Armada Toy Reviews: Optimus Prime (Deluxe)

in 2002, Action Figure Review, Armada, Autobot, Generation One

Armada

General Information:
Price Point: Supercon
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: December 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Wrist mounted guns x 2, Over-Run Mini-Con figure

In a move that began with Beast Machines, central characters were made available in more than one scale. This practice continued in the Robots in Disguise series, and now Armada has its own example: Supercon Optimus Prime. This smaller sized Optimus Prime comes carded and mirrors the design of the larger scale Prime.

Over-Run Review

Over-Run is a name borrowed from an Autobot Generation One Action Master. He is one of the few Mini-Cons who can transform into three different things. He is a jet and robot but also acts as Optimus' weapon. In Generation One terms, this actually makes him a Targetmaster, much like Megatron's Mini-Con Leader-1.

Vehicle Mode:
Over-Run's vehicle mode is a fighter jet. He is mostly silver/grey with a black cockpit and blue lines on his wings. The plane has a nice, sleek design. The designers resisted the temptation to bulk up the form despite the fact that it also becomes a gun. The figure's Mini-Con port is on the top of the jet right behind the cockpit. A Mini-Con symbol graces the nosecone. Each wing has a pointy edge that kids can pretend to be lasers/weapons. Each
wing attaches to the main body on a hinge, and the thick hinges resemble engines akin to the tube shaped ones seen on an X-Wing fighter from Star Wars. Add to that the two thrusters at the very rear of the jet and you have one high powered little vehicle. The vehicle is supported by four wheels, two towards the front and two towards the rear. Curiously, he also has landing gear under the cockpit that can swing down, making him perhaps one of the most stable Transformers jets ever made. Overall, a nice little jet.

Transformation to Gun Mode:

  1. Push the center fin down so the peg sticks up.
  2. Fold the wings down.
  3. Flip the vehicle over and insert into Optimus' hand.

Gun Mode:
The difficulty in making any toy this small a triple changer is that enough of the other modes leak into each other that sometimes the results simply do not work. The designers were clearly aware of this and tried to add some features that would make this mode somewhat distinctive. First is the overall shape of the gun. Although a little hard to see, the overall outlined shape of the gun is intended to mirror the large gun held by the larger sized Optimus Prime. The end of the nosecone shows a barrel of a gun and the rear of the gun is a semi-circle. The way the handle was designed, this allows for the gun to swivel up and down whether mounted on Optimus Prime in vehicle mode or in his hand in robot mode, a very nice use of the hinge.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Starting with Over-Run's jet mode, fold the wings up.
  2. Swing the silver tubes on the forward blue wheels forward, then to the sides to form the robot arms.
  3. Split the rear of the jet apart to form the robot legs.
  4. Fold down the cockpit to reveal the robot head.

Robot Mode:
Over-Run adds one color in robot mode, yellow for the visor eyes on the robot head. Although I did find the cockpit half jutting out of his chest a bit odd, he looks like a well proportioned and solid robot otherwise. Also, thanks to the fin from the jet mode, he stands very stable, not suffering from the "blow on it and it will fall" syndrome of many smaller sized Transformers. It's also nice to have a Mini-Con with simple, nice, normal arms. No cannons jutting out of them, no claws or odd spindly little arms. Just nice, regular tube to rectangular box arms. I find his "conehead" a bit amusing, a visual throw back to the cone head jets of Generation One, but I'm sure that was unintentional. Overall, Over-Run is one nice little Mini-Con, being packaged with Optimus Prime is an added bonus.

Optimus Prime Review

So what do you do if your child wants a forty dollar Optimus Prime but you simply cannot afford it? What about a ten dollar Optimus Prime? What's better? He looks just like the big one (just a bit smaller)!!! This seems to be part of the idea behind the creation of this toy. Offering up Optimus Prime in a smaller scale helps to offer the Autobot leader at a different price tag, but it also eliminates some of the restrictions in design that the larger toys'
electronics may have placed on this toys' larger brother.

