Name: Optimus Primal
Series: Beast Machines
Function: Maximal Commander
Alternate Mode: Technorganic Gorilla
Thanks to Morkus for loaning me Optimus Primal, making this review possible.
Height: 12cm Width: 10.5cm
A charcoal and transparent blue technorganic gorilla with gold highlights on his face and shoulders, Optimus Primal has an orange Maximal symbol on the outside of his left shoulder and transparent green eyes. I don't like the face much - the shiny gold face with a permanently gaping mouth and dark transparent eyes (there's no lightpipe) just looks ghoulish, although to be fair the fact that the teeth have been painted silver is a nice touch. There's a transparent green... thing... sticking out of the left shoulder which is a poorly stowed weapon. The colours are... okay... except for the green weapon which frankly does not belong. The extensive use of transparent blue doesn't sit well with me, but it's no better or worse than many BM toys. Either way, this really doesn't look a whole lot like Primal's gorilla mode in the show. While that character was dark with blue elements, it wasn't as sombre looking as this toy is.
I'm really not a fan of this gorilla mode. The groin is nothing more than the collapsed shoulders of the robot mode - and it's not trying to be any more, which really annoys me. The gap between the shoulders and the chest of the gorilla is big, the jointing doesn't work. His shoulders also attach to panels which sit awkwardly, but this is nothing compared to the mess that is his groin. The hands are the robot feet, and there's a distinct bridge-of-the-foto feel about them, which is a little awkward.
The technorganic sculpt is reasonably detailed as you'd expect of a Beast Machines toy - although not as good as later toys in this series - but it feels fairly directionless. The colours don't really bring out sculpted details anyway. The only element of the sculpt that really impresses me is the well formed feet - which really do look like gorilla feet. Aside from the obvious fact that gorilla feet aren't usually transparent blue, of course.
The poseablity is okay, but the groin is too unstable for the it to be an asset. The shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are ball jointed while the elbows are hinged with rotators. The elbow joints are set up for the robot knees, so they don't really offer much, and this is compounded by the fact that that his hands don't work especially well as hands. There is no waist movement except for a transformation joint which flops backwards randomly, taking the legs with it. There is a very poor gimmick, activated by his shoulders. Pushing the shoulders in causes a transparent green spark crystal to push out from his chest slightly, which I guess has some merit, but it's trying to be Primal's energy blasts seen in the cartoon, and fails miserably at that. At the same time his mouth gapes further, with the face lifting up rather than the jaw dropping, so his eyes recede under the brow.
Underwhelming is an understatement. Everything here just feels half-assed, like this one was a prototype which made it into production instead of going for further refinement. The shape is terrible, the stability of the groin is awful and the colour scheme doesn't really fit the character we saw in the cartoon. The gimmick fails to impress - the spark crystal would need to stick out further and I don't think much of a toy with this much transparent plastic and transparent eyes with no lightpipe. The sculpted feet are the highlight, which says a lot about the low quality of this beast mode, I'm afraid.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Lift up the brown of his head, fold away the head itself and fold the panel back down. Detach the shoulder panels and swing up to form the robot groin. Split the beast groin, flip back (if it doesn't so so anyway). Pull back the beast pectoral section to reveal the robot head, swing the beast legs into place as robot arms. Flip out the robot toes, position the arms and legs and you're done.
Height: 13.5cm Width: 9.5cm
A black and transparent blue robot with gold paint on his chest and hips, Optimus Primal has a gold nose and transparent green eyes. The "brain" is also transparent green which means this time we do get a lightpipe - and with a light source behind him it looks pretty good. The green weapon thing is now on his hip, still looking awkward, but you can detach it to fit loosely in either hand as a shuriken. The colours are better than in beast mode - the gold chest brings him slightly close to the show version, and the green on his eyes works well. It's still not a great colour set, but this a passable colour scheme.
There are no gaping proportion problems here - although his groin is quite small and the rest of his body big and bulky. I'm sure there's a joke about performance enhancing substances somewhere in that, but the fact is that Primal is big and stocky in the cartoon, so I can deal with the proportions. It's obvious that this mode got preferential treatment in the design process, because it's just so much better than the beast mode.
The style of this robot mode isn't what I would consider attractive, despite the vast improvement on his beast mode. That's more of a design style thing than poor construction, but the end result is still an odd looking robot mode, which isn't very robotic. The head does look like that of Primal in the show, even if the colours aren't quite right, and I will give the designer credit for this aspect.
The poseability is okay, which makes sense since the joints are really designed around this mode. His head turns while the waist is fixed. His left houlders, elbows, wrists and hips are ball jointed, although the latter is limited since the groin comes apart fairly easily. The knees are hinged right this time, and the rotators still work. His ankles and toes are also hinged while Primal has heelspurs, so he can stand in a range of poses. The gimmick here is unimpressive, although it actually works unlike that of the beast mode. The right shoulder pulls back and then springs forward - the idea being that he'll hurl the shuriken. Which is a good idea, and it works well enough, but the blasts of colour should be coming from his chest. Nice idea, but it's the wrong one, sadly.
A much better effort that the beast mode, but I wouldn't say this is a great robot mode. He is quite poseable, but other than the head sculpt Optimus Primal feels generic and plain, with a gimmick that goes against the weapon we saw in the show, a colour scheme that doesn't quite work as it should and an unstable groin.
None that I'm aware of.
A very forgetable toy, Optimus Primal is one of the weakest Maximals from Beast Machines - a line known for producing some poor Maximals. The beast mode is just dreadful, with bad jointing, a very poorly constructed groin and a gimmick that needs a _lot_ of work. The robot mode is better, but not enough to save the toy. It's poseable and does resemble the cartoon more than the beast mode, but the gimmick is misplaced and the overall look is still poor from an aesthetic point of view. He hasn't appreciated in value much, but I'd still recommend skipping this version of the character and hunting down Blast Punch Primal or Air Attack Optimus Primal instead, even though they are harder to find and significantly more expensive - 2/10