Convoy (Optimus Prime)
Review by Optimal III
Today, you can find reissues of Generation One Transformers being sold just about anywhere. It is absolutely
fantastic, but wind the clock back to 2000, and it's a different story. Transformers was just coming off of a big resurgence by way of Beast Wars, but once again, interest in the robots in disguise was starting to wane on both sides of the ocean.
In general, Takara wasn't doing good business at the time. But 2000 was the 15th anniversary for Transformers in Japan, debuting there one year after the US launch. So they did some thinking and came up with a couple of ways to celebrate. One of which was a small handful of G1 reissues. Mostly convention exclusives in fairly small numbers, they were a hit with collectors. In 2002, Takara decided to make a full-blown line out of these reissues called the Transformers Collection. That brings us to this guy, the first and greatest Autobot, Optimus Prime...
Maybe the most notable thing about the Transformers Collection is the packaging. Different from the convention exclusives, which came in reproductions of the original boxes, each release comes in a book-style box. Like most of the others, Prime's cover is adorned with Dreamwave art by Pat Lee, Dreamwave being the TF comic publisher at that time. Prime wasn't the first release, but I guess because he's special and comes in a box double the size of most, he gets #0. I don't read Japanese, but that text at the bottom left probably translates to "Cybertron Supreme
Commander: Convoy". In Japan, Cyberton is called Seibertron, the Autobots are called Cybertrons, and Prime is called Convoy. That's a nod to his origins as a Diaclone toy, when he came with two different trailers.
The flap is held shut with Velcro, works very well. To the right is a window displaying most of the contents. On the left inside the cover is a picture of everything included, similar to the back of the box. In between, there were pages made to be torn out that featured artwork, toy photos, bios, and other TF-tidbits. I enjoy detailed things like this, and I'd have probably left them in, but Prime comes with another accessory you don't see above. I also just now noticed that the inner most box is actually a diorama that everything can be displayed upon once it's turned inside out.
Included in a second box is this small hardcover binder. It's got a really nice gloss and metallic look, the metal rings nice and tight on the inside. I imagine once one has all 22 figures from the TFC line, this binder will be pretty full and make a good piece for the coffee table. Already looks sweet on my bookshelf.
The robot, the myth, the legend. I still remember the first time I saw a G1 Optimus in person. By the time I was old enough to play with toys and actually appreciate them, Transformers was all about the different _-masters and characters who were simply not in the cartoon. These neighbors across the parking lot in our apartment complex had a lot of the older toys. I was in total awe, because they looked just like the pictures I stared at so often in the catalogs I saved. Optimus especially grabbed me. I'm proud to say today I still get that awe when I handle him. Everything's the same, except the blue windshield (more on that later).
By modern standards, I say this is a pretty good truck and trailer combo, but for the early 80's, this is very impressive. Not too small, not too big. Being able to see into the cabin adds a sense of realism. All that chrome on the bumper, fuel tanks, smoke stacks, and grille literally gives it a great shine. The rubber wheels give it good traction on any surface. The trailer (Combat Deck) doesn't tightly peg onto the cab pin, but it fits well enough that it'll stay attached as long as you don't whip it around or lift the truck too steeply. The paint job is a little simple, but appropriate. In the early years, Transformers toys really did strive to look like real things, which would make for great disguises. The trailer has a lot of sculpted detail, and so does Prime. Rivets, lines, horns, vents, it's all there. One minor complaint is the fitting of the cab parts. Nothing terrible, just something I really noticed as I took these pictures.
Prime has a few features besides being a nice truck, so I'm already forgetting what's not to like. On top of the cab is a rub symbol, a heat-activated sticker that reveals Autobot allegiance and marks this as an official Transformer, not something else like a Gobot. At the front base of the trailer is a spring-loaded tab. Pressing it down locks it into place.
On the rear end, the trailer door is locked, but can be opened.
Just imagine this is a scene from Knight Rider while they're on the interstate, and instead of KITT, you have Roller.
Pushing that tab down at the front loads a launcher that's made specifically for Roller, though it can be used to launch Autobot cars and mini-vehicles. The spring's so powerful, when I tested it while taking these pics, Rollerjumped my fingers and went over my shoulder.
Roller is a drone that works as Prime's eyes and ears over great distances. He's been used as a scout, small transport, decoy, and backup. The toy was originally made to carry Diaclone pilots, so it has four seats.
Roller can also be equipped with Prime's laser rifle, and yes, it's a laser rifle, not an ion
Continuing with the theme of weapons, the control module of Combat Deck can be extended through either of the breather holes. Top for when Prime is pulling, and front for when he's not. At which point, the trailer can stay up right thanks to the swing supports stored beneath it. Personally, I'd be threatened by the missile launchers and terrified by the mechanical arm.
Fully transformed, this is Combat Deck in all its glory, an armored command hub for Prime to direct Autobot activity. Again, lots of sculpted detail and very enhanced with some quality asymmetrical stickers. There are two control panels with seats, one on each side, for Diaclone pilots. There are three peg holes, one on each side of the catapult behind Roller, and another to the left, each capable of holding a missile, the laser rifle, or the fuel pump. The command module itself is on an extendable boom arm and can rotate 360-degrees horizontally. The cockpit opens for another pilot, the radar dish rotates with a dial at the base on the back, and hinges just above that. The grappler arm is on a ball-joint, has a middle hinge, and an opening claw that can actually grapple some objects. It's supposed to be able to reload itself and switch ammo, the entire Autobot arsenal at its disposal.