Vehicle Mode:
Optimus Prime's vehicle mode is a scaled down version of the larger toys' truck cab. The overall design is structurally the same as the larger sized one, a wide, very monstrous looking truck cab. Of course, design wise there are differences. The dual smokestacks on each side are silver, not clear plastic. The same goes for the cab windows. The wheels are still big, but not so big that the words "Monster Prime Convoy" are etched into them. They're just wheels now with no writing. There appears to be a running color change with this toy. The lights on the top of the cab were originally silver and later runs have them as yellow. Also, the
silver stripe patterns that adorn the hood of the larger toy are absent here. A nice touch is blackening used on the grille and fender on the front of the vehicle, giving it a worn/aged look.

Of course, this toy still needs to interact with a Mini-Con, so some parts of the toy are different. On the top of the cab you will find the a Mini-Con Powerlinx point, this is used in the robot mode. At the rear of the vehicle, there are two points where you can attach Over-Run. In the middle, there is a non-functional Powerlinx point that any Mini-Con can just rest on. Towards the rear on the right side, there is a hole that Over-Run's handle in gun mode fits into. The result is a mobile artillery truck! Here Over-Run's ability to swivel on the central hinge is especially helpful as he would be shooting Optimus' front cab all the time if he couldn't angle upwards.

Perhaps one of the nicest touches to this toy is the peg added at the rear of the cab which can connect to the larger trailer. Although sized down, the cab still looks "right" attached to the larger Prime's cab. No, this toy cannot combine with it in robot mode, but it was great of the designers to even think of making this toy backwards compatible (somewhat).

The only slight complaint I have is that the robot arms (where the smokestacks are) tend to come out of the holes on the central body when you roll the toy along or move it about too much. Other than that, this is an awesome alternate version of the toy to have.

  1. If you have Over-Run attached, detach him and set him aside for now.
  2. Flip the silver ends at the rear of the vehicle up to form the robot feet.
  3. Stand the toy and fold the grille forward and down to form the robot chest.
  4. Detach the smokestack portion of the robot arms from the main cab body and swing them forward. Slide the blue parts up to reveal the robot fists.
  5. Swing each shoulder section down.
  6. Split the legs apart so you can pose them.
  7. Place Over-Run in Prime's hand as his weapon.

Robot Mode:
Optimus Prime's robot mode emulates the larger Prime's robot mode in a similar fashion to the vehicle mode. He looks a lot like the larger form, only "shrunk down". The changes made to the look of the toy are minute, mostly involving the deco except for one big change. Flip open the chest panel and you'll see the space in the chest for the Matrix that the larger Prime has, but there's no Matrix in there. Instead, there is an intricate set of mechanical devices. The edge of that chamber is gold, and the surrounding parts are dark blue (as opposed to gold on the larger toy). The robot feet are painted silver instead of blue and the red color used on the toy seems a shade darker than the larger toy.

Optimus was designed with looks and articulation in mind. The toy has sixteen points of articulation, fairly high for an Armada toy. These include the head (which can even look up), waist, ball joints on the elbows and ankles. The only point of articulation that really does not work well are the upper legs where they connect to the waist. Because of how thick they are, they can't really move up to perform say, a kick straight forward. A tiny bit more clearance room in the waist area would have allowed for a greater range of motion for the upper legs. Still, this is a vast improvement over many other Armada toys that have varying degrees of
poseability.

Optimus' action feature is activated by attaching a Mini-Con to the Powerlinx point on his back and pushing it up and down. This is intended to get Prime to do a punching motion. In a way it does, but the motion is fairly limited, so it looks a bit more like Prime is dancing than fighting. Still, the emphasis of the toy seems to be based more on appearance and articulation than the gimmick. With that as a given, the gimmick is only so important.

When the designers created this Optimus Prime, they clearly wanted to go against the negative hype Armada toys have received. The stereotype attached to Armada is that its toys lack detail and generally have bad articulation. This toy takes those assumptions and works against them. It's an awesome piece of work and belongs in any Transformers collection.