Cliffbee.com: Optimal Optimus Toy Review

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Name: Optimal Optimus (I'm going to abbreviate as OpOp)
Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Maximal
Function: Supreme Commander
Alternate Mode: Ape, Attack Car, Jet



APE MODE
Height: 23cm Width: 24cm

   A double Transmetal, if you will, Optimal Optimus is a mix of orange, grey-pink, chrome blue and chrome pink. The torso, feet, head and hands are bright orange while the shoulder struts, forearms and thighs are grey-pink. The sides of his torso and boots are chrome blue while the upper arms are chrome pink (actually, it's more of a rose colour). His face is cobalt blue with a snarling mouth, silver teeth and colourless eyes with a lightpipe that doesn't light up (yet). There's some black paint wash around the waist, the bridges of the feet and the outsides of the boots. Some brown paint graces the forearms and thighs, matching the grey-pink plastic quite well. Lastly OpOp wears his namebadge, in black, on his chest. This is an odd colour scheme, I can't really work out why the colours used were combined. Optimus doesn't look bad, just unusual. I quite like the rose chrome, simply because it's such an unusual colour choice.

   Any semblance of a realistic gorilla is lost here. OpOp is all Transmetal, with most of the sculpt looking mechanical rather than organic - the pectoral muscles on his torso are the only aspect I'd call organic. There's quite a lot of subtle detail in his sculpt, including moulded Maximal symbols on the upper arms and some hints of fur on his thighs. Adding to the very robotic feel, Optimus has huge shoulder pylons, extended shoulder struts and twin missile launchers on either side of his head. His arms are elongated, which fits the gorilla theme, as does the hunched stance of this beast mode.

   The missile launchers are one of three gimmicks available here. There's a pull-back mechanism on his back (well, pull-down in this mode), pulling all the way will fire both missiles. The springs are strong, and if you're not paying attention you'll find yourself scrounging around trying to find two colourless missiles. There are two spares, which clip onto the outsides of his boots. The second gimmick is a set of LEDs, which are activated by pulling back on a black tab behind his head. The eyes glow orange while both missile launchers glow red - hence the obstructed lightpipe and colourless missiles. As LED gimmicks go, OpOp's is pretty good, both focused and fun. The third gimmick isn't as good, sadly. The forearms are actually blast covers - there are triggers on the insides - pulling the triggers causes the forearms to split into three panels each, which pop off. The springs are too powerful, however, and you've only got to bump OpOp for the panels to fall off. Adding insult to injury, the panels are too heavy to fire very far - when you _want_ the gimmick to work, they pop off and just fall down.

   The poseability is okay, but not as good as the previous versions of the character. The head doesn't move (there's no point anyway since it's flanked by missile launchers), the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides. The elbows hinge inwards while the thumbs and fingers (the latter as single units) are hinged. The lower arm joints aren't really much use - touch the forearms and the [deleted] panels will pop off. Posing is fine, but playing is frustrating. The waist turns, the knees are hinged as are the hips (which also swing). The leg joints are quite tight ratcheting joints (actually, most of his joints are), and since you're meant to have OpOp hunched, the effective range of posing is fairly limited.

   Well, it's but and it has lots of chrome. But I'm not entirely sold on this mode since the blast panels on his arms are downright annoying, the poseability is disappointing for such a large beast and the colours are weird. While the colours aren't really bad, they could have been a lot better. The sculpt is fairly good and the Transmetal theme applied fairly well, and OpOp's missile launchers and LEDs work well - giving him more gimmicks than most Transmetals have in beast mode. But most are a lot smaller and don't have annoying problems.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Straighten the legs, detach the panels (they're going to fall off anyway), flip out the wings on his arms, rotate them to point up. Rotate the waist, open the sides of the torso, fold out the beast chest, lift out the wheel underneath, open out to form jets. Fold away the beast head, rotate the side panels (to lift the shoulder struts), close the chest. Lift the missilepack up on top of the torso, flip out the head. Attach the panels as shoulder pylons, flip the thumbs forward and give OpOp his gun.

   Most of the transformation revolves around the chest, with little going on in the arms and almost nothing in the legs. I can't help but be disappointed, most Transmetals have interesting limb transformations but the legs here are less involved than most basics.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 33cm Width: 46cm (halve that if you fold the wings away)

   The colour scheme doesn't really change here - the top of his torso is dark brown while there's some black paint spray on the hands now. The chest is now missiles towards the top and an cockpit on the waist, complete with colourless canopy. The face is blue with a silver mouth and red eyes, and is strongly reminiscent of the cartoon version of the original version (as opposed to the previous, mega Transmetal, version). The facial sculpt is pretty good, and there's quite a detailed paint mask on his face.

   Most of the detailing is the same as the beast mode - the Maximal symbols are still visible and the chrome elements are the same. There's very little in the way of organic sculpt - the hints on his thighs are joined by large brown, fur sculpted patches on his exposed forearms. Optimus is robotic in both modes, really. The missile launchers are now below his head, not behind it, and this works a little better since the head isn't crowded out. The cockpit on his chest looks good and it actually opens - I suspect a Diaclone driver would fit in there!

