Review by Rob
I’m going to say this statement first so that we can get this over with and get on with the review of one of the coolest things I have built, and one of my top rated items of 2011.
I enjoyed the Michael Bay Transformers movies… okay Internet, BRING IT!
“For today in the name of Freedom, we take the battle to them!”
And now back to our pre-review commentary…
Having grown up with the franchise, I let the movies be their own take on what everybody already loves in the various forms be it Generation 1, Beast Wars, Car Robots, or the Hasbro blended Armada-Energon-Cybertron trilogy. If compared to the new generation of Star Wars fans that grew up with either the Prequel films or Clone Wars cartoon, the Live Action Transformers movies get kids excited for the things we loved at their age, whether it is pointing out the window and saying “There’s Optimus Prime!” while riding down the freeway and getting passed by a semi-truck or screaming “There goes Bumblebee!” exchanging one generation’s beloved Volkswagen Beetle for the eye catching new Camaro.
Despite the director’s notorious cinematic foolery that stressed its PG-13 rating with moments like the film’s opening sequence with the beautiful babe and her bouncy bottom, the over squeezed lemon of human-on-human humor, and the few minutes of John Malkovich, Transformers: Dark of The Moon was fun. Of the two robot movies of this past summer, it was a blissful respite from reality of giant robots punching the hell out of each other. Real Steel on the other hand was the most heartwarming film of robots punching the hell out of each other.
On the toy front of the war between the Autobots, Decepticons, and the Internet, the characters from the movie have been an interesting assortment of weapon gimmicks and alternative “Stealth Mode” inspired vehicle designs. While this encompasses the Hasbro brand’s releases for the film, the Takara side of the world tried something a little bold with the production of the Dual Model Kits in 1/35 scale for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. The models forsake the transformation features of the toy line and work towards recreating a perfect screen-accurate rendition of the characters in plastic. Once again, it seems the import holds a strong lead over the domestic releases.
Haters can hate but ILM deserves some respect for Mr. Flame painted, mouth-having, 10,109 individually rendered parts Prime!
The DMK-01 Optimus Prime starts as a half built skeleton with the remaining task of completing the frame and adding Prime’s vehicle parts. The internal skeleton and its additional parts are made up of two tones of metallic flake injection plastic while the outer vehicle parts are done in blue and red plastic.
The tires from Prime’s alternate mode are molded in rubber and other ornate truck parts are coated with electroplated chrome. The DMK-01 comes with one clear parts runner dedicated to his Energon Swords, windows and eyes.
Takara takes a few shortcuts in the detailing process by pre-painting Optimus Prime’s flame pattern and some of the delicate regions along Prime’s head. On the downside of the process, some of the paint was a little sloppy right out of the box. Some areas were almost missed and other spots suffered from excess paint splashed on the wrong areas. Luckily these errors can be cleaned away with the right solvents and filling in the missing colors is easy.
Taking what I’ve done with Gundam models, I detailed my Optimus with the fine point technique for the engraved details using GM-01 Gundam Markers and my trusty Rapidoliner. I went strictly Enamel for all of my painting needs with Testors basic flavors of Steel for filling in the back sides of the car parts, Gold and Silver for the outer areas to improve the pre-painted sections. I also used some Testors Model Master Acryl “Clear Blue” for filling in Optimus Prime’s eyes, chest-level running lights and the front headlights on his waist.
The DMK-01 is a Snap-Together model that wants to be one of those kits that can be built right out of the box without any glue, but I would strongly recommend using adhesives regardless. There are some points where parts tend to hang loose or not hold together well without it.
Building Optimus Prime is a tedious project.
The pre-built skeleton makes the build easier because it gives you a solid starting point while the rest of the assembly process is spent finding the right part to fit into the right area. I will be honest and say that the DMK-01 is not for the novice builder. It has all of the features of a good Master Grade model kit, and had Bandai been in control of the Transformers license I’m sure we would have to build the complete skeleton ourselves. At some points I wished the designers had let us build it instead.
