How ridiculous is it that I'm gonna have to disambiguate this guy as Prime Prime. Well, at least there's no PrimePrimal Prime yet.
I didn't go to San Diego Comic-Con! But Emerald Beacon did. He's a guy who's done some artwork for Fun Publications and he's the mastermind behind those Bat-Con t-shirts. I have one! I wore it to the Dark of the Moon premiere. It's a swank shirt. And since he's a swank guy, he picked me up some SDCC swag. Among them was this FIRST EDITION MATRIX OF LEADERSHIP OPTIMUS PRIME. I think that's its name, anyway.
It's the first Transformers Prime toy, unless you want to count the War for Cybertron stuff. And it's gonna be the only Transformers Prime stuff until November or December, so even though I'm gonna be owning this toy again when I get the "Entertainment Pack" that comes with the three PVC human kids, it's worth it to me to have this guy five months early.
Plus, dude, his packaging. He comes inside a Matrix, which you can wear, which comes inside a box that looks like Optimus Prime's chest, sealed with a magnet. And you can remove the toy no problem from the Matrix without wrecking it. You just pop the plastic part, sort through some layers, and voila. Removeable, returnable Optimus Prime toy. So when my next convention comes along (Wizard World Chicago, is it?) I can put him back in and wear him around like a dork. You know, versus shilling my webcomic at a table like a dork.
The toy is more complicated than I was expecting. I'm not sure why I was expecting simpler. It's not, like, insanely complicated, it's just more complicated than I thought it looked, apparently. The thing explodes to transform from one mode to another. And I'm increasingly used to Optimus Prime toys having fake robot mode windshields, but it feels a little crazier to have his fake robot mode windshield to fold up and cover his real truck windshield. That feels like a whole new level of absurdity. But I understand why. His robot mode windows don't actually look like his truck mode windows, so whatcha gonna do. Damn those character designers.
Another thing that weirds me out are his shoulders. They look for all the world like they're supposed to become the truck's air foil, and it's kind of frustrating that they don't. In both this Deluxe Class toy and the upcoming Voyager Class toy, the air foil instead becomes the heels. Again, I understand why, what with the placement of the parts in each mode and the designed hinging in the front of the shins, but it rankles my brain a little.
In conclusion, this guy comes with a wearable Matrix, within which is a toy which won't be out for several months. How much either of those two details tickle you should determine how dedicated you are to hunting him down.
Ha ha ha ha, let's start off myDark of the Moon reviews with stuff recycled from the first and second movies. That's kinda anti-appropriate, no?
This Walmart-exclusive pair is something we found out about only a few days ago, which is an amazing feat in today's world of action figure theft espionage. How often does that happen, really, where a toy isn't known about until it shows up in stores? Just about never? Yeah. And what a crazy pair of toys. ...which is why I craved them, of course. Let me enumerate the many ways in which they are crazy.
Of course, Dark of the Moon is going to be involving all sorts of moony and spacey stuff. Well, what about an Optimus Prime toy with the reflections of stars and the moon on the surface of his body? "Twilight sparkles," to coin a phrase, trail up and down the sides of the truck mode, and more appear scattered across his windshield, with a very clear moon decoed in the corner of one of his windows. He's spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace Prrrriiiiiiiiiiime! (in space!) The sparkling and the moon imagery kind of make him an unintended, unwanted callout to the Twilight series. Look, he doesn't want to cut off your face! He wants to take care of you and not eat you and absolutely not have sex with you! Look how he shines.
How could I not own that?
What made it more appealing is that this deco treatment is on a version of Optimus Prime that I didn't have. This is the Voyager Class Optimus from last year's post-Revenge of the Fallen toyline, with the flip-out blades and the chest-stored Matrix of Leadership. I passed it up then because, well, I didn't need a Prime at that scale. But this year, I kinda think I do. Shockwave and Megatron this year are mere Voyager Class, and word from Hasbro at this year's Toy Fair was that they weren't considering doing them in a bigger size. No Decepticons planned in Leader Class scale. Fooey on that, man! So I might as well get a Voyager Prime so my Voyager Megatron and Shockwave have somebody to interact with. I choose Twilight Prime to fill this slot with no regrets.
