Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Transformers Classics was an attempt to bring the classic “G1” character into the modern age with updated versions of their classic alternate modes. For example, you’ve probably seen Bumblebee’s Classics form sitting on the Bumblebee shelf in the past. Instead of his classic VW Beetle form he got a more updated compact car mode, mainly due to Volkswagen not wanting to be tied to war toys. Others were given a modern model of the vehicle they were originally based on. To grab names at random, if a car had been a 1980s Ford Taurus or something, this would be a 2008 Taurus. Note that I don’t know if they even made the Ford Taurus in the 1980s. I’m just giving a hypothetical example here.

One of those toys was an update of…naturally, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. (And yes, they did have a Megatron but thanks to modern restrictions on toy guns they made him more like a Nerf weapon than his traditional handgun.) Originally a red flat-nosed semi, Michael Bay gave him a long-nose blue semi with flames because he thought it looked cool. But what does a proper Optimus Prime update look like?

Please note that I know nothing about truck terms when reading this part.

That’s more like it. A more modern semi (the toyline came out in 2006) alt mode allows Optimus to blend in rather than show off. (Michael Bay is just interested in what looks cool, whether it looks right or not.) And while other lines have put him into pickup trucks or fire engines, this is what Optimus Prime should transform into, a semi. On his right side is the rubsign that was brought back around this time, showing that he is an Autobot. I don’t think these have been used since “Reveal The Shield”. In the old days it was proof of authenticity against the clones, but you can get new ones cheap on reprolabel sites so it’s strictly for nostalgia now.

One thing missing with this figure is the lack of a trailer. The original Optimus came with a trailer that turned into a human-sized base complete with laser cannon and released a drone vehicle called Roller. Other Optimuses since have combined with their trailer since Powermaster Optimus Prime. You CAN get a third-party trailer that works with this figure but they’re rather expensive since these are smaller builders with larger overhead. It’s really a loss.

Why yes, I do still have lighting issues.

I really like Optimus’s robot mode. For one thing THE WINDOWS ON HIS CHEST ARE ACTUALLY THE WINDOWS OF HIS ROBOT MODE! This is becoming a pet peeve of mine, as a lot of Optimus robots (again going back to Powermaster Op) cheat with fake windows. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough that it bugs me. Make a design reminiscent of the windows (worked for Fire Prime) and I’d be satisfied with that. Although we do have a fake truck grill here, the real one folding up with his front wheels on the small of his back. That’s still unfortunate. I know Hasbro and Takara Tomy like to make the look as clean as possible since they started making the movie designs and some great engineering has come from this. It’s not as noticeable with the wind vane from the vehicle forming a backpack but you can still see that’s not his real truck grill.

I do like the new shoulders, though. It gives him a bit more definition (I think that’s the word I want) and I do like how flat everything else feels. Although that does make the cab sides on his forearms more out there. They make decent arm shields and I guess he could spin them around and use the headlights as arm-mounted flashlights without giving up his weapons. The yellow designs on his arms are paint and have scraped off a bit (which I hear is normal) but it’s only noticeable when your critiquing it.

Doubles as an umbrella.

One neat thing is that if you leave the smokestacks attached to the wind vane it can be an over-the-head gun battery. It even rotates. Another undocumented feature is that the vane can be used as a shield, but to hold it right Optimus has to mistransform his arm and it looks bad to me. You mileage may vary. Besides, it has another function.

Forget Michael Bay, what would a John Woo Transformers look like?

Both the vane and smokestacks transform into guns. The smokestack guns actually have these extra flaps that come down and link up when folded into gun mode. It’s purely for the visual aesthetic and you don’t need them out to put them into gun mode so their inclusion is only there to make the gun look better, which I respect. The wind vane forms a laser cannon similar to the one Optimus usually carries with him, and he can dual-wield them to plow through Decepticon lines. I like it.

Forgetting cutting faces off, this Optimus just blasts them off!

Posability is quite good. He lacks wrists and his head only turns left to right without altering transformation points, but he has good hips, waist, shoulder, knees, and biceps articulation. No ankles but you can still put him into some good poses with or without the firearms. And you can store the guns away if you want him to look cool without them.

Decision: Stays

Despite lacking a trailer and the truck grill forming a fanny pack, I think I like this design better than the original. He has cleaner lines, better articulation, and looks like how you’d expect Optimus to look if he took on his form in more recent years. This is a great figure and I love displaying him. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.