Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Optimus Prime came to Earth two years ago hoping to quickly find the All Spark Cube and remove it from the primitive world before the Cybertronians’ war followed it there and destroyed the humans. Unfortunately, with the Cube now destroyed and Megatron defeated, the Autobots have nowhere else to go, and Earth is covertly changing into a new battleground for the endless war. With Optimus grimly determined to make sure their conflict doesn’t damage humanity before it has a chance to mature on its own, he has made it his personal responsibility to ensure that any Decepticon threat is swiftly removed and extinguished. But now the Autobot’s new home is becoming irrevocably infected and paranoid from their presence, and may force them off for good if Optimus cannot confidently calm the fears of the American President. And the unexpected warning of an ancient threat may break down all that the Autobots and N.E.S.T. have worked for and sacrificed to insure Earth’s security in the universe… a threat which only a Prime can defeat. In addition to being the last descendant of the Dynasty of Primes- a specific race of Cybertronians far sturdier and wiser than their fellows- Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots in their fight against the Decepticons. He stands 32-feet (10.7m) tall in his robot mode, and he wields a hand-held heavy energy rifle, two projectile machine guns, and two pop-out Energon-coated swords (as well as a pair of small grappling claws on cables) which are mounted inside his forearms. In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, the voice of Optimus Prime is once more performed by renowned voice actor Peter Cullen - a character whom he originated in the debuting 1984-85 TV series, “The Transformers”, and which he reprised for the 2007 live-action film, “Transformers”. Optimus Prime’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a real Peterbilt Model #379 conventional over-the-road semi-truck, designed and built by Peterbilt Motors Company™. Though undergoing relatively few external changes during its 20 year production (1987-2007), most modifications were to interior styling(s). For its first appearance in “Transformers” (2007), three 379s (I don’t know which specific year they were made) were slightly modified from the standard production model- extending the mudguards both in the front and back, remaking the headlight assemblies, and [obviously] replacing the red-and-silver Peterbilt trademark from above the front engine grille with the red Autobot logo. No significant changes were made for the stunt 379s’ appearance in “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. The toy version is very faithful to the real conventional-type truck: extended red engine hood in front of the cabin with one black ABS wheel on either side, wide flat front bumper with engine-intake grille with a tiny Autobot logo printed on the top edge & four clear ABS headlights, a non-functional silver-painted toolbox and footstep beneath both cab doors (the right has an indentation for a driver-safety “peep window”, though it is not transparent), protected PVC smokestacks come from out of the fuel tanks, a bulkhead to prevent trailer loads from impacting the cab in head-on collisions (i.e. movie-Optimus Prime cannot haul his trademarked semi-trailer now for lack of space…), extended red mudguards above four black ABS wheels, and a non-functional fifth wheel hitching point above his now-clear brake lights. Perhaps the only noticeable differences between the real truck(s) and this Leader-class toy is the blue sleeper compartment is slightly taller on the toy, the hood is a hair longer, and- as mentioned above- the exhaust mufflers are connected directly to the fuel tanks for convenience of the transformation. The infamously-controversial red and blue flames across the sides & top of the nose, roof, doors, sleeper, and rear mudguards are recreated here, though the patterns are different from the real ones only to simplify them. Additionally, the nose and front wheel wells have a subtle flaring of orange paint applied beneath the blue flames to help match to the real truck(s). But minor surface details like tire treads, bolt heads, and small decorative lights remain to remind us of the level of accuracy that Hasbro will provide us to give us a great alt mode. As far as robot kibble goes, looking at Optimus from either side reveals mechanical details running the entire length, but this is not a burden on appearance since such machinery appears on the real truck(s) as well, and so can be easily forgiven. The hitch assembly, when viewed from above, has some minor robot detail from his lower torso, but is, again, easily excused. The one obvious and glaring kibble are the gears and pistons behind all of his cab windows which are part of his Mech Alive™ feature, and could not be hidden without dimming the coloring of the windows themselves. This is perhaps the only inconvenient kibble on the entire vehicle mode.
. . .
For features, other than rolling about freely on all six ABS wheels, as a larger Leader-class figure, Optimus Prime warrants a light-and-sound feature. Along the lower left side of his bulkhead is a tiny square button with a triangle on it. When pressed, two red LEDs in the cab will blink-on-and-off, and you will hear the sound of a semi-truck’s diesel engine idling for about two seconds. (Is it the sound of a Peterbilt 379’s engine? I have no way of knowing… but I’m sure that if you’ve heard one diesel engine idling, you’ve heard ‘em all, so it wouldn’t matter much if Hasbro just put a generic sound in there.)
