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numbat's review of: Costco Optimus Prime & Overload

Name: Optimus Prime (with Corona Sparkplug) & Overload (with Rollout) (Costco Exclusive, 2004)
Allegiance: Autobot

This set was available as an exclusive in Costco stores in 2004, yet I picked mine up in a sale in a UK toystore last summer (2005) (for £15, along with Energon Tidal Wave - £10, and Energon repaint of Armada Demolisher - £5). This was a spot of good luck, as, having wanted an Overload figure for quite some time, and, having considered the various colour schemes he is available in, had opted to try my best to get hold of the Costco version. I know feelings on the colours are mixed, but I really like them.

The repaint of Armada Prime was not on my wish list, however, but, I have actually grown very fond of him, and I do like the colour scheme. He’s more fun than I thought, and looks amazing combined with Overload in supermode.

One point of note outside of the review itself is that this set comes with an A3 size instruction sheet!

The review is split into three sections: Optimus Prime, Overload, and Combined.

OPTIMUS PRIME

Function: Autobot Leader
Tech Spec: straight 10s
"Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."

Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots and a powerful force of goodness, courage and wisdom in the battle against the evil Decepticons. He comes to the aid of all living creatures whose freedom is threatened. He first tries to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, but when battle lines are drawn, he becomes a fierce warrior capable of overpowering vast enemy forces to achieve his goal. Will Optimus Prime succeed in his heroic and life-saving mission to get the Mini-Cons before Megatron can capture them?

As I mentioned above, Prime was never really a consideration in this, but I was pleasantly surprised. When I first saw that Prime was going to be a juggernaught for the Armada line, I have to admit I was chuffed, but, up close he never really impressed me enough to buy him while I was busy with a Zoology degree, and living cheap… Now Uni’s done, and I have to say, this guy is worthy of my collection, and looks nicer to boot.

Alternate Mode:
This time round, Prime is back to being a truck, albeit with some sort of weird track thing going on back at the trailer, with futuristic details. His various features are well covered in God Jinrai's Armada Prime review, and there’s no differences in this version, so I see no need to rehash.

The difference is purely aesthetic, and I like it. The dark grey with yellow works well, and many have likened it to a rescue truck, and I can see why. Still, it’s quite dark, which is cool, and I love the yellow chevrons on the cab. Silver highlights a few areas, such as the tracks, and the white lines follow nicely along the cab, giving homage to traditional Prime colours.

There’s not much else new to say that the pictures don’t, other than I was very surprised just how fun it can be to roll this rig around when my fiancee’s out the room…

Robot Mode:
Prime’s supermode will be covered in the combined section, seeing as how this is a set of both Prime and Overload, so here we’ll take a quick look at his standard mode.

The overall colour balance is much the same as the truck, and it works nicely, although not quite as well. There’s a lack of painted details, unfortunately, and the bright red head does clash somewhat. The transparent smokestacks combine into a weapon which goes very nicely, however. Of course, his poseability is limited, despite the many points of articulation, and his groin is just weird. The matrix, alas, looks really tacky, being a murky orange, with dark green-blue centre – not worthy of display or photography.

This is unlikely to be the mode in which you’ll display your Prime. After all, he just comes across as a rubbish version of G2 Laser Prime, RID Scourge, or G2 Clench.

Never mind, though, there are worse Primes out there (thinking Energon… shudder…).

CORONA SPARKPLUG

There’s nothing new about Corona Sparkplug, but, hey, he looks cool in gold and maroon, and has a lovely transformation, even if the robot mode is a bit oddly proportioned. He’s not among the worst Minicons, and he has a lovely car mode.

OVERLOAD

Tech Spec:
- Strength: 6
- Intelligence: 7
- Speed: 9
- Endurance: 6
- Rank: 5
- Courage: 8
- Firepower: 4
- Skill: 5

Who those Tech Specs refer to, I do not know, but it sure as Hell doesn’t seem to equate with Overload. I can’t see him going fast, can you? Yet, he looks a bloody great bruiser, with some big artillery on his shoulders, and must have some rank, being such a mate of Prime’s that he can now combine with him… Ach well. He is, without a doubt, one of the coolest Transformers ever (if you like him… if not, he’s crap). Of course, the colour scheme offers another turn-off to a lot of people, bar those nutters (like me) who actually love it. I’ve moved around a lot following conservation contracts, and even in the smallest of flats, where I’ve had room to display only three Transformers, Overload has ALWAYS been on the shelf.

Alternate Mode:
Overload transforms into a Space Shuttle transport, and is intended for Armada Jetfire (an awful toy in my opinion, who shall never degrade my collection). The mode looks really cool, with Rollout pulling as the cab. There’s some nicely molded weapons, and lovely details, but nothing can be activated by Minicons. Now, I’m a great fan of the Minicons in their own right, but I’m not a fan of the activation gimmick, so this doesn’t bother me at all, but I know it is a detractor for others.

The colour scheme, I think, works better than any of the others available. I know it probably sounds crazy, but in reality, this version looks far less cheap & childish than the others (a symptom suffered by many of the Armada line). For example, I came across Energon Ultra Magnus again, just yesterday in Dumfries, and was drawn to him (testament to the greatness of the mold – I probably would have bought him if he were less than his £23.99 price tag!). However, after looking closely I found myself thinking how poor the paint job was, and was reminded of why I chose the Costco Overload in the first place. Somehow, the use of yellow, black, deep blue, and maroon to drag out details has just been used far better than any of the repaints and Sentinel Maximus remold schemes.

And, yes, he’s great fun to push around, with whoever you want on the trailer!

Robot Mode:
This is where it all comes together.

The transformation is nice, and unique. He just seems to fold into his robot form.

