Cliffbee.com: Universe Special Edition Optimus Prime Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Optimus Prime
Series: Universe
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Semi Trailer Cab



TRUCK MODE
Height: 6.5cm Length: 14cm Width: 5cm

   A red shortnose cab with a blue hitch section - as we've come to expect of Optimus Prime, with grey plastic on his grille, bumper, exhaust stacks and between the cab and the hitch. Prime has six black plastic tyres with silver painted hubcaps. The headlights and rooflights are painted yellow. The windows are a pale transparent blue while Optimus sports a stamped Autobot logo on the leftside of the cabin. Rounding out the basic colour scheme Prime carries a black cannon on top of the hitch. This is a fairly trivial repaint of the original version of the same mould - the blue of the hitch is darker while the yellow on his headlights is new and there's one less Autobot logo in this mode. It's a decent colour scheme if not especially different from the original, but less underdone.

   This truck mode is still underdone - a paint job can't fix that. It's quite obvious this toy was designed around the robot mode, because this truck mode has so much robot mode hanging around and this thing doesn't hold together at all. The hitch is fairly solid but the cab wiggles around - there's a slider in the base meant to lock the rotating waist in place for this mode, but it's spectacularly ineffective. The fenders stick out to the sides - fine on a 1950s American car, but not on a shortnose cab. The central silver section is clearly the thighs and groin - and for some unknown reason the designer didn't bother sliding the thighs away at all, ruining the look and stability of this area.

   On a positive note, the gun at the back is really quite cool. It's a folded up robot mode handgun, which looks like the type of gun you'd see on the back of a Jeep, manned by a standing-up gunner. There's a swivel and hinge at the base of the gun itself, allowing it to move around while the stand stays still. As cool as this gun is, the fact it's the highlight is an indictment on Prime's vehicle mode, and represents the only play value here.

   It's a poor vehicle mode, although the new paint job makes for a slightly nicer truck this time around. The gun is really nice but the truck it attaches to is almost an afterthought. With so much robot mode around, really poor seams and stuff that just doesn't lock into place everywhere, this is a terrible truck.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the gun, straighten it out to form a tommy-gun (Prime's a 1930s gangster, it seems!). Pull out the sides to form his arms, flip out the headlights to form hands. Rotate the bumper and hitch through 180, fold back the hitch to form his legs, which will push the fenders up to form his hips. Split the boots and fold up Prime's boots. Fold out and rotate the head, give him the tommy-gun and he's ready to roll.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 8cm

   Again the stereotypical Prime colours, this time without the noise. The upper body is red while his boots, hands and head are blue. The groin and thighs are grey along with the smokestacks on his shoulders and the grille on his waist. The painted details on the toy all blend into this mode, the silver face looks good and there's an effective lightpipe through his transparent blue eyes. The black gun, while not quite the same as the original, suits him well. The Autobot logo is visible on the outsides of his right forearm. It wool;d have worked better on a shoulder, but I'm not complaining. There's actually slightly less paint here than on the original, with some yellow missing on his head and knees. Curiously, this toy has black rather than blue feet. Despite the loss of paint, it's still a very good paint job.

   The shape of this toy is pretty good, Prime is clearly designed around his G1 cartoon/comic portrayals. The gun fits into his hands quite well - unlike the gun of the original. There are no visible screws or anything of that nature from the front, nor do we see tyres. The focus of this figure's design is quite clearly on this mode, compared to the mess that is his truck mode. The sculpt is fairly detailed for his size, which adds to the appeal of Optimus Prime's robot mode.

   Prime's poseability is quite good. The head turns, the shoulders are ball jointed and can also swing backwards. The elbows rotate and have hinges while the fists can swing in. The waist doesn't rotate although the torso does rotate in the middle (for a gimmick I'll come to in a moment). The hips are ball jointed while the knees are hinged with rotators in the thighs. His feet are hinged with built in heelspurs. The overall effect is a very poseable Optimus Prime toy with a wide range of stable action poses.

   There's a catch. The gimmick, which allows for the torso rotation, also destabilises the torso. There's a black button on his back, pressing it will cause the upper torso (and arms) to spins around his body in an anti-clockwise direction (from above). This gimmick is good in theory, but there are two drawbacks. Firstly, the mass being moved around is heavier than the mechanism can comfortably move - the teeth inside tend to skip, and it wouldn't take much to strip them. The second drawback - and for mine the biggest shortcoming - is the impact this gimmick has on the truck mode, which is loose enough already, and needs all the help it can get. You can pull back on the button to lock the torso into place - which isn't mentioned in the instructions (thanks to FortMax for this info). I'd recommend locking it and leaving it.

   While the gimmick isn't worth the sacrifices it asks Optimus Prime to make, this is still a pretty nice display piece, with great poseability and a useful gun. The lightpipe works very well and the colour scheme is very well executed here. This mode runs rings around his meagre excuse for a truck mode. If you do buy Prime, leave him in this mode. Forever.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although as mentioned, he's a repaint of the original version of this mould, representing the same character.

OVERALL

   A fairly minor - almost inconsequential - repaint of the original version of the mould, now sold by himself in fancier packaging, and not as readily available. He has a great robot mode with great colours. The poseability is also good and his tommy gun is fun. The gimmick is a letdown, the transformation involved but ineffective since the truck mode is a mess. Sure, the gun on the back is cool, but the cabin is a mess and the back half is quite obviously a pair of robot legs, and the robot head is visible. His truck mode is below the standard of most Happy Meal toys. The repaint is pretty much trivial, but offers a few improvements in vehicle mode. Not enough for me to recommend this toy though - 5/10

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