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numbat's review of: Primus

Name: Cybertron Primus
Allegiance: Universe
Function: Lord of Light / Creator of all Transformers
Sub-Group: God

Until now, Cybertron has been known only as the ancient home of the Transformers. With their home damaged almost beyond repair and unable to resist the pull of a gigantic black hole that threatens to destroy it, the Autobots have retrieved the legendary Omega Lock and the four Cyber Planet Keys. The power of these ancient artefacts re-links the spark of Primus with his physical form - the planet Cybertron itself!

Content throughout history merely to observe his creations as they explored the Universe around them, Primus has never before unleashed his full might. Though he has awakened from time to time during the long history of the Transformers, never before has the danger to the Universe been so great that he has felt the need to show his true form. Now is a time of greater need than he has ever seen before. Now, all of creation cries out its need for its greatest champion and protector.

Mighty creator of the Transformers race, both Autobots and Decepticons owe him their loyalty as his children. He is as old as the Universe itself, and matched in power only by his twin brother, the evil Unicron. Primus is the Lord of Light - a pure, natural force of order, strength and peace, committed eternally to the struggle against chaos, destruction and the ever-advancing darkness of Unicron.


Well, we're off to a grand start - the box obviously is building the suspense!

But, if, like me, you don't give a monkey's about the box, and are just gonna recycle it (by gerbil or more traditional means), then it's the toy, and the whole concept, that's captured your interest!

When I was a young whippersnapper watching G1 cartoons, I always thought how cool it would be if Cybertron turned out to be a huge Transformer. After all, it looks like it could be! Transformers: The Movie only strengthened these dreams, with Unicron's amazing transformation sequence. Watching the later series, I kept hoping beyond hope that Cybertron would transform, even when the deeper histories were revealed through the Quintessons, and Transformers found themselves battling those grotesque cyborg monsters in the planet's core.

But, no matter how much I willed it, Cybertron never transformed on screen, even if it did in my imagination.

Roll on 2005 and the release of Primus is assured! God of Transformers, brother of Unicron, this is one toy that no collector or fan can afford to miss!

Nightmares in production (and, by consequence, procurement) left the Takara release rather mythical, but here, at last, we have the Hasbro version. Albeit, sans the Japanese box and its phenomenal artwork (replaced here by an extremely pathetic cartoon - or comic in the humorous sense)... Still, Hasbro inject novel interest by including a dead Unicron head with the first wave - making it a tough call in judging which (Takara or Hasbro) release would make the best piece for one's collection. In my world, even with a gorgeous box (perhaps the only box I would ever have considered keeping), it's still a box, and the Unicron head wins outíŽ

But, bonuses aside, this toy realizes dreams of Cybertron transforming at last! I can imagine the aggregate rock crumbling and floating as a debris cloud while Cybertron / Primus awakes and long-sealed panels open. I can almost see the Transformers on Cybertron running to escape the movements of huge areas of the metal crust, while the planet shakes. Cities move, and the whole topography changes as hands emerge, and gigantic weapons beyond conception become unsheathed. Finally, the few Transformers lucky enough behold a face the size of a small country - the face of their God and creator - Primus!

But enough of all this build up and (sad) jaunts into my imagination... It's the toy you're interested in, and whether or not it makes the grade - and it does have an awful lot to live up to...


Cybertron Mode:

It's arguable which is the alternate mode - planet, or robot? As Primus has chosen to observe the Universe as Cybertron, I would argue this is not an alternate, but his primary mode. Hence his name is truly Cybertron Primus - this isn't just the line name tagged to the front.

As we all know (all the more so, if you could be bothered reading all that razzmatazz that's printed on the box), Primus is Cybertron. The planet mode (excluding spines) measures about 7" (18cm) in diameter, making him marginally smaller than Unicron's 7 1/2" (19cm). It's a hefty wee globe. And it is a globe. Unlike Unicron, Primus forms an almost perfect sphere, which is quite an accomplishment given the detail and complexity of the transformation.

