Cliffbee.com: Laser Rod Optimus Prime Toy Review

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Name: Optimus Prime
Series: Generation 2
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Autobot Leader
Alternate Mode: Tanker Truck



TRUCK MODE
Height: 12cm Length: 38.5cm Width: 8cm

   A black, grey and red tanker, Optimus Prime has ditched the shortnose in favour of a longnose cab, which is primarily black with a red nose and colourless windows. The trailer is grey on the sides with black on top and on the back. There are silver and grey aspects on the cab, such as smokestacks and chrome hubcaps on the wheels, and some red on the sides of the tanker. There are yellow and orange stickers running along the sides of the tanker with a picture of the robot mode wielding a flamethrower, along with the words "OPTIMUS PRIME OCTANE". He also has his name on the doors of the cab. The colours are quite tasteful for G2, although the stickers are not at all subtle. The black isn't really a typical colour for Optimus Prime, but this colour scheme still works for the character.

   The truck has ten plastic tyres, with three pairs on the cab and two at the back of the trailer. There are moulded (and painted) lights on top of the cabin while the front grille and bumper are chromed. The headlights are the same colourless plastic as the windows. There are a lot of moulded details on this truck - the others are mostly minor, but add up to make this a good truck mode.

   The hitch turns quite freely, allowing Optimus Prime to turn corners, and his wheels roll quite well. There's a button the roof of the cab which, while pressed, will cause the headlights to glow as long as you press. There's an LED underneath the cabin on one side which also glows - but this is for the robot mode. There's a disc-launcher on top of the trailer which fires large blue plastic discs - and while it's intended for the battle station mode, it's easily accessible here. While the play value here isn't that impressive for a toy this big, there's a sackfull coming, so I'm quite happy to forgive this mode's largely static nature.

   While the colour scheme is good, the stickering isn't exactly realistic. The sculpt is good, making this one of the most realistic G2 vehicle modes (and even with the stickers, it's still more plausible than G2 Megatron). The overall effort here is better than that on most G2 toys, and better than many later G1 toys. Laser Prime's truck mode is atypical of G2, and this is a good thing.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach the trailer and set aside. Remove the colourless sword stowed underneath, set aside for a moment. Extend the hitch section to form his boots, fold up the feet and split the boots. Split the nose, swing out to the sides (dragging the sides with the halves, forming his arms. Stand the robot up, open his waist compartment, swing out the head, rotate the head and close the waist again. Give Optimus Prime his sword and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 20cm Width: 14cm

   Again the colours are atypical of Optimus Prime - but there's no mistaking the homage here. The chest is grey with false windows, the waist panel is blue but simulates the grille of a shortnose truck, with simulated headlights on either side. The lower arms are red with blue fists, his boots are black with two tyres each while his feet are blue. While much of the body - including his sizeable shoulder pads are grey, the forearms and boots are fairly faithful to the original, as is the blue head with silver face. This is a good colour scheme - especially in a G2 context - and while it's not a great match to the original it's certainly close enough to establish character.

   The head is quite obviously Optimus Prime, with the distinctive silver mouthplate and crest. The eyes are colourless with a working lightpipe. There are red stickers on the chest with his name spanning them, basically these are the false windows. With no allegiance symbols anywhere, Optimus Prime relies on his namebadge to stand out on the battlefield.

   The layout of this robot is great - the shoulder pads give Optimus Prime a majestic feel, the torso's similarity to the original's torso is very well handled and the proportions are good. You don't really notice that the front of the robot mode doesn't actually contain any truck elements (tyres aside) thanks to the truck motif on the torso.

   While modern poseability was only just beginning to appear in the Transformers line during G2, this toy, being the flagship of the 1995 line (the end of G2), got great articulation. The head and waist turn, the shoulders swing up 90 (the wires leading to the headlights get in the way of further motion), the elbows bend and there are rotators above the elbows. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees bend and the feet can swing backwards. While the poseability isn't anything special by 2006 standards, this toy is all over most Optimus Prime toys (even quite a few produced since).