Other than the star reflections, Twilight Prime has other differences from last year's use of the mold. The toy came out in Japan with hooks instead of swords, and it's that version of the toy that's being used here. (He also has a face instead of the mouthplate. TFwiki doesn't mention it in the writeup for the Japanese release of the toy, so I'm uncertain whether this head is new or if it's just a dumb omission on the wiki's part.) I've never owned a movie Prime toy with the hooks or the face, so those are other things that attracted me to it.
The toy itself is unsurprisingly complex. Have you ever tried to transform the Leader Class ROTF Optimus Prime? Well, Voyager Prime is designed to be the same toy, but smaller. The robot mode explodes into a pile of parts and reassembles itself into a truck. With the necessary aid of the instructions, I assure you. You can't touch it with your thumb without feeling a joint or moving part.
Twilight Optimus Prime comes with a "bonus value" deluxe toy, Comettor. Comettor is a redeco of the first movie's Landmine, which was one of the Sector Seven vehicles from the film re-envisioned as a Transformer. It's a real Earth vehicle, albeit modified. And guess what? Now it's a moon buggy! Or so the packaging claims, anyway. Ha ha ha ha. That also amuses me. Comettor is an Autobot who transforms into a moon buggy that Optimus Prime counts on for assistance when he has to go to the Moon to fight Decepticons. And so the old Movie 1 Landmine toy is redone up in moonish almost-white with some gold. Even the wheels are painted over in white. Because, y'know, moon buggy.
Whatever the intention, the toy is, at the very least, pretty. White and gold with some black'll do that. And since he's the old Landmine toy, he still transforms relatively easy and cleanly. All four wheels have springs in their suspensions, so if you want you could bounce him around like he's in low-grav.
But let's get down to the real clincher. This Voyager plus "bonus value" Deluxe toy is $17.77 for the pair. That's a whole dollar less than a DOTM Voyager by itself costs at Walmart! Comettor costs negative one dollars! So, yeah, I bought the Hell out of it. Looking for this set was the reason why Graham and I went out searching again late last night to Walmarts we'd already been to, in the hopes that they'd started putting their DOTM stock out. Two Walmarts failed us, but the final one was good to us. We found a dozen of him on an endcap.
I love this goofy lunar Prime. And I know that he loves me, too. I can tell by the way that he won't kill me.
The fandom kinda freaked out when this guy suddenly and magically, without fanfare, appeared in Toys"R"Uses and Walmarts. What? A Transformers 3 toy? That has to be a mistake! And how did we let it slip past our insanely focused warning systems?
It's not something I would pick up normally, but it is a "preview" toy months in advance, and I kind of have an empty blog to fill, so what are you gonna do.
This is "Cyberverse Commander" Optimus Prime. That's not really a description of the character so much as it is a description of the sizeclass. "Cyberverse" is what Hasbro's calling the sub-Deluxe size class stuff this year. They're building an army of little Legends class-ish toys and giving them playsets and swappable weaponry. "Commander" means that Optimus is one of the larger toys. Price-wise and mass-wise, he's kind of a Scout, but not quite. He feels about 90% of a Scout. But he sure costs 100% of a Scout! ($7.96)
As a Commander, Optimus Prime comes with an accessory weapon. It's a jetpack and two guns, which you can combine with him in various ways. It's attached via the new C joint clips and rods, which is the same stuff you use to clip Jazz's speakers everywhere. So, yeah, in theory, you could clip Prime's tiny jetpack to a larger Generations deluxe. No promises it'll face the right way, though. The guns have pegs that fit into C joint clips, so there's probably some interactivity potential there, too.
Likewise with the vague new pricepoint, Optimus Prime's complexity also falls somewhere in between the old Legends Class and Scout Class figures. The toy's transformation feels more like a Legends Class toy, but has way more steps and parts than those allow. Legends Class toys don't usually have balljointed hips and shoulders or bendable knees and elbows, or at least certainly not all at the same time.
