"Beast Wars Transformers" Ultra Class Optimus Primal Toy Review
Release Date: 1996
Price Point: $19.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target etc.)
Accessories: Missiles x 4, Swords x 2, Mace weapon
Name: Optimus Primal
Beast mode: Gorilla
Move over King Kong, Optimus Primal is ready to rock! The heroic leader has bio-genetically re-engineered his body structure into a gargantuan robotic gorilla! Cybernetically fused musculature has enhanced strength to super-powered levels. Shoulder-mounted, mega-blast missile cannons launch devastating attacks upon foolish Predacon invaders. When they force him to fight, they force him to win!
Strength: 10.0 Intelligence: 10.0 Speed: 10.0 Endurance: 10.0
Rank: 10.0 Courage: 10.0 Firepower: 10.0 Skill: 10.0
Optimus Primal changed early on in the development of the Beast Wars Transformers toy line from a bat to a gorilla. This toy is one of the best examples of the best a Beast Wars Transformers toy can offer. It includes great molding, cool weapons, action features, a nice transformation and posability. It was also the first of the ultra line of Beast Wars Transformers toys, larger toys usually not released until the later part of the year.
As a side note, it is interesting to note that early on in the development of the Beast Wars Transformers series, Optimus Primal was going to have four transforms. The bat, gorilla and two separate robot modes. Animation constraints prevented this, but it is interesting that both Optimus Primal toys were nice enough to be considered for the series.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
Optimus Primal's transformation is rather simple, but involves several steps. The lower body twists around and the robot feet fold down. His beast mode head folds down to his chest, revealing the robot head. The beast mode's face flips around to form the robotic chest. The upper arms of the beast mode fold up to form "shoulder pads". The head has the "mutant head" feature that several first year Beast Wars Transformers toys included. The robot head very much resembles that of the original Transformer Optimus Prime. It is fairly detailed and nicely molded. The head can turn around to reveal the "mutant head", an insectoid looking face.
The robot mode of Optimus Primal is nicely proportioned. His arms, chest and legs all make him appear to be very muscular. Though most of his "gorilla" self still shows in this mode, there are several robotic bits visible. His chest, head, upper arms, lower waist, upper legs and feet are all robotic in nature. The "hydraulic mechanism" look of his ankles is very nicely done and his robot head is very well molded.
There are several options one can use in playing with the robot mode. Pressing the grey button on his back flips up two shoulder mounted missile launchers (which really do fire the missiles). He may also store two extra missiles in a compartment behind his head. From this compartment are two swords which can be placed into his hands as hand held weapons. The swords are very neatly crafted with good detail. The grooves and curve of the sword adds to its "dangerous look". These are the same swords that Optimus Primal used in the first season of the Beast Wars Transformers television show.
Using the lever that moves his arms in beast mode moves his arms here allowing him to swing his swords to and fro, as if he was having a sword fight. If one places both weapons in one hand (one at each end) and reset the arm (with the use of a switch on the upper arm), the arm can twirl and use the weapons to slice and dice!
The weaponry does not cease here. Flipping up the top of his lower right arm reveals a mace. The mace is very threatening looking. It looks like a skull with spikes sticking out of it. A very nice piece of the toy, but scary for a Maximal leader. The aforementioned "twirling/spinning" action can be used with this toy in his hand as well. The skull mace connects to the mace by a rope so the swinging effect looks great. Flipping up the top of his lower left arm, his lower left arm flips back and a dual barrelled cannon is revealed. Although the television show portrays Optimus Primal with this cannon sticking out of his wrist while he still maintains use of his hand, this toy shoves the hand back. The missiles that fit into his shoulder mounted cannons can also fit into these barrels.
In this mode, Optimus Primal has fourteen points of articulation. With his bristling weaponry, nice molding and neat gimmicks, this toy is easily one of the best out there. A+
Updated Thoughts (3/17/18):
In many ways this figure embodies a lot of the principles that made "Beast Wars" such a distinctive part of the Transformers toy line. He has an "organic" looking beast mode complete with "fur" sculpted into the plastic, a distinctly organic looking beast mode head and even toes! The robot mode really shows how much play value the designers were going for beyond simple transformation. It is full of play features. From the fascinating "Mutant Head" mask to the missile launchers and cool melee weaponry, this is a level of play you don't see in most Transformers figures nowadays. Some fans may scoff at the figure not being totally "show accurate", but keep in mind that this figure was developed before the TV show. Indeed, the early "Beast Wars" toy pack-in comic book and bios indicate that the designers most likely intended this as a evolved form of Optimus Prime, not a separate character altogether which makes it even more interesting in my book. We take it for granted now, but at one time this figure represented a risky change in the Transformers line that definitely paid off in the end!