"Transformers Classics" Optimus Prime Toy Review

General Information:
Release Year: September 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: Smokestacks/weapon, Wind vane/weapon

Tech Specs:*
Motto: "No sacrifice is too great in the service of freedom."
The greatest in a long line of AUTOBOT leaders, OPTIMUS PRIME is a beacon of hope to those who suffer under the tyranny of MEGATRON. He is devoted to the defense of weaker creatures, and has dedicated his life to fighting against MEGATRON wherever he goes. He is unwavering in his compassion, which sometimes allows his enemies to take advantage of him, but he is also utterly without fear in the face of overwhelming odds. Where freedom is threatened, he is an unstoppable force, and a mighty defender of justice and right.

Strength: 10 Intelligence: 10 Speed: 6 Endurance: 10 Rank: 10 Courage: 10 Firepower: 8 Skill: 10

The Classics Transformers line seeks to return Transformers to basics. The idea was simple: take iconic Transformers characters from Generation One and update them as faithfully as possible using today's design aesthetics and engineering knowledge. Every line needs its leaders, and for the Autobots, there is no leader more classic than Optimus Prime.

Vehicle Mode:
Ask a random person to name five Transformers, and if they grew up in the 80's (or even the 90's) they will probably say "Optimus Prime" at some point. The Autobot leader will forever be remembered as a red and blue truck who led the Autobots in the original series. For this new take on the character, the designers decided to remain true to that form.

The original Optimus Prime was a truck with a flat front end. While trucks like this do still exist, in today's world many have been replaced with more sleek and aerodynamic looking models. It is this type of truck that Classics Optimus Prime represents. The very front of the vehicle is flat, but a closer look indicates a lot of curves and smooth lines that sweep down and back towards the rear. Like G1 Prime, a large grille is found on the front of the vehicle with headlights flanking it on either side. The windshield section is inset a bit, and angular. From a central point, the windows angle back towards the sides. This angular appearance continues on the side of the vehicle where one side window (on each side) is a trapezoid and the other is a parallelogram.

While angles certainly add to the more sleek and modern look of the vehicle, there are many curved elements as well. The wind vane on the top of the vehicle looks as if it were carved out by the wind with its smooth lines leading to the back. On the sides there are grooves below where the doors would be that curve in and then straight back. Have no doubt, this is a sleeker Optimus Prime than his G1 predecessors.

The rear section is probably the most "blocky", but it makes sense since this is both the section where a trailer would attach (not that there is one, but we'll forgive that for now) and this is the section that inevitably becomes the robot legs. The smokestacks in the rear are also rather straight, each one is a rectangular piece with tubes extending from the top. For those curious, there is a raised rectangulr piece in the back that could be interpreted as a connector for a trailer, but more than likely it is just a bit of tech detail.

With all this emphasis on angles and curved lines, make no mistake, there are plenty of small details present. The front grille has a nicely sculpted line pattern with a series of horizontal lines overlapped by three vertical lines. On the sides there are several lines cut into the plastic indicating details such as the doors and door handles. The smokestacks have rounded details in them representing vent holes and at the back there is plenty of raised surfaces, cut lines and other such details. Look inside the windshield and you'll see seats sculpted into the interior along with a steering wheel on the driver's side. The windshield windows themselves also have window wipers sculpted into them, all details the original Optimus Prime had as well.

Optimus Prime is cast in three main plastic colors: red, black and blue. Most of the front of the vehicle is red and most of the back section is blue. The black plastic is used for the smokestacks and the wheels. There are also parts cast in translucent blue plastic such as the windows and the side panels (where the windows are). Flat grey plastic is used for the front grille section leading to the fender underneath.

The most dramatic paint applications are done in metallic silver. The most striking of these are two lines running from the front to the sides of the cab. There is one thin line, and then a thicker line under it. This pattern repeats itself on the wind vane. Metallic silver is also used on the headlights, wheels and smokestacks. Yellow can be found on the headlights, and a bit peeks out from behind the smokestacks for a detail to be seen later in the robot mode.

As part of the figures' homage to Generation One, it includes an Autobot rub symbol. These heat sensitive stickers reveal a faction symbol when exposed to sufficient heat. Rub the symbol and the Autobot symbol appears. These stickers were present on many of the Generation One toys starting in 1985 on, and it is a nice touch to have them present on this one. The sticker is located near the door on the right side of the vehicle.

