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Toy Review - Transformers Adventure Optimus Prime (TAV-21)

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Whenever there isn’t a leader class Optimus Prime, it bothers me. Maybe that’s not the best way to put it, actually…perhaps this is a bit more on the nose: whenever there isn’t an Optimus that is taller/larger than most of the line’s other Autobots, that’s when it bothers me…because, sure, Optimus has never been the largest Autobot, but as a semi, he should be larger than the car warriors under his command. So as the Robots in Disguise (2015) line started to come out and the best we’d gotten was a deluxe-class figure. Yes, yes, I know, there were two different 3-step versions that came out that were much larger than the deluxe-class stuff…but…ugh, seriously? They moved their arms and that was it. Great if you’re going for the whole G1 vibe, and yes, I’m sure they’re great for kids…but I needed more.

This is where, like always, Takara comes through. Look, I’m not one of those Takara > Hasbro rabid fanboys…most of the time it really makes no difference to me, but there are times where Takara seems to go the extra mile and Hasbro…well…doesn’t. More recent examples include the unique mold for the Combaticon Blast-Off and the deluxe-class Groove for the Protectobots. For the 2015/16 Robots in Disguise line (Transformers Adventure for Takara), sure enough, a leader-class Optimus emerged. I sat on the sidelines when the toy was initially released, hoping that Hasbro would also release the toy, but it was not to be. In a way, it makes sense, Takara has always been big into Optimus, whereas Hasbro, ever since the Michael Bay films, has really started shifting more to Bumblebee as the spotlight character. That said, even though I understand what’s at work…that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

Enough grumbing, let’s talk about the toy. Well, just by looking at him, you can tell he’s a bit of a spiritual successor to Car Robots God Magnus (known as Ultra Magnus in the 2001 Robots in Disguise line here in the States) with very long legs, short torso and arms that are…I guess normal. [Transformers design ala Goldielocks and the Three Bears? – Ed.] The reason for the long legs is the same for Magnus’ long legs…so that Prime can carry a deluxe-class vehicle in his trailer, and for me, that’s totally forgivable. It also fits in with the style of the show. Prime also comes with some gimmicks. The most noticeable (if I had installed the batteries) being lights and sounds. As one would expect, my main reason for not installing the batteries was mostly due to not wanting to be yelled at in a language I don’t understand. [He gets enough of that from the girlfriend. – Ed.] He also has a rotating Autobot symbol that allows for a more classic look, or the current symbol surrounded by a ring that allows for the figure to be scanned for inclusion in various mobile applications and games. Lastly, there are a couple of spring-loaded handles housed in his forearms that swing into his open hands. These have ports on both the top and bottom…and these allow him to hold the weapons that the figure comes with: soft plastic reproductions of the weapons that come with Sideswipe, Bumblebee, Strongarm and Jazz, along with his own unique axe and pistol. While this last feature sounds good on paper, well…in the execution I found it to be a bit lacking. The soft plastic really does a number on Sideswipe’s katana…so that ends up being useless. Strongarm’s crossbow looks downright silly in Prime’s hand…as does his own unique pistol (that one’s actually a hard plastic at least). I was indifferent toward Bumblebee’s sword…so I guess that’s a win compared to the other weapons so far. Jazz’s lance actually works as a really cool handle for Prime’s axe…as you can peg in the axe on the top of the handle and peg in the lance on the bottom. That’s what you see in the pictures and really is the only combo that seems to present a full weapon in the hands of the Autobot leader. The springs on these handles are okay…but not really strong enough to prevent minor drooping when a weapon is plugged it. Not exactly a deal breaker, but allowing Prime’s fingers to close around the handle would’ve been an easy fix to this unnecessary problem. Robot mode looks great and has all the articulation you’ve come to expect from modern age Transformers.

Transformation is kinda where it all goes downhill. Unlike a lot of reviewers, I’m not automatically turned off when something is fiddly. Sure, it can get a little annoying, but if there’s a good click or a catch and the piece in question is locked securely into place making for a stable vehicle or robot mode, then hey, the fiddliness was worth it. Prime doesn’t have that. There are some parts that do…but there are several critical areas that don’t…mainly the transformation of the cab and tabbing the semi’s wheels along the side. It’s a bear to get everything lined up EXACTLY so that everything fits EXACTLY so that the toy doesn’t look like some failed protoform. It’s not “I’m gonna throw this damn thing out the window” frustrating…but it gets close when you’re trying to align those legs JUUUUUUUST right. It’s a unique and interesting transformation…which is cool…it’s a shame it’s kinda ruined by the fiddliness.

Once you get him into vehicle mode, we’re back into okay territory. Not great…but good. Opening up the trailer, you can see there’s plenty of room for a deluxe-class figure in vehicle mode and while there are peg holes for storing the weapons…again it’s one of those concepts that probably looked good on paper, but not so much in the execution. I found it best to take the weapons I wasn’t using and putting them in the weapons bin…where all my extra weapons go to die…and only storing the gun and the lance within the trailer and the axe top underneath the trailer in peg holes that are present on Prime’s arms.

So, can I recommend him? Well, it depends. As a shelf or display piece, yeah, absolutely. If you’re a fan of the show or an Optimus completist, again, yes. But the transformation, being a key part of any transformers toy, prevents me from giving him a full thumbs up. Adding to that the varying prices and availability of the toy…well, I’ll just say I wouldn’t spend too much for him. I got him from Big Bad Toy Store for $60…and given that was only about $10 more than what current leader class figures are going for…at that price or cheaper I’d say definitely pick him up. Anything more than that though…and honestly, I just don’t think he’s worth it.

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