Overall impressions: This is Cybertron! The resultant planet is something of an amalgamation of the slightly different guises the Transformers' home world has worn over the many series, and would be at home in any timeline. The colours work brilliantly, with light grey and dull gunmetal blue dominating, with splashes of black (mainly the spines), gold, dark grey, yellow and silver.

The cities are lovingly sculpted, and evoke the final images of Transformers: The Movie, with its long pull-out. Some of these are yellow, and others dark gold. Still other detailing, which could be interpreted as further structures, is in silver. It really is impossible to express the intricacy of this sculpt!

I have to say, I find it interesting that Primus has received rows of spines which would look perfect on Unicron, if he were to more closely resemble his movie form.

One particular detail I'd like to draw attention to is the asteroid and its crater! It just puts the whole of Primus in to true context. This is a planet! And Primus has been a planet of countless eons!

It is absolutely no stretch of the imagination to believe that the pivotal events of whichever Transformers history you prefer took place with this landscape as the backdrop.

Negatives? Well, we're clutching at straws here really. This is one of the best 'alternate' modes a Transformer has ever had. But, as we're being objective, there are a few issues. The strange struts protruding from the southern hemisphere look very out of place, but, let's face it, they serve an important purpose. They allow Primus to turn in to a proper sphere, while still allowing him to be placed on a shelf. Without this, he'd probably be the misshapen planet that is Unicron. Another problem is the huge areas where weapons flip out of, which look a little strange, and the obvious guns sticking out the sides, plus his knuckles. Still, I cannot stress how minor these problems are. More major are the slots for the Omega Lock. These are huge, and do detract from the otherwise perfect planet mode.


Stellar Converter Cannons:

I can't think of a name for this mode that sounds good, but I suppose it's something of a planetary attack mode.

Insert the Omega Lock, and you can flip out huge spring loaded missile launchers, called 'Stellar Converter Cannons'. I don't know what they'd do, but I imagine they're powerful, given the title and size! The missile launchers are actually pretty decent as well! Still no Turbomaster though...

This mode doesn't look half bad, but I doubt it's ever going to be a long lasting display for anyone. Still, it evokes titanic images...


Battle Station Mode:

Of course! They had to put one of these in there!

As anyone who's read my Costco Energon Prime & Overload review knows, I hate most base modes. I sold my G1 Overlord for crimeny! And Primus has one of the sorriest excuses for a 'Battle Station' I've ever seen in a Transformer.

Who has any need of a planet to unfold into a battle station anyway? Which giants are going to man it?

Let's face it - this is just Primus half Transformed, looking stupid.


Robot Mode:

Getting past the 'Battle Station Mode', we finally get the robot. Primus, Lord of Light, Creator of the Transformers.

But let's backtrack a moment, and forget that the 'Battle Station Mode' even exists (I mean, does it anyway?).

The Transformation. If you're anything like me, this is rather important. It doesn't have to be complex - in fact, I abhor a needlessly complex Transformation (I believe I shall avoid THS-02 then...). It just has to be good, and, preferably, clever. Primus delivers in every respect.

This is no shell which cracks open do reveal a jumbled mess of a robot (AKA Unicron). This planet shifts and unfolds into a robot. Every part (well, with the exception of one...) is utilised, and revealed in a new light. The transformation is as close to perfect as you could likely get. The only irritation is the use of that damned Omega Lock! You have to use it fully four times to transform this guy! And it lights up every time! There are also noises involved, but I'll save this for the 'Gimmicks' section (something I don't normally include in reviews, but this figure has enough to warrant it). This is not even fiddly like Unicron!

The first thing you will notice in robot mode, though, is possibly a negative: Primus is considerably shorter than Unicron. Standing straight (and looking quite daft in doing so), Primus measures in at 14 1/2" (37cm), compared with Unicron's 16" (41cm). Believe me, the size difference is noticeable.

I don't know if you'd agree, but I always imagined he'd be roughly the same size, but this is only a minor stumbling block.

