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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
Alternate Mode:
Box Art:

Clay's review of: Alt. Optimus Prime

Name: Optimus Prime
Function: Autobot Commander
ďThe defense of freedom requires the dedication of the mighty.Ē

Well, we should suppose that it was a fated thing to have a Prime Alternator. Even though many people use the Masterpiece version to lead their 1:24 scale robot warriors, the fact is that that toy (or those, given that a Starscream is in production at the time of this review) is a different animal altogether. Thus, Prime as an Alternator is a perfectly legitimate release that doesnít walk over previously treaded ground.

The ultimate result is of mixed success. Of course, you have to consider the multitude of extra things that have to be considered for making a Prime toy instead of ďrandom Autobot #42.Ē It has to have a very distinctive physical appearance, color scheme, vehicle mode, etc., etc., and any number of other things fans will complain about with release like an Alternator, which is specifically targeted at collectors. So, is the whole thing up to snuff, or no?

Vehicle Mode:
Optimus is a truck, albeit a different truck than what heís been associated with before: heís a Dodge RAM SRT-10. Iím not much of a vehicle buff, but I can comment from a toy-collector perspective. The vehicle mode is very detailed inside and out, and features all the sorts of bells and whistles that are standard of any Alternator mold. The seats are adjustable; the hood pops open to reveal a Viper engine block; the tailgate works; etc. Itís the culmination of all these subtle features that really make the Alternators something special. No amount of detail is overlooked, so they really do become ďRobots in Disguise.Ē The most entertaining of these details to me is the vanity license plate: the more recent Alts have states listed. On Primeís, itís styled as California, but actually says Cybertron. More than meets the eye indeed!

There is one downfall of the vehicle mode, though: most of the other Alternator molds feature some sort of working steering mechanism (excluding the Jeep mold). The RAM mold has the mechanism, but not the working. The reason for this is that the front wheel assembly collapses down a bit for the robot mode, and as such the steering bar does as well. The problem is that, in order to make the process of transforming the silly thing manageable, the steering bar collapses so easily that it wonít actually move the wheels. Still, given how well done everything else is in the vehicle mode, I tend not to mind this too much, but it is a failure of design.

Robot Mode:
The robot mode is a pretty interesting juxtaposition of the truck: itís function over form. It does succeed at having a lot of the visual nuances of the original Prime: tall, wide shoulders, vents on his shins, and just being larger than the other Autobots in general, not to mention the red and blue color dťcor. Where this Prime differs, however, causes a lot of cosmetic mayhem. The legs look like big bricks without any knees. This is a visual lie, though. The knees, while probably a bit too high on the legs to be mistaken for normal proportions, do function beautifully allowing for a variety of poses.

In fact, thatís probably the most misleading feature of the robot mode: it looks like it can do a lot less than it actually can. The front bumper and doors that dominate the top half of the toy look like they get in the way of the arms: they donít. The legs look like unarticulated pillars of statuesque-ness: theyíre not.

Actually, whatís neat is that a lot of the more minor details of the robotís appearance can be adjusted in subtle variations: i.e., the vents on the legs can be rotated, the bumper halves can be swiveled around, and even the hood/waist piece can be altered if you so desire.

In spite of all this, itís still going to basically look like what it looks like, so if you donít like the toy on the whole to begin with, these variables wonít matter. However, I really do like the bulkiness of the robot mode when stood up against other Alts. It definitely conveys the presence of a leader, and much more effectively than, say, Energon Prime.

Durability: 9. The stick shift on mine was pretty loose straight out of the box, so I had to glue that down. Otherwise, itís a pretty solid piece.
Transformation: 8. The arms are ornery at going back into place even after youíve figured out how to transform it. Itís reasonably straightforward, otherwise.
Fun: 9. The Alternators finally get a leader, huzzah! But now what do we do with our Masterpiece Primes?
Price: 10. If you can find it at the normal retail price, itís a steal just from a cost-to-weight ratio.
Overall: 8.5. Every line gets a Prime sooner or later, and Alternators got a pretty good one, especially given the radically different design from G1. The main thing to note for the skeptical is that heís a lot better than he looks. Inversely, the fans of this new Prime need to remember that it could have very easily been a lot better if the knees were just lowered by half an inch and made more visible. Itís not without its faults, but it has a lot going for it. While itís not as cosmetically pleasing as it is functional, itís still the first truck mold attempted for an Alternator, so bear with it. Now, bring on the remolds!
 
 
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