Height: 18cm (head height); 21cm (full wingspan)
Articulation: 20 total points - swivel neck; 5 points each arm: Universal shoulder, upper arm swivel, hinge elbow, wrist swivel; swivel waist; 4 points each leg: Universal hip, pre-knee swivel, hinge knee; Plus additional joints for wing backpack.
Colors: Molded red, blue, grey, dark grey, clear green, black; Painted silver, yellow, gunmetal
Accessories: Missile launchers/engines x2, with missiles; Star Saber
Release Data: Released in the United States in February of 2013 at a suggested retail price of US$19.99
I never bought either of the previous Prime Voyager Primes. Honestly, the design did little for me and the show even less to motivate me towards a purchase. I have the SDCC release of the Deluxe mold, but that's for entirely separate reasons. But when I saw this toy for the first time, I knew I had to get it. Every once in a while, it's possible to look at stock photos of a toy, and have a moment of complete clarity where you understand everything about it. For me this was one of those occasions.
Just from those photos it was obvious what this Optimus was all about. This was a toy. It wasn't trying to pretend to be even a semi-realistic model in vehicle mode, and it was obvious to look at it that the robot was concerned above all with being a good action figure more than anything else. No compromises for either mode, and no apologies for what it wasn't trying to do. If nothing else from Beast Hunters would be worthwhile to me, I could see there would be at least this one highlight.
I love being right.
What most stands out with this Optimus is how much it gets away from the typical "Movie-Lite" style most of the Transformers Prime designs follow. It stands much more like a blend of many past styles, probably most clear among them being Cybertron and Animated. The appearance is more of smooth, solid chunks instead of trying to give the impression of lots of layered bits comprising the whole. The best way to explain the difference is that this toy looks like a robot made of truck parts instead of a robot that's wearing a thin coat of truck parts. There's a few elements that are at least similar to the previous body, mainly the general shape of the shoulders, the helmet, and very vaguely the structure of the shins. But overall it's a major redesign of the character, and I'm so glad to see it, and see it be such a striking change of direction. The only thing I really dislike in the redesign is the face, and the biggest complaint there is how high the mouth seems to be placed. It makes the facial area seem unnaturally small, and inconsistent with existing depictions of this Optimus Prime's face. The snarled expression doesn't bother me, it just looks wrong where it's placed. It might also be a problem of the newly-added nose seeming really too short. There's just something about the layout of the face that's not working for me, and it's sort of making me wish for a faceplated head instead.
Optimus is really eye-catching with the very primary, saturated red. This kind of red brings a vibrance and feeling of energy, something the character certainly has not displayed a lot of over the first two seasons of the cartoon. The blues remain dark, but serve as a better contrast to the red that way. Bright blues next to bright reds also sort of compete for dominance when you look at them, confusing perception a bit. Leaving one or the other darker negates that issue. Colors really are strange things, aren't they? The majority of color on the toy is realized through the base plastic colors. Most of the paint has gone to silver accents with no surfaces I can identify being painted blue or red. That's not something I really have a problem with. On a toy that has such a comparatively simple visual style, I feel like the equally simple coloring is totally appropriate. There are a couple places where I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more silver applied, but it's doing pretty good otherwise. The toy's clear plastic is all green, which does seem a little odd, but it may have some purpose that the cartoon will reveal. If nothing else, the green chest windows do throw an extra color in the mix instead of dropping more blue in.
The articulation is okay, and pretty similar to Predaking, in fact. The elbows get a little nearer to a 90 degree bend, but still not quite all the way there, and likewise for the knees. But where Predaking had some thinner proportions that could have supported different styles of joints, Optimus is built a bit thicker, and making joints to allow for a wider degree of flex would really have screwed it up visually. A big bicep connected to a big forearm by way of a thin length of elbow joint is kind of bad for the aesthetic. While the figure isn't doing anything amazing articulation-wise, what it is accomplishing is reaching a basic standard level and doing so without any problems. That works for me, and helps contribute to the general feeling of solidity in the toy. Along that line, Optimus is another among a growing line of current Transformers that use no ball joints at all, and careful use of ratcheted joints leaves nothing feeling weak or flimsy.
The main design feature of this toy is the wing backpack. It's only really a backpack thanks to some vehicle elements folding away and using the wing unit as a cover, but the result works well. It reads a bit like a highly simplified version of movie Prime's Jetwing gear, which I thought was a nice add-on package - even if not as entertaining as wearing parts of a corpse. The wings are hinged at various points, allowing them to be folded down and stored out of the way as needed, or easily open and spread in full behind the toy. It's an elegant simplicity in execution, and makes a really sturdy unit from what could just as easily have been fragile and difficult to utilize with only the most minor differences in design. I feel safe in calling this a core feature of this toy, and I'm more than pleased to see it realized so well. One thing I want to note is that I don't think the instructions show the right way to configure the wings. With the "solid" surfaces facing forward, the wings sit a bit too close to the shoulders and impede arm movement where the armor bumps the upright smokestacks. It also creates a situation where the smaller wings are on top, which doesn't look right and the larger wings are limited in how far down they can sweep away from the upper wing. Flipping the wings over so the smokestacks point down puts the large wing on top, where its built in stopping point leaves it in exactly the right position, and clears the interference with the shoulder. It does result in the slightly hollowed face of the wings being forward, but these surfaces are just as detailed as the other side, so it's a very minor impact on the appearance in the end.