   The most impressive aspect of this robot mode is its size - which isn't such a good thing. Don't get me wrong, he's large and imposing, but the fairly simple transformation scheme should come into play more. Optimal Optimus has a rather distinct bodyshape thanks to the tall shoulders and wide shoulder struts. His arms aren't as lowset as in beast mode but are still quite long.

   The poseability is pretty much the same as in beast mode, although his head can now turn (one of the few new pieces). The joints in the lower arm are far more useful as well, since the panels are now plugged into the shoulders and less likely to spontaneously pop off. The higher shoulders make arm posing a little better, since the table clearance feels better. The gun is held in the grip of his hand, similar to how the Binaltech toys hold their guns.

   The missile launcher gimmick remains and the LED gimmick is still around, albeit in a slightly different form. Both are now activated by the pull-back mechanism on his back, which isn't such a good idea. Basically, if you pull it halfway the LEDs light up and pull all the way the missiles also fire. The difference between lighting up the LEDs and copping two missiles in the face isn't much, sadly - there's no intermediate notch inside (which would have made all the difference. The orange LED that lit up the beast eyes is now central on his chest and forms a laser-sight, which was used to great effect in the cartoon. Another, green, LED now comes into play - lighting up the robot eyes - and it's very cleverly hidden in beast mode (it lights up, you just can't see it). As cool as the LEDs are, the single activation really dampens my enthusiasm. Still, at least the missiles don't fall off as soon as you pick him up (the panels even stay on now).

   Big and impressive, but at the same time Optimus's robot mode is a little simple. The LEDs are impressive but linking them so closely to the also impressive missile launcher doesn't work so well, since that launcher is so powerful. It's a shame really since the two gimmicks are quite cool on their own. The poseability is fairly good - better than the beast mode despite most of the joints being shared. There's virtually no organic sculpting here, making me wonder why he was sold as a Transmetal (I guess there was no other sublabel they could use). The show copied this mode very closely, right down to the unusual joint placement, so for those who buy toys based on cartoon characters this mode should appeal.



ATTACK CAR MODE
   A rather disjointed armoured assault vehicle, which uses that wheel hidden inside the torso, the cockpit and two pairs of wheels hidden behind the outer plates of his boots. The arms for fenders - but looks like arms. The missilepack sits above the vehicle itself, making this a rather impressive military-style assault vehicle. Considering how much of the robot mode is actually visible in this mode, and how there's no attempt to fuse any of the various parts (the colours prevent that anyway), this is a decent vehicle. The disparate parts create a "functional" look - this thing is built to be tough and armed, not to look good.

   OpOp rolls reasonably well in this mode, since all the wheels are attached to the body of the car, not the fenders. The fenders do actually clip onto the front wheel's struts, mind you. The red and orange LEDs are available, along with the missile launcher - the activation mechanism is again shared here, but since there's no light-up eyepipe this isn't as annoying as it was in his robot mode. The spare missiles are now tucked away under the rear wheels, making them a little tricky to access.

JET MODE
   Fairly similar to the assault vehicle really, with the arms out to the sides resembling twin hulls. The wings obviously deploy out to the sides, and in reality they'd be fairly useless since they have a relatively small surface area. There are thrusters moulded underfoot, which are also visible in land vehicle mode - but intended for this mode. The cockpit sits fairly low and the front wheel stays in the chest. The rear wheels are also folded away - this jet can't roll along.

   The missile pack is again set above the vehicle itself, and the gimmicks are identical. The prominent cockpit looks good, and I'd love to have a pilot for this mode. Again this mode is fairly disjointed, but as a flight mode for OpOp rather than an alternate mode as such, this one gets away with the disjointed look a little better.

   Both vehicle modes feel like intermediate modes, but the truth is that quite a lot of this toy goes into making them possible (moreso for the assault vehicle than the plane, which only needs the wings and tailfins hanging off the back of his ankles).

VARIATIONS

   None as such although BM's Primal Prime is a repaint and minor retooling of Optimal Optimus. The missiles are retooled and the designer added a button for lighting the robot eyes (and help save yours).

OVERALL

   Big and flashy with lots of chrome, but Optimal Optimus is fairly disappointing alongside most Transmetals. He's not really a Transmetal anyway, since he's robotic in both modes, although he does have two transport modes. The robot mode has a distinct shape which isn't going to appeal to everyone, while the beast mode is a very stylised ape. The blast panel gimmick of his beast mode (also available on the vehicle modes) is downright annoying and really hurts this toy. The LED gimmicks and missile launchers are cool, but in three of the four modes they share an activation point so you'll fire the missiles when you don't want to. Both vehicle modes feel like intermediate modes and while they definitely add something to the toy, I would have liked to see one, stronger vehicle mode. The Transformation of his limbs is pathetic for such a large toy, taking away from the one aspect that larger toys can do better than smaller toys. While there are worse toys of this scale (Cybertron Starscream & Supreme Cheetor are both far worse), Optimal Optimus should have been better. His prominence in the cartoon - and the cartoon versions is very faithful to the toy - makes this toy prominent amongst Beast Wars figures, but it's far from the best toy in that line, despite being a flagship toy. It's still a worthwhile mould, despite the flaws - but it comes down to how much you'll pay, I guess. It's a toss up between OpOp and Primal Prime, who fixes the panels but has flaking chrome issues - 6/10

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