Cliffbee.com: Primus Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Primus
Series: Cybertron
Allegiance/Function: Deity
Alternate Mode: Planet Cybertron



PLANET MODE
Height: 17.5cm Length: 18cm Width: 20cm

   A grey and cobalt blue planet with various black protuberances and some yellow paint applications. There are four black legs, allowing the planet to stand on a flat surface without listing or rolling. While this isn't quite Cybertron from the G1 cartoon, the overall effect is close enough to work. OK, it's the planet Cybertron from the series Cybertron, but the concept is borrowed from G1 and the implied homage is easy to see. The match is closest to the Cybertron cartoon version of the planet, naturally, but Primus can substitute for pretty much any Transformers continuity Cybertron.

   Whilst Primus's planet mode is spheroid, he's far from a ball shape. The legs are joined by black spines (towers I guess) around the equator, four blue towers around the northern pole bearing hardpoints and a smaller grey tower just above the equator which also sports a hardpoint, and two more grey hardpoints just south of the equator (underneath the spines). There are various depressions, many of these have black or yellow cityscapes, which represent the famous cities of Cybertron (Iacon, Polyhex and such). There's actually a lot of generic detailing, which on a global scale works fine. There's an impact crater like protrusion on one side which is meant to represent the city Kaon, so I'm led to believe. The other noteworthy details are three large black sockets into which you can plug the omega lock - one at the north pole and two which faces out to the sides deep in the southern hemisphere. While none of the seven hardpoints are live, all three omega lock sockets are live.

   Whilst Primus doesn't come with a Minicon companion (unlike Unicron), the omega lock incorporates one gimmick on its own and activates another. The omega lock, a grey block with transparent blue sails on top, has slots on either side for four Planet Keys (the idea being that you plug one in for each planet type), although Primus only comes with one key himself, a clear key with a silver Autobot logo on top (code: sp8u). When the omega lock plugs into one of the three sockets (regardless of how many keys are attached), a red LED at the base of the sails glows, and will continue to glow as long as the lock is mounted. Whilst the lock is inserted, the sockets are able to slide, activating various mechanisms of his transformation. The slider at the north pole opens up the northern hemisphere, and while this is part of the transformation to robot mode, it also doubles as a planet mode gimmick, deploying two giant cannons (which shoot black missiles). It ruins the sphere shape but considering this is a _planet_ the guns are ridiculously big (we're talking Death Star weaponry here). With the well defined stands underneath, this makes for a pretty decent weapons emplacement, although I'm not really sure where you'd put one this big.

   It's worth noting that Cybertron is a lot smaller than Unicron's planet mode, which is disappointing. Having said that, Primus's planet mode definitely passes for a world inhabitable by the Transformers - something the larger Unicron can't manage. While many of the cities are generic, they _look_ like Cybertronian cities, which is the most important thing for me. Primus is a better sphere than Unicron, too, with both hemispheres being essentially round. The play value is a little sparse compared to most Transformers of this size, but that's because the designer has focused on making a planet shape which works as the Transformers' home planet. The silver and blue is subdued, but then it's a metal planet - garish colours would really ruin this mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   The omega lock is needed for his transformation, which is kind of annoying. In fact you need it four times. Considering that the omega lock itself doesn't really do anything, nor does it really do anything in robot mode, I'm not so thrilled that you can't chuck it back in the box and forget about it. It's the poor cousin of the Powermaster gimmick, since the Powermaster engines can at least stay on the larger robot without getting in the way.

   Anyway, we start out by popping the omega lock in the top and deploying the cannons. Next the southern hemisphere opens out, with one side folding up as a panel. The southern hemisphere will become the legs, and underneath the northern hemisphere the upper body is already visible. There's another omega lock socket now visible on his chest, sliding this op lifts out the head and pushes the shoulders out to the sides. Lift out his kneecaps and rotate Primus's waist, flip up his feet, allowing Primus to stand up. Plug the omega lock into the side of one boot, rotate the boot to reveal a missile rack and retractable claw - this will also cause a weapons array on his shin to lift up. Repeat on the other side. Pull out his hands, pose the fingers, split his boots and pose.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 34cm Width: 26cm

   Primus's robot mode is a mixture of grey (forearms, boots) and cobalt blue (head, upper arms, feet, thighs and parts of his boots) with a sky blue torso. Black is also prominent here and there - most notably on his hands. There are silver and yellow paint applications in various locations, including a silver face with yellow crest and shin, while his eyes are black. While the colour scheme is fairly unremarkable, it has to link back to the Cybertron colour scheme, so muted colours are okay here.

   There are quite a few curved elements here, which is to be expected of a robot that transforms into a planet, but there are more smooth surfaces than you might expect. The boots are a combination of curved sections, but manage to look like boots rather than pie slices. There are curves atop his shoulder pads but otherwise the robot is more or less angular. There are significant curves on the backpack, including two curved "wings" behind his arms.

