An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!


Transformers Optimus Prime
Transformers Optimus Prime
Transformers Optimus Prime
Transformers Optimus Prime

The Alternators line waited for three years before wheeling out an Optimus Prime toy with most people using the Masterpiece figure as a stand-in in the meantime. The 1:24 scale didn't seem suited to Optimus while his traditional truck form didn't really fit in with the line's top-end licensed vehicles ethos. In the end he came out as a result of compromise - a Dodge Ram figure was created and (from memory) variously bandied about as Ironhide and Ginrai before Takara insisted it became Convoy (the Japanese equivalent of Optimus, always a solid seller in Japan).

The Japanese version suffered the indignity of opening Takara's attempt to merge child pornography with Transformers, namely Kiss Players while the Hasbro version came out towards the tail end of the Alternators series - though the clout of Optimus meant it was easier to find than several other late releases such as Camshaft, Ricochet and Mirage. With painful predictability a black recolour was also issued in the shape of Nemesis Prime (or Black Convoy in Japan, where he was released in the briefly-revived Binaltech line).


So, this Prime's a pick-up truck rather than a truck cab. This is fine by me, to be honest - we've had excellent truck cab-based figures for Prime, including the original, the Laser Rod, the Masterpiece version, the Revenge of the Fallen Leader class, and so on. And it's not like he's just a mad recolour of Firecracker or anything. A pickup in a line mainly composed of sportscars at least makes him winningly different in the same way the original stands out compared to the other Autobot cars and it's nice to have a variation on a theme in there.

There's no slavish attempt to work blue into the colour scheme, which is a good choice. It's also nice to know even Prime's distinctive colours aren't enough to bend the rules of the Alternators line's realistic aesthetics. The Hasbro version - which I have - does suffer from being rather a flat red. Due to the thin nature of the plastic light shines through much of the Ram, especially the rear flatbed, giving the toy something of an orange tinge under harsh light. As usual, detail is excellent, including a nice grille design, spoked wheels, transparent plastic headlights and a detailed interior. The only real fault is the steering, which is a bugger to line up so that the wheels actually turn together.


Optimus is hindered by one of the line's more awkward transformations, however. Breaking the cab section in general up is quite an irritating business, popping out the lower frames of the doors and rotating the seats around especially. The two big sections of front bumper on his shoulders fall off really easily too - they pop back on with no fuss, but it takes the fun out of things a little. The transformation's not so much difficult as poorly thought out in places. Still, it leads to an excellent robot mode. The rough design of Alternators Prime for some reason always reminds me of the version that turned into a HISS in that first diabolical Devil's Due crossover if it had been good. The big chunky legs, large flat chest and huge shoulder pads give this Prime something of a new look even if some of the elements have been used before. And yet there's still enough of the traditional stuff to make him obviously Optimus - not just the superb head cast and the colour scheme, but the raised detail on the legs and the general poise of the thing as well.

Optimus doesn't really photograph well from some angles, occasionally looking like a pile of parts with a few ill-placed holes in them, but in reality this isn't the case and he looks really solid. However, one fault is the grille - this is meant to rotate and reveal a belt with the same rough design as the original Prime's waist, albeit in red plastic. Sadly, this blocks off what little thighs the toy has, so I tend to leave it in place on the bonnet - even through this prevents the chest from fully clipping in place. What Prime does have, though, is surprisingly good articulation - the various parts move out of the way smoothly when the limbs are posed. The big legs offer superb stability, while he's covered in moving joints - including a waist joint, something of a luxury compared to my other recent Alternators purchases. There's even a really good engine gun, with the part folding into a neat prism-barrelled pistol that doesn't look like a car engine with a stick coming out of it, which helps top off the robot mode nicely.


In short, Optimus Prime is a pleasing and dynamic blend of the traditional and the radical. Both modes are sharp and the figure in general both looks and moves a lot better than pictures would make you think. Despite the convoluted origins of the toy, it serves as a perfect Prime to lead the Alternators Autobots.