The dominant colours are similar to Cybertron mode, but now we have a baby blue, mainly on the body, but also picking out some weapons details.

Proportions are very good overall. The main thing that strikes me is the length of his hands. They just look a little odd hanging there. The strange articulation of the thumb doesn't help this, but that is a symptom of the transformation.

Detailing is phenomenal, as with the planet mode. I particularly love the silver detailing on the arm cannons, and the small patters sculpted to various points. Still, he could maybe have benefited from some more patterning, along the lines of Vector Prime, at the expense of some technical detailing, in my opinion, or the patterns may as well be left out.

The face is great, with lovely detail - much of which is brought out with paint.

And this guy is armed to the teeth!

Articulation is brilliant. I count 22 points, excluding fingers. Most of these are ratcheted, although I find they are not as tight as I'd like, given the weight the legs, in particular, support.

Of course, 6 of these are on the strange wee manipulator arms hidden in his legs, by the knees!

There are problems with the articulation, though. The first flaw, often cited, is the lack of writs articulation. But this is a due to the transformation, and I'd forgive it. The second is the waist. It's very oddly placed, and is not where the 'waist' is sculpted, resulting in fairly unnatural poses.

Still, he scores over Unicron with his legs twisting above the knee! I always find Unicron difficult to pose from the waist down, mainly due to his twist being below the knee, compounded by the unforgiving ratchets. Which makes this a perfect point to mention that Primus has many more subtle ratchet points than his twin!

There are minor problems with the production - for instance, I find that one of the arm cannons tends to pop forward with very little provocation, and is exceedingly difficult to replace. However, all are really minor. I'd be happy if the cannons were always extended!

You also have a random flap of planetary crust, hanging down between the chap's legs... Terribly inconvenient, I'm sure...

Still, the single most negative issue with Primus is, well, the knees down to put it bluntly.

The lower legs look more than a little daft. The curve leaves the poor God looking bandy legged no matter what. I'm not sure how big his horse is, but, bloody hell, it must be huge!

That aside, you have his feet...

They are pathetic little flaps, which hardly help with this little behemoth's balance. And so we come to the crux of the robot mode's problems - his balance. He really has very little! Still, I doubt he has much need of feet or balance in space, especially at his size, unless you have a solid planet the size of Jupiter kicking around! But such reasoning hardly helps your display shelf.

Admittedly, Primus also falls short from the rear. Whereas Unicron has much detailing, and seems a consistent whole, there's nothing to match this in Primus.

Still, he does look good. I do very much like the semi-wings (even though they remind me of the Renegade Gobot, Bladez). It's also cool that the Stellar Converter Cannons can be positioned on his shoulders, or stored away. And the face is perfect.


Gimmicks:

For good or ill, Primus has more gimmicks than any other Transformer in their long history. The only toy that can compete is Cybertron Dark Scorponok.

We'll tackle this in chronological order, by series gimmick.

Armada: Primus can take up to 7 Minicons in Cybertron mode. Pretty pathetic compared with Unicron's 27! Still, despite my love of the Minicons, I feel they have no place on a planet - they make the whole thing look stupid, and totally out of scale. I also despise their use of powering up Transformers. I just like them because, more often than not, they're decent wee Transformer. I truly feel they have absolutely no place on Primus, or Unicron for that matter.

As for activation, the only features that can be 'controlled' by Minicons are the manipulator arms. But you can use these without them as well.

Cybertron: It's only to be expected that Primus would have the ability to take Cyber Planet Keys. He has two slots - one in each forearm. They cause the cannons to extend (although this can happen randomly as well), followed by the whole gun case popping up. The effect isn't too bad - but I do not like the whole key idea. They're just too big and pointless. They're not even Minicons!

On this note, Primus comes with a single key. It is not the one illustrated on the box. It is actually identical to Supreme Starscream's, replacing the Decepticon insignia with a silver-blue Autobot one. This isn't entirely appropriate given Primus is removed from allegiances, but does look nice.

