Toy Review(s) - Well That's Just Prime (and a Magnus)
At long last, after at least 2 false starts and trying to toy-hunt during quarantine, I managed to snag an Earthrise Optimus Prime…thus completing wave 1. Naturally, we’ll take a look at him, but this also provided another opportunity to do make a little progress in our Transformers backlog. So, not only will we be taking a look at him, but also Siege Optimus, Siege Optimus with Galaxy Armor Upgrade, the TakaraTomy/Hasbro Pulse exclusive Star Convoy and…hell, we’ll throw in Siege Ultra Magnus too.
In my earlier reviews of this mold (Power of the Primes Optimus Prime and Nemesis Prime) I stated that while it’s not without faults, overall I loved the concept and about 90% of the execution…and basically it’s just a really fun toy. That holds up here too. In robot mode, Star Convoy does everything he can to harken back to the original toy thanks to plenty of remolding done by HasTak. The smokestacks are gone, replaced with shoulder turrets, a new head that mimics the original and the golden crest over his chest is handled mostly well. I say mostly because it can be more than just a little finicky at times. What I’ve found helps keep it in place is to apply pressure to the crest while also pushing up on the window pecs…but at the same time allowing the pecs to separate a little bit because the hole the peg is supposed to go in is actually just a little too small. Getting to the smaller bot that had once been Orion Pax, here we find an extensive remold to make this part of the toy look more like the old Action Master Optimus Prime released back in 1990 and it works awesomely well…that is, within the parameters of the original toy…as the semi cab mode still isn’t all that great. One other improvement that should be mentioned is that we get a new chromed Matrix which is designed to fit between the two halves of Prime’s rifle to create a Matrix Blaster. This comes with the unintended benefit of the Matrix being able to be held by the standard 5mm holes in both the combined robot mode or in the smaller robot mode! Now, granted, Prime still can’t hold the Matrix the way he’s supposed to (and we’ll finally see someone who can later on!), but over the other PotP Evolution class figures, he’s definitely got the advantage.
So, is he worth purchasing? For me, yes. The Action Master inspired small bot alone was worth the price of admission…plus, it was a mold and concept I already enjoyed. Not only that, with Super Megatron on the way, well, now I’m VERY glad I plunked down the money for this guy. But I can totally see the flip side too. This is the third time I’ve bought this mold…and while there are differences in the two robot modes, when it comes to vehicle mode, well, it’s practically identical to the initial release. That’s a little bit of a shame because it would’ve been neat to see what HasTak could have done with that. Those two things could be dealbreakers for some.
Siege Ultra Magnus
I think I’ve already mentioned this before, but when it comes to Ultra Magnus, well, he’s my favorite character, so I’m pretty much obligated to buy any and every incarnation of him as I can (budget allowing). The thing is, after making some modifications (because screw Minimus Ambus…never liked the concept, still don’t) Combiner Wars Magnus with the Perfect Effect white Jinrai is pretty much, well, perfect. Still, I’m always open to the new…and this Magnus knew his roots and is the first Hasbro Ultra Magnus since the original to have the white Prime/trailer combo that was a huge reason I love the character so much. [Up to this point, HasTak just gave us countless white Optimus repaints. – Ed.]
Let me start off positive. First up, the vehicle mode is one heck of an homage to the 2001 Robots in Disguise Ultra Magnus. The ‘White Prime’ mode isn’t identical to Siege Optimus and yet bears a very strong resemblance allowing for that ‘brothers’ vibe. The transformation of the white cab is always fun, especially the ‘spine’ mechanism that allows the cab’s front bumper move up and down depending on the intended mode. Lastly, while it took some getting used to, given how short he is compared to the leader-class figures of other lines, the complete Ultra Magnus is dense and compact with very little hollow space visible. This corrects one of the few flaws of the Combiner Wars leader-class figure.
