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Battle Core Optimus Prime

Transformers Combiner Wars
by yo go re

We've said it before, and we'll probably say it again the next time we can't come up with any kind of interesting introduction to a review: once you buy a toy, nobody can tell you how to play with it.

With Decepticon super robots threatening to pound cities - and even entire civilizations - to dust, Optimus Prime masters the power of the Combiners to stop them. Together, he and the Autobots will prove that courage is stronger when combined.

Hey, that's all real cool. But as soon as I handed over my $25 for this figure, it ceased to be Optimus Prime, and magically turned into Nova Prime, the leader who was four ahead of Optimus in the lineage. Nova -> Nominus -> Sentinel -> Zeta -> Optimus. He wasn't exactly a hero - he believed the Transformers race was superior to all others, and it was their burden to help the lesser races - but he was the one who united all Cybertron's tribes into one unified society, beginning Cybertron's Golden Age. Fortunately, he disappeared just as he was about to begin The Expansion, his plan to conquer the entirety of the universe.

Anyway, the point is that Nova Prime looked like a black and white Optimus, and this toy looks like a black and white Optimus, so by (a drastic misunderstanding of) the transitive property, it's Nova now! This figure is a repaint of the vaguely disappointing Series 1 Optimus Prime, which was previously repainted into the highly disappointing Series 2 Motormaster. Like most other Optimii, he's got a flat window for a chest a grill stomach, though in this case, they're both faux-kibble pieces only visible in this mode. The upper body is very wide and blocky, which is a departure from the trend in recent years to "soften" Prime's body by adding more angles to break up the large, flat planes. There are gaps in the chest and thighs where internal workings peek though, like the body is expanding to become larger in this mode.

One of the problems with the original figure was that he had a tiny little pinhead. This figure fixes that with a new head sculpt - it's larger, which is already an improvement, but it's also less spherical, which is another point in its favor. Deviating from the usual Optimus design, there are Prowl-style wings sticking out of his forehead crest. Yes, Optimus had something similar in his Star Convoy incarnation, but it's also a feature that Nova Prime shares. It's almost like the designers are throwing us a bone!

Another problem with the first version of this mold was apparently loose hips - there were guides online about how to fix them, and some people even resorted to 3D-printing new interior parts. We're pleased to report that whatever problem existed, Hasbro apparently fixed it: Prime's hips move easily, and stay in place. Additionally, he has knees, thighs, a waist, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and a neck. The shoulder ratchets are very stiff, and sound like they're cracking every time you move them. He's armed with two guns: one that looks like Optimus Prime's traditional Ion Blaster, and one that... doesn't. And of course, both guns can plug together to form one giant super-gun! There's a nice bit of design where a random pipe hanging off the new gun lines up perfectly with one on the old gun, which is pretty dang cool.

Since this is a repaint of Earthmode Optimus, it still turns into the cab of a truck - Nova Prime's comic appearance is based on an unused Optimus Prime design by Don Figueroa, and his only official toy was a repaint of Orion Pax, so that's right in line with what we already know about him.

The truck is, surprisingly, less flat and blocky than the robot was, with a slight slope to the front end and windows that actually curve. It's 6⅜" long, and the white-and-gold colorscheme is continued here. The windows are metallic blue, while the headlights and smokestacks are silver. There are lots of sculpted in details, like the doors, handles, and storage compartments, but it could really use some paint on the hubcaps to break up all the black.

There are two 5mm ports in the back where the guns can be stored. Well, actually there are three, but the third is for some non-existent trailer to be hitched. The guns have sculpted details on top that make them look like two halves of an engine - sadly, the holes are too far apart for the guns to meet, so we're left with two separate halves, instead of one faked whole.

As a Voyager Class "Combiner Wars" figure, Nova Prime of course turns into a torso. When reviewing Silverbolt and Hot Spot, we didn't bother mentioning their torso modes, because we knew that would be covered under the reviews of the full gestalts. But since the limbs that go with Prime to form "Optimus Maximus" (as opposed to the first figure, who was the torso for "Ultra Prime") are Sunstreaker, Mirage, Prowl and Ironhide, and we already have good toys of those characters, I'm probably never building the big guy.

Optimus Maximus' torso mode feels less inspired than the two we've covered before. Instead of cleverly rearranging pieces that were already used in the other modes, there's just an entire faux chest on the robot's back, and that's what the combiner uses. There are some definite design cues here that have been taken from the Unicron Trilogy - the way the outer chest sticks out and the shape of the windows owes a bit to Cybertron OP, while the way it opens up and reveals a sculpted Matrix comes from Energon. Actually, if we're sticking with the notion that this is Nova Prime, rather than Optimus, then that's not the Matrix: it's the Heart of Darkness, an "anti-Matrix" he received around the same time he started calling himself Nemesis Prime. Sound familiar?

The head in this mode is the same that Ultra Prime had. It looks very much like a normal Optimus Prime head, with the faceplate and forehead crest and whatnot. Seemingly influenced again by Energon Optimus Prime, there are small gun barrels on the temples, and large, hooked antennae. The forehead is exaggerated, stretching up instead of coming straight forward. On the plus side, if you like this head better than the usual one, the construction of the figure means that you can have the regular robot with the special head.

Battle Core Optimus Prime is a better figure than the first "Combiner Wars" Optimus Prime was, even if the colors are non-traditional. But I got him to be Nova Prime, and he works really well in that regard. I've no plans to buy the limbs that are meant to go along with him, but even without them, Prime is a lot of fun.

-- 12/08/15

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