Review: Transformers Movie Advanced Protoform Optimus Prime

Back during my Age of Extinction toy reviews last year, I took a look at the Takara-exclusive Dispensor released in their Movie Advanced (Not Lost Age, even though that does sound cooler) line. Movie Advanced, in addition to hosting the Takara versions of the AOE figures, also tossed in some repaints of older molds from the previous films, including a film-accurate DOTM Jolt and the only actual Dino toy ever made. Maybe one day I’ll get around to reviewing those, but today I’m taking a look at one of the more overlooked releases in Movie Advanced: Protoform Optimus Prime, a redeco of, literally, the very first toy released for the live-action Transformers toyline. That’s got to count for something, right?

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Vehicle Mode

Is this a vehicle mode? I mean, is it really? Because it’s more or less supposed to be a comet, which is not a vehicle. Most Cybertronian-style figures turn into alien-y, futuristic-y versions of their Earth mode vehicle type, but this toy opted for something a little different. The idea is that this toy’s altmode represents the Autobots’ forms as they shot through space and into the Earth’s atmosphere, which as far as you can see in the film, is a comet/meteorite-looking shape. The original version of this toy was light blue and silver, and since all the Autobots used the same protoform CGI model, it could theoretically be used as any of them. For this release, though, it’s Optimus Prime red and blue all the way.

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So it’s a red and blue ball of robot with some truck decorations. That’s it. There are some wheels on the bottom that you can roll it around on, but why would you do that? Don’t get me wrong, it totally succeeds at what it’s trying to be, it’s just that it’s not trying to be anything interesting. The colors make it more eye-catching than just blueish-grey, but it’s still a nothing of an altmode. If I had to critique the color layout, I’d say that the grey panels on either side of what would be the cockpit would be much better in red to give the mode a more cohesive color scheme, but what’s really the point when the altmode is nothing? But hey, you can stick a rubbery blue comet tail on the back to look like… something? No, it’s still nothing. Sorry, Prime.

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Robot Mode

When you’ve got a Transformer who turns into nothing, you’d better hope the robot mode is pretty impressive. Is Protoform Optimus Prime impressive in robot mode? For 2007? Yeah, I’d say so. For 2014? Well, “impressive” is a strong word, but I do think he holds up. For one, the toy looks pretty darn good in proper red and blue, which gives this OP a lot more of a visual punch than the original version. Though I’m sure it’s not intentionally a direct reference, the color scheme does make this toy (mostly) accurate to Prime’s depiction in the comic book Foundation, one of the few really good bits of ancillary fiction for the films.

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In order to really get behind this figure, you’ve got to be into the concept of a very alien-looking take on Transformers. This Optimus Prime looks like an alien robot, for better or worse. There’s a ton of mechanical-looking detail molded into every bit of the robot mode, and the overall shapes and curves of the figure give him a very organic look. This aspect alone makes this figure very unique, especially when compared to later pre-Earth versions of the big guy. It gives him a very striking silhouette, albeit it one that is slightly marred by the bothersome back kibble. This is the one area where the toy does show its age, as nothing really locks in and it all just hangs there, getting in the way of the arms. 

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Articulation is easily this toy’s greatest boon, being impressive for its time and still pretty darn good eight years later. Prime’s got ball-jointed hips and ankles, a swivel neck, universal shoulders, bicep, thigh, and wrist swivels, single-joint knees and elbows, and a waist swivel combined with a fairly deep ab crunch. You can also tilt the plate on which his head rests to have him look up and down a bit, and you could also make use of the mid-torso transformation swivel, if you want. Prime is packed with articulation, but those ugly red panels really get in they way of arm posing.

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For accessories, Prime comes with his trusty ion blaster, which doesn’t look a whole lot like an ion blaster but does look reasonably like an alien version of one of his guns from the film. It’s supposed to fold out further in the rear to function as a stock (maybe?), but it gets in the way of properly posing him with it, so I just leave that part folded up. It’s a fine weapon and it fits the toy. You can stick that rubbery tail piece in the barrel to ostensibly look like it’s firing, but… it doesn’t. So don’t.

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For all its intrigue, though, this toy is a bit of an anomaly. It’s deluxe size, so it makes for a pretty small Optimus Prime by most standards. It’s movie-style Cybertronian, so he doesn’t really mesh with any other toyline aesthetic aside from his original wavemate Protoform Starscream. Basically, you’ll probably have trouble figuring out who to display this guy with, if you’re particular about that sort of thing. If you’re not, then this won’t be an issue. 

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Overall

For better or worse, this was the toy that began the live-action movie toylines. Well, this mold did, and back then it looked a lot more boring than it does now. Movie Advanced Protoform Optimus Prime takes an oft-forgotten yet very significant toy and gives it new life with a much more vibrant, appealing color scheme. In the grand scheme of things, this toy is yet another Optimus Prime, but it’s a rather refreshingly unique take on the character’s Cybertronian mode, going for a more organic feel than any of the later video game designs. If you never got this mold back when the movies first dawned and have even the slightest bit of interest, I would recommend hunting this guy down. It’s not an amazing toy or anything, but it’s worth checking out, if nothing else but to get a glimpse at where the movie toys started.

 

Where to Buy

Speaking of which, holy crap, this is my 100th review. I’m usually not one for marking milestones or anything, but that’s kind of cool. Or sad, depending on how you look at it. A big thanks to the handful of people who follow this blog and the several more who have read it at one point or another. I’m just a collector who takes pictures of his toys in a crappy homemade lightbox and writes about them just as something to do in my spare time, and it’s clear that I’m not exactly concerned with being the best reviewer or photographer ever. Whether I have 10,000 readers or 10, I do this for fun and because I love toys, and that’s the extent of it.

Still, though, I hope that my reviews have, at one point or another, helped and informed a fellow fan. Maybe you read one of my reviews, and soon afterwards that toy came delivered in a brown box of your own. 

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