But it’s not all good. Sadly, this Magnus is DEFINITELY NOT a car transport. Hell, for as much as an homage to RiD (2001) as he is, even the older bot managed to carry the three Autobot Brothers. This Magnus might be able to fit one legends class vehicle on the top…but there’s not much there to stop said legends class from flying off should Magnus hit the brakes! Next up, but on this same theme, if you look just at the cab mode, well, you can see it really needs the trailer to be present…as the engineers on this guy just couldn’t figure out what to do with the smaller bot mode’s arms. They’re just hanging out there in the back, plain as day…not exactly a ‘robot in disguise’ by any stretch of the imagination. The whole voyager-class size for leader-class prices isn’t exactly going over well with me either. I kinda get it, the price of plastic is going up and he’s not as hollow as the taller leader-class figures of the past, but when I look at my Siege/Earthrise collection and then look over to the other bots on my shelves, I do wish these guys were a little bit taller. [And for them to be ballers. And to have a girl because if they did, they could call her. What? No 90s rap fans? Sigh, tough crowd. – Ed.] Finally, if you’re utterly opposed to parts-forming, well, you’re gonna hate getting the trailer into Magnus armor mode then, as it’s very reminiscent of the old FansProject City Commander third party upgrade. Being the owner of said piece, I didn’t really mind that aspect a whole lot, but I understand that there is a vocal portion of the fandom that finds such things abhorrent, so there you go. (Quick addendum: I’m also getting a little tired of both this mold and the Combiner Wars one still having no idea what to do with the feet, so they just leave ‘em hanging off the rear bumper…it’s getting old.)
Sure, this Magnus gets some things wrong, but for me, ultimately, he gets most of the important things right. I’d have loved it if they could’ve found a way to have him carry other vehicles, even if they were micromasters, but it’s a great looking toy that captures the look of not only G1 Magnus but the RiD (2001) Magnus that finally pushed me into importing Takara products. For me, that’s enough for the thumbs up.
Siege Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime
I’m showing my age here maybe, but how many out there remember the biggest (ha…unintended pun) complaint about Energon Optimus Prime?
One word: Fattimus.
Energon Optimus looked like he was overdoing it on the energon goodies and the smaller bot that results from transforming Galaxy Upgrade Optimus’ cab certainly doesn’t look like he’s missing any meals either. And that’s the weird thing…the Ultra Magnus version of this mold looked thick, sure, but didn’t give off this fat vibe. With the remold of that figure into this Cybertron (as in the cartoon series, not the planet…although…wow, another unintentional pun!) inspired upgrade, I can’t lie, dude’s kinda let himself go. [Like you have any room to talk? – Ed.] Harsh, man. Harsh. Back on topic, once you get him into his combined mode, he looks fine…great even. The fire-truck-because-we-say-it-is vehicle mode also does a great job of capturing the look and feel of that original Cybertron toy…but it also suffers from the same problem as Ultra Magnus…feet hanging off the back of said vehicle mode. When I first got this guy, I gotta admit, I didn’t care the for the vehicle mode because nothing felt like it fit together right. After spending some time with him for this review, I see a bit of that was operator error, but I also have to admit that with the way this vehicle mode demands that EVERY component be in exactly the right place in order to fit together correctly, I can see why the folks that hate parts-formers are that way…and Galaxy Upgrade Optimus can serve as a poster child for that hate if you don’t do the research on YouTube to see how he’s properly transformed. (I actually have EmGo’s video bookmarked.) The one I always used to forget is the damn fake shoulders and how they fit into the boots (windows up, flat side in). Otherwise, all the pluses and minuses from Magnus translate here.
While it might sound like I despise this guy, well, like I said, after spending some time with him for this review, my opinion of him has actually gone up. And I will admit that in the Siege cast, with the focus being on Cybertronian modes, I do choose this guy over the voyager-class Prime that we’ll look at next. To be fair though, part of that isn’t based on the merits of this toy but instead due to HasTak being a dick. And with that lead in…
Siege Optimus Prime
I hate this toy.
No, this isn’t like Masterpiece Rodimus or Masterpiece Tracks where the engineering is either unsatisfying or a complete clusterf#$*. In fact, looking at Siege Prime objectively, he’s a fine toy with a clever transformation and a nigh spot-on G1 animation look. The vehicle mode is essentially what you’d want to see in a G1 Prime with some bits and bobs to make it look ‘Cybertronian’…but come on, it’s not fooling anyone.