And what a form it is…

And, as a final touch, you slide in Rollout, who forms the central chest and head, which elicits the original Transformers (G1) transformation sound… Ah… Perfect.

The colours are excellently balanced. There is no flaw there. The only objection you could have is to the scheme as a whole. Details are all picked out beautifully, and, well, he just looks amazing.

Overload, as his name suggests, bloody well overloads with weapons. He is positively bristling with them, even though he has no separate accessories. If the number of weapons in Rollout were not enough, flip up his Autobot symbols on his shoulders. This reveals a battery of missiles (albeit unpainted – one of the few negatives of this repaint). Overload, lines transcended, must perform an artillery function. I can just imagine him standing against G2 Dreadwing…

Of course, one word in unavoidable in describing Overload. BRICK. He is a total brick. He has only slightly more articulation than most G1 figures. He bends at the shoulders, and bends and pivots at the hips. That’s it. No rotating waist, moving heat, bending knees, or elbows. This does present challenges for display, but I feel he looks just imposing enough standing there, as long as you see him as an artillery piece.

As with the vehicle mode, Overload has no Minicon activated features, but, as before, I don’t see this as a down point.

Look at the photos. Either you hate him, or, like me, you think he’s one of THE greatest Transformers EVER. I think the divide is that stark, and that’s the way it’ll remain.

ROLLOUT

Rollout is the most multifunctional Minicon ever. In vehicle mode he is the cab which pulls the Overload trailer. In robot mode, he is one of the biggest and most insanely armed Minicons around. Not only is his chest full of weapons, but both his arms are end in cannons. (Of course, this means Overload has to hold Rollout’s teacup…) Then, he turns into the central chest and head of Overload’s robot form, making him, pretty much, a Headmaster. And then, for the coupe de grace, he also turns into a gun for other Armada figures to use – making him a Targetmaster as well! Overall this makes the little guy a four-changer, and the most complicated Minicon ever!

This repaint mimics Overload’s colour scheme perfectly, down to the head. I particularly like the blue around the weapons, it must be said. Give the little guy credit – he is a great piece of design.

OPTIMUS PRIME & OVERLOAD COMBINED MODES

The main point of Prime and Overload is that they combine, so lets get on with the descriptions…

Alternate Mode:
First, and most simply, there’s the alternate mode. Overload, with the benefit of a little flip-up cupola, joins onto the trailer of Prime, making the least manoeuvrable rig in history.

The Prime cab can also pull the Overload trailer alone, which looks ok, but Prime is a little oversized for it to balance right.

Base Mode:
I’ll be honest at the outset, and say I have never been a fan of any Transformer bases – and least of all Primes’ (with the exception of G1 Motormaster). My favourite was G1 Overlord, who I happily sold recently, so you can appreciate just how little I like them.

In my opinion, Armada Prime’s base mode is standard, and loathsome. I never display it. Combined with Overload, it’s a little better.

Prime still has the fully functional automatic transformation to boot – but I’ve not bothered replacing the batteries since they ran out…

Overload transforms into one of the most impressive guns you’ll ever see in Transformers, and through one of my favourite transformations. You’ll just have to buy him to find out how fun it is!

Attached to Prime’s base mode, he pulls the whole thing up a notch, and makes a Hell of an opponent to G2 Clench’s gun emplacement, but, still, the whole thing looks a little ramshackle. I’m sure loads of you are groaning and thinking ‘but this is one of the best thing’s about a Prime!’, but I’m afraid I can never join your ranks.

Robot Mode:
Well, this is the bee’s knees.

We get supermode Prime. He looks cool, as we all know. The only problem is his legs. What’s going on there? His groin protrudes by miles, and his feet are slanted – and his legs lack any articulation! I think Armada Prime would have been a lot better off without his automatic transformation…

Still, he has lots going for him too.

Intact is the light-up gun, activated by a button on Prime’s right shoulder. It works very nicely with his newly recoloured gun.

Then we can have Rollout in gun mode, slip into the other hand, just to bulk the guy out. Now, Rollout looks a little goofy, being an upside down cab, but, still, he serves as a nice double-barrelled gun.

Finally, we add Overload.

Now we see how great this set-up is.

Those huge guns just look amazing over Prime’s shoulders, and the colour balance is actually perfect. (Unlike other Prime-Overload combinations.)

This guy is terrifying!

He stands up perfectly to Tidal Wave, which is fun, although the weakness of Overload’s guns become apparent. The spring-loaded function fails to topple anyone… Ach well, we can’t all be perfect…

Overall, I love the detailing, colour scheme and whole ensemble. Supermode Armada Prime is always gonna be hindered by his strange head (and, as with his basic mode, the bright red doesn’t help, nor do the white horns), bulky legs, and lack of articulation, but he’ll never be more displayable than he is in his Costco incarnation, combined with Overload.

Transformation: 7 – None of these toys present much of a challenge in transformation, beyond being fiddly. Still, I really love Overload’s transformation.
Durability: 8 – Overload is solid, as is Prime, but I reckon all the techno gear in Prime is likely to fail at some point of another.
Fun: 10 – These guys are among the most fun Transformers ever alone, let alone combined.
Price: 3 – Clocking in at between £40 ($70) and £60 ($100) these days, I’d say they cost a fair whack. If you can find them at a good price, like the initial release in the US, or in a random store like I did in the UK, they can be a great deal though!
Overall: 5 – This set rules, not just because of the brilliant Overload repaint, but also due to the fun value of Armada Prime. Still, they’re only worth it if you find the colour scheme appealing – as many do not – and if you don’t have either of them. And, then there’s also the pricing issue. You’ve gotta call this one yourselves!
 
 
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