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Optimus Prime

Transformers Bumblebee
by yo go re

Well, it's official: Bumblebee and its new movie continuity was successful enough to warrant a sequel, which means we'll be seeing more of these designs.

The iconic art deco suspension bridge spans 4,200ft and is open to car, bike, giant converting robot & foot traffic.

Okay, as weird as it is that Hasbro would take such an unusual tack in Studio Series Optimus Prime's bio, it's even weirder they way they're writing around trademarks while they do it. The figure is technically called "San Francisco Bridge" Optimus, and the bio doesn't name it either. Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge is trademarked (by the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District), but that's mainly to discourage improper use; not even a moron in a hurry would think the bridge was actually endorsing Transformers. Basically, it a case of overzealous ass-covering on the part of Hasbro's lawyers.

Optimus Prime, in the new continuity, looks much more like he did in G1. Yes, the old movie design hit some of the same notes - window-boobs, for instance - but it was still clearly a unique beast. This one takes the '80s cartoon design and just makes it more realistically technological. For our money, that's a good thing; but you may feel it's pointless nostalgia and hate the very thought of it. We're not here to tell you you're wrong. Only God can judge you.

In general terms, Optimus' torso is a stack of red cubes, and his legs are blue rectangles, the same as they've been for 35 years. He's even got a brighter silver section on his stomach, like the old figure's grill. That stuff is all easy enough to spot. But when you start looking over the figure, really getting in there and examining details, you'll see a lot more mechanical pieces that unmistakably make this look like a robot formed from automotive parts. The movie redesign was done by Mark Yang, who also worked on Trans5mers: Planet of the Earth, and he's done an excellent job melding the old cartoons and the modern movies - two vastly different aesthetics.

The toy's articulation is quite good as well, with joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The hips on mine are a little wobbly, but not so much that they'd give the toy standing or holding a pose - it's just that they swing around a little more freely than you'd expect when you pick him up. He's armed with the Ion Blaster he used in the movie, and can hold it in either hand, or it can store on his back.

To convert Prime, rotate the forearms, open the chest windows, drop the head down to waist level, lower the back panel and remove the wheels, raise the legs and rotate the torso 180°, bend the elbows and rotate the arms into place, close the chest, raise the panels with the side windows on them, then the doors, then the front grill and bumper. Now we begin the legs! Pull out the gas tanks, flip the calf panels up to take their place, raise the panels from the inside of the shins, rotate the feet out and around and fold out the fifth wheel, then finish by plugging the ex-shin panels into the back of the cab.

The altmode is a flat-nosed COE truck, continuing the Generation 1 homage. That sort of truck has appeared in the movies before, but only in a limited capacity, and the toy it received was so bad that a third-party creation made it look like dime store garbage. So this is the first time there's been an official 80s-style product that wasn't a huge disappointment. The truck is 5½" long, 2¼" wide, and 3½" tall, and all six wheels roll.

For the most part, the detailing on the truck mode is just as good as the detailing on the robot, but there's at least one bit that could be better. Following the normal instructions, you end up with a huge gap between the legs that makes the truck look hollow. You can kind of jam his gun in there, which does help the toy look better, but it's not an intentional piece of design (if it was, the dang thing would actually fit properly) and you're either going to have the handle and clip sticking up into the air or dragging on the ground, and neither is an ideal solution.

Considering how badly the Bumblebee Bumblebee turned out, I was hesitant to get this figure. But despite its flaws, it really did turn out to be pretty awesome.

-- 04/09/18


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