There's also a pair of 3D glasses (red/blue) included so that you can view downloadable content from the official website. Or downloadable 3D porn images from certain other websites.
So I guess, at the very least, this is an interesting look at what the cheaper half of the Dark of the Moon toyline is going to be like -- tiny versions of movie characters with accessories or playsets, with transformation complexity somewhere above Legends Class toys. I'll probably skip out on most of it, since I'm not very interested in starting a whole new scale, but this toy was a welcome diversion during the winter toy drought.
When I was in high school, Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime was the fucking bomb. It was seriously the best Transformers toy ever, hands down. I wasn't alone in this assessment: in the Nineties the annual online Transformers fandom awards gave Laser Prime the #1 spot on the "Best Toy Friggin' Ever" poll for years and years after his release. The only thing that knocked it from its lofty perch was the arrival of Masterpiece Optimus Prime.
What granted the toy immortal status was the context of its birth. Laser Prime came out late in Generation 2, just as Hasbro decided, hey, maybe we should, y'know, give these guys some, like, knees and elbows or something. Laser Prime was the highest-priced item that year, so what he gave us was a very sizeable, very poseable, very electronic Optimus Prime who not only came with one of the best missile-launching and disc-shooting trailer bases ever, but he also rocked the fucking sword. (Which, in theory, would light up along with the rest of his electronics if plugged into his fist.) Laser Optimus Prime was fucking badass, and he was the most fucking badass Generation 1/2 Optimus Prime toy for a friggin' decade.
Some people prefer the mold in his "Black Convoy"/Scourge colors from Robots in Disguise. (Who inspired a tiny Spy Changer version of the toy that later got redecoed as Optimus Prime in a "Circle of Life" sort of way.) Me, I go for e-Hobby's Laser Ultra Magnus, who you see accompanying this blog's subject in the photos here. And I still love that toy. So It was hard to imagine what a newer version could bring to the table. Wasn't the original Laser Prime mold good enough? Was it that dated? Could it be improved on 15 years later?
So here's Reveal the ShieldOptimus Prime, who's an homage to ol' Laser Prime. He's just a Deluxe Class toy, compared to the, uh, whatever large undefined size class original Laser Prime was. So, yeah, RtS Prime is pretty tiny. He's even pretty tiny by modern Deluxe Class toy standards. He's shoulder-height with Generations Thunderwing andClassics Bumblebee, which makes him one of the shortest Deluxes ever. It makes me wonder what about his construction made it too costly to make him bigger. Bumblebee came with that sizable transforming jetski/trailer accessory, so that's a conservation of mass. Thunderwing is mostly wing, and so he's about as big as he can get and still fit into the bubble packaging. With RtS Prime, though, I'm not so sure. He feels like he has a lot less mass than, say, Drift or Straxus, both of whom tower over him and come with more accessories.
Might it be his complexity? I'm not talking really about his transformation, which is indeed much more complex than the original Laser Prime's. I'm thinking more of the extravagant series of lightpiping that runs through the top half of his body. His shoulders, torso, and head are all full of translucent orange plastic, and so when you put him up against a light, he glows through all these sculpted cracklines. It's pretty neat. (And was probably intended as a replacement for the original version's electronic lights.)
But let's get back to his transformation. One thing that this toy definitely improves on versus the original is the vehicle mode. While Laser Prime's back end was unmistakably a pair of robot legs pegged together, RtS Prime's vehicle mode tries to make that back end look like an actual truck back end. This means some liberties have to be taken with Optimus Prime's legs, and those liberties were definitely taken, with some very compelling results. There's a series of flip-over panels that move out of the way from truck to robot mode so that you can compress the wheels into the insides of the thighs and shins. This is necessary because, like a real semi, he's got those double-wheels, and double-wheels are wide!