   The sword can be held in either hand, but I'd recommend the right hand, since there's a red LED nestled inside that causes the sword to glow (the same button, now on his back, activates this, along with the headlights now on top of his shoulders). Prime also comes with a chunky black gun that can plug into his hands, and this weapon also has a lightpipe - the handle and twin barrels are colourless plastic. The LED in his hand is unable to illuminate the gun.

   This is a great robot mode for the time, and remains the premier version of G1 Optimus Prime to this day. The poseability betters that of any other toy of this character, the light up sword is quite effective and the layout is very clever. The name on his chest is a little annoying, and the profusion of grey isn't stereotypical Optimus Prime, but there are really just minor flaws of a very good robot mode, which is still impressive a decade on.

TRANSFORMATION TO BATTLE STATION MODE

   In theory you simply fold down the front "cap" of the trailer and in theory everything folds out. You might have to help some of it along - especially the pneumatic launcher. Anyway, the sides fold out and bottom fold out, with a central section becoming a tower, out of which a launcher folds, creating a large cross on the floor. The disc launcher, now on one side, needs to be flipped up, while a pneumatic pump needs to be pulled out and a missile launcher detach and place on top of one side (opposing the disc launcher). Lastly, the black gun attaches to the top of the tower.

BATTLE STATION MODE
Height: 40cm Depth: 45cm Width: 50cm

   The dimensions are approximate - my ruler isn't long enough.

   Primarily black with grey "arms" of the cross, this battle station cannot be manned by Optimus Prime as such but is a self contained offensive platform anyway. The various projectiles are blue as is the pump. The mural stickers are underneath now, with a lot of battle station detailed stickers now visible, making this a pretty convincing weapons station.

   There's no real front or back, but for the sake of definition I'm calling the front of the trailer the front. So, on the back end we have a pneumatic missile launcher - which can fire a long blue missile, that comes with a soft yellow tip (so you won't put an eye out). The pump is loose, attached only by a hose, so you can place it wherever is easiest for you to fire. The launcher can aim up and down. The left side has a storage slot for a spare large missile (Prime comes with two), while the disc launcher sits above this slot, and can be aimed, both up and down and through 360. The discs can only be fired one at a time, but the launcher can store all five discs, which feature large sculpted G2 logos.

   The right side has a large black launcher which holds five smaller missiles. Below this is a storage bay for a further five missiles (Prime comes with ten), and this launcher is on a ball joint, again giving a good range. The launcher has five distinct buttons on top - you can fire missiles individually or run your finger along, firing them in quick succession - the latter works really well. This launcher can actually be held in Prime's hand - there's a post specifically for this purpose. Two hands, three weapons - what's an Autobot to do?

   Seven launchers, seventeen projectiles - this thing is armed to to the teeth. Granted, most of it's finer detail is stickers, but since it's bristling with firepower, you don't really notice. You can get G2 GoBots to man it in a few locations (they were sold at the same time) - I like the idea of GoBot Prime running this battle station. The sheer scale of this emplacement is impressive, and with so many projectiles, it makes both a great display and is fun to play with.

VARIATIONS

   Originally released in 1995 and rereleased in Japan in 2006.

   The reissue Battle Convoy (the Japanese name) has silver chrome on the chest and sides of the trailer - which is quite possibly more chrome than on any other general release Transformer. Many of the black parts were redone in charcoal, the shoulders sport G2 logos, as do the truck doors and the front of the tanker itself. The false headlights on the robot are painted black while sections on the shoulderpads are painted dark grey. Advances in LED technology mean that the reissue has much strong LEDs - especially in the headlights. The discs lack G2 stamps, since the mould was modified for Scourge during RiD (thanks to FortMax for this info). Finally, the reissue comes with extra (pre-applied) stickers for the chest window, which carry a Matrix theme.

   Laser Rod Ultra Magnus is a limited repaint of Laser Prime.

OVERALL

   Probably the most memorable toy to emerge from Generation 2 - and for the right reasons. The tanker truck mode is quite good, the robot mode fantastic and the expansive battle station a helluva lot of fun. With seventeen projectiles, a poseable robot and three meaningful LEDs, Laser Prime is great to play with _and_ a great display piece. The only real negative is the G2 mural-style stickers, many of which were reduced or absent on the Japanese reissue. Recommended to any G1 fan - 9/10

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