Review: Transformers AOE Leader Optimus Prime

With the movie premiering tonight, Age of Extinction week is almost over! For the final review of the AOE Generations toyline, I’ll be taking a look at the latest $45+ dollar incarnation of the Autobot Leader Optimus Prime, this time based on his new, knightly look from the fourth movie. With the Voyager Evasion Mode toy being easily the best of the line, where does the Leader figure fit in? Is it worth getting if you’ve already got the much-acclaimed ROTF Leader? Well…

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Vehicle Mode

Optimus has a strong vehicle mode this time around, looking big, sleek, and completely tricked-out to the point of ridiculousness. It’s so over-the-top that I can’t help but love it. Sadly, the toy kind of falls short in this mode, mostly due to the lack of paint. The blue is a bit bland and there’s way too much of it, and the flame deco is too drab red to stand out against it. The chrome actually works for this mode, but I don’t think the toy really benefits from it at all. Also, what is with the ugly translucent yellow plastic for the windows? His wheels seem to be made of rubber, which is cool if that’s something you care about. I would’ve happily traded in the chrome and the rubber tires for better paint apps, myself. He at least rolls well, and his massive SWORD OF JUDGEMENT can store underneath the truck with ease. The Sentinel Shield can be mounted on the truck’s trailer hitch, but why would you do that?

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Transformation

Like Voyager Galvatron, Leader Optimus Prime is totally a shellformer. Unlike Galvatron, at least this toy tries to do something interesting about it. While his entire upper body is simply concealed by a bunch of blue panels, his legs actually do convert a bit to form out of the front of the truck (though I forgot to rotate the wheel parts in the gif). In another nice touch, the truck panels that encased the upper body do some slight rotating around to form the side skirts and shoulder things of Optimus’s armor, which is a really cool design element. Sadly, the entire rear of the truck still ends up on his back, but what can you do?

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Robot Mode

Like a knight paladin, Optimus Prime stands tall and armored, and looks surprisingly not bad. His arms are a little shrimpy compared to the rest of his body, and his shoulders are set a little too low and a little too forward to look quite natural, but it’s not too noticeable. The bottom half of his toy is undeniably the strongest, with the truck panels mentioned earlier forming very nice and unobtrusive side skirts that compliment the long, well-sculpted legs. His torso suffers a lot from that terrible chrome chestplate, which looks even worse as it’s set over unpainted grey plastic. Again, why couldn’t we have ditched the chrome and just molded that piece in blue plastic and painted the red on, and then added silver pant to the torso? Why is it so damn important that this toy have chrome? The panels that become the shoulder pads don’t particularly work, either, as they don’t have enough joint range to naturally cover Prime’s arms; as-is, they just look like they’re kind of floating there. At least is head is well-sculpted, though there is a ton of detail from the new design that is completely unpainted. Also, dull yellow eyes. What the hell? The Sentinel Shield looks okay mounted on his arm, but feels rather cheap in terms of quality. His SWORD OF JUDGEMENT is huge and cast in that same ugly yellow that I can only assume was chosen just for the sword. The handle is unnecessarily long, and there isn’t a single pose Prime can make where he looks good holding it due to the garbage arm articulation. Here’s my best shot at doing his “Winter is Coming” pose:

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As I mentioned, articulation is not particularly impressive. His head is ball jointed, but there isn’t much range aside from a bit of tilt and rotation. His shoulders are on universal ratchets, and are attached to another ratcheting transformation joint set deeper in the torso to allow for a bit of forward shoulder movement. This sounds like an effective jointing system, but it really isn’t due to the limitations of the ratchet joints; the joints only have four indents in the ratchet, meaning you can only pose his arms straight down, out a bit, out a bit more, or straight horizontal. His elbows bend to about 90 degrees, but his forearms are so tiny that it barely does any good. His thumb is also articulated for some reason. Wrist swivels? Nope, and it’s one piece of articulation that this toy desperately needed. The waist joint is welcome, but it does screw up the side skirts, which are connected to the backpack and not the legs themselves. His hips are universal with a softer, much more effective ratchet, and are actually not hindered by the crotchplate at all. His knees bend to 90, and his ankles do have a very limited ball joint that allows for a tiny amount of tilt. Again, Prime’s lower body is easily his best feature, but with such a poorly-done upper body it’s hard to appreciate it.

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Overall

So, where does AOE Leader Prime stand? In terms of accuracy , complexity, and sheer engineering mastery, he falls way short of the ROTF Leader toy and its many versions. But despite being a plastic masterpiece, ROTF Prime never was much of a good toy. Sure, he looks fantastic in both modes, but his articulation never was very useful, and his transformation took the better part of an hour to complete. That is the Prime you put on a shelf and take down on a rainy day to see if you remember how to fold the arms for truck mode. AOE Prime is meant to be the toy you play with, and despite his many flaws, I think he succeeds at that much better than the ROTF toy. The arms are frustrating, but he manages to look pretty impressive standing still on a shelf, much like the previous Leaders. Is he worth the $45? Maybe, but only barely. He’s smaller than previous leaders, but there is enough there to justify the cost. If you can get him on one of the many occasions the price has dropped below $30, go for it. At the very least, he’s the best toy representing Optimus’s new design (until the Dual Model Kit comes out).

Where to Buy:

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