Release Year: February 2004
Retailer: Wal-Mart Exclusive (has not appeared at any other retailer yet, but is not marked as one on the packaging)
Price: $6.99 (depending on retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 1
Accessories: Gun for Prowl
Transformers Universe entered the basic price point category in early 2004. The first toys released in this price range were Spychanger two packs. Each two pack consisted of redecos from Robots in Disguise. One of these two packs offered a redeco of Prowl 2 (really Kay Bee Prowl, but more on that later) and the basic sized Optimus Prime from Robots in Disguise. Please read the previoius reviews for detailed information on these toys, this review will focus on the changes made for this release.
Back when it was announced that Robots in Disguise was even doing a basic price point for larger figures such as Optimus Prime, many fans were quite happy. Not only did it offer the character to kids at a lower price point, but it also gave fans a toy that was more in scale with the Spychangers than the larger Optimus or Magnus. This still holds true, especially with the flurry of Spychanger redecos introduced in early 2004.
Optimus Prime's vehicle mode is a shrunken down version of his larger Robots in Disguise fire truck mode. Like last year's Sam's Club exclusive Universe Optimus Prime, this fire truck is mostly yellow - but a darker shade than the one used in the Sam's Club version. The windows have been painted silver, and the sirens are a light red. On either side you'll find an Autobot symbol painted onto the vehicle in red.
This isn't the most impressive redeco. Considering that all they had to do was break the mold out and redo it, it could have used a couple more paint applications. Perhaps painting the "seat" at the base of the ladder gray or silver, maybe even some wash to brng out the sculpted detailing. The thing is, by itself, the yellow almost borderlines on looking knock-offish. A bit more detail would have made it look nicer.
The robot mode is a slight improvement over the vehicle mode, but it still feels like more could have been done. The robot chest/waist piece is gray, with the Autobot symbol painted yellow and the "belt" on his chest painted metallic gold. Silver is used for the antennae on the head, the robot fists and the knee and lower leg sections. Black is used for the arms and the feet. The robot eyes are blue.
It would be one thing if the first release of this toy was painted in the same spots, with the same lack of detail - but in robot mode the first version of this toy had more detail work painted than this one. At the very least it would have been nice to see the mouthplate painted silver. I have nothing against the yellow color used for this toy, but it looks too plain by itself, it needs something more.
While it is accurate to say that Prowl is a redeco of Prowl 2 from Robots in Disguise, you can get real technical and say that he's really a redeco of the Kay Bee G1 deco Prowl released around the same time. Both Prowls share the same mold and share the same plastic colors - the only difference is their deco.
In what seems to be a continuation of the "G1 homage" theme of the Kay Bee G1 deco Prowl, this Prowl would have been much more appropriately named Red Alert. The deco is a definite homage to G1 Red Alert. He is mostly white with a light red (not quite pink, but not as dark as the original's) used for the lower half of the car, the spoiler and the hood. Like G1 Red Alert, he has an Autobot symbol on the hood above a "FD" logo (Fire Department) along with a shield. It also says "Fire Chief" on the hood. The side also has the "FD" letters and the shield.
It does differ from G1 Red Alert in that G1 Red Alert did not have as much red on the lower half of the vehicle, nor did it have red on the spoiler. Also, the windows and front are all silver. While not a G1 homage, this is consistant with the colors on the Kay Bee G1 deco Prowl. It doesn't look bad by any means, and in fact works out well if you toss this into the Kay Bee G1 homage set.
In robot mode, you can really tell that this was the Kay Bee Prowl with a new deco. All the plastic parts are the same color as the Kay Bee Prowl. The arms and chest piece are white, the central part (the head/chest/upper legs) is dark gray and the lower legs are black. Even the paint deco on the face is the same as Kay
Most of the deco from the car mode carries over to this form. The chest piece especially harks back to G1 Red Alert since G1 Red Alert's chest did the same thing (fold down to form the chest). This prominantly displays the Autobot symbol and "Fire Chief" symbols. In a bit of coincidence, the car doors are on top of the robot arms like G1 Red Alert.
The Optimus Prime is rather dull, but the Red Alert themed Prowl is very cool, and the saving grace of this two pack. If redecos bug you and you're not that big of a Spychanger fan, then this isn't for you. For me, Prowl is mainly why I bought this pack. On a closing note, I really do not understand why Prowl wasn't named Red Alert instead. Hasbro has the rights to the name (since they just used it last year) and they're still using Prowl as a name (in the form of the current Toys R Us G1 commemorative toy and the Energon toy), so it's not like they'd have to use it to protect it. Basically, if you are going to do a homage, it would be best to do it all the way.
Overall, Prowl is done nicely, but that may not be enough to justify picking up the two pack for some fans. For me it was, and the rating I give his two pack is mostly going to Prowl.