Some areas are delicate to work around while others are stiffened by amount of industrial waste left behind from their end of the production process. During this build, I found myself disassembling whole portions of the kit I had done in order to sand away excess material from the pre-built sections.
At the end of the build, the DMK-01 Optimus Prime looks great especially with the additional work in its construction done with paint on the insides of the red and blue plastic.
Once completed, the DMK-01 Optimus Prime stands at about 10 inches tall and is comparable in height to the “Leader Class” Optimus Prime toys.
Since he lacks all of the hanging bits relating to a missing transformation gimmick, Prime is virtually identical to his onscreen rendition.
The model’s articulation is okay but well done. The more complex moving parts are limited by some of the armor pieces and vehicle parts as they tend to get in the way of the joints. Remember this is a model and not a toy so playing with it has a few drawbacks to just how much action it can have.
Fully built by hand, one gets to really appreciate the level of complexity in the CGI model for Optimus Prime inside and out. The DMK-01 is also a good opportunity to study the subtle and obvious changes made to the character model between films. Looking at its chest up close, you can see how the designers were trying to bridge a design gap between Generation One and the movie universe while retaining the movie’s unique look.
The model’s brand name is misleading, although being a non-transforming figure based on a series that centered on changing between two modes wasn’t enough. The only areas with any “Dual” features are the face and Energon swords and the process of swapping between the alternate pieces requires a moderate level of deconstruction.
Changing out Prime’s face is the more monumental of the two areas since it requires stripping the head down to its bare parts. Alternating between Prime’s more traditional battle-mask face and his (fan loathed) mouth plate feels like the same “One or the Other” Trap I have encountered before in previous model kits that sometimes makes it easier to just pick one mode over the other.
The Energon swords’ have the option of using ball joints to fit into Prime’s wrists like in the first two movies but requires removing the hands first. The second choice parts are designed to fit into the back of Prime’s forearm as seen in the third movie. For a number of reasons, I chose to go with the forearm assembly.
The forearm mounting option uses the front and back sections of armor to hold the swords in place while the outer plate of the armor pegs over the mounting piece and of the two is much easier to work with and alternate.
“You may lose your faith in us, but never in yourselves…”
Even though I really liked building the DMK-01, this is the part of the review where I start to talk about what I did not like about this model.
First and foremost, my biggest problem with the model was the plastic quality. The metallic injection looks good, but it can suffer from the Transformers’ greatest flaw of “Gold Plastic Syndrome.” While the plastic is not brittle, the material is soft and still has the same flaws of breaking down in high stress points.
Prime’s hands especially were the hardest part of the model for me. I’m no stranger to building hands, but assembling the individual digits of the DMK-01 caused me some concern. With issues of the plastic and molding quality, the fingers are difficult to work with and articulate regularly as compared to a Perfect Grade Gundam.
The pin hinge style joints in the knuckles have a tendency to lose their grip when articulating the fingers. Early on in the build process, I learned firsthand just how often the fingers can keep slipping off and noticed other problems relating to the qualities of the plastic.
The chrome plated parts of the DMK-01 caused me some concern in the early detailing process. Out of the box the parts felt oily which made them hard to handle and work with even after cleaning. It was not until I had completed the model that I noticed the fuel tanks on Prime’s back beginning to fracture and the oily condition of the parts caused my glue to not bond properly.
“In a word…. Prime”
I know. Wrong Optimus quote, just deal with it.
Even with its dangerous make-or-break flaws, I still enjoyed building the DMK-01 Optimus Prime. I stand by my opinion that it is not for the novice and would still recommend it to the next seasoned builder. The model is both impressive and imposing at the same time even though it wants to be an easy build. Never the less it was a fun challenge and a great addition to any Optimus Prime collection.
“In any war, there are calms between the storms. There will be days when we lose faith. Days when our allies turn against us... but the day will never come when we forsake this planet and its people.”
|Posted 16 January, 2012 - 13:12 by Rob|