"Generations" Combiner Wars Optimus Prime Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: December 2014
Price Point: $24.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blasters x 2

*Images above with asterisks and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
The Autobot commander has been upgraded with the power of the Combiners, giving him the ability to link with any bot to form Ultra Prime! The Combiner Wars are heating up and your 2-in-1 Optimus Prime figure is ready to lead the way one more time! This powerful leader of the Autobots is a terrible powerhouse in robot mode, launching his 2-fisted blaster attack against the Decepticons. But he's just as scary in rumbling semi truck mode! He's also got the power to combine with other bots (sold separately) to form a massive Ultra Prime figure. Convert, combine and attack with your awesome Optimus Prime figure!

The theme for the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line in 2015 is "Combiner Wars". The focus will be on updated versions of Combiners from the past (with some new elements thrown in for good measure). The idea is to take lessons learned from the Bruticus released a couple years ago and create better Combiners featuring a Voyager Class central body piece with Deluxe sized limbs. To spice things up a bit, some of the Legends Class figures released for "Combiner Wars" will be able to serve as weaponry for the combined giants.

A surprise entry into this series was Optimus Prime. Sure everyone expected Silverbolt and Motormaster in the Voyager Class "torso" figure assortments, but not the Autobot leader. Of course, Optimus has been a Combiner before. In "Energon" he was the center of a Combiner with four vehicles. As Galaxy Convoy (aka Cybertron Optimus Prime) the character could combine with Leobreaker to gain extra power. This time he can form the center torso and head for any of the Combiner limbs in this series, forming a giant known as "Ultra Prime".

The packaging for "Combiner Wars" creates a very clear delineation between the main "Robots in Disguise" toy line for 2015 and the more collector oriented "Generations" segment. While the packaging uses the same basic "Transformers" logo as the "Robots in Disguise" line, it is set against a black background instead of white on the right side of the box. Above that is an Autobot symbol with the word "Generations" indicating the segment of the line. The figure itself is on display in robot mode through a window. On the lower left side is artwork of the figure with the words "Combiner Wars" below it and the name "Optimus Prime" below that.

The back of the box features the toy in both modes with a small write up in multiple languages. There are sadly no tech spec stats. The right side shows a schematic of Optimus' combined form "Ultra Prime". The "limbs" in the first wave are also shown as cosells (including Dragstrip as a leg).

The "Combiner Wars" figures all come with collector cards printed on thick cardboard. The artwork featured on the card is different than the artwork on the backing card for the toy. The box features artwork based on the toy itself. This card art is actually from the "Transformers Legends" mobile app card game. I do find myself wishing that the cards had been used for tech specs (the back only features generic logo art) it is a nice "add in" and utilizes the amazing "Legends" art outside the game, something I've wanted to see for quite some time now. It's a cool way to reuse the artwork outside the game.

Optimus Prime includes two rifles. One is directly based on the rifle included with the original Generation One Optimus Prime figure. The most distinct detail is the rear part of the rifle which has a section that angles up in the back and then comes back down straight in the front. There are horizontal line details along the sides. Other details on it add to the machine-like look including a part on top that looks like an engine block and a tube on the front that one could imagine projecting a targeting laser. The other rifle bears some resemblance to the weapons included with the Generation 2 version of Optimus Prime. The "give away" details are the exhaust pipe like pieces that curve back on the right side of the weapon.

Both weapons are cast in red plastic. The handles have been left unpainted, but the top part and barrels are painted gunmetal grey. The "G1" style rifle has a 5mm peg and the end of the barrel has a 5mm port. The "G2" styled weapon has a 5mm peg to hold the weapon and a smaller 5mm peg on the back, allowing you to attach it to the barrel of the "G1" style weapon. Even better? Each of the weapons have 5mm ports on them allowing you to attach additional weaponry.

Robot Mode:
Optimus Prime's "Combiner Wars" design is a brutish looking one. He has thick, wide arms and a wide chest. Even his legs are chunky and his robot head is relatively small. Looking at these proportions, many fans were put off because he looked too big, but up close I think the proportions look just fine. His arms do hang a bit low (or as some have said, "gorilla style") but not to a severe degree. Given that he has to be a torso section for a Combiner, the bulk on the figure makes sense. I also like the idea of Optimus Prime looking so powerful and formidable.

