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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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ganon578's Review: Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime

Name: Powermaster Optimus Prime & Apex
Subgroup: Titans Return
Size Class: Leader

Optimus Prime will stand against any threat. Autobot Apex helps him face the enemies that even the Autobot Commander cannot face alone. The Titan Master carries a portion of the spark Ė and power Ė of Optimus Prime, increasing the legendary warriorís already immense strength, speed, and intelligence.

Powermasters debuted in 1988, both in toy form and in the Marvel comics. In the same vein as both Headmasters and Targetmasters, the original Powermasters came with wee little guys that transformed into some sort of functional piece of the character/figure. In the case of Powermasters, these little fellas became a power source, such as an engine. The Titans Return line has somewhat abandoned that notion, where the figures are actually Headmasters instead of Powermasters. I think the gimmick works well enough, even though it may not be 100% faithful. As an update to the original toy, Powermaster Optimus Prime is a heavy retool of Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus, albeit with the proper changes to fit him into the Titans Return toy line.

My childhood perspective of Optimus Prime was very narrow, having begun and ended with the original Generation 1 incarnation. There were zero nostalgic factors in my purchasing of PM Optimus Ė I mostly wanted a Leader class Prime to battle with CW Megatron. I can say with confidence that Iím glad I took a chance with this one! Powermaster Optimus Prime with Apex Hi-Q is an awesome figure in most regards, but not perfect by any means. Skyquake87 recently reviewed Legends 35 Super Ginrai, and most of what was said there holds true with the North American release... with a few (mostly aesthetic) differences.

Alternate Mode:

Optimus Primeís alternate mode is that of a cab-over semi truck with a trailer. The entire alternate mode is stuck together forever - you canít remove the truck, unless you want to get cray-cray with tools, and even then it might not go back on. That might sound bad, but it really isnít; what it really means is that while this new version of PM Optimus looks like the toy of yore, the transformation between the two modes is not at all similar. No longer does the truck cab become a smaller robot that fits inside a set of 'armor' - these two are connected until death do they part.

The truck cab is set on a swivel, so you can troll around with the trailer following behind, doing turns and whatnot without missing a beat. The wheels roll well, but I find that some work and others donít while on slick surfaces. The truck cab houses Hi-Q (and Primeís helmet re-fashioned as a seat), though you canít see him inside due to the lack of transparent windows. One thing of note is the molded detail, which is done nicely all around. If you look closely at the lower portion of the truck cab, youíll see a small ladder leading to a rather tiny door. If this was made for humans (which I presume it is), this would be the largest semi truck ever concocted. Seriously, the cab would be able to accommodate 6-8 people comfortably across the front windshield. Youíll see the same tiny little doors molded into the trailer too.

Massive proportions aside, the trailer, like the truck cab, has molded details present in every nook and cranny. This is something that I applaud the Hasbro/Takara design teams for nowadays, as nearly every figure in this line has outstanding molded detail while not being overly busy. The semi truck and trailer do a good job of aesthetically mimicking the original toy while bringing new features to the table. The weapons can be pegged onto the top of the trailer or on the side by the rear wheels if you prefer. The two grey missile racks can be pegged onto the front of the trailer, but are also designed as Titan Master seats for added play. Additionally, the trailer ramp opens up to accommodate one or two Legends class figures - I was able to squeeze in TR Bumblebee and CW Groove (or Gen. Swerve) without much issue. The problem is that the inside of the trailer isnít flat, so getting the little guys in there isnít as seamless as it should be. The front of the trailer is also wide open, so if you jam a little guy in too far whoever is already in there will likely be sliding out the front. Neither of these issues presents a true problem, just something that could have been done a smidgen better.

Base Mode:

Base modes have been essentially shoe-horned in to the Leader class Titans Return figures, but this isnít the case with Powermaster Optimus Prime. PM Optimus has had a base mode since the very beginning, and it makes a Ďwelcomeí return here. Judging on photos only, Optimusí base mode was just as underwhelming 30 years ago as it is today. Sure, the mode is included, and sure, it represents the original fairly well, but it doesnít work all that well. I think other figures (like TR Soundwave) pull this off a much better (oddly, as the original Soundwave was never a base). Some of the same features from the original can be found here: various little pegs for the Titan Masters to occupy, the missile racks can be manned by the TM's, and the large Ďstacksí are off in the back. The oddity here is the chest piece that sticks out smack dab in the center of the base mode. The piece mimics the original toy, if only by silhouette. The chest doesnít serve any actual function, and therefore it really just looks like a robot part with no place to be. It would have been nice to have some TM pegs there as some sort of central command center. In the end, the base mode is a pretty big pass for me, though I will say it doesnít wreck the figure by any means.

Robot Mode:

Optimusí robot mode is appropriately bulky, powerful, and also a bunch of fun. The lower legs are chunks of boxed-up trailer sides, and much like the Super Ginrai version, they have a tendency to come unplugged during movement due to extra tight knee joints. The feet are tooled directly from Ultra Magnus and do not share the same aesthetic as the Super Ginrai figure. Personally, I donít care for the hooved-feet look of the Takara toy, and much prefer the chunky feet of Prime. They do a good job of giving the figure stability, and are large enough to accommodate most dynamic poses. For such a beast of a figure, Optimus is on the light side due to the variety of Ďhoneycombedí parts. While honey-combing seems like a bad thing for sturdiness, itís actually a boon for maintaining balance. Very infrequently have I found him to be top heavy, so you'll find it relatively easy to make him pull off more action-oriented poses.