I also appreciate how the windows of the vehicle become the chest of the robot. Original Laser Prime had vestigial chest windows, which looked nice but were a real cheat, but RtS Prime says fuck that shit and goes the extra mile of moving the chest windows down into the robot mode. And they even paint them silver so that they call back to Laser Prime's chest color. (That is super appreciated. If they'd done his chest up in traditional red, it wouldn't feel much like Laser Prime at all.)
When you fold the side windows in so that his shoulder jointings have a place to go, they press up against the insides of his chest window. Why? 'Cuz there's a Matrix sculpted on the facing side of those window panels. Oh fuck yeah. And in an undocumented feature, when you compress the remaining vehicle kibble into his backpack, there's a large slot there for his sword to stow. His sword which transforms into the trailer hitch. (Not nearly enough Optimus Primes have actual trailer hitches, instead of the usual humdrum peg and peg-hole.)
I'm not sure where I stand on RtS Prime's poseability versus the original's. In theory, he has the original's joints and more. In theory, he adds very-helpful ankle articulation to the pile. His head is perched high on a ball joint. And his additional wrist articulation allows him to, at long last, hold his sword double-fisted style. But a lot of the rest of his articulation is hindered by the sculpt. His waist could turn more than a few degrees to each side if his backpack didn't get in the way. His elbows don't quite bend 90 degrees. And the admittedly nifty collapsible leg wheels keep his knees from bending much.
So RtS Prime is something of a mixed bag. Whether he skews awesome or meh depends on how you prioritize his shortcomings and improvements. Plus he has some pretty big shoes to fill... literally. What with being tiny. And, hey, let's be real, here. Laser Prime was the most awesome toy of his decade. If he came out today, he wouldn't be so legendary. ...which is just about where RtS Prime stands.
Okay, the real reason is that it came out ten years ago. I was a college student. I didn't have expendable income for $200 e-Hobby exclusives from Japan, especially ones that were just a same-character redeco of the $100 reissue I somehow managed to afford on my theme restaurant paycheck. Plus, well, at the time I wasn't of the mindset that crazy insane redecoes of things I love were actually desirable. My tastes have evolved over the years. I'm more easily romanced by the absurd these days.
So, anyway, Graham pointed out to me last week that there was one going for not terribly much on Ebay (less than what the original thing cost, if my memory's right), and now I have one. It's Maggie's fault. I asked her if I should consider getting it, thinking she'd tell me no. Instead, she enabled me. She's an enabler! Bad wife! Bad, yet awesomely good wife!
I am under no illusions that Powermaster Prime is a toy that holds up to the standards of today. No, my love for the toy is fueled largely by nostalgia. I didn't have an original Optimus Prime as a kid. And so over the next few years, my Transformers purchases were guided by trying to buy something as close to Optimus Prime as possible. Red and blue guys were the order of the day. It's why I chose Crosshairs. It's why I chose Cloudburst. It's why my Ultra Magnus cab was colored in red and blue washable markers that caused him to look like Easter Prime. But for Christmas 1988, I got the real deal! The first new Optimus Prime toy! And he was featured in all the comics I was reading, and in the intros and outros for the cartoon's Tommy Kennedy season. Powermaster Optimus Prime is, for all intents and purposes, My Optimus Prime.
But anyway, in Japan this toy was some kid named Ginrai. And he had a Transtector that looked suspiciously like Optimus Prime. And his Optimus Prime Transtector could combine with his trailer and form Super Ginrai. And Super Ginrai could combine with his other trailer, God Bomber, and form God Ginrai. And in the last episode, while fighting Black Zarak, he glowed orange with BURNING JUSTICE. And over a decade later, Japan decoed their toy in orange as e-Hobby-exclusive Fire Guts God Ginrai. And now a decade after that, I have it!
Fireguts God Ginrai substitutes the original version's blue for red and its gray and red for orange. None of the paint applications are altered, which is why the uncombined robot has silver-painted legs which you cover in red stickers. Thankfully, the colors of the stickers were changed. Sometimes this doesn't happen, like with e-Hobby Laser Ultra Magnus, where what you get is just the original stickers unaltered included with your redecoed toy. And, boy, are there a lot of stickers. Most of the stickers go on the Super Robot's armored battlestation mode's many flat surfaces. (I got Powermaster Prime and Fortress Maximus for Christmas on the same year. Yes, yes, feel free to hate me. I only mention this because I want to bring up how I spent like two hours putting their stickers on. Those were two sticker-heavy toys.)