A quick glance at this figure would have you believe it is just another interpretation of G1 Optimus Prime with windshield windows on his chest and so on. However, a closer look reveals a few different points of inspiration from the past:

  • The head design is very similar to Optimus Prime figures from the past, but it is missing the circles that generally reside on the sides of his head. This design is very similar to the animation model for Powermaster Optimus Prime which lacked the circles but still had antennae on the sides of the head and a crest in the middle with a mouthplate.
  • The positioning of the smokestacks from the vehicle mode calls back to Powermaster Optimus Prime, whose smokestacks wound up behind the arms instead of being attached to the sides.
  • The waist area has sections that extend out to the sides in a roughly triangular shape, similar to G1 Optimus Prime.
  • The shape of the knee armor and the line of horizontal details right under it come straight from the designs on Powermaster Optimus Prime's legs.
  • The lower legs have vent like panels on them similar to many incarnations of Optimus Prime including G1.
  • The front of the feet have three sections, a large one with horizontal lines on top of one another, with two smaller rectangles next to them. This is inspired by sticker details from G1 Optimus Prime's toy.
  • The back section has similarities to the little known G1 version of Optimus Prime known as "Star Convoy" including the angular windows and the lines under it. You can also see some similarities to the design of Hyperdrive, an Autobot that was planned years ago but never produced.

Some of the details on this figure are unique to this design. That includes a lot of the lines and tiny mechanical details on themiddle of the torso area. The upper arms have sections with a row of horizontal lines and some of the panels from the vehicle mode wind up on the sides of the forearms. These details really add a lot of texture to the overall figure.

Optimus is cast in red, silver, blue and black plastic. The placement of these colors is fairly traditional. The red is mostly on the upper body, the blue is on the head and lower legs while the silver is used for connecting pieces such as the thighs and the feet. Black is used for the vehicle mode's wheels, all of which appear in this mode. A generous amount of silver plastic is used on this figure. You'll find it on the middle of the body, the middle of the arms, the smokestacks and the head. His eyes are blue and the windows on his chest and back are metallic blue. His fists are also painted blue. A bit of gold is found on his waist area. The most interesting deco choice (in my book) are the large Autobot symbols on his shoulders. The symbols are not tampographed, they are stickers, something that is quite rare nowadays. This is a wonderful retro touch and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

There are twenty points of articulation on this figure. This includes four on each arm and five in each leg. He also has waist articulation. His fists have 5mm ports, allowing him to hold weapons from other "Generations" figures (and others like the ones included with "Energon" figures). If you want to store the weapons away, you can attach them to 5mm ports on the back of the lower legs.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Swing both feet down.
  3. Push the lower legs together.
  4. Swing the legs up.
  5. Swing the waist section back
  6. Swing the lower legs back.
  7. The robot head rests on a panel that swings on a center hinge. Push one side in and rotate it then lock it into place.
  8. Rotate the lower arms around.
  9. Swing each of the arms forward and push the two shoulder sections together.
  10. Swing each forearm section back towards the legs.
  11. Swing up the panels from each forearm.
  12. On each of the knee sections, there is a small blue tab. There are small sections of the forearms that can fit over those to help keep the vehicle mode more cohesive.
  13. The weapons can be attached to the 5mm ports on the rear section of the vehicle. You may have to flip up the panel on the back first to reveal the ports.

Vehicle Mode:
Whether it's coincidence or design, Optimus Prime's similarities to the unproduced "Hyperdrive" continue in this form. The front of the vehicle is flat but has some sleek styling such as a wide grille, curved panels on top with lights on them and the bottom of the cab's front end slopes outward, looking like he has a mini "cow catcher" of sorts. Other details echo past Optimus prime designs including the headlights with two lights inside and the way the smokestacks are set on the sides. Like the robot mode there are lots of nicely sculpted details in this form. This includes cross hatch patterns in the grille on the front, rectangular side view mirrors, windows on the sides and spare tanks on the sides near the rear wheel wells. It's true that many of these details have become very standard for "truck based" Transformers nowadays, but I still appreciate the attention to detail.

The red and blue plastic colors dominate this form, with red mostly forming the front and blue forming most of the rear. There are key parts that are silver including the row of lights on top of the cab and the foot pieces at the back. The wheels are black. Like the robot mode, there is a lot of silver paint used on the front grille, details above the headlights and the smokestacks. Gold is used on the headlights. On top of the cab is a tampographed Autobot symbol in silver and red. The front and side windows are painted metallic light blue. The deco is good, but I really wish that the sides of the wheels were painted. This detail used to get painted in all the time, but over the years it has begun to fall by the wayside. I had hoped for a larger toy like this we'd see the detail. The black wheels wind up looking plain and the sculpted detail doesn't pop the way it deserves to. That said, this is probably one of my biggest complaints about the figure.

