Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Special Transformers Feature: Ultimate Battle Optimus Prime

I keep a few Transformers figures in my office.  Although most of the people who have occasion to come in and see them aren't really Transformers fans, Transformers are enough a part of our popular culture that quite a few people remember them from their childhood.  As such, I get a few comments, almost always positive, about the toys.  This Optimus Prime figure tends to get special attention.  I always find this mildly amusing, because this particular figure is wildly disliked among fans.

It must be understood that those of us who have followed Transformers for 25 years now know that there have been many Optimus Prime toys (and that's just counting the Generation One character, as opposed to the alternate versions of Optimus Prime found in, say, Armada or Transformers: Animated).  People who stop by my office may remember only the original toy (if even that.  They may simply remember the character from the old cartoon).  If one considers this toy alongside all those other Optimus Prime toys, it may well be considered inferior.  But if one is only comparing it with the original, or sees it as a representation of the cartoon character, it's really not all that bad.  It's certainly got far better articulation than the original toy does, and evokes the memory of the character perfectly well.

Of course, no one who has come into my office and has seen this figure has actually transformed it, and it really is in the alternate mode that the toy's deficiencies are most obvious.  It kinda-sorta evokes the classic truck mode, but the cab looks like it could fall apart at any moment, and the legs try even less to look like part of the back of a vehicle than the legs on the original toy from 25+ years ago do.  I do have to give credit to the simple, but effective, way that the weapon folds up to become a vehicle-mounted weapon, though.  It's definitely a saving grace of this toy.  That, and the fact that it has proportionately long smokestacks.

A peculiarity of this particular Optimus Prime toy is that the designers attempted to incorporate an action gimmick in robot mode.  If you push on this button in back of the toy, Prime is intended to respond with a "power punch."  In reality, what happens is that the entire upper torso spins around... completely.  It's really pretty silly, and makes the figure difficult to keep in a "standard" pose.  Thankfully, you can pull the button outward (it requires what may seem to be excessive force, though) and "lock" the figure into a regular position.   Thus, if you keep the figure on display in robot mode all the time, it looks pretty good, but as a toy one might play with, it loses its charm pretty quickly.

And this is exactly why I keep the figure on the shelf in my office.

1 comment:

  1. I really like this Optimus Prime figure for the exact reasons you mentioned; he's very fun to pose, and is a very good representation of his original G1 appearance.

    I think I've tranformed him once.


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