   Primus is again significantly smaller than Unicron, which is again a let down - although understandable looking at the scale of the planet modes. This robot is quite solid and stocky, contrasting with the more spread out robot mode of Unicron. The boots are beefy and the wings hugging the back of his arms help make this guy look solid. Of course Primus looks pretty damn impressive next to most Transformers, since he towers over the vast majority of them.

   The play value of this robot mode is a little disappointing for the pricepoint, although it's a lot better than that of the planet mode. There are slots on the sides of his forearms, plugging in his Planet Key in causes twin cannons on either wrist to pop out and forward. There aren't too many hardpoints here - only one on either wrist cannon - but I can accept this since the Minicons have a Unicron link anyway. The cannons which sit over his shoulders can lift up allowing for some degree of aiming. Again these cannons fire black missiles, which travel further now since they're higher off the ground. There are moulded cannons and such on his shins and the outer sections of his boots, which are tipped in sky blue plastic. While none of these fire, the weaponracks on his shins actually swing out as his legs transform, and you can plug the omega lock in and turn to lower these gunracks, although this also causes the outer sections to rotate up. The upper corners of the outer sections contain small black claw-arms, which have three joints each. The deployment of these claws provides much-needed play value, and the claws actually sport small cobalt blue hardpoints on them, which is cool even if many Minicons are too heavy for the joints to support them properly.

   Primus' poseability is pretty good, although it is limited by his mass, which is to be expected. His shoulders, elbows, knees and hips all move in two planes of motion, and other than the knees twisting, everything is ratcheted - a good thing for such a massive toy. The head and waist both turn, the latter is ratcheted. The feet don't really move since they're fold out panels of the planet surface, but the heelspurs (also part of the planet's surface) provide Primus with stability. Primus ends up with a lot of limb poseability, the ratcheting joints allow him to form quite a few dynamic poses, although the shoulderpads limit the arms, you wont get them above about 30 (above the horizontal). Primus has ten independently jointed digits, his thumbs swivel at the base while the fingers have two hinges each. Unlike Unicron the wrists are fixed, but the leg joints are little stronger so overall poseability is about the same.

   The omega lock can be mounted in three locations here, providing Primus with a light gimmick - although it's not really the most impressive one. It can plug into his boots, but will look lopsided since he only comes with one. The better option is a socket in the middle of his chest, which looks forced but at least allows him to retain symmetry. The LED will light up as long as the lock is inserted, and while it sits quite firmly, the overall effect isn't that great. Unicron's light up eyes are a much cooler idea. I'm not really a fan of the omega lock, which doesn't do much except unlock his transformation and light up. Aesthetically it adds very little and the play value is less that that of your average Minicon. While I can admire that the designer tried something different, a Minicon would have been a much more welcome addition. I'm very glad I got the bonus Unicron head (which I'll cover in a moment).

   An imposing robot who towers over most Transformers, but Primus is smaller than his main contemporary and doesn't have as much play value as you'd hope for at this scale. On the upside, the colours work well enough and the poseability is better than you'd expect at this scale - the stability is impressive. Overall this robot mode isn't as much as I'd hoped for, although there aren't really any flaws - just not enough to really capture the imagination.

The Unicron Head

   As a means of convincing collectors to purchase the Hasbro version instead of (or as well as) the Takara version, Hasbro USA commissioned a Unicron's head bonus, which was intended for the first shipment of Primus to the USA. The entire stock of Primus in Australian stores somehow managed to be this supposedly USA-only first production run, which is why I'm able to cover this bonus.

   Anyway, the head is a yellow plastic head, larger than the head on the actual Unicron toy, which sports significant battle damage and has a dark grey base of softish plastic tentacles. The right side of his face is missing, revealing a Terminator-like endoskeleton (complete with bone-coloured robotic teeth). The horns wear battle damage, with the tip of the left one missing and half of the right one truncated. OK, so the battle damage doesn't quite meet up with that we saw in TF:TM, but the level of detail on this paperweight is pretty impressive.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although the Takara version was sold in a G1-styled box and as mentioned, Hasbro's release came either with or without the Unicron head statue.

OVERALL

   It's hard to not to compare Primus with the only other Transformers planet so far released, and while he's a much nice looking toy than the ugly Energon Unicron repaint, the original Unicron is better than Primus in most respects. Primus's planet mode is still pretty impressive, forming a much better sphere than Unicron, who only really works from a few angles. The play value isn't really impressive in either mode considering how much this guy costs, but the poseability and stability of the robot mode is pretty good for such a heavy toy. Whilst I do like Primus, I can't help feeling that he lacks something - and some more play value or a bundled Minicon would have made a difference. I'm glad I got the version with the Unicron head - helps me feel a little better about the significant price tag - 7/10

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