Thereís quite a bit of articulation on the figure, with the knees and hips containing ratchet joints, and the thighs having swivel joints. The ankles donít to much besides hinge forward to back, but as I mentioned, theyíre large enough to compensate. The shoulders feature a couple different swivel joints that net you some decent movement, and the elbows are hinged with pins allowing for about 90 degrees of range. Sadly, the right elbow on mine is loose, so a few shooting poses are not achievable. I donít know if this is a widespread epidemic or solely left to my own copy. The hands leave a bit to be desired as well; whilst the Takara version managed to get retooled hands with 5 mm peg holes, PM Optimus has Ultra Magnusí hinge hands. I've come to understand that Ultra Magnus has some issues holding weapons because the hinges are somewhat weak and the underside of the fists are open Ė this has been addressed slightly with Optimus. While the hinge joints wonít win any awards for being the tightest, the trailer bits are folded as such to allow the weapons to rest on it under the fists. While that sounds all good and well, it means that his weapons are locked in a particular hold, as the wrists contain zero movement. This also means that having Optimus hold a different botís weapon really canít be done. Speaking of the weapons, itís a shame Optimus didnít get some new ones to call his own; he has Magnus' weapons in a different color. While the longer of the two rifles is awesome, the other resembles a chunky pizza paddle. The weapon made complete sense for Magnus, since his shoulder armor could be pegged on the thing to make a hammer. Optimus doesnít have this feature, nor does he have the slot under his fist for the handle to slide into. It would have been fantastic (if not truly faithful to the original toy) to have some 5 mm orange axe blades included in place of the hammer ends/armor for an extra play feature, though this would require having the notch for Optimus to wield such a weapon. I know that would have incurred extra cost, but it would have been an interesting feature for a boring weapon. At the very least, a different non-paddle-blaster could have been made. Another unfortunate drawback is that the Headmaster design (being that of a helmet with a smaller head inside) means that the neck can only swivel side to side. I hope Optimus has some great peripheral vision, because this guy isnít looking up or down anytime soon. Perhaps Hi-Q gives him a cognitive awareness boost that isnít mentioned on the packaging?

Aesthetically, Optimus looks great. He carries the typical red/blue/grey blend that you would expect from OP. The red used appears to be a shade darker, or at least more muted, than the Super Ginrai figure. I feel like the grey is a touch on the bland side, but used sparingly enough that the figure still looks good. The blue has a slight metallic sheen to it, adding pizzazz to the figure. Molded detail is top notch, with very few spots appearing as flat empty space. The chest, shoulders, and face-plate features some silver detailing as well. The chest plate wonít be everyoneís cup of tea. I donít have any nostalgic ties to the original design, so the new one works just fine for me. I can see how some of those that owned the original would be bothered by its look. Itís detailed well, but it doesnít resemble the original Powermaster at all. The Super Ginrai figure mimics the original better, and I would imagine some buyers would be swayed to that release to get the more faithful look. Aside from the chest, the Titan Master helmet works well on Optimus, and you can stuff nearly any Titan Master in there without any (major) goofy aesthetics. Compare that to some other designs, such as TR Soundwave - where as Warcry put it best Ė that look like a kid with his dadís hockey helmet on. This isnít the case with Optimus, as the face-plate masks most of the face anyways, so youíre left with only the eyes being visible. Do you want an Optimus with red eyes? A visor? Something else? You have that option!

Apex (Hi-Q)

Hi-Q is an incredibly bland Titan Master. Itís disappointing considering how nice the Takara version turned out. Hi-Q is made of grey plastic, mismatching red plastics, and ZERO paint applications. Compared to the Takara version, this one is like a cheap knock-off. The molded detail is crisp though, and I appreciate that Hi-Qís head mode is a likeness of Orion Pax. I just really wished Hasbro made more effort here.

Powermaster Optimus Prime surely has his fair share issues, but I find myself liking the figure and playing with it much more than I have any right to. The robot mode is pure bulky fun that I really canít get enough of. Hauling around a couple Legends cars in the trailer while playing with my son has been a blast. Even the passable base mode has its moments if you have a few extra Titan Masters around.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 6/10. I donít think thereís any mastery of engineering going on, but I like that the trailer folds somewhat neatly around his legs, and the truck-cab-to-chest integration is spiffy. Getting everything all in place with the tight hips and floppy waist with the giant leg panels flapping around can be a royal pain in the butt.

Durability: 7/10. Thereís probably a tab here or there that will take a beating over time, but the plastic is fairly solid, and Optimus is light enough to survive some decent drops to the floor (I have not tested this though, so donít do it!).

Fun: 9/10. I really have much more fun with this toy than I expected. The trailer is functional, the robot mode is a bunch fun, and the base mode doesnít ruin the figure. Thereís a large amount of enjoyment to be had here, and honestly, isnít that the point of a Transformer?

Aesthetics: 8/10. I like Optimus just fine. Between this version and Super Ginrai, it will all come down to personal preference. For me, the availability wins out, and itís not like Optimus is hideous or anything.

Articulation: 6/10. The joints provided get you to most places you would want to go. The hands and ankles are very static, and the head could use more range of movement (if that were possible granted the gimmick).

Value/Price: 8/10. Two good modes and a third passable mode, but all are loaded with play value. I managed this one at $45 USD, and some stores have lowered this to $40 USD. I think thatís a totally fair price for what youíre getting.

Overall: 7/10. Iím echoing Skyquakeís Super Ginrai review on this one - the Hasbro version is on par with the Takara one. Optimus is a great, but flawed toy. My review would seem more on the negative side in a lot of areas, but I still find myself truly enjoying this figure for all of the fun features it provides.
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