Transformation to Torso Mode (Starting in robot mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Push the robot head in.
  3. Rotate the lower arms around.
  4. Swing up the forearms and make sure the small red tabs on the forearms fit into the corresponding notches on the shoulders.
  5. Swing the blue panel on the back down.
  6. Swing open the panels on the back, revealing the Ultra Prime head.
  7. Swing up the Ultra Prime head. The chest piece will swing up with it.
  8. Rotate the waist piece around.
  9. Swing up each leg at the hip. The joint is a ratchet joint. I recommend you move it up three "clicks".
  10. Rotate each of the lower legs so the wheels face back.
  11. Bend each of the lower legs down at the knee joint.
  12. The inside of each lower leg has a silver panel. Swing it out and push it against the tab on the thighs to lock it into place.
  13. Swing the blue waist panel down.
  14. Limbs can be attached by sliding the connector pieces into the slots on the shoulders and legs.

Ultra Prime:
One of the biggest wishes of fans since "Generations" Bruticus was released was that the central body/torso of the Combiner would be a Voyager Class figure, not a Deluxe. While Bruticus was a great "first shot" at a Combiner, Ultra Prime represents the next step in development and evolution of Combiners from Hasbro. "Ultra Prime" appears to be the name of any Combiner giant formed with Optimus Prime as the torso (unlike say, Superion who is formed from all the Aerialbots). This does bring to it some interesting questions since Combiners are usually just a mind formed from the synthesis of five minds. In this case, I get the sense that Optimus Prime becomes the "dominant" intelligence perhaps with contributions from anyone he's connected to. It's not just a cool toy, but also an interesting commentary on what a Combiner is in the Transformers universe.

Much of the detailing for the Ultra Prime mode was tucked away or out of sight in Optimus' robot mode. Now it gets to shine and there is quite a bit of cool sculpted detail here. Much of it is based on "Energon" Optimus Prime's design. The head design has a high creast, "antennae" on the side that resemble blades and two tubes on either side of the crest that look like small blasters. While these are largely inspired by "Energon" Optimus Prime's design, it should be noted these design elements also exist in other "Optimus" incarnations including Optimus Primal and Powermaster Optimus Prime. The chest design also borrows heaviy from "Energon" Optimus Prime. The way the "windshield panels" open up and reveal a sun-burst design inside is very similar to Energon Optimus. This "sun-burst" is likely a visual reference to the Matrix, which was a key design element for the "Unicron Trilogy" Optimus Prime figures.

Other elements that come from "Energon" Optimus include the two tube-like details right under the chest. These appear to be a callback to the headlight details on "Energon" Optimus. The two details that flank the "Matrix" on the chest are also similar in design to "Energon" Optimus. It's a really striking design and the sculpting looks great.

All that said, there has been some criticism of the chest panels and how odd they look open. I totally get this. I think part of the issue is how deep the panels are. They create this sense that there's something missing in the middle, and well, in a way something is. If you look right under the chest, there are two pegs sticking out. These are intended to allow a Legends Class figure to attach to his chest. Keep in mind this sculpt is also going to be used for Combiner Wars Motormaster. Those pegs are meant to attach to Blackjack, the Legends Class member of the Stunticon team who becomes chest armor for the Decepticon Combiner Menasor. While this design doesn't make a lot of sense for Optimus, it does for Motormaster. All that said, the solution is simple if you don't like it - close the chest panels. They look very cool together, givin ghim a futuristic look.

The main problem I have with this mode comes into play with the deco - or rather it's rather significant lack thereof. The red, silver and blue plastic colors reinforce the design as an "Optimus" but that's about it. Some silver and metallic light blue carries over on the sides from the robot mode. The panels that open up on the chest are painted red and the face has a silver mouthplate with bue eyes. Finally the crest is painted silver - but that's it. The chest, waist piece and thighs are all unpainted which makes the torso looking quite plain. If the "Matrix" detail had been painted it would improve the look of this mold tenfold.

Functionally the main articulation here is the head, which sits on a ball joint, allowing a wide range of articulation. The thigh sections can move where they meet the hips as well. All the other articulation then is found within the limbs that attach to Optimus. Each of the connection points have a slot where you slide the limb connector in and a locking mechanism that keeps it in place. The lock is a clip that works nicely in holding the limbs in. Another nice touch is the way the robot fists wind up on the back of the shoulder section. It allows you to attach 5mm peg weapons to give him shoulder mounted weaponry. Add in the ability of his weapons to have other weapons attached to them and Ultra Prime is a potential walking arsenal!

Final Thoughts:
Optimus Prime is a really fun toy, and his size is huge compared to other Voyager Class Optimus Prime figures (such as the Classics figure). While some may have a problem with his brutish appearance, I think it looks great as a powerful looking upgrade to the character. I also appreciate the design nods to G1 and "Energon". The deco needs to be stronger however, especially in the torso mode. Overall however this is recommended!

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