Optimus Prime. Let's just roll that around a bit - Optimus. Prime. Optimus isn't really many fans' favourite Autobot - there's the fact he's the goodest of the good guys, so praising him won't make people on the Internet think you're edgy in the same way claiming the Decepticons are awesome will. Even if you like Autobots, there are so many less obvious choices - Grimlock, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe, Blaster, Guzzle... And yet, whether we admit it or not (and some won't even to themselves) Optimus Prime is awesome. Whether it's taking out half the Decepticon army in TF:TM, going spare in "Crisis of Command", kicking Scourge's goons around in the RiD episode "The Test" or killing Bonecrusher in thirty seconds flat in the live-action film, Optimus Prime being cool is what links pretty much all the eras of Transformers.

The original figure, a minor tweak of the Diaclone Battle Convoy toy, has been reissued in myriad different forms with fancy packaging, random accessories and other needless adornments, while the figure was also the inspiration for another hundred Optimus Prime/Convoy figures. I shan't bore you by listing them.


It goes without saying that Optimus Prime's vehicle mode is iconic. The original was designed by a Japanese company with a rather romantic notion of how American trucks look, and thus Optimus is a colourful articulated truck. I mean, at the end of the day it's just a fairly generic looking truck, but the colour scheme and trailer stickers. It's nicely made for the most part, with the stickers and engraved detail stopping the trailer from being just a big grey block.

The chrome detailing and silver strip on the cab gel nicely - it's hard to make a truck look good,, but this toy just about manages it. There are a couple of faults - some of the join lines are huge, while the paint tones between the diecast windscreen segment and the red plastic vary depending on which edition you have. There are a few features as well. The best one is the ability to launch a six-wheel buggy (Roller) from the trailer, activated by a button at the front of the box trailer. The others aren't used quite so often - the front of the cab can hinge open to reveal places for two Diaclone pilots, while there's a hole in the top of the trailer for the base mode's control module to poke through - it can then face forward and fire its' missiles in front of the truck. Looks a bit weird, though.


The cab section is actually a simple figure, possibly the most simple of the Car Robot moulds - while it's the main focus of the Transformers release, as a Diaclone it's just part of a set. Thankfully, the robot is still very well designed, with the classic layout and a superb head cast. The colours work rather well, and the transformation leads to some respectable articulation - the shoulders can hinge and rotate, as can the elbows, while there are joints at the hip, knee and ankle to allow the 'mid-step' pose that was the height of leg poseability technology at the time.

Some of this is needed, however - the geniuses at Takara designed the famous rifle so it has two handles - one for attaching to Optimus or Roller, and one realistically styled one with a trigger. Sadly, the latter doesn't fit into anything, and gets in the way of the actual attachment post. Thus Prime usually has to do some weird poses with his arms if you want the gun to actually point forwards, instead of off at a 30° angle. There's actually more than a hint of Clover Gundam to Optimus - the head design is very close to Gundam's original toy incarnation, while the figure also has big long arms that are largely saved by elbow joints (much like the DX Gundam).

The trailer is actually a versatile piece of kit, even if it's a side-show. It can turn into a flat repair bay capable of launching Roller, or holding three Autobot cars - I guess the spring can launch these too, but I'm rather scared to try, and totalling my beloved Hound reissue in this fashion would be rather embarrassing. The cockpit-type module has a bit of movement and a funky arm for repair work, while there are lots of technical looking bits, and a refuelling hose. It's not much in its' own right, but it can work as a nice base for a display. Less documented is the thing's ability to stand on its' end, using the trailer door as a floor, and Optimus Prime (or a similar-sized figure - most of the other Autobot cars are about an inch too short) can stand underneath for repairs. It does look a lit like a mad shower cubicle in this configuration, though.


Optimus Prime is flawed and limited - the robot doesn't have a back, he can't hold his gun properly, his head can't turn despite it clearly being an option for the engineers, et cetera, et cetera. I can think of three better toys called Optimus Prime off the top of my head, just from the ones I've owned. However, it's Optimus Prime. Not just any old Optimus Prime, but the original. This was my holy grail as a kid, and despite not being a stellar figure in its' own right, I spent so many years lusting after this exact figure there's no way it can actually disappoint me. That's not a convincing argument, I know, but then anyone reading this already knows whether or not they want an original Optimus Prime. This is just me putting in words the feelings I have for the thing.