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Optimus Prime - Henkei - Figure

Classics Voyager Optimus Prime had an impressive truck mode, innovative transform, and one of the best robot forms at this scale since Robots In Disguise. Yet like many toy fans, I felt this otherwise dynamic mold was held back by a very weak color-scheme. Even without his legendary trailer, Voyager Prime should have been a easy purchase if not a steal at his initial $20 retail price. If only you could overlook the piercing yellow of highlights gone wild or the abrupt cheapness of the plain flat gray bumper. In an odd coincidence, his colors evoke both G2 Combat Hero Prime and the Action Master Optimus figure (who had a yellow crest and blue thighs). Primary colors do naturally draw a lot of attention, but a good Prime should look bold without being gaudy.

For those disappointed with Hasbro's version of Classic Optimus, the TakaraTomy Henkei line offers the obvious substitute. But is a relatively minor re-deco with a little chrome (less than you'd think, actually) really worth the $40-$50 cost after importing the Japanese toy? With a few reservations, I'd say he's worth every penny.

The chrome on his grill and bumper is surprisingly thick and scratch-resistant, holding up well to several transformations. As mentioned in other reviews, his head and lower legs are molded in a darker blue, which create an even greater contrast between this Prime and the Target-exclusive Ultra Magnus re-deco. The red is also a deeper, richer hue and his upper legs are well painted with a shiny silver like that used on Cybertron Galvatron. In contrast, his parts molded in black, such as his rifle-stacks and tires, are a less-saturated, grayer color; which doesn't replace authentic rubber tires but nonetheless approximates a more natural tire color. Some comparison pictures might also show a slight difference in the transparent blue parts of the two. Henkei Prime has a slightly teal hue to his eyes, similar to the shade used by Takara on their New Year's Special Edition Convoy. Fewer yellow accents on the robot mode come across as less busy, more visually interesting. But one of the greatest subtle differences is the methodical approach taken while applying the silver stripping to Henkei Prime's truck mode. While the Classics line covered more of the cab in thinner silver paint, the Henkei version's stripes better follow and accentuate the lines of the molded details. The truck details are better painted in general, including headlights and side windows which were left red on the American toy. Overall, Takara has chosen a deco that better emphasizes the strengths of an already fantastic mold.

However, anyone searching Ebay for this particular version of Optimus should be warned of the frequent QC problems plaguing many of the first wave of Henkei figures. Apparently, TakaraTomy hasn't regained the QC standards of the good old days and I have read various reports of loose joints and mold defects. Some Henkei Primes have trouble lining up their panels in truck mode, which isn't as obvious since they are packaged in robot mode. But unlike "the curse of the classics", a good Henkei Transformer should be just as awesome out of the box as it is mint. I just strongly suggest going through reputable importers with a good return policy or else keeping your prized Convoy MISB.

ReviewerMatthew Owen  
DateJune 5th 2008  
Score 9 stars (9 out of 10)  
LinkPrime in Action!  

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