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Optimus Prime

Transformers: War for Cybertron
by yo go re

Reminder: not the same guy from Prime.

Optimus Prime enacts a plan to be captured by the Decepticons in an effort to save Zeta Prime.

In an effort to tie all their different franchises together (for some unknown reason), the Transformers team at Hasbro spent a quarter million dollars to create a production bible that would lay out the history of the TF universe from beginning to end, so every new game, comic, or show could reference it and find its place within, creating a seamless narrative among different media. This idea almost immediately went to pot.

War for Cybertron was released on June 17, 2010; a week later the novel Exodus was released; despite being a tie-in book and thus drawing from the same production notes, its story was incompatible with the game's, with the two unable even to agree on who preceeded Optimus as Prime - the game said Zeta, the book said Sentinel, and Hasbro, recognizing all their time, effort, and money were already going down the drain, said "Sentinel Zeta." Hasbro's attempt to tie WfC and Prime together went as well as Universal's Dark Universe.

When the War for Cybertron toys were originally made, they were limited to Deluxe Class figures, so this Voyager Class release already has the advantage when it comes to size. He's a giant brute of a figure, with the digital models ripped straight from the game as a starting spot for the toy. This is one of the chunkiest Primes we've ever seen, with huge shapes making up his body and limbs, and then a tiny little head. It's still obviously Prime, thanks to the identifiable design elements (windows on the chest, rigid grill structure on the stomach, vents on the blue shins, etc.), but the particulars only belong to the videogame.

These new Studio Series Gamer Edition figures share a gimmick where you can remove their right arm and plug the included blaster in its place, simulating the way ranged weapons worked in the game series. Optimus includes his Ion Blaster, which is very cool and definitely looks better than any of the ones we've already reviewed, both as a weapon and attached to the robot. He's also got his axe for melee, which required special work on Hasbro's part: in the game's cutscenes, the axe was single-bladed, but in gameplay it was double-bladed. How to reconcile that? Make a toy where the blade can flip around to depict either style. Nice! If you open his chest, you'll even find a removable Matrix of Leadership inside. Fun!

In the game and on the old toy, Optimus had a big stylized Autobot symbol on his back. This one doesn't get that, sadly, thanks to the way it's designed to convert. To truck him up, pull the shoulders out to the sides, rotate them and the chest back, turn the hood around and fold it over the top, spin the legs around, flip the wheels out, hinge the shins over to be a roof, and push the side panels into place. It's a fun process and easy to get the hang of.

Considering it's been 14 years since the last War for Cybertron Prime and this one is bigger, it's disappointing that this vehicle mode isn't as good as what we got before. There's nothing at all covering the back of the truck, meaning if you turn the toy around all you see if a pair of big blue robot fists. Obviously that's not the optimal Optimus viewing angle in most collectors' displays, but the game models were specifically designed knowing the characters' backs would be seen more commonly than their fronts. The 2010 figure at least used some clever tricks to solidify the back of the vehicle, and this one emphatically doesn't.

But even with that flaw, Studio Series Optimus Prime is an improvement over the old toy. He's bigger, he's badder, he's more fun to play with, he's got better accessories, everything about him (other than the lack of taillights) is just the best!

-- 06/11/24

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