Name: Primal Prime
Series: Beast Machines
Function: Prime of Justice
Alternate Mode: Ape, Attack Car, Jet
Thanks to Tiby for lending me Primal Prime for this review.
Height: 23cm Width: 24cm
A repaint of the Transmetal Optimal Optimus, Primal Prime is a mix of blue, red and white. Essentially he's using the classic Optimus Prime colours, although the layout is only loosely based on Optimus Prime. His torso is chromed red while his hands and his boots chrome blue. The forearms are transparent red, his thighs and the wings hanging off his arms are white. The feet are also white, with his toes painted blue (fading to white). His head is blue with a red face and silver eye. While the colours are very common - what with the countless versions of Optimus Prime down the years, the extensive chrome makes this a decent repaint, if not an especially inspired one.
Any semblance of a realistic gorilla is lost here, thanks to the colours, angles and extensive chrome. Most of the sculpt is mechanical looking rather than organic - the pectoral muscles on his torso are the only aspect I'd call organic. There's quite a lot of subtle detail in his sculpt, including moulded (BW) Maximal symbols on the upper arms and some hints of fur on his thighs. Adding to the very robotic feel, Primal Prime has huge shoulder pylons, extended shoulder struts and twin missile launchers on either side of his head. His arms are elongated, which fits the gorilla theme, as does the hunched stance of this beast mode.
The missile launchers are one of three gimmicks available here. There's a pull-back mechanism on his back (well, pull-down in this mode), pulling all the way will fire both missiles. The springs are strong, and if you're not paying attention you'll find yourself scrounging around trying to find two colourless missiles. There are two spares, which clip onto the outsides of his boots. The second gimmick is a set of LEDs, which are activated by pulling back on a black tab behind his head. The eyes glow orange while both missile launchers glow red - hence the colourless missiles. As LED gimmicks go, it's pretty good, both focused and fun. The third gimmick isn't as good, sadly. The forearms are actually blast covers - there are triggers on the insides - pulling the triggers causes the forearms to split into three panels each, which pop off. The springs are quite powerful, but not to the point of annoyance as was the case on OpOp.
The poseability is okay, but limited by the wings and those blast panels. The head doesn't move (there's no point anyway since it's flanked by missile launchers), the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides. The elbows hinge inwards while the thumbs and fingers (the latter as single units) are hinged. The lower arm joints aren't really much use - touch the forearms and the [deleted] panels will pop off. Posing is fine, but playing is frustrating. The waist turns, the knees are hinged as are the hips (which also swing). The leg joints are quite tight ratcheting joints (actually, most of his joints are), and since you're meant to have this mode hunched, the effective range of posing is fairly limited.
Well, it's but and it has lots of chrome. Time has not been kind to the red chromes of the Transmetal era - and Primal Prime's red chrome is likely to flake. I'm not entirely sold on this mode since the blast panels on his arms are annoying, the poseability is disappointing for such a large beast and the colours are formulaic. The sculpt is fairly good and the Transmetal theme applied fairly well, the missile launchers and LEDs work well. But with the limitations of this toy trying to do so much and the fragile red chrome, this mode is limited and not one I want to play with.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Straighten the legs, detach the panels , flip out the wings on his arms, rotate them to point up. Rotate the waist, open the sides of the torso, fold out the beast chest, lift out the wheel underneath, open out to form jets. Fold away the beast head, rotate the side panels (to lift the shoulder struts), close the chest. Lift the missilepack up on top of the torso, flip out the head. Attach the panels as shoulder pylons, flip the thumbs forward and give Primal Prime his gun.
Most of the transformation revolves around the chest, with little going on in the arms and almost nothing in the legs. I can't help but be disappointed, most Transmetals have interesting limb transformations but the legs here are less involved than most basics.
Height: 33cm Width: 46cm (halve that if you fold the wings away)
His torso and hands are navy blue while his shoulders and the sides of his torso are chromed red. The forearms are deep red, his thighs and the wings hanging off his arms are white. The feet are also white, with his toes painted blue (fading to white). His head is a mixture of deep red, blue and some white, with silver around the blue eyes and mouth. The big transparent panels now sit atop his shoulders and look pretty good there. The colours are even more formulaic now, since there's a stronger Optimus Prime feel here. They do work quite well, mind you - and better than on the gorilla mode.
Most of the detailing is the same as the beast mode - the Maximal symbols are still visible and the chrome elements are the same. There's very little in the way of organic sculpt - the hints on his thighs are joined by white, fur sculpted patches on his exposed forearms. Primal Prime is robotic in both modes, really. The missile launchers are now below his head, not behind it, and this works a little better since the head isn't crowded out. The cockpit on his chest looks good and it actually opens - I suspect a Diaclone driver would fit in there!
