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Ultimate Optimus Prime

Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

When I bought Robo-Vision Optimus Prime, I figured that was the only movie Prime I'd need to get. But then I broke down and purchased Nightwatch Optimus Prime - he was blue, after all, and thus different. And then there was the Japanese-exclusive Optimus Prime Black Version from Transformers 2. Then the third movie came out, and with it an Optimus Prime who had a trailer to go with him... anyway, my unintentional trend of buying at least one Optimus Prime from every movie continues.

Over the years, Optimus Prime has proved himself to be not only a great leader, but also one of the most powerful warriors in the universe. He is trained in the use of almost any weapon, incorporating them into his combat tactics without effort. He is a walking arsenal with unstoppable combat capabilities.

Optimus Prime, as seen in Michael Bay's trilogy, was a lot more violent and bloodthirsty than previous incarnations. Wait, do Transformers have blood? They have coolant or something, right? But calling Optimus "coolant-thirsty" doesn't seem right, somehow. It sounds like the marketing speak in a Gatorade commercial they only show during timeouts in some southern college bowl game. "Gatorade has electrolites for when you're coolant-thirsty and in need of sport." We're getting off topic. The point was, it makes sense for Prime to be that way: he's a leader in a middle of a war! A war that's closer to a real war than anything ever shown in the comics or the cartoon.

Size-wise, this Optimus falls right between the Voyager and Leader Class versions. The complexity in the general design of the body is a bit below what you'd expect from a Voyager, though; it's like somebody took a Scout Class vehicle, scaled it up and added more detail to the sculpt. It's hard to explain. Like, look at the shape of his chest, or the huge, unchanged pieces of kibble hanging off his arms. That's the kind of thing you'd expect on a 4" tall Prime, not an 8½" tall one. But film-accuracy in the robot mode wasn't the main goal of this toy, as we'll get to soon.

The paint is good: the blue is deep and vibrant, strong enough to stand next to the solid red and not get lost. There's silver on his face, chest, and the front of his shins, and his eyes are light blue - painted, not light-piped. His articulation has been cut down slightly, with no ankles, waist or wrist movement, but the rest is all there.

After three movies, you know what Optimus Prime's altmode is. Even if you've never seen the movies, you know what Optimus Prime's altmode is. It's appeared in enough places enough times that it's entered the general consciousness. He's a longnosed truck, with red and blue flames. This toy truck has different proportions than previous versions: it's longer and shorter. We can't say whether that's more accurate to the truck used in the films, but it's not like it looks wrong or anything. The truck is 8⅞" long, 3⅜" tall and 3" wide, and all six wheels roll.

The appeal of this Optimus over any (movie) Optimus is that he comes with a trailer! Yay! It's designed to look like the G1 trailer, being all grey with the angled stripe running along each side. The Autobot symbols on the side are molded in and painted red, and there's a silver one in the front. The sculpt is very nice, with a surprising level of intricate details: rivets on all the edges, reinforced panels on the sides, ventilation on the front and top, and even a diamond plate pattern on the rear doors. There's a bumper and tail lights and even shock absorbers on the wheels.

The trailer measures 12½" long, 5" high and 4⅛ wide. Technically that makes it too big to be properly in scale with the cab, but is that really going to bother you? It's actually closer to being in scale with the RotF Optimus. The trailer can stand on its own, or you can fold the "legs" away and connect it to the hitch on the back of Prime's truck mode, where it will swivel freely as you drive him around. The only thing that would be cooler would be if it also worked with the hitch on the RotF figure (a tab poking up on that toy renders them incompatible).

But simply having a trailer is not enough: it also needs to do something. There's a cheap-o Optimus Prime on shelves right now with a trailer that only hinges open to reveal weapon storage, which is pretty lame - that's what Prime used his trailer for in the movie, but it popped up into sort of a swirling weapons-delivery platform. This one doesn't do that, but it does have a special feature; if you follow the three pages of instructions, the trailer splits open to become wearable battle armor.

Reminiscent of Powermaster Optimus Prime, the little robot gets giant when he puts on his Omega Combat Armor. The packaging touts this as the biggest Optimus Prime toy, and that's true enough.

When this figure was first shown off at Toy Fair 2011, fans dubbed him "Butterfly Prime" due to the way his armor looks like giant wings. Well, those wings end up making the toy stand over 2' tall, and nearly as wide.

What's really impressive is the way the trailer opens up. Usually with a figure that gets armor, you can expect to find a partsformer, but everything here remains connected as you wrap it around the robot. That's nice engineering! Prime's head and torso remain uncovered, but his arms, groin and legs get a major size upgrade. Especially the legs! The forward-facing parts of the armor (which were originally inside the trailer) have complicaed detailing to make them look mechanical and unearthly, and a blue glow near the center that fades as you move out toward the tips.

The only part of the trailer that gets removed during conversion is the "Ultimax Super Cannon," a gun that's bigger than may Deluxe Class Transformers and (coincidentally) looks like one of the fighter ships the Decepticons were flying around Chicago. It plugs into a socket on the top of his shoulders, and can flip forward over the head and be held in the hands. There's a larger version of Prime's helmet, making his head look more in scale with the new, giant body; it also has a clear face shield with a yellow targeting reticule in the center. There are several buttons on the gun that activate lights and sounds, and when the thing is hanging down his back, it can be used as a handle to let you make Optimus Prime fly.

Like a lot of fans, I was rather cool on the idea of Ultimate Optimus Prime when he was first revealed - yeah, the Omega Combat Armor is big, and the trailer is awesome, but the thing still looked like an iron butterfly. And it certainly didn't help that UOP was one of the toys named in the paper that accused Hasbro of human rights violations. Even after the verity of that report was called into question (short version for those who don't want to read through the comments: the author has a documented history of straight-up fabricating claims, and the paperwork used as "evidence" doesn't match the products it's supposed to), I still stayed away. But when an incredible sale at Kmart dropped the price to $22 - less than what TRU is charging for a Voyager Class figure now - I finally bit. And at that price, Ultimate Optimus Prime is an awesome toy. Some places are trying to get up to $80 for him, but at a price you're happy with, you'll enjoy Prime, butterfly or no.

-- 05/29/12

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