The big parts are very simple and easy to accomplish, as it's essentially pointing all the limbs backwards and clipping the fenders and grill around the torso. It gets a little less easy when you get to tabbing all of it down so it stabilizes. You'll get it there, but there's a lot of play in the positioning of the various parts and the friction on some of the tabs is a little lower than it probably ought to be. Some of it may slip loose while you're putting other things together. It hasn't been uncommon for me to have to go over the connections two or three times before I'm satisfied everything is plugged in and staying put.
Not gonna lie, something about this does make me think garbage truck at a glance. Inspiration from Cybertron Prime is really strongly felt in the vehicle mode, as this toy uses most of the same tricks, like letting the wings become side panels to hide robot parts. Plus the look and shape of the cab end are really similar. Although subdued compared to some of the Autobot remolds, Optimus manages to fit in with the design style in vehicle mode. There's enough pointy ends across the vehicle mode in addition to the deliberate inclusion of teeth on the front bumper halves to see the spikey armor motif in effect. But moreover, the large wheels, big square shapes, and the wing unit molded around the back half make this truck look armored and reinforced for combat, and made for offroad way more than the previous long-nose semicab vehicle form.
A tiny bit more color is visible in vehicle mode, with yellow painted side windows which were covered in robot mode. Thanks to the wing armor, the majority of the blue is hidden now, so the color layout of the toy has more than a little change between modes. It's clear that the small visible portion of blue remaining and the grey side panels are meant to evoke G1 Prime's trailer, though here integrated in to the body. That's also mild shades of Animated Optimus again who was more notable for that style of "trailer" even if it was never really represented much in the toys.
There's a couple small visual issues I'll note. The way the transformation works, some robot parts still remain pretty visible. The fists at the back of the truck are kind of out and plainly in sight. That can be minimized by turning the fists so the backs face upward. The robot feet are also out in the open and themselves being used to hide the robot limbs in the back end. To the toy's credit, they're sculpted such that they look like part of the armor plating, and the folded in heels even look like more spikes on the armor, so it's easy to see measures were taken to minimize the impact of the remaining robot parts in vehicle mode without making the transformation complicated. But what wasn't fixed is the head. When it folds in during transformation, it stays at a bit of an angle, and it can't be turned more than about halfway to either side, so you get the robot's face upside down, staring out toward the back and there's nothing you can do about it. Given signs that attention had been paid to at least trying to mask obvious robot elements in the vehicle mode, it bugs me more than it otherwise might that the head was left to just hang out with no evident consideration in covering it up. For a vehicle mode that turns out structurally solid and otherwise very inoffensive with its disposition of robot parts, this is just a glaring oversight.
The simple cylindrical design of these makes me think they're intended as jet engines just as much as they are weapons. Each launcher has a pair of hinged arms. When opened, they make a vague crossbow form, though the arms are backwards for that use. The hinges are stiff enough that the arms will stick at whatever angle you like between fully opened and closed. The missiles launch with a bit of force, but nothing amazing. Sadly, while the missiles are represented as clear green on the packaging, the actual product is just grey.
The launchers can be pegged in the 5mm holes on the wings, which is how they store in vehicle mode as well, or can be hand-carried. Placing both launchers on one hand is easy, and looks a bit more impressive than carrying one by itself as a gun. There are holes on the toy's backpack that seem like they're made with the launchers in mind, but there's just enough mismatch in size between pegs and holes that this is a bad idea. One attempted fitting without getting the launchers mounted resulted in pretty bad stress lines. I wish it did work right though, the wing backpack I think would work better visually with the jets attached there instead of mounted to the wings.
A good representation of the absurdly, animeishly overpowered weapon from late season 2. Its blade is cast in clear green, rather than blue as the show would indicate. And I rather suspect the presence of clear green on the toy was based around a choice to make this Star Saber green, with the rest of the clear parts just having to come along for the ride. The flat inner surfaces of the blade are textured slightly to make them less-than-transparent which helps the smooth edges to stand out more distinctly. The hilt of the sword seems like it was probably simplified a little bit for the toy, and now just seems more generic than stylistic.
A secondary 5mm peg is attached on one side of the guard so the sword can be carried in vehicle mode, or use that same peg hole in robot mode to wear the Star Saber across the back. At least on my instance of the toy, the grip needs to point to the toy's left to get a secure hold on the back. If placed angled to the other direction or even straight up and down, there's a good chance of the sword falling off.
Having discarded attempts at realism in vehicle form, simplifying transformation, and tweaking the colors to brighter, stronger values, it's clear that this Optimus is a major change in direction from how last year's toys were being designed. This is a fun toy. It's designed to be a fun toy, that anyone can pick up, easily switch between modes, and just enjoy messing with. It incorporates a well executed special feature with the articulated wing backpack, and has a very playable vehicle mode. The flaws are incredibly minor, and only one to me rises above the level of nitpick.
Hunter Optimus has delivered a feeling of happiness to me I've been looking for in Transformers for a while. And while I don't now expect every toy in this branding to have the same effect or reach this same level, it's great to know that this result is still possible after the past year of not always ideal outcomes in Transformers merchandise. This toy scores Excellent on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating scale, and is definitely one not to be missed, even if you're not really in to Prime that much.
|Date||February 18th 2013|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|
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