The thing that makes me hate this toy is what came after it: Earthrise Optimus Prime…which is a straight up G1 updated Optimus…with trailer. This thing? This Siege Optimus? It’s a first draft. I mean, yeah, in some ways I get it, since every line has at least one Optimus (something I plan on ranting about later, I assure you) and at least one Optimus repaint, sure, you can say that HasTak has been doing this kind of thing for a while now. The burn for me is that when you compare Combiner Wars Optimus, Titans Return Powermaster Optimus, Titans Return Voyager Optimus and Power of the Primes Evolutions Optimus…well, they’re all different. All of them have vastly different feels, vastly different transformations, hell…different scales even! In light of Earthrise Optimus, Siege Optimus feels like a footnote, a placeholder or, like I said earlier, a first draft. Same scale (even though this is a voyager, Earthrise is a leader due to the trailer), identical legs and while this Optimus has more back kibble, the trade-off is having better articulation around the waist. Siege Optimus Prime makes me feel like I’ve been conned, plain and simple.
Rant aside, like I said, the toy has a great look and a generally fun transformation. If you want a Prime that is just the cab only and you don’t have to mount a holy crusade to find, Siege Prime is pretty solid. But…if you’re looking for that perfect G1 Optimus Prime with a trailer and upgraded transformation and articulation…don’t waste your cash. Learn from my mistake.
Earthrise Optimus Prime
On the one hand, I want to tell you to believe the hype on this guy. I really do…and he deserves it. A voyager-class robot mode that is pretty much the embodiment of G1 Optimus that all us fanboys and nerds have been pining for ever since Transformers Classics hit the shelves back in 2006 that even comes with his own trailer, this really should be the perfect mass-market Optimus. And for the most part, yeah, he is. Hell, he’s got hand articulation that actually lets him hold the tiny Matrix that’s stored in his chest. See what I mean…damn near perfect! The trailer is a bit of a weak spot though. Now, it’s modeled after the G1 trailer, so it’s not like I’m expecting the world here…but it does fumble in a couple of spots. First, the repair drone within is molded in the same gray plastic as the trailer itself with arms that can only be described as…sad. Second, for a line that was all about the foil stickers in the Prime Wars trilogy only to abandon them here in the War for Cybertron lines…woof…this very, very gray trailer needs SOMETHING to break up the plainness. Those two things combined make this trailer almost not worth it. Fortunately, I’ve been meaning to try out those repro-labels from Toy Hax…and this trailer gave me every reason to check them out. (I’ll try to tweet pics once those come in and I get them applied.)
[Update: Got the ToyHax stickers and oh my goodness are they a HUGE help to the trailer. What a difference! You can order them here.]
So why do I not want you to buy the hype on this guy? I mean, look, he’s good…he's damn good...but with everything that’s going on in the world right now, for me he was hard as @#$% to find. Most online stores are out of stock until at least June or July. For the love of God, DO NOT order him from Best Buy because they’re only going to give you his casemate, Astrotrain…because they’re idiots. (Sure, it could be a longer rant, but I just don’t care.) And lastly, as I’m sure you got from my Siege Prime review, well, that whole experience tarnishes him in a way for me. Anyway, when I finally got my mitts on him, purely by chance as he was on the shelf at a local Walmart, well…he just didn’t feel like he was worth what felt like a holy crusade to get him.
Bringing myself back to being objective, aside from the bland trailer (and that can be easily fixed), this is pretty much the G1 Optimus you’re looking for. How the transformation deals with the cab’s front wheels does end up limiting the waist articulation (as I already stated, Siege Prime handled this a bit better having them tuck into the torso), but otherwise, yeah, he’s a damn fine toy. Just don’t put yourself out to get him. He’ll be the casemate of Doubledealer when he comes out this summer. Wait till then and snatch them both up.
Without ToyHax Trailer labels:
With ToyHax Trailer labels: