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First Edition Optimus Prime - Transformers 4: Age of Extinction - Leader Figure

Height: 24cm to top of head, 26.5cm overall

Articulation: 21 total points - Swivel neck; 5 points each arm: Universal shoulder, bicep swivel, double joint elbow; 5 points each leg: Universal hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, ball joint ankle.

Colors: Molded blue, grey, clear blue; Painted red, silver, pale blue.

Accessories: Sword of Judgment, Sentinel Shield

Release Data: Released in the United States on february 2nd, 2014 at a retail price of US$59.99.

Author: ExVee




The goal of simplified design and engineering being pushed forward by the new leads of the Transformers team has been a reality for a little while at this point. With Cyberverse designs repurposed at larger size as a stop gap, the big question has been what the outcome will be when the first new toys are designed with this philosophy from the ground up. Age of Extinction's First Edition Optimus Prime gives us our first look at a fully original-engineering Transformer with the goal of being child friendly, durable, and good for play with a transformation that can be completed in just 15 steps. As the example for what's to come for main line toys in the foreseeable future, this Optimus has a lot of questions to answer.


Robot Mode

It's not a new revelation, but it's still important that this Optimus finally brings some distinct change to the design that's been in use on screen and in toys since 2007 with only the smallest variations between them. Of great important is a shift in the color balance in the torso, making silver far more prominent over red and blue which should help all figures of this design immediately appear more new on the shelf. In the process of this, there's no clear truck elements visible anymore on the chest. The design itself looks more like just an armored humanoid figure than a robot with vehicle elements, but this toy reinforces that with a full robot body and truck parts simply hanging off. All it would even take is popping a few pins out to be able to just remove all the vehicle aspects and have a giant Action Master Movie Optimus without losing any actual parts of the robot in the process.

The goal of simple design seems to be partly realized in that way. The figure isn't engineered to incorporate any of the vehicle, but just to fold panels and minimize the presence overall. The major bulk of truck is collapsed on to a giant backpack that doesn't try to integrate or fit with the visual style of the robot in any way. It's simply a giant box on the back with gas tanks hanging down behind the thighs. The bits left on the legs blend a little more in the way they're kept along the sides. The front wheel wells are actually the only part of the truck that is fully integral to the robot body being a part of the shin piece. Out of this comes an average action figure. All the joints are big and solid, either normal swivels or ratcheted hinges and swivels. The ankles are the only ball joints the toy has. With universal shoulders and double elbows, universal hips and single hinge knees, the articulation gives a good range of posing, but I feel some lack on a figure of this size.

There's no swivel below the elbow joint, which I find to be a problem when you have either a fixed mounting point for a shield, or a sword to be posed with. And when it's both at once it doesn't take long to really get annoying. The backpack does limit a little where the arms can go; since the backpack spreads out to the sides obviously you're only going forward with the arms. It's gonna depend to what extent you like to go when posing, but this can be more of a problem than you may expect. The legs do okay for what they have. The gas tanks don't do anything to really get in the way, plus the feet are big and kind of boxed in such that you have a nice big platform supporting the body. In a nice use of transformation jointing, the pelvis armor flap is hinged and can get out of the way of the legs easily, leaving the range of movement forward uncompromised. Similarly, flaps on the shoulder armor are hinged in a really nice way that's not immediately obvious, but leave the arms free to raise to the side as far as the joint itself allows. Certainly there are a good range of joints and they're decently useful for posing, but it's a degree of it that I would more expect on a nice Deluxe. Even most Voyagers we're used to have more poseability and outright points of articulation than this figure.

Making this release of the toy special, much of the body is coated in silver chrome, including the entire torso, upper shoulders, and the thighs. The chrome is painted over in transparent red and a very pale blue in spots where the design requires. The blue is so faint though that it tends to look more like discoloration or a dark reflection in the silver than it does an intentionally blue surface. The chrome is also a hell of a fingerprint magnet. The chrome really does nothing for me personally, and I think it makes the toy look a little gaudy, at least in robot mode. But I like chrome as an accenting effect, not a thing to dip entire body parts in. ...not that it is a dipping process. I doubt it's possible or at least practical to selectively chrome portions of a larger piece, but the robot would have looked much better I think with just select portions picked out in silver chrome. I'll be interested to see the normal version of this toy. The robot doesn't have a lot of paint going around, mostly just red over grey and blue, but the chrome helps it not look under-decoed. I'm curious to see how much the non-chrome edition will be going for bare plastic and how it affects the appearance overall.


Transformation

So, how does a fifteen step transformation work? Not as easily as you might expect. One of the driving ideas behind this is producing Transformers that kids don't have to "time out" of playing with their toys to spend twenty minutes or however long changing their toy between modes, so you would think that a toy responding to that would be really intuitive, fast and simple to snap down to its alternate mode.

But the experience I've had shows that it only really works that way if you can remember the very specific sequence called for. In Prime's case, the vehicle is a lot of big panels that unfold and snap around the robot, and if you don't do them in just the right order, the next pieces can't move in to place. It's very much needed to read and follow along with the instructions at least for the first time because while most Transformers have had some flexibility in how you go through transforming them, this is very structured and predetermined. You will be done in fifteen steps, but if you try to do it unaided, you might end up repeating some of those steps several times.