We didn't get Godbomber in America until the Toys "R" Us reissue several years ago, and there's a pretty good reason. He's the worst Transformers toy of all time. You might say, dude, that is a big claim. I put it to you that it is nevertheless correct. He's a trailer, you see, that's made out of robot parts. You take him apart and peg him together. Neither mode looks remotely good, and one of them is a trailer. His whole reason for existence is to give Powermaster Prime/Ginrai/Whoever platform shoes, a new chest, and tiny stubby wings. Even at this he's not terribly adept. If you thought Prime had stubby thighs before, wait until you add giant new feet under his old feet!
God damn, Godbomber sucks. He sucks even more when he's entirely red plastic! Ah well. He's not what I'm here for. (Man, before he was reissued, some people would pay hundreds of dollars for Godbomber alone! We didn't get him over here, and so he was special, like some terrible Holy Grail! Have pity for these folk.)
The Transformers Animated toyline is undoubtedly done in the States, but Japan's still cranking out what remains of what we didn't get over here. Good news! Also, bad news, since their stuff is not often compatible with our stuff, what with the metallic paint coating.
Nonetheless, I decided to chip in for Takara's Wingblade Optimus Prime, which gives Optimus his flight powerup that we saw in the final episodes. Originally, these parts were supposed to come with a battle-damaged-less version of Deluxe Class ($12) Optimus Prime and be sold as a Voyager ($20). But because Hasbro made sure that the upgrade was equally compatible with Voyager Optimus Prime, Takara opted for using the bigger Prime with their Wingblade release.
(I don't have access to my Deluxe Prime, so no pictures of the new parts on him just yet.)
Prime's mine because even if he ended up not fitting in with the rest of my Animated display due to his clashing deco, he'd still make a pretty good solo display piece. Takara released the newer, more-in-scale Bumblebee at the same time, but I declined to order him because, well, the whole point of getting the more-in-scale Bumblebee is to stand him with other dudes... and he's in colors that definitely won't mesh well with my other dudes. So dang. Maybe I'll pick him up at a BotCon if I get needy.
Takara already released a Voyager Optimus Prime in metallic paint, so they decided to make the base figure of their Wingblade Prime release in translucent plastic. Parts of him are still painted metallic (probably the parts they couldn't cast in translucent plastic), but he's still mostly translucent. Thankfully, his Wingblade parts weren't done in translucents, probably just so you could combine the parts seamlessly with the original metallicky release if you wanted to.
Let's get something out of the way. I don't like the metallic paint. Why? Because these things are shipped tangled up in twist-ties. Not the new paper ties Hasbro has recently changed to, but the old plastic ones. These like to scratch up metallic paint something fierce.
It's a bad idea.
The parts snap on easy enough. Obviously this upgrade wasn't planned from the beginning, since the add-ons are done pretty creatively. Did the original toy have some sort of random tab or groove somewhere? Guess what, that's getting used! The arm parts fit over the previous arms, pegging into the fistholes. The jetpack plugs into the flashers on Prime's back the same way the flashers plug into the top of the truck roof during transformation.
Now, the new truck mode is where it gets kinda sloppy. Basically, all you do is pile everything onto the back of the vehicle. In layers. It doesn't really create anything pretty. It's a truck with wings and a pair of forearms on it. There is a Magnus hammer shoved somewhere in there. It's inelegant, but it serves its purpose. And, really, nobody is going to care that much about this mode.
I thank God that the new parts don't stand out that much when plugged into my matte American Voyager Prime. That's what I was hoping for, anyway! Sure, some of it's shiny, but it doesn't matter all that much. They were hastily-added upgrades in-fiction as well, so I can even justify it like the continuity nerd I am.
Even if Denton Tipton looks down his nose at me for being so.