Unique: Well, Primus as a number of gimmicks, such as those manipulator arms, and the Stellar Converter Cannons. He also has a huge number of guns. Still, the single-most important gimmick is the Omega Lock...

Omega Lock: This I find terribly frustrating. You need this thing to transform Primus! Every time it lights up! Waste of energy! And every time you transform the guy, it activates first power-up sounds for the cannons, and then power-up sounds for Primus himself while illuminating his eyes (which are red, by the way, despite their blue appearance in photos). I don't like not having the option to turn lights and sounds off (unless they're the G1 transformation sound, as in Armada Overload - I let that slide...). Still, they're not terrible sounds, which is a relief.

The Omega Lock also holds four Planet Keys. If you pick them right, this actually looks OK. I personally prefer the selection of supreme Autobot and Decepticon at polar opposites, with the Planet-X key and Universal Key. This just seems appropriate, as Primus created them all.

When inserted in his chest, the key lights up, as it does anywhere else (or if you stick your finger nail in). The only difference being it actually looks good here!

The only gimmick Primus is missing from recent years is the energon chip. Still, I think he's quite overloaded as it is!


Unicron Head:

The first wave of Hasbro Cybertron Primuses comes complete with a smashed up dead Unicron head. This measures 3" (7.5cm), which is roughly proportional with the Armada figure. Of course, the sculpt is slightly different, with the helmet being far more similar in shape to Darth Vader (a pity I think). The face (or what's left of it), on the other hand, is fare more accurate to the movie, ignoring the dark grey colouring. Still, this could be because of being dead. The whole affair is constructed in two pieces. The yellow helmet is a solid plastic sealed over the rubbery underlay of damaged tendrils and an amazing sculpt of Unicron's skull. The only negative, perhaps, is that the horns come out silver.

It really looks like a much more visceral interpretation of that ominous moon orbiting G1 Cybertron...

Certainly a superb bonus!


Summary:

Ignoring the Unicron Head, which will not be included with the majority of the Hasbro release Primuses, the result is largely positive.

Primus has an absolutely perfect Cybertron mode, worthy of any display. However, his transformation is marred by the Omega Lock gimmick.

In fact, in my opinion, he is rather overloaded with gimmicks!

The robot mode is somewhat questionable, from the waist down, but has an amazing level of detail, and is certainly a satisfactory depiction of this God, despite the height.

The take-home message is undoubtedly:

You can have a Transformer that has a great robot mode and questionable planet mode (Unicron) or one with a great planet mode and a questionable robot mode (Primus).



Transformation: 10 - It is nicely complex in comparison to Unicron, and the design is superb! Everything locks in to place in planet mode. Primus, more so than any other Transformer, is a real puzzle, and deserves to be described as a 'Robot in Disguise'.
Durability: 5 - Alas, Primus really does not reach his Godly ideals in durability. I found one of his arm cannons next to impossible to keep locked in as soon as he was out of the box! The strange flap that hands from his, ahem, arse gets in the way during transformation, and terrifies me! A lot of his plastic feels less solid than I would hope from such a massive Transformer, and the amount of bizarrely complex features is inviting disaster a few years down the line. Still, I don't foresee any paint chipping, and he isn't shabbily made. It's just he concerns me...
Fun: 9 - He is amazingly fun, but his articulation and poor balance, coupled with the insane use of gimmicks, and necessity to use the mind bogglingly annoying Omega Lock at umpteen stages of Transformation does get in the way a little bit.
Price: 3 - His price varies all over the shop just now, and who knows how much a first wave edition with the Unicron head could be sold for in a year or two? But, no matter the price, it is likely to be a little more than I'd say he's genuinely worth, if you can ignore the fact that he is the God of all Transformers. If you can't (like me), then anything you can reasonably afford is a good price, and this becomes a '10'!
Overall: 9 - I would say must own, but, let's face it, he is expensive, and falls a little short (figuratively and literally) of 'what could have been'. Unless you match up with me, and Cybertron transforming in to a God is the best thing ever, then he'll never be the pinnacle of your collection. But he'll come close...
 
 
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