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Optimus Prime

Transformers AOE
by yo go re

And so my trend of unintentionally getting an Optimus Prime from every movie continues - but this time it's not because I bought one, but because Hasbro sent us one for free!

Optimus Prime has long believed that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. He has never wavered from his belief, no matter what has befallen him in battle. Once again ready to defend the people of his adopted planet, the unyielding Autobot Commander prepares for the battle that will allow the Autobots to reclaim their role as Earth's honored protectors.

For the first three movies, Prime's design remained relatively unchanged - he always turned into the same kind of truck, and his robot mode kibble was always the same (in broad strokes, at least). The filmmakers did this intentionally, so parents didn't feel like they had to buy new versions of old characters for little kids who already had them. But the first trilogy is over, so all bets are off!

The new design still passes the "movie Optimus squint test," but there are some clear changes that have been made. Are you used to seeing pieces of windshield on Prime's chest? Well you're not going to see them here! He looks much more anatomical now, for lack of a better term - the torso is still built from obviously mechanical parts, but it's not as recognizable as "hey look, windshields and a grill!" His forearms are much more organically shaped now, rather than being square and blocky, and the shins are much more "finished" than they used to be.

The design aesthetic of the new film seems to involve a lot more "clothing" for the robots, so Optimus has big plates hanging off his shoulders, waist and hips that look like he's wearing external armor. There are also six curved exhaust pipes raising up over his shoulders.

There's a pretty major piece of kibble on Optimus, too. Like, severely, enjoyment ruiningly major kibble. His entire back, from above his head to below his knees, is hidden by the chassis of the truck, just hanging out back there. They didn't even try to hide it. The only good thing we can say about it is that it provides a loop for his sword to fit in. Oh, and in a really nice bit of design, the loop angles off to the right so he can draw it over his shoulder realistically.

Yes, Optimus Prime is armed with a sword. The Sword of Judgment, it's called! It's translucent yellow with silver and red paint on the hilt, and is 7½" long. He's also armed with the Vector Shield, which looks more like a gun with a wide top than an actual shield, but maybe it opens wider in the film? We'll find out soon enough! Prime moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, thumbs(!), waist, hips, lower thighs, knees, and ankles. Some of the joints are limited by the "armor" pieces, but if you really want to move him, you can slide those out of the way.

Part of the reason for the huge kibble on this figure is Hasbro's intentional effort to design simpler Transformers - in fact, the back of the box specifically calls out that there are only 20 steps to change Optimus between modes, which is an interesting new feature.

The toy is packaged in robot mode, but the instructions start in vehicle mode. Regardless, it's easy enough to figure out what you need to do, and mastering the steps isn't overwhelming.

Though Optimus still turns into a longnosed tractor-trailer cab, it's no longer a Peterbilt 379 - he's now the Western Star 5700 OP, a slightly concept truck that, yes, is named after Optimus Prime. It's more sleek and rounded, without going so far away from the traditional square shape we're used to seeing driving around on the roads that it looks fake. The truck is 9½" long and 4¼" high. The sword stores underneath, and the shield can plug into the hitch.

Optimus is still all painted up with red and blue flames, though he's missing the red on his rear fenders. There are also some apps skipped on the robot mode, but that's to be expected - no movie toy has ever been 100% screen-accurate. What's really annoying is all the chrome. Has there ever been a toy that looked better vac-metallized than simply painted silver? Answer: no, there hasn't. Judging by Hasbro's presentation at Toy Fair this year, vac-metallizing is their new "thing," and we're going to be seeing a lot of it.

I didn't plan to buy this Optimus Prime. If Hasbro hadn't provided this one for free, you wouldn't be reading this review right now. But honestly, he's not bad. If you can look past the gigantic piece of kibble and all the chrome, you'll probably find something here to like, and he's different enough from the Optimus Prime seen in the first three movies that you won't feel like you're buying the same thing all over again.

-- 06/03/14

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