similar. The play value isn't anywhere near the play value offered in some recent Optimus Prime flagship toys, but the display value is amazing, and he doesn't have a trailer or "powerup" piece to detach - the entire toy becomes Optimus Prime.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   There's a lot happening so I'll summarise. The cabin itself becomes the chest with the head popping out from behind the windshield while the windshield itself splits. The top of the nose becomes his arms while the grille and underside become his feet and boots. The hitch folds up to become his groin and thighs - plugging or unplugging the groin into the chest will cause a short transformation sound. The back of the cabin folds up as a backpack.

   It's very involved and outdoes the transformation of the first toy, although it's not quite as elegant - that transformation sound is a nice idea, but I don't like the fact that you can't avoid it nor that you can't activate it at your discretion without unclipping the groin. There are some false hood pieces on his chest which have to be lined up just right for the reverse transformation - which would be fine if they weren't attached to strong springs.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 27cm Width: 20cm

   Again a mixture of blues and reds, with grey thrown into the mix. These three colours essentially mix all over his body, in a fairly similar layout to last time. His head is blue with a silver mouthplate and transparent green eyes, although they look black until you activate an LED (which I'll come back to). The middle set of tyres are visible hanging off his hips and the rear pair hang off his thighs. The front windows are on his chest in typical Optimus Prime fashion while the flame motif isn't terribly prominent - only visible on his ankles and shoulders. The Autobot logo on the sunvisor is now on his chest, and is an improvement over the awkwardly placed hood ornament on the first toy - which is why they added it, I suspect. For some reason they've painted the shouldertabs and some hip elements silver, which is incongruous with the grey everywhere else - expect a premium version later, doused in silver. The colours work well aside from the misplace use of silver, and they really represent Prime from the film well.

   There's a great level of detail here, as you'd expect of both the movie line and a toy this size. The face and chest sculpts are good, the feet are quite complex, and the robot-only pieces such as his thighs have been specifically sculpted. We also get a few trademark Optimus Prime features, such as the head and chest - which I've already mentioned. The tips of his smokestacks end up on his shoulders - another Prime signature. The feet don't hold together well, I'd recommend holding onto the clear rubber bands to keep then together (something Morkus has done). The backpack is something the original didn't really have so much of, but it's fairly minor. The facial sculpt departs from the G1 Prime look a little, moving closer to the screen model.

   There are two main gimmicks here. The first is, of course, a light and sound gimmick in his chest designed to be available to sample in store. If you pull down a grey lever on his chest and then push down, he'll say either "Optimus Prime" or "I am Optimus Prime" in Peter Cullen's voice (thanks to Kev-La for the info on the two versions) - Morkus has the longer phrase version. Two red LEDs in his chest will flash four times while a green LED in his head will also flash four times, lighting up his eyes. His head will rock back a little and the chest push out slightly, qualifying him for a "MECH ALIVE!" tag on the box. I would have preferred a blue (G1 cartoon) or yellow (G1 toy, and likely cheaper) LED in his head - or better yet eyes that don't look black the rest of the time. By the way, it's actually easier to activate the electronics by pushing his head back. The second gimmick is a pair of rust coloured blades which swing out from within his arms when you press grey tabs inside the forearms. They're quite long and can get caught on the arm kibble (panels on the outside) if you don't get the pose right. They also make the reverse transformation annoying since they'll pop out numerous times as you line everything up. I would have preferred manually deployed blades, to be honest. It would have also allowed them to unplug (without flying off), so that Prime would have some true handheld weapons.

   As you'd probably expect of a toy this size, the poseablity here is great. Prime's head turns (it's not on a ball joint, since it needs solid contacts for the LED), the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while his elbows feature hinges and rotators and his wrists rotate. The waist is fixed however the hips swing and lift out sideways while the knees are hinged with rotators. The tyres on his thighs and hips get in the way a little, but with some manipulation they can be moved out of the way of poses. The ankles are tight ball joints and the footprints are big, although they lack the generous heelspurs of the last toy.Whilst a rotating waist would have been nice, the nature of Optimus Prime's transformation doesn't really allow it. To be honest, with the excellent limb poseability, I don't really miss a waist rotator. I do miss heelspurs, however. So does Wheelie, who just got flattened as I tried to repose Prime (who fell backwards).

   An very good robot mode with striking colours, amazing detail, some iconic Prime features and good poseability. The blade gimmick is nice if a little awkward while the electronic gimmick is fairly standard - the use of Peter Cullen's voice is a plus, mind you. Compared to the previous toy he's more detailed, features the blades and has a more interesting electronics gimmick, but lacks heelspurs, has more kibble on the back and arms and lacks a ranged weapon. To be honest they're about on par, but it depends on what you prefer as to which is a better robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, one version says "I am Optimus Prime" or "Optimus Prime".

OVERALL

   A really nice toy, Optimus Prime is better than most of the flagship toys Hasbro has produced in recent years - simply because there's less gimmick here and more Transformer. The transformation's engineering is a clear step above that of the last toy, although the robot mode's engineering suffers a little for that. Visually he's more accurate in both modes - there's no gun hanging off the back of the truck and the robot mode's finer details are more movie accurate. The robot mode's blades are a good idea but they get caught in the kibble and will get in the way of the transformation back to truck - which is hampered by springs and ends up quite annoying. I find myself more annoyed by this toy than the previous version, but the transformation is amazing and both modes look terrific - I'll admit I'm being overly critical for the sake of the comparison. Unlike some fairly recent flagship toys, we don't have a playset, or Power Rangers wannabe, just two good modes, a clever transformation and attention to detail. If you prefer playability and elegance I'd still favour the first toy, but for display value and complexity, ROTF Prime wins. It's an entirely new mould, but represents the same concept, so whether or not you get both depends on your budget - but I wouldn't recommend against this toy - 9/10

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