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s). Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously. Since this is a brand new toy which differs completely from the original one released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Part 2 transformation: Robot Mode to Vehicle Mode
Optimus Prime’s robot mode (back) continues the trend set in 2007 of incredibly-detailed molds matched with high poseability. The head is one of my favorite parts because the sculpt is so clean and accurate. Hell- though I never talk about them, even the back of his head is amazing! But, since he has light-up eyes, there is no light piping involved with this toy. The upper torso is brilliantly designed to have multiple layers of detail, mostly due to how the Mech Alive feature works. But even if that special feature were not present, it is amazing how screen-accurate it is- right down to the very tiny and hard-to-see un-painted Autobot icon buried in the center of his chest! (A second, larger black Autobot icon is printed onto the left shoulder panel, which is not seen in the movie.) The door windows are angled inwards, but to maintain the illusion that they still come from that area, false blue door frames (with the associated matching cut-off red flames) are folded out from underneath the windows during transformation. (Folding up the left pectoral armor reveals even more detail of the inner light gray center of the torso and the shoulder extension.) The back of the torso is where the majority of kibble lies. However, while this is more pronounced on the Leader-class toy, it is the arrangement and the position of parts that becomes less of a concern. (Truthfully, were it not for the battery compartment behind the bulkhead, the parts could have been more snug against his back. But the way it turned out, it’s not glaringly obvious.) Perhaps because the toy is complicated enough as it is, the rear mudguards cannot wrap around the bottom of the fuel tanks like they do in the movie, so they stick out a bit in back, and are one of the two most glaring discrepancies in the entire robot mode’s appearance. Additionally, the mudguards can’t quite squeeze past the fuel tanks and fit over the provided pegs on the blue sections in front of them, so they just end up hanging there. (With some minor amateur modification, I’m sure slivers of the red plastic could be cut away to make room without being detrimental to how they look in vehicle mode. But, personally, I don’t feel it necessary since the friction of the joints is fine… for now.) The arms make two obvious exceptions to their on-screen counterparts. The first is that the outside of the lower arms have the long hood panels which can interfere with some poseability. While the blue flames do appear there in the films, the panels are more broken up and they are much less prolific. And though designed to slide along an internal metal bar to give the hands more space and look more screen-accurate, the panels always bump into the blue upper arm panels, and so I default to leaving them in their pre-arranged positions. The other discrepancy is that Optimus’ dual orange blades are still visible when retracted, and project quite a ways out from the elbows. The problem is, in order to make them better hidden, the blades would have to be about an inch-and-a-half shorter, and that would have seriously compromised their effect when extended. These blades, when retracted, become a major issue when posing. The light gray upper arms contain Mech Alive components, and have some more fantastic detailing. (I heard that early prototypes featured opening hands that were later replaced with closed fists to save on costs.) Additionally, the shoulders are a little wider on the toy than on-screen, giving him a rather broad chest, but it is needed in order for the arms to be able to hang down. As with the rest of him, the legs are well detailed, particularly in the feet & ankles, and thighs. Though in the movie both the upper and lower wheels are flush against Optimus’ thighs, here the upper pair are actually attached to his hips and stick outwards a little because of the limits on space. Instead, they act like side-skirt armor, riding just above the lower ones which are mounted mid-thigh. But even when posing, they don’t move from that position, and so it could be argued that they are exactly where they need to be to match where they are in the movie. The knee guards are set on free-turning joints [for whatever reason], and can flip forward 90-degrees if desired. (Though they don’t snap to any angle, I habitually tilt them forward diagonally just a little to closer match what’s seen on-screen.) Perhaps the one discrepancy in the legs is how the truck’s toolboxes are anchored to the outsides of the knees, which should be flush compared to the movie’s version. (This, too was different in prototype stage, but didn’t have as satisfying a fold-out process, and so was simplified not to move at all.) Interestingly, though the blue panels on the inside of his lower legs are not seen in vehicle mode, they have the tiniest of spring-out action so that- when converting to truck form- they compress against each other. This gives the illusion that they stick out away from the rest of the internal structure, but it’s not noticeable otherwise. (Nice touch!) The red flame pattern is actually more complex here than they are in the movie, and the panel just below them is not red, but the basic blue of the ABS plastic. The feet, when viewed from a forward profile, resemble an upside-down “T”, and the soles seem wider than need-be despite having all the same structures that Optimus has in the movie. If I could make one pick about this toy, coloring-wise, I would say that the connecting joint part used at the front of the feet shouldn’t have been red, but rather the silver/light gray that they are in the movie. Or better yet, since the rounded panel just behind them wasn’t painted blue, the red part could have been molded in blue instead; I would have accepted that. But, believe it or not, since movie-Optimus Prime has very little actual red in robot mode (due to difficulties in filming, which I do not understand), perhaps Hasbro felt the need to add some in wherever they could, and leave out some of the blue elsewhere. Trust me on this when I say the wheels and mudguards on the sides of the ankles are supposed to look like that, even though they stick out a lot in back.