Vehicle Mode

The selling point? This truck is just damn huge. I do not have any Leader class Primes from the earlier moves or really anything huge like that, but I can't imagine they come close to the volume of the truck mode here. What I'll call a success of using a smaller number of large panels to form the truck shell is the few panel lines on the vehicle. At a short distance this could probably pass pretty well for a typical large toy truck just because it is clean and solid looking. It's not just a look either. When you have the vehicle formed correctly, it is structurally really solid, and a lot like the physical solidity of the robot body, it's where I see the new concepts coming through. When transformed correctly, you end up with a truck that can more or less be treated and played with like a non-transforming toy truck. When you reach that point, the whole thing makes some more sense. It even has rubberized plastic tires around solid plastic hubs. IT HAS RUBBER TIRES. Y'know, if that kind of thing is a big deal to you. I don't care a lot, but it sure was a surprise when I noticed it!

The truck is really just a shell, though. You can pull back the windshield and roof and have the torso of the robot just hanging out inside. Heck, you can look in through the closed windshield and just see him in there. Could be a neat gimmick if Optimus at one point has his head up inside the cab while driving around, but at this point it just reminds that what you're really doing is wrapping an action figure bent at the waist in interlocking truck panels. That might be something that really bothers you. But even so, the resulting truck is really nice and it's not a product of a half hour or more of trying to cram parts inside and massage panels to fit and close. You just do it, it seals up, and solid truck. It works for me.

The chrome is used a lot better on the truck too, covering the grill and most of the front bumper. Unfortunately the portions on the fender pieces had to be represented in silver paint so there is a little bit of mismatch. But the chrome where it's used actually fits and makes the truck look more like a real truck would. The Western Star tags behind the front wheels are also highlighted in silver chrome, making them stand out again like they would on a real equivalent. Though they'd probably be proportionately a bit smaller in that case. As modes that are the product of massive shell-forming go, this is certainly one of the better results I've dealt with. Just depends on your personal feelings on the practice.


Accessories

The weapons are quite huge. The Sword of Judgment is about 20cm long, cast in a flexible clear yellow plastic. Despite the length, it's a narrower blade so it doesn't end up looking ridiculous at all. There's a couple of odd things to note though. There's a side peg coming off just above the hand guard. ...and it doesn't seem to have anyplace to plug in to the toy. Not one I've been able to find, at least. I'm wondering if it's a leftover from an earlier design phase where perhaps the backpack wasn't going to be so, er, prominent. Or if it was originally to plug in to the shield somehow. But the thing I think more worth note here is the peg part of the grip is at least 6mm thick, versus the standard 5mm. The fist holes are sized to match of course, so the toy is able to properly hold the weapon. But it ends up incompatible with normal Transformer hands, just as this Optimus can't effectively borrow from anyone else. I hope this is a one-off case and that designs going forward won't be abandoning the accessory standards that have remained in use for so long. I would be... annoyed.

The Sentinel Shield (oh, I so hope it's made of parts he stole off Sentinel Prime's corpse after he murdered him last movie I hope I hope I hope) is an impressive disc of clear yellow plastic with a big part of the surface painted in silver for the effect of an energy shield where all the clear yellow is left unpainted. With a diameter greater than 12cm, it's actually pretty useful looking as a shield on a figure of this size. It plugs on to the left forearm, which is the only place it can go in robot mode at all. I really want for an adapter to make it hand-carryable for more flexibility and to help overcome the lack of motion past the elbow joint. There's enough movement to make the shield look convincing, but there'd be even more you could do if it could move down to the hand.

Both pieces store in vehicle mode. The shield pegs in around where the trailer hitch would be, and the sword clips under the truck. The shield is a lot more intrusive, but the sword actually does really nicely underneath, not even affecting the ground clearance much.

Closing Remarks

I've been curious to see the first regular movie toys since last Botcon what the future would hold for main line Transformers when this new direction was revealed. And while it is a dramatic shift compared to what I've become used to, I can see the value behind the concept. This and other toys like it would be very friendly for actual play by kids, and should be good and durable without a lot of little parts that might get knocked off or outright damaged by the always fun act of smashing toys in to harder objects like a little brother's head. Mind, I wouldn't recommend this specific release for such a purpose, and that's where the wisdom of the idea diverges from reality.

This "First Edition" Optimus is a special release with a premium pricetag to be aimed at collectors more than kids. But they're doing it using the toy designed specifically with the needs of kids in mind. Meanwhile we have seen already another version of Optimus that's a little more complex and "traditional" seemingly destined for the Generations branding. That may have been a better choice for this purpose. I'm not sure how much collector appeal this will have, and I for one wouldn't want to give a $60 chromed version of a toy to a kid to go outside and play with when there's bound to be one that won't show play wear nearly as fast at a lower price just around the corner. Good attempt, but to me I just don't see this as right for kids or collectors. Designwise, I could call this toy Good on the figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale, but in this form, at this price, there's just no way. I don't see or feel $60 in this, and I'm calling First Edition Could Have Been Better. You won't miss out waiting for something less expensive.



ReviewerExVee  
DateFebruary 6th 2014  
Score 4 stars (4 out of 10)  
Reads21193
LinkFirst Edition Optimus Prime Gallery  


First Edition Optimus Prime Gallery Image Gallery


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MWPollard
2014-02-08
9:24 pm

It seems that somebody never fully understood that the term "panelmaster" was not intended as a compliment...   Side note: My account was ended for some reason, perhaps lack of recent posts. The site didn't recognize either my username, originally "MPollard", or my email address. So I signed up... read more 
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