Prime rolls freely on six wheels. That is the extent of the "action" in this figure. While it may see odd (or even to some, dull) to have a figure that doesn't have Mini-Con pegs or Energon weapon pegs or even a Cyber Key, I think that's the point. Once upon a time, transformation was the gimmick, and this line seeks to emulate that and as such Prime is a vehicle in this mode, no more, no less.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the wind vane and smokestacks.
  2. Fold the two smokestacks together to form a gun, swing out the back piece to reveal the peg Prime will use to hold the gun.
  3. Swing the halves of the wind vane down, then swing out the center part forward and swing the gun barrel up.
  4. Swing out the blue panels on the sides of the truck (under the red section).
  5. Swing the rear of the vehicle down.
  6. Flip up the ends to form the robot feet.
  7. Swing up the squares to form the knee armor.
  8. Swing the side panels of the truck out to the sides.
  9. Swing the fender section with the two front tires down.
  10. Swing the sections the panels are attached to up, and flip out the robot fists.
  11. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  12. On the top of the vehicle mode, swing back the red hinged piece in the middle and swing the robot head up. Fold the red hinged piece up behind it.
  13. Rotate the top section around 180 degrees so the windshield faces the same direction as the robot feet.
  14. Rotate the robot arms so the blue parts on the shoulders face forward.
  15. Swing the arms down and turn the lower arms so the yellow parts face up.
  16. Fold the panels against the lower arms.
  17. Place one weapon in each hand.

Robot Mode:
Staying true to its "Classics" name, the robot mode for Optimus Prime emulates many of the details found on the original Optimus Prime - but it also adds a lot as well. The most basic Optimus Prime design requires a few things (though I grant there are exceptions to everything listed below):

  • A head with a central crest, mouthplate (even if partial) and antennae like protrustions on the sides.
  • Windows on the chest.
  • A grille on the main body.
  • Horizontal "vent" lines on the legs.

Classics Optimus Prime has all these features. The robot head owes some of its design to more modern sensibilities however. The sides are not quite antennae but instead look more like blades sweeping back. Near the mouthplate are circles that are reminscent of the cannons found on Powermaster Optimus Prime's head (most recently emulated in the Alternators Optimus Prime figure. The upper body is the part that most emulates the original Prime, both in animation and the original figure. His chest has the two large windows, leading to horizontal lines that then angle into his waist. In the "abdominal" area is a grille, though a much smaller one than the actual vehicle mode grille. On his legs there are the horizontal vent line details, however instead of being simply horizontal lines cut into the plastic, the lines are actually an intricate set of horizontal lines angling outward and down slightly.

There is also one very subtle design element that has its roots not in the original Optimus Prime figure, but his G1 cartoon design. The red hinged piece on his back has two tubes on either side with a rectangular center section. This mirrors a design element that was used in his G1 animation model.

As a "modern" take on Optimus Prime however, he has many new features not present in the original G1 figure. His shoulders have an angled design with wires and tubes leading out to a plate. His lower arms have large pistons on them while smaller pistons can be found on his upper legs. The waist looks like it has a large vent with four headlights on it. The legs seem to be heavily inspired by the Optimus Prime from "The War Within". The angled thruster-like designs on the sides and the square-ish knee armor present on this Prime were also present on that one. In another nice touch, the bottom of his feet are treaded, looking like they were designed for traction. The cab sides hanging on his lower arms don't get in the way at all, and in fact look kind of like arm mounted shields, which is a great touch.

I love the fact that Prime has two guns that need to be "transformed" to be used in this form. He sort of recalls the design sense of the Alternators in that respect. It's also great that both guns look like weapons and not just a gun "because they say so". The one formed from the smokestacks is especially nice since the "holes" from the smokestack now look like holes you'd find in the barrel of a machine gun. If you take the wind vane and connect the black gun to it, you can mount it on his back to use as shoulder cannons - a really nice touch!

Optimus utilizes all the same colors from the vehicle mode, but a lot more grey plastic and yellow paint shows. Black plastic appears for the fists and the horizontal lines on his legs. The distribution of colors is done nicely, with most of the red on top and most of the blue on the bottom. The grey plastic serves as a break that keeps the colors from being monotonous. Yellow adds a level of brightness that helps draw attention to details.

Optimus Prime has twenty points of articulation in this form, and they're all designed to allow his joints to not only bend, but also swivel out to the sides, allowing for some excellent poses. You can also mount one of his guns on his back via the hole on the red hinged piece.

Final Thoughts:
While I cannot argue he is the best Optimus Prime figure ever (Masterpiece Convoy still holds that record) he is an awesome piece of work. Classics Optimus Prime is a pure example of how a character can be updated in a modern form while remaining true to the root of the character in appearance. At the same time, it offers fun playability, cool weapons and fantastic posability. Highly recommended!

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