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Sentinel Prime

Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

In serialized fiction, it's not unusual for the villain you just defeated to have a bigger, badder boss lurking in the background. It's much less common for the same thing to happen with the good guys.

Sentinel Prime is a legendary warrior, thought lost long ago. The strength of his will and the power of his sword are spoken of in reverent whispers by Autobot and Decepticon alike. Now that he has returned, the final defeat of Megatron and the Decepticons is assured.

click to embiggen

The name "Sentinel Prime" first appeared in the G1 comics, where he was Optimus Prime's immediate predecessor. It next turned up in Animated, as a contemporary/rival who held the same rank as Optimus. Now it's back to its original meaning for the movieverse.

Sentinel is a Leader Class figure, so he's definitely a biggie. He stands 10" tall, as long as you can get him to stand - he's rather back-heavy, so you have to fiddle with his joints to get him to stay upright. But hey, at least he has those joints, right? He has a swivel neck, swivels and hinges at the shoulder, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel wrists, hinged fingers, swivel/hinge hips and knees, and swivels and hinges inside the ankles. There's some kind of hinge that allow you to decide which direction his toes should point, as well. It all sounds very impressive, but he seems like he'd be too old to be very dynamic, so just because the joints are there, it doesn't mean you have to pose him doing flips like Ironhide or something.

The robot's design is very cool. It takes a lot of its cues from Optimus Prime's design, so we recognize that the two characters are connected, but he looks a lot more regal, to suggest that he comes from an older era, where things were more ceremonial and less martial. To wit, he's got windshields on his chest and wheels on his legs, but the kibble on his back takes the form of a cape. He also has a high collar and fancy pointed shoulderpads, much like Starscream's coronation outfit. The armor on his legs is thich and rounded, so he ends up looking like he's wearing the same style of fancy greaves a knight would have on. He also looks a lot more "complete" than many of the movie Transformers: not as many random panels of metal with gears and wires behind them; he'd actually blend pretty well with non-movie collections.

Sentinel Prime is voiced in the film by Leonard Nimoy, who voiced Galvatron in the original movie. This toy speaks, but not in Nimoy's voice. Press the button on his chest, and he declares "I am Sentinel Prime!" Plug a weapon into the port on his right shoulder, and instead he'll say "What has happened to the AllSpark?" and "Good to see you alive, Optimus." Of course, that's not mentioned anywhere in the instructions or on the packaging, so the only way you'll ever find out is trial and error.

On our message board, I said Sentinel Prime was the most complicated Transformer I'd ever put hands on, but my opinion of his has softened a bit. Make no mistake, it's a tough conversion (rated Level 3 on the new scale, "Advanced") and incredibly frustrating the first time you run through it, but once you've done it a few times and you understand what the instructions are trying to tell you to do, it gets a bit less horendous.

click to embiggen

Sentinel Prime's altmode is a Rosenbauer Panther 6x6 fire truck, the sort used at airports. Well, the package says it's a Panther, but the hose on a boom arm makes it look more like the Stinger. This isn't an STBLDF release, it's fully licensed. The company logo is painted right there on the side!

The truck is 9¾" long, 3⅛" wide and 3⅜" tall, and all six wheels roll. The nozzle arm can be repositioned via its three joints - two hinges, one swivel - but unfortunately the actual nozzle itself doesn't have a joint, so it will just point wherever the arm does. Hope you have some fires to fight in the sky. There's a secondary nozzle on the front bumper, which is very cute, and they even managed to get the rear-view mirrors on there in the right place - they're made from PVC so they don't snap off. The electronics that made him speak in robot mode make siren noises in this mode. If you mount a weapon in the passenger's side port, it makes a generic weapon sound; when you unplug it, he makes a transformation sound.

Sentinel Prime's weapons include a shield and a double-ended sword. He can hold them on either hand, and the shield can plug onto his forearm, as well. And naturally, they fold up and store away inside the firetruck, but that's not the end of it. You can convert the fire truck to a kind of "battle mode" by opening a few panels on the side to reveal sculpted weapons, and mounting the sword and shield on the roof of the cab. It's kind of a ridiculous look, but it's not the dumbest thing a Transformer's ever been saddled with, and you can ignore it easily.

I picked up Sentinel Prime on a whim - he was one of four Transformers I picked up that day, and I really only got him because he was so much cheaper at Kmart than anywhere else. Converting him was a huge pain in the ass the first time I tried it, but now that I'm used to it, he's growing on me. Can't wait to see what he's like in the movie.

-- 06/28/11

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