As fars as Transformers go, it's always been about the cars for me. Not that I didn't enjoy some of the more esoteric toys as well, but I never got into BeastWars or any of the other non-vehicle incarnations because, really, they never managed to get the "disguise" part of "robots in disguise."
But now I've given in,
caved and bought a Beast Wars toy, even if it was a re-release under a different line. As part of the Transformers: Universe line, Target offered an exclusive Nemesis Prime.
The most vile creation of the evil Unicron is a creature so shameful and foul that Autobot warriors fear to speak of it. Nemesis Prime - the powerful but twisted clone of the legendary Optimus Prime, pulled out of time and perverted to the cruel villain's purposes - possesses all the knowlege and wisom of the Autobot leader, but is powered by a deep love of evil and destruction. Perhaps the greatest threat to the Universe ever created by Unicron, Nemesis Prime carries within its body the Dead Matrix, an artifact capable of negating and destroying forever the powerful Autobot Matrix of Leadership.
Nemesis Prime was, in another lifetime,
known as Big Convoy, the Optimus Prime incarnation from Beast Wars Neo, one of the many Transformer series that never saw the light of day in the U.S. This was the same series that gave us such winners as Stampy the rabbit and Survive the bear, so you just knew that Prime - sorry, "Convoy" - was going to be something weird as well: a wooly mammoth.
Nemesis Prime is packaged in his robot form, probably because it's more likely to grab a potential buyer. That causes a bit of a problem, but we'll deal with it later.
The robot looks pretty good. At a glance, there are lots of Prime-influenced design elements: the head is obviously the same (other than the big fold-out horns) and the chest suggests the windshield of the original - it even has bumps where the original had the cab's parking lights. The sculpt is detailed with lots of mechanical bits: tubes, vents, lights, welds, all sorts of stuff.
The color scheme is very dark and sinister. It's mostly black, but has a few blue, silver and red highlights, just like that other Prime-gone-bad, Scourge. There are several tan sections on his body, which help break up the darkness and give the figure form.
Movement is good. Nemesis Prime is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and feet. His chest opens to reveal the "Dead Matrix" within, which is actually a nice touch: Big Convoy was the first Prime to feature a removable Matrix, so including it and turning it evil for this figure was very cool. But it does beg the question: if Unicron can only be defeated by the Matrix and has the ability to make technology that will negate it, why not build it into himself instead of another servant?
When it comes to weaponry, Nemesis Prime is packing - you wouldn't want to get stuck behind the guy at a security checkpoint. He's got a giant gun, fold-out escrima sticks, missile launchers in his shins and, if you want to get really out there, the pattern on his shoulder pads could suggest a series of rocket launchers. Prime's ready to kick some butt. There's a (rather obscure) fan theory that Big Convoy
is based on Cable, based mainly on the fact that they both have a metal left arm and a giant gun, but that seems unlikely at best.
Transformation to his alternate form is "ragingly difficult," to say the least. Originally, Big Convoy was packaged as a wooly mammoth rather than a robot, so that's the direction the instructions go: from beast to 'bot. To transform Nemesis Prime, you'll have to work your way backwards. On top of that, he's twisted around strangely in the box, with his legs facing backwards, but his feet facing forward, so that's yet another piece to unscramble in your quest to make a mammoth.
Once you actually get him transformed,
Prime's quite nice (for a shellformer). The sculptural detailing on his fur is intricate and realistic, his tusks look natural, and he's got a black and silver paint app. There's no real articulation - his outer shell is just too much a piecemeal jigsaw puzzle to allow that - but to make up for it, he has a few action features in robot form: a small lever on top of his head raises his trunk, and pushing back on his ears moves his tusks.
Overall, Nemesis Prime is a good toy - the mammoth mode is decent (if immobile), and the robot is a heavily-armed badass with a good design. Once you actually manage to decipher the instruction booklet, the transformation isn't even that difficult. This is what I want from my Transformers.