. . .
Just as Optimus Prime is incredibly detailed, he is equally poseable- perhaps a side effect of the fact that almost all of the required joints are involved in transformation as well. But, in the long run, the range of motion is nothing particularly special or new. (Waist articulation would have been absolutely impossible because that’s where all of the electronics are stored, and there’s a major transformation joint right there which couldn’t have spared the space.) All of the joints- with the exception of the neck, wrists, and ankles are ratcheting. Believe it or not, the ankles are actually giant ball-and-socket joints- some of the largest [that I’ve ever] seen on a Transformer™! Though they don’t lean forward much, the ankles can tilt side-to-side a little, and definitely backwards due to how they transform. The problem with them, though, is that the blue panels along the outsides that the wheels are connected to bump up against tiny tabs between them, and where posing can potentially pop the panels out of place. (The blue panels, for that matter, are designed to pop-off completely along the inner gray panel if too much pressure is applied.) Working upwards, I find it really cool that the blue armor in front of his hip joints actually doesn’t turn when the legs are spread to the sides- what an awesomely quirky detail! Now, the swords… They are a pain in the ass to work with when retracted on this toy. “Why?” They constantly bump into either the blue shoulder armor or the fuel tanks/exhaust tubes on his back! Because of that shoulder armor, it is impossible to completely extend Optimus Prime’s elbows completely; unless you extend the blades, the lower arms will never hang straight down. The only option, I’ve found, is to fold the shoulder panels out slightly, tilt the forearms out slightly, and carefully wedge the blades in the space between the upper arm and the blue plastic armor. (You can counteract the look of the forearms being tilted outwards by twisting the fists inwards slightly, as I have done for several of the photographs in this review.) And finally, Optimus cannot look very far at all to either side because his lower cheeks bump into the blue armor on top of his shoulders. As a little trick I use, I extend the red plastic ‘neck’ part just a bit (try to do this without triggering his lights-and-sound, I dare ya!) and it is enough to allow full range of motion side-to-side.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figures body can be animated beyond simply posing it- panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie. For the Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime toy, it has two Mech Alive features:
- On Optimus’ stomach is a small “Y”-shaped panel that can be folded down. This is the trigger for his light-and-sound feature. Pressing down on the trigger, Optimus’ chest panels and head will tilt upwards! Additionally, gears inside of the cab windshields, and the cab door windows themselves, will twist sideways at the same time. When they stop moving up, two red LEDs in the chest and one green LED in the head will flash on-and-off a few times, and you will hear the voice of actor Peter Cullen say, “I am Optimus Prime”! Since the top of the smokestacks are connected to the top of the cab roof, they will also tilt backwards in the same motion.
- Both of Optimus’ upper arms are actually hollow on three sides of each (front, outside, and back). And so, whenever the elbows are twisted to either side, there are internal pieces which also turn with the forearm as well!
These are both subtle yet awesome features because they do not interfere with anything else in the figure, or seem unrealistic when compared to what you see in the movie. (I didn’t even notice the upper-arm columns turning until a few days after I opened the box!)
What the Instructions Don’t Tell You
The Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime set, unfortunately, has four marks in this frustrating category:
- Both the light gray sun visors directly above the cab windshields and the blue knee guards can be repositioned as you wish. Though it is not a required step, it does contribute to the overall feel of the character from the movie.
- The un-textured black-and-white 2D instructions are not clear as to how the shoulders are moved from the sides of the upper torso to the front of it. I spent almost ten minutes trying to figure out what the hell they were talking about… and it took researching on YouTube to finally get it!
- The wheels along the thighs- but not the ones attached to the hips- are designed to extend/contract from the light gray plastic during transformation. They need to be extended in vehicle mode to make room for the mudguards, and retracted in robot mode to let the upper wheels slide across them.
- In vehicle mode, the light-and-sound feature can be activated. Along the bottom-left side of the bulkhead is the small square button with a triangle on it.
…but the instructions don’t tell you any of this.
