2003 was a good year to be a Transformer fan. After over fifteen years, fans finally
got a Unicron. Then Alternators/Binaltech brought back real vehicles. And now fans
get what is quite likely the best Transformer ever made, the Master Piece Optimus
Prime. Not only is this the most detailed version of Prime that has been released, it
is also the closest we are likely to ever get to a perfect incarnation of Optimus
from the cartoon.
Packaging - 9/10I purchased the Takara version which is packaged in an attractive and very sturdy black box. The front features a great image of the figure with his cannon. The sides are rather minimalist with just the Transformers logo and product information, but they are very nicely done and convey the high end nature of the figure. The back shows off the features of the figure and the accessories nicely. There is also quite a bit of text and I have no clue to its meaning. The real surprise comes inside the box. Inside Prime comes nicely packaged. The accessories are on a clear tray in front of the figure while Prime resides in his own tray held down by multiple twist ties. But in an effort to go the extra mile, the inner box actually folds up to form Prime's trailer! There is the slight downside that the packaging isn't going to appeal to MIB collectors, but personally I think a MIB Transformer collector is a bit like a cyclops that collects binoculars. You just can't fully appreciate something like this in the packaging. The US release seems to address that issue as it is slated to be packaged in a window box but won't have the cardboard trailer.
Sculpting - 9/10Prime has pretty much got it all when it comes to the sculpt. The robot mode has a ton of detail and looks like his cartoon incarnation. As a truck he is no less detailed. He also has a very high diecast metal content which gives him a great deal of heft. (For those that are wondering, the blue section of the legs and most of the upper torso is diecast. The arms and waist sections are not.) Takara also went the extra mile to include an opening chest with a removeable matrix that lights up.
Paint - 8/10Prime himself is excellent. There is enough paint applications to bring out some of the details without looking busy or dirty like some Japanese Gundams do when all of the panel lines are painted. Megatron looks great as well. The one drawback is his cannon. The first releases have a grey cannon. Rumor is that there will be a running change to a black cannon.
Articulation - 7/10He may be a Generation 1 character, but this is no G1 transformer. Optimus is really well articulated including feet, double jointed knees, hips, waist, shoulders, bicep swivel, elbows, double jointed wrists, individually jointed fingers and a ball jointed neck. As I mentioned, Prime's chest also opens and he has a button on the back of his head that makes his mouthplate move. But even with all of that articulation, Prime's movement is still limited. Unlike many of the recent Transformer figures, Prime's neck is the only true ball joint and he doesn't even have the full range of motion that many of the newer MSIA Gundam figures have. Also, the fingers are too thick so I have not been able to get him to hold the matrix in a very natrual pose.
Accessories - 9/10With accessories it is quality not quantity that matters, and Prime has great accessories. I've already mentioned Prime's cannon which is just a single piece, no moving parts or features. He also comes with an axe that attaches to his arm when his hands are retracted. The matrix in his chest is also removable and it does open. But this matrix is made of plastic. (I believe the New Years release of the original Optimus had a diecast matrix.) The best of his accessories is Megatron in his rifle mode. Not only does he look good, but he can be disassembled just like the original. The rifle stock, scope and silencer/barrel extension can all be removed. The downsize is that he can't be held properly by Prime so his handle had to be adjustable inorder to fit in his fingers.
Value - 6/10This is not a figure for everyone. At around $100 you will have to either have a fair amount of disposable income to blow or really be a fan of the Transformers. The good news is that Hasbro will be importing a modified version of Optimus for retail in the US. I haven't seen the domestic version in person but it should be substantially the same. The smoke stacks will be shortened due to US safety laws and he will have some areas with a black wash to simulate battle damage. But at $60 to $70, the savings might be worth the compromises.
Happy Hunting:I ordered from Big Bad Toy Store. If you want the Takara version you are going to have to go through either an import shop or online store. The Hasbro version should be hitting shelves in the next month or two and will be available at regular toy retailers such as Target or Toys R Us.