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God Jinrai's Review: Optimus Prime

Generation: Armada
First cartoon appearance: First Encounter
"Freedom is the right of all sentient beings"

General Overview
Armada Optimus Prime leads the new autobot forces in the up and coming transformers series, Armada. While it’s yet to really be seen just how exactly this Prime will act and battle, one thing is for certain: he’s not taking this battle for the minicons sitting down!
Packaging overview: Returning to the G1 roots, Armada Optimus comes in a windowed box. The box art, supplied by Dreamwave, the creators of the new transformers comics, does great justice to the figure. The box does not include a tech spec card, which is something of a letdown for collectors, but instead includes a sticker with the box art displayed on it. The window section of the box allows clear view of the majority of the vehicle mode, luring the customer in to make their purchase and see just HOW this behemoth semi rig transforms.

Toy Overview
In Rig mode, Optimus vaguely resembles his former self, Laser Optimus, in cab aspect. Gone is the box shaped cab, and in its place, a highly streamlined modern semi rig cab. In the cab is the infrared sensor which triggers the trailer’s transformation. In a Toyfare review, the reviewers said that they were unable to get the trailer to auto transform. That’s likely because they didn’t point the transmitter at the trailer! The figure, in essence, must be transformed, face down, with the emitter pointed at the front of the trailer for the auto transformation sequence to work. Also, gone is the box trailer of the G1 Optimus. In its place is a hybrid trailer, hybrid in the fact of its being a carrier trailer, as well as a half-track trailer (a hybrid of the Ultra Magnus trailer and the star convoy trailer.) Also visible in trailer mode is one of the many power points, which are utilized by the minicons to add to their host’s powers and weaponry.
In standard robot mode, Armada Prime does more than a fair share of justice to his cartoon form. Highly detailed, including a moving faceplate to simulate speaking, and… a molded in autobot matrix! The matrix was featured on only one other american toy, that being the RID Optimus, also known as Super Fire Convoy. It was also featured on the Japanese Beast Wars character, Lio Convoy, and removable matrices were granted to Big Convoy, of Beast Wars Neo, and the New Year’s Convoy reissue from Japan.
Also included are the two forearm cannons which can be removed, and combined into a single dual barrel cannon. This seems a bit silly to me, considering that they would be far more accurate weapons mounted on the forearms. But at any rate, also included is the traditional BAG…or Big Arse Gun. The plastic mount that’s attached to the gun handle peg swivels and allows for interface with the base mode by mounting into a recess in the battle tower.
And speaking of the base mode… What a base it is! With over seven power point interfaces, several of them being live points, a fold down launch pad for minicons (non functional, of course), and a grappling arm/missile cannon, the trailer leaves little to be desired.
While on the subject of minicons, a short dissertation on Sparkplug. In Robot Mode, he somewhat reminds me of Bumblebee, particularly due to the horns on the head. If one were to imagine Bumblebee with Sunstreaker or Sideswipe’s vehicle mode, you’d have a pretty close match for Sparkplug. And one other thing bothers me about this figure. That is, quite simply, the name! Sparkplug, by G1 standards, was one of the two primary human allies of the autobots… at least in the cartoons. This isn’t quite the way I’d choose to keep the name alive.
With another set of movements to the robot mode, the basic Optimus figure is transformed into the torso for the super robot. The head folds up from the area where the legs (now the arms) would meet with the basic figure’s torso. Once again, you must have the infrared sensor aimed at the trailer or else the auto transformation will not work. In both cases, to base and body mode, it’s best to help along the transformation, as the motors used in the trailer aren’t quite strong enough to fully support the transformations alone. Once both portions are transformed, the torso links to the leg section at the grille. (See? Now you know why there were those little slots in the grille!) In super robot mode, the tower section of the base folds up vertically, and the top serves as the “spotlight/missle rack” that can be seen behind prime’s head. The right hand is equipped with a light unit, that, when activated, will light up the weapon in hand. In other words, if the super cannon is in hand when it’s activated, you’ll see the red light inside the barrel. Interestingly enough, though it’s mere speculation, I’d wager the light would also be strong enough to illuminate the RID Scourge’s sword, and also, quite possibly, the Star Saber merged form of the minicon aerial patrol.

Final Assessment
All factors considered, Armada Optimus Prime earns a strong 9.9 on my ranking scale. Why only 9.9 and not a full 10? Because of one simple thing: the combined robot mode looks just SLIGHTLY goofy. I attribute this to the super robot’s head, primarily. But one can’t ask for more when dealing with a figure of Prime. It’ll be interesting to see what new surprises come into play when Optimus interfaces with the up and coming Jetfire shuttle. Until then, God Jinrai, sigining off!
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