Review: Transformers Titans Return Sentinel Prime

First off, my apologies for the long hiatus! My excuse this time is a combination of an increased work load over the summer and my desire to work on a better review set-up. Also, I was getting seriously burnt out on writing Combiner Wars reviews. I’ll certainly go back and put up reviews for Bruticus, Optimus Maximus, Victorion, and Sky Lynx (if I can ever find him), but now there’s a new Transformers line on the shelves, and I’m gonna tell you all about it.

Titans Return is the second installment in the apparent “Prime Wars Trilogy,” following last year’s fantastic Combiner Wars line. Instead of combiners, Titans Return revolves around Titans Titan Masters, better known as Headmasters. As such, every non-Legends size figure has a little dude who turns into their head. Like Combiner Wars, Titans Return ties into the IDW comics (though figures do not come with pack-in comics), and though there’s been no in-universe explanation for everyone being a Headmaster, apparently a lot of it has to do with the plans of the resurrected Sentinel Prime.

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Space Cruiser Mode

In Transformers fiction, Sentinel is usually Optimus Prime’s predecessor and ranges anywhere from dick to genocidal extremist. In his previous IDW appearances, Sentinel’s been mostly on the “dick” side of things, but maybe now he’ll graduate to full villain. What Sentinel Prime usually isn’t is a triple-changer, which this toy is mostly because it’s also going to be used as Astrotrain later down the line. So instead of a big orange truck, Sentinel turns into a big orange space cruiser that kinda-sorta could pass for (the basic shape of) the ’86 movie Autobot shuttle. I like the spaceship altmode, as it differentiates Sentinel from the typical “Primes are trucks” thing. It’s got landing gear, lots of sculpted detail (much of which is lost in the sea of orange), and a functioning cockpit!

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Key to the Titan Master gimmick is the incorporation of the tiny Headmaster figures with the larger “body” figures, and to this end nearly every figure has a functional cockpit so that the vehicle modes can be operated by their Titan Masters. This does require that the head be removed for transformation (duh), but since that’s kind of the entire gimmick, I don’t mind too much. Just like in 1987, the Headmaster gimmick is silly and nonsensical in fiction, but makes for an incredibly fun and versatile play pattern, which I can appreciate. Anyway, Infinitus fits in the cockpit, but we’ll take a closer look at him later.

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Battle Tank Train Thing Mode

This mode is… certainly something! Like I said, Sentinel Prime is a pretty clear pretool of Astrotrain, so his “battle tank” mode looks a whole lot like a train. Or at least a train with parts of a battleship stuck on top of it. To be honest, I kind of like it for what it is, and I think it works better for Sentinel than it will for Astrotrain. It’s dumb, but it’s endearingly dumb and reminds me of Energon Omega Supreme in a good way.

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I also really want to again call out the sculpted detail here, especially on the parts of the train that are actually recognizable as parts of a train. If these details were painted, or at least panel-lined in some way, I think this train mode could really shine. I don’t expect Hasbro’s Astrotrain to deliver in that department, but maybe Takara will make use of it.

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Titan Master

Before hitting the big guy, let’s look at the little guy. He’s named Infinitus, which is an awesome name, and he looks a whole lot like a tiny Sentinel Prime, pulling more from Alex Milne’s original design than the main figure does. Like all Titan Masters, he has a ball-jointed head, ball-jointed shoulders, and connected hinges in his hips and knees. He can stand up, sit down, turn into a head, and that’s about it. He’s also very orange.

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Robot Mode

Sentinel Prime himself is also very orange, though I think my lighting might be dulling the colors in pictures. Make no mistake, this orange plastic is very bright and very gaudy. The bits of yellow help break it up, but the red is a shade too bright and the grey is just too ugly to help matters. That being said, I don’t mind these colors, as they’re fairly on-topic and give him a unique look. From what I’ve seen, the colors are the dealbreaker for a lot of fans, and I understand why. You either like it or you hate it.

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Colors aside, Sentinel looks adequately large, powerful, and imposing, as any self-respecting Prime should. Comic accuracy isn’t exactly a priority here, as his appearance in the Titans Return arc will presumably be based off of this toy, but his headsculpt is deliciously Alex Milne in its flavor. The details are a bit hard to make out due to the colors, but the head manages to capture Sentinel’s angrier, more armored Prime-style face with excellence. I only wish there was some more paint to bring out the details, and that his eyes were a bit brighter.

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Despite clearly keeping the mold warm until Astrotrain comes out, the only blatantly Astrotrain-y details on Sentinel Prime are the giant space shuttle wings hanging off his back. You have options for these thanks to a multi-hinged construction allowing them to lay flat or fold back at an angle. I typically keep them swept back a bit to differentiate his silhouette from Astrotrain’s prominent wings. Speaking of options, you can give him big pointy spaceship shoes or small pointy train shoes. I prefer the train shoes, but he stands better with the spaceship shoes. It’s up to you! 

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A bit about the Titan Master gimmick: Sentinel’s unique twist is that hitting a tab on his chest makes two collar pillar things pop up on either side of his head to give him, uh, some things on the sides of his head. The pillars obstruct the Titan Master’s head movement, but the whole construct can rotate a little bit. Thankfully, you can retract the pillars and give Sentinel full range of his Titan Master’s ball joint. The Titan Master itself fits in its socket solid and sturdy, and I’ve heard very few issues with the connection for this particular figure. As we’ll see, though, this system is not quite perfect across the board.

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Sentinel’s articulation is good, if nothing to write home about. He’s got universal shoulders, single-jointed elbows, universal ratcheted hips, bicep and thigh swivels, single jointed knees, and a ball-jointed head. It’s serviceable, but the former Prime can’t really achieve any dynamic stances. By the way, he comes with two guns, one of which has a built-in seat for a Titan Master to sit in and “man” the rifle… that is already being held by Sentinel. Look, it’s for the gimmick, okay?

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Overall

Sentinel Prime is a bit of an oddity, really. To a lot of people, he’s little more than an early preview of the upcoming Astrotrain, just in really ugly colors. Because of this, Sentinel struggles to stand out on his own as a toy, even though this is the first figure ever made of G1 Sentinel Prime, a character who has been around for almost 30 years. It feels like this figure should be a bigger deal than he is, mostly due to the mold and the Titan Master gimmick. All that aside, Sentinel Prime is a really fun toy. The gimmick works well in all modes, each mode is functional and distinct (if a little silly), and he’s a really good representation of the IDW character. He’s most certainly the strongest Voyager of the first wave and one of the strongest figures in the line so far, but if the colors just don’t agree with you and the character means nothing to you, I’d wait for Astrotrain.

Where to Buy:

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