This is an astounding toy. It is as different from the original 2007 ver. Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime toy from the first film as night and day! In fact, that was the biggest downside of the original toy- it was not nearly as screen-accurate as most of the other smaller toys were to their own counterparts. It was blocky, coloring was wrong, it has details that did not match the original character, and it had a fold-out cannon that replaced the pop-out forearm sword- the last of which was remedied with the Premium-series repaint figure, but still did not expand the same way as it did in the movie. While an involved transformation elevated the toy above all of its predecessors, the parts nowhere near came from where they did on-screen. (Granted, a bit of salt needs to be taken with any physical interpretation of any Cybertronian character from the fan-termed ‘Bayformers’ universe, because they are so immensely complex…) The biggest downer for me- and, truthfully, thee deciding factor in my choosing not to buy it- was that even though the all of the wheels ended up on the legs, they were huge and prevented significant posing. Additionally, you only had one weapon option- missile-launching cannon, or sword- to choose from between the first-wave and Premium versions. (While this is still true with the above reviewed, the weapon more-closely resembles what is seen on-screen in both films. Ironically, the Japanese-exclusive release of this newest figure- Leader-class Buster Optimus Prime- has both fold-out swords and a removable blaster! Wish I had known that earlier… -_-;) This new Leader-class figure is slim, has a broad upper torso with narrowing waist, far-more intricate surface & movable details, better articulation, cleaner proportions, and those kick-ass pop-out swords. But with all that praise comes the dark side of things… For all the improvements that this toy makes over the original from 2007, it can be a pain to work. I am forced to concur with my various [peers? colleagues? fellow geeks/nerds?] across the internet about how this figure may be more screen-accurate, but is unwieldy to the 4-6yrs it is marketed towards. While the ‘07 ver. was better suited to the younger crowd, it was the more-knowledgeable and older fans and collectors who decried the simplicity. This set is an awesome answer to that feedback, but is a potential nightmare to young kids and their parents. I am almost-27 years old, and the first time I tried to transform him to vehicle mode (it’s packaged in robot mode), it took me 32 minutes to get to the point where I was certain it looked like a solid Peterbilt 379 truck! (Nowadays, I’m down to about 10-13 minutes switching between either mode.) It isn’t that it’s a difficult transformation to comprehend. Typically, once you complete that first transformation cycle from robot to alternate mode and back, it gets easier & easier each time blah, blah, blah. However, it is not where parts go that makes it difficult after that first cycle, but rather how they get there. The tolerances are so close here that I still have to dedicate a certain amount of brain power to transforming this toy, particularly into vehicle mode. A few parts pop-off, but that is not the issue. The most-difficult parts for me [still!] when transforming it are reconnecting the upper and lower halves into the truck’s nose & hood, and connecting/disconnecting the red tabs in the chest for the Mech Alive feature. (I find that carefully-applied brute force for the latter is truthfully the only way to go. Some very minor sanding on the small red domes may help, but I fear that too much would render them irreparably damaged and useless forevermore.) While having the swing-down swords is a great feature to have included- a giant robot swinging around two forearm-mounted blades is epic- this toy just cannot compensate easily for them when they are retracted. Even when transforming him, I leave them extended as long as I can because it’s just a hassle to fight them every step of the way. And while the forearm panels are a little awkward because you can’t push them back towards the elbows, really it isn’t that noticeable, and so I don’t even think about that now. Whereas the ’07 version had the truck’s front grille & bumper included in the Advanced Automorph Feature on the feet, this version completely integrates it and makes it disappear altogether along the bottom of his feet to great effect and with little effort. Was I irritated that the toolboxes are so obviously toolboxes along the outsides of his knees? No, because they don’t feel out-of-place even if they don’t appear there in the movie. There’s very little kibble on this toy save for on the back, and we need to be reminded that this thing does not morph into a truck- it transforms, and shifts all those parts about in a pre-determined way. As a collector, I am highly impressed. The transformation is tricky, but the end results either way are very satisfying. If a Premium-like repaint comes along in 2009, I wouldn’t turn it down at all because it would serve only to enhance the jaw-dropping design. (Again, had I know about the Buster ver., I may have gone for it first instead… like so many others who did what I did and jumped as quickly as possible. I mean, not only does he have upgraded paint apps and the collapsing rifle, but it’s the first movie-version of the character to have a visible mouth rather than his battle mask!) For the parents, whose kids come to them with tears in their eyes because they can’t get it right and are forced to go through the whole frustrating affair every few minutes, heed my words: this may not be for your children even though it says “4-6 years” on the box. Like most ‘Bayformers’ toys, this is complex on a magnitude at-or-near the Transformers Alternators/Binaltech line- which specifically targeted dedicated collectors & older fans. What age limit would I put on it? Ehh… truthfully I’d say 10-12yrs. The “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime toy is, for collectors, a wonderful response to the 2007 designs- an unsurprisingly-complex and joyously-frustrating toy, but a fun one once you get the hang of it. Highly recommended!
This Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime figure is fully-compatible with the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Leader-class Decepticon Jetfire toy ($44.99), and can form Power-Up Optimus Prime just like in the movie! Or you can get both Leader-class figures in a special-edition Power-Up Optimus Prime Value Pack for a combined price of $79.99.
|Posted 21 August, 2009 - 17:43 by EVA_Unit_4A|