Unfortunately, I guess the trade-off for the spring in Roller's launcher being so strong is the missile launchers being super weak. They can't even be locked in all the way, and don't clear the barrel.
Now the main event, for me at least. I dig Transformers in general, but the robot mode is always what I look forward to the most, even if it's the weak side of the toy. When I think Optimus Prime, this robot mode comes to mind. Every Transformer toy from the first two years was originally a figure in some other toy-line, so the changes made were mostly paint jobs. From there, any differences between the toys and their comic/cartoon design was to punch up the visual. Prime isn't too different, which speaks to the faith in this design. His head is pretty familiar with the crest, fin, mouth plate, and spikes, all iconic features.
Transformation is simple and similar to the animation, but satisfying. The base of the truck swings down and splits into his legs, the ends flipping up as his feet. The back of the cab pulls back and swings forward on each side, which unpegs the forearms. His fists peg into his headlights. And the central plate up top flips over, revealing his head and pegging onto his chest. Overall kind of retro, but I dig it. His feet and chest plate are die-cast metal, so he feels pretty solid.
Back to back with his Action Master counterpart, who is 3.75 inches, Prime comes in just below 6.5 inches. Not a giant, but the typical action figure size, and I think he's only shorter than one of the 1984 Autobots (Trailbreaker).
Working from the bottom up, his legs and feet have details specifically for robot mode. The foot stickers appear to be vents and tail lights. His knees look like they have lights, indicators.
His forearms are also labeled, the different colors looking like exposed circuits, more indicators. He has an Autobot symbol on each shoulder, both of which are also visible in truck mode.
For weapons, Prime is known for carrying his trusty laser rifle, a weapon almost on par with Megatron's fusion cannon. Not as powerful, but easier to use. Originally, the peg was a little short, so it could only be held at a 45-degree angle. By his second re-issue in 2002, Takara went ahead and re-sculpted the rifle to be more anime-accurate and extended the peg so he could hold it straight.
He likes it so much, he'll take two. Though somehow this picture makes Roller a little sad looking, like he needs one for himself.
Remember how his fists peg into his headlights. It took them 19 years, but they finally came up with another use for them.
Aw yeah, Prime's energon ax. Doesn't seem so special now with all the MPs and movie toys, but this was the very first G1 Optimus toy to actually come with the ax. His first Masterpiece toy wouldn't be released for another year when this happened. To this day, it's the only G1-reissue that comes with the ax.
Fully equipped, Prime and Roller look like they're ready to get down and dirty. Whether that's with Decepticons or dancing is anyone's guess. By modern standards, Prime isn't that pose-able, but back in 1984, his articulation could raise the roof. He has hinged ankles, knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders. His elbows, shoulders, and wrists all swivel. However, the only joints not needed for transformation are his knees and all the swivels from the waist up. His arms are pretty savvy, but you can only do so much with his legs before loss of stability. Still, most G1 Transformers are bricks, so to his contemporaries, he's a flame-breathing yoga master.
Overall, it's a pretty stacked package. Even AM Optimus is getting in on the action, helping with the ordinance.
But wait, there's more! Two more things. First, the fact that Prime's chest can be opened. This was originally a Diaclone feature for pilots to be inserted to drive and pilot the mech. Later with Transformers, this became the best place to store his fists. Now, it's the perfect place to store the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. All silver, but pretty detailed and solid metal. It fits perfectly into his chest, and there's even a chain so you or he can wear it as a necklace.
Second, Combat Deck can also function as a repair bay. Here we see Optimus getting the works, complete with Roller sporting his fuel pump.
So where does this toy really stand? First the cons. I can't say it's the best G1 Optimus toy ever. I'd give the official award to MP-04, and the unofficial one to ToyWorld's Orion. What you'd pay to get either one of them is at least what it would cost to get this particular reissue MISB. There are cheaper reissues, so if you're getting this, it's for the box, binder, and ax. Oh, and if you want anime-accurate Optimus, then you're also getting New Years Special Convoy, which costs about as much. That version comes with blue eyes, blue windows, a blue Roller, the Matrix, and a blue canopy for Combat Deck. Prime's eyes are normally yellow, his windows clear, and Combat Deck's canopy orange. I took the best of both releases and gave the leftovers to a friend.
The pros I think outweigh the cons here, especially since this is mostly going to be seen by hardcore collectors like myself. I love toys in general, but Optimus and the Transformers are why I'm here writing this review. This epitomizes how that all started for me. Modern it isn't, but this toy is still really fun and less hassle than most new figures. Anything I want to do with him is only going to take seconds, not minutes. He's durable and simple enough that I'm not worried about breaking anything. He looks good with other Transformers/robots/vehicles. Truth be told, if you don't mind particulars, you can get some version of this same basic figure for as little $100 or less brand new, cheaper loose. He's been reissued more times than most other Transformers combined, so he's not hard to find in any condition. Highly recommended.
|Posted 20 January, 2015 - 11:20 by Optimal III|