A Prime find

Transformers nostalgia week continues here in the toy room, thanks to a trip to the Toys ‘R’ Us in the big Kurashiki City shopping mall (about 40 min. outside of Okayama). I found several of the aforementioned “Classics” Bumblebee there, and the other characters from the line, too… and when I saw this new version of Optimus Prime, I couldn’t resist. How cool is this?

Thanks to Hasbro’s “light-pipe” technology, the eyes refract any light from behind or above the figure through the blue-tinted plastic piece that forms the back of Prime’s head. Is that awesome or what? I’m so impressed by the proportions of this figure, and the articulation; it makes for some very cool poses. Even non-transformable Prime action figures never look this cool, and this one just-so-happens to transform into a stylish little cab:

The chrome grill and bumper identify this as the Japanese “Henkei” version of the toy, as opposed to the ugly US release. Note the smokestacks, that become Prime’s gun in robot mode — like the “Binaltech” line, these Transformers have fully-integrated parts (something the toy line sadly lacked back when I was a kid, when leftover parts like weapons were often lost or misplaced). The Spike figure is included for scale again here, beside the “Classics” Bumblebee. Turns out Bumblebee wasn’t the only cool new toy in this product line!

Hoping for another winner, I also bought the Hot Rod figure:

Not quite the triumph of design his “Classics” brethren represent, Hot Rod still makes for a pretty cool robot, and far more sophisticated than any previous incarnation of the character. Gotta love those light-pipe eyes!

The parts don’t fit together as tightly as I’d like in vehicle mode, but the gold-plated spoiler is a nice touch:

Look closely, and you’ll make out the steering wheel and the seats sculpted into the body of the vehicle (giving the illusion of depth that isn’t really there).

I wasn’t so fond of his simplistic cannon accessory, but again, it’s well-integrated into the vehicle mode:

It’s designed with a spring-launch mechanism and a silly missile accessory, which explains the cross-shape of the opening. Since I had no interest in play features like firing missiles anyway, I hollowed out the opening and painted it to look more like a jet engine, something like the modern Batmobiles feature.

It won’t have much resale value now, but I think it’s a definite improvement.

Now, if any Transformers toy collectors are reading, can you tell what minor modification I made to the Optimus Prime figure above?


4 Responses to A Prime find

  1. pagz says:

    That’s a hella sweet Prime, and just goes to make me all the more angry at Michael Bay and the fuckheads behind the Transformers movie. That Prime and the 20th anniversary Prime prove that They could have made Prime look right in the film and have his transformations believable. I particularly like this Prime’s design, updated but totally recognizable. Not like the movie where you only know that the truck is Prime because you see him turn into it. Balls.

  2. tekering says:

    This is a much more toy-friendly design than the “20th Anniversary/Masterpiece” Prime, too, less complex and at a much lower price point ($20 at retail). Marketing-wise, it would’ve been the design to push, but I guess Bay wasn’t interested in making a toy commercial as much as a believable sci-fi film — which, for him, meant robots that looked alien. Unfortunately, “alien” to Bay means “hideous” to the rest of us. Bay was never a Transformers fan in the first place, and he simply did what was expected of him. I’d vent my frustrations toward Steven Spielberg; he’s the one who offered it to Bay, rather than making the film himself.

    I’m more concerned with why these toys weren’t marketed through the new Transformers: Animated series, rather than the “Powerpuff Girls” design approach they took with that series (and the subsequent toy line). Seems to me a talented cast and writing staff was wasted on what looks like nothing more than a parody of the original concept, a waste of potential at least equal to Bay’s film. Sure, it’s probably the best writing I’ve seen from a Transformers project, but that’s not saying much…

  3. pagz says:

    Everyone seems to have this big hate on for the designs of the new transformers animated series. I seem to be the only person that really digs them. Granted, I was also a fan of Teen Titans from the same design teen. Americanime is the term floating around for it. A blending of American and Anime aesthetics. I personally think the designs are really clean and fun while remaining recognizable enough. I’m also a fan of the figures for the series because they do such a good job at representing both the robot and vehicle modes of their animated counterparts.

    This isn’t to say I wouldn’t be drooling over an uber sweet Transformers series with complicated designs… but then again, I’ve seen that series, it was called Energon and it sucked so much ass that the world was on the brink of an ass crisis.

    I think the new series is a surprisingly fresh take on the Transformers that is faithful enough to the original without being so slavish that it becomes nothing more than a retread.

  4. Rachel says:

    Awesome Prime ya got there! I’m also going to have to look up those Quints.
    As for people hating on the Bayformers and Animated, just stop. How old are you? Let’s face it. The cartoon is for kids, and my little brother absolutely eats it up, even though he agrees with me that the design is weird (as I have shown him G1). I dislike the design, but I was pretty thoroughly addicted to the show for how well the story was written, and by the fact that there were recurring themes. I was also thoroughly excited over a certain Decepticon jet’s personality accuracy, but that’s neither here nor there.

    In regarding the bayformers, I appreciated the movies for what they were. Michael Bay could have done much better. I am NOT denying that. What I am frustrated by, though, is people constantly hating on how ‘ugly’ the ‘bots are. You show me a way to make a Transformer look 100% like a real, convincing car, and I’ll show you a Transformer that is ugly in root mode. Show me a ‘former who’s pretty in root mode, and he’s going to make one PAINFULLY obvious alt mode. Don’t even bother mentioning alternators/alternity, either. Those are, in my opinion, ugly in ‘bot mode while any shade-tree mechanic would be able to tell in a moment that the car wasn’t quite right. My point is this: The designers did what they could to make the bots look, in root mode, like they actually came out of that particular alt mode. As for Optimus Prime, I have always identified red semis (cab-over-engine or not) as looking like Optimus Prime. I also think the flames are hot (no pun intended) and that his root mode is the most beautiful of all the movie bots (in the movie and in the Leader class RotF toy (which is the only Prime I have from the movie line.))

    As for the customization on your classics Prime… Do I spy aftermarket Autobot insignias?

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