You'd think that if anyone could accept change, it'd be Transformers fans. The line has been rebooted multiple times over the years. Generation 1, Generation 2, Beast Wars... all the way up to the recent Unicron Trilogy and Classics. The one constant is change, but still, the fanboys were out in droves to bitch about a movie they'd never seen. The cast of humans, the cast of robots, the designs, the colors, everything. Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch. Whatever it was, they hated it. About the only thing they were even marginally happy about was the fact that Optimus Prime was a big rig truck.
Blazing down to Earth's surface from outer space comes Optimus Prime. His protoform mode is ideal
for covering the vast distances between stars, and armored to survive the catastrophic descent through a planetary atmosphere. When he arrives, however, his first task is to find an appropriate disguise in which to conduct his search for the Allspark.
As his scanning beam sweeps over nearby objects, he sees the world in the deep red that tells him targeting and scanning systems are active. Then, his gaze settles upon the coolest thing he has ever seen. Yes, this will be his disguise on Earth. Sophisticated internal systems go into action immediately. Millions of microscopic robots - the equivalent of a human immune system - go into action, rebuilding Optimus Prime from the inside out in a matter of moments. Electronic components are repurposed, weapons repositioned, and armor enhanced. When it is all done, Optimus Prime is able to convert into an exact replica of the Earth vehicle - the perfect disguise.
Optimus Prime, in the movie, is no longer a Freightliner COE.
And yes, that pissed off the fanboys. Big surprise. But really, in order to get the biggest, baddest robot they could, the movie producers went looking for the biggest truck. What they found was the Peterbilt 379, which is about 22' long, give or take (though Takara seems to think it was a Kenworth W900 even though it's, you know, "not"). The 379 has the classic long-nose design and a big sleeper cab, all to add bulk for the final robot.
When it came to movie merchandise, Target was the place to shop: they had the toys first, they had the best sales, and they had the most exclusives - including, surprisingly, an exclusive "Voyager Class" (geek speak for "medium-large") version of the Autobots' leader, Robo-Vision Optimus Prime.
Robo-Vision Prime is about 7½" long, 2¾" wide and 3½" tall. The detailing is great, really capturing the look of the Peterbilt cab - moreso than its bigger, pricier brother. The sleeper cab has an aerodynamic look,
rather than being square and blocky. The Autobot symbol and the truck's grill are darn impressive - you have to give Peterbilt credit for allowing the movie to remove their logo badge in favor of the Autobot symbol. A lot of companies would be too afraid to do that. The truck's wheels roll, and the headlights are translucent blue, so they'll glow when there's a light behind them. Too cool! The smokestacks are surprisingly tall - usually safety standards make things like this shorter, or molded from soft plastic (like on the deluxe OP). Here, though? Full glory. Get it before someone notices their mistake.
The best feature, though, is inside the cab. One of the advantages Robo-Vision Prime has over the "real" release is that he's got a little driver at the wheel. The TFs project hologram passengers, because a vehicle with no one driving is likely to attract attention.
Prime's wheelman is a solid gray lump wearing a cowboy hat. You know who else usually wears a cowboy hat? Peter Cullen, the G1 voice of Optimus Prime, who has been brought back to voice Prime in the movie. Sweet! There's even an action feature here: open the driver's side door, and the trucker disappears. The colors are a bit weird - it's almost like they were reversed. While the entire interior of the cab is gray, the seat that folds back to hide the driver is bright red. The man is, as we said, gray. If those had been the other way around, it would have blended in better. Oh well - time for a custom!
This smaller Optimus Prime (about 2/3 the size of the big expensive electronic one) also has an "attack mode" that isn't present in the large version.
His smokestacks and fuel tanks can flip around to become blasters that point over the hood of the truck. It's vaguely reminiscent of the Rhino truck from the somewhat-beloved 1980's vehicle series M.A.S.K. - which was produced by Kenner, and is therefore now owned by Hasbro. Neat! The gastanks, which become missile launchers, have an infuriating tendency to fire when everything is in place for the truck mode, but they don't go far: the rear wheels stop them.
One of the gimmicks developed for the Transformers movie figures is "automorph technology," a system which uses gears and springs to make parts of the figures "automatically" transform. This is different than the TFs refered to as "flipchangers," which had completely spring-loaded transformations - on these figures, it's only small portions. For instance, RVOP's gimmick is in his legs: as you transform them, various panels slide around, much like they will in the movie.
The problem with both Optimus Primes (Optimii Prime?) is that they have to compare with a "real" version. Sure, the 'bots in the movie are fully CGI,
but they still obey the laws of physics - no cheating in the size or construction. However, there's still a lot that a computer render can do that a real toy can't, so neither Prime will transform exactly like the movie verison. And more than that, they don't even transform like each other: the "Leader Class" one has his feet formed by the truck's grill, while this one has the feet in the sleeper cab. One of them has to be wrong then, doesn't it?
Truthfully, if you go by the movie transformation as the "correct" way, the Robo-Vision Optimus Prime is closer to getting it right - the arms are under the engine, the legs are in the back, and the wheels end up on his legs. In fact, the only thing the bigger version gets right is that the truck's windshield actually becomes the robot's chest, while this one just has a separate piece designed to fake it.
Prime's design definitely has a lot of the classic flavor - red and blue, all in their appropriate places.
As we said, the chest is still the truck's windshield, which goes a long way toward getting the feeling right. Surprisingly, the detailing on this Prime is more intricate than it is on his bigger brother. His arms and legs are absolutely covered with small technical elements that the more expensive version lacks. The head really says "Optimus Prime," as well, and his eyes are light-piped with the same translucent blue as the headlights. Look closely, though, and you'll see that the eyes are sculpted to have that "camera lens" look we've seen in the posters. Damn, what detail!
The figure stands nearly 7½" tall, and moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, thighs and knees. No waist, you'll notice, and while the ankles do move, it's more for transformation than posing. The head only turns side to side, but the various shoulder joints add to to more than a balljoint's range of motion. The larger Optimus Prime has more joints in his legs, but also has more stuff in the way, which means that Tiny, here, has a more poseability. Way to go!
On top of all that, the truck's smokestack/gastank things can become handheld blasters for Prime.
The larger version has only one gun, and a goofy gimmick where it flips around his arm. Does that sound fun? No! The new twin blasters plug onto his forearms and have triggers that fit in his hands. If you don't want him to hold the guns, you can leave them attached to his back, too. The biggest downside to this particular Optimus Prime is that he's got some substantial kibble hanging off his back - the entire front half of the truck, basically, is just folded up behind his shoulders, making him back-heavy.
Robo-Vision Optimus Prime is a Target exclusive,
sold in nifty octangular packaging. Though this is the same mold that will be used for the upcoming Voyager Class release, it does boast a "limited edition supermetal finish." Though that sounds like he's going to be vac-metallized all over, it really just means... he has a special gray, or something. It's a bit unclear. In any case, the red and blue used for this release look better than the ones used on the big boy - even the much-maligned flame decos.
So, what do we have? Better design, better articulation, better sculpt, better weapons, better paint, better transformation, better price... Robo-Vision Optimus Prime has it all over the mass-market release. And if you built up a nice collection of the recent Classics figures, even the size is better. If all you want is a big figure with lights and sounds, then sure, get the Leader Class version; but if you want the best buy for your money? Robo-Vision Optimus Prime.