The most impressive aspect of this robot mode is its size - which isn't such a good thing. Don't get me wrong, he's large and imposing, but the fairly simple transformation scheme should come into play more. I'm also considering that this is a very expensive repaint. His arms aren't as lowset as in beast mode but are still quite long.
The poseability is pretty much the same as in beast mode, although his head can now turn (one of the few new pieces). The joints in the lower arm are far more useful as well, since the panels are now plugged into the shoulders and less likely to spontaneously pop off. The higher shoulders make arm posing a little better, since the table clearance feels better. The gun is held in the grip of his hand, similar to how the Binaltech toys hold their guns.
The missile launcher gimmick remains and the LED gimmick is still around, albeit in a slightly different form. Both are now activated by the pull-back mechanism on his back, which isn't such a good idea. Basically, if you pull it halfway the LEDs light up and pull all the way the missiles also fire. The difference between lighting up the LEDs and copping two missiles in the face isn't much, sadly - there's no intermediate notch inside (which would have made all the difference. The orange LED that lit up the beast eyes is now central on his chest and forms a laser-sight, which was used to great effect in the cartoon. Another LED now comes into play - lighting up the robot eyes - and it's very cleverly hidden in beast mode (it lights up, you just can't see it). As cool as the LEDs are, the single activation really dampens my enthusiasm. Still, at least the missiles don't fall off as soon as you pick him up.
Big and impressive, but at the same time Primal Prime's robot mode is a little simple. The LEDs are impressive but linking them so closely to the also impressive missile launcher doesn't work so well, since that launcher is so powerful. It's a shame really since the two gimmicks are quite cool on their own. The poseability is fairly good - better than the beast mode despite most of the joints being shared. There's virtually no organic sculpting here. This is probably his best mode, and the one I'd display Primal Prime in, if I owned one.
ATTACK CAR MODE
A rather disjointed armoured assault vehicle, which uses that wheel hidden inside the torso, the cockpit and two pairs of wheels hidden behind the outer plates of his boots. The arms for fenders - but looks like arms. The missilepack sits above the vehicle itself, making this a rather impressive military-style assault vehicle. Considering how much of the robot mode is actually visible in this mode, and how there's no attempt to fuse any of the various parts, this is a decent vehicle. The disparate parts create a "functional" look - this thing is built to be tough and armed, not to look good.
Primal Prime rolls reasonably well in this mode, since all the wheels are attached to the body of the car, not the fenders. The fenders do actually clip onto the front wheel's struts, mind you. The red and orange LEDs are available, along with the missile launcher - the activation mechanism is again shared here, but since there's no light-up eyepipe this isn't as annoying as it was in his robot mode. The spare missiles are now tucked away under the rear wheels, making them a little tricky to access.
Fairly similar to the assault vehicle really, with the arms out to the sides resembling twin hulls. The wings obviously deploy out to the sides, and in reality they'd be fairly useless since they have a relatively small surface area. There are thrusters moulded underfoot, which are also visible in land vehicle mode - but intended for this mode. The cockpit sits fairly low and the front wheel stays in the chest. The rear wheels are also folded away - this jet can't roll along. The white wings are quiet disjointed - they look like a last minute addition to this predominantly red vehicle.
The missile pack is again set above the vehicle itself, and the gimmicks are identical. The prominent cockpit looks good. Again this mode is fairly disjointed, moreso that the car mode thanks to the badly fused wings.
Both vehicle modes feel like intermediate modes, but the truth is that quite a lot of this toy goes into making them possible (moreso for the assault vehicle than the plane, which only needs the wings and tailfins hanging off the back of his ankles).
None as such he's a repaint of Optimal Optimus, as mentioned.
Big and flashy with lots of chrome, but this is a rather formulaic repaint of a flagship toy from the same era, so Primal Prime is far from compelling. The mould _is_ worthwhile, mind you, and these colours are generally more coherent than the deliberately disparate colours of OpOp. The robot mode is the strongest mode visually, the beast mode is a very stylised ape. The blast panel gimmick of his beast mode (also available on the vehicle modes) is improved. The LED gimmicks and missile launchers are cool, but in three of the four modes they share an activation point so you'll fire the missiles when you don't want to. Both vehicle modes feel like intermediate modes and while they definitely add something to the toy, I would have liked to see one, stronger vehicle mode. The Transformation of his limbs is pathetic for such a large toy, taking away from the one aspect that larger toys can do better than smaller toys. The rejigged panels are a welcome change compared to OpOp, but the flaking chrome can't be ignored. I'd recommend OpOp over this toy, purely because it'll likely be cheaper - but he's really no better or worse than the BW toy - 6/10