Sunday, 12 December 2010

Beast Wars Optimus Prime

Beast Wars Ultra Optimus Primal

No single TF has cost me more money than this one. OK at the time he cost me the £20 (or less) that I had to pay a friend to bring me an Ani Mutants version back from France nearly a year before Beast Wars hit the UK. No the cost came later. Because at that time I'd be cold turkey TF for 2 or 3 years having sold all the originals I owned. Indirectly the cost of every TF I've bought since then - that's every BW toy, every BM toy, all the new molds in BW II and Neo, all of Car Robots, everything in RID that wasn't in Car Robots, All the Armada and Energon toys plus countless Minicon repaints, most of Energon, all the Robotmasters, countless reissues, the Movie toys and all of Classics. All down to the Monkey. I should hate it with a passion that man may not know. My bank manager does for taking my money. My wife and mother .do for filling our lofts with so many toys. But without this toy I wouldn't be here.

Since I've got an Ani Mutants box I might as well mention it. Text in French, German and Dutch. 3 co sell panels - the Op vs. Megatron pack, Razorbeast, Iguanus, Terrorsaur and Rattrap from the basics, Cheetor, Waspinator, Dinobot and Tarantulas from the deluxe.

Optimus Primal is an ape this time - his previous basic form was a bat in the aforementioned 2 pack. He's mainly black with some grey highlights. Op's back legs bend at the hip, while the arms bend forward, backwards & out at the shoulder and elbow and swivel at the bicep. There's a lever in his back that controls the action features in his arms - you need to flip the gorilla's shoulder armour up to control this. The armour is held in at the back by a peg so you need to pull back slightly and raise the shoulder panel up. There's a little slider on each arm that you can position up or down - it's best that the 2 arms match. Up means he swings his arms round at the elbows, down means they move from side to side. You can get some good Alpha Monkey chest beating action in here.

TF: Flip the shoulder armour up (as above). Turn the legs round 180 degrees at the waist. Turn the beast toes in 180 degrees to expose the heel spurs. Flip down the robot feet. Pull out and down on the beast head so it's just resting on top of his chest. Press in on the beast's jaw and the face panel spins round to reveal a more robotic chest. Pull the robot chest down and lock it onto the beast chest - the struts connecting it recess into slots on the top of the body. Fold the head up slightly - the Mutant head/mask will be at the front.

The mutant head can best be described as a grey version of Wolverine's mask - with the eyes and the mouth in red. Lots of teeth. There's the double barrelled effect at the ends of the jaw familiar from the Powermaster Prime. A red crest is visible between the 2 mask points.

This isn't the toy's robot face - all the first year larger than a basic Beast Wars toys has a mutant head and a robot head - sometimes it's a mask that folds away, sometimes the reverse of the other head, and in one case it's a completely different head. Optimus Primal's mutant mask folds down onto the top of his chest and then the robot head turned or can be turned round with the robot head. I go with the first usually, what's the point of the hinge otherwise.

The resulting head is Optimus Prime. Spot on. No mouth on these early versions just a faceplate which is the way I like it. Most of the head is blue, the eyes are red and the faceplate and antennae at the sides are grey. Perfect.

The robot mode is packed with articulation: his ankles bend - there's a nice feature here with a strut running the front of the robot lower leg which recesses into the leg as the ankle moves, the knees (beast hips) bend, ball jointed robot hips, turning waist, limited ball jointed neck, the shoulders turn & swing out to the sides, there's a bicep joint and the elbows bend. The arm articulation is even more impressive when you think that the mechanisms for the action feature run through it. Said action feature still works in this mode. There's a lot more white exposed here on the upper limbs and feet, with the waist being picked out in grey. The chest is mainly grey with some red internal detailing. Right in the centre of it is a recessed red circular hole framed by 2 red recessed rectangles on either side which I think is meant to be putting you in the mind of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership from the movie. The Matrix would show up for real a few years later in Big Convoy.

Onto the weapons. Well he doesn't appear to have any does he ? That's because like all BW toys from here onwards they're concealed in the body.

Firstly press the small grey button on his back. Panels running the length of the sides of his back flip up and over the beast's shoulders bringing with them a pair of missile launchers - all in black, with a red tip and blue missiles. There's 2 more of the same missiles in a rack behind the robot's head. The exposed sides of the back can now be seen to hold a curved sword each - attached by a peg on the sides of the swords that fits a hole in the back. Place one in each hand or hold them in either side of the same hand. This works especially well with the spinning forearms action feature.

Secondly his right arm (on the left as you look at it) has a hidden compartment in the forearm. Pull up from the sides and fold back at the elbow. Inside is a morning star - a spiked ball on a chain (or in our case a bit of string) connected to a handle. The blue handle is recessed into the ball, but the ball in this case is a grey skull.with spikes coming out of it. He can hold one end of the handle - the other end is a smaller peg that looks like it might fit some of the deluxe toys. Again this is good used with the action features in the arms.

Finally his left arm (on your right) also has a hidden compartment in the forearm. If you open it by loosening the catch on the arm then the bottom of the forearm drops down while still being attached at the elbow and out folds (spring loaded) a double barrelled missile launcher (one on top of the other). Fold the top of the arm back and insert the missiles stored behind the head into the launcher. The slight disadvantage to this weapon is that it does render the left hand useless while it's deployed. When Primal was animated in the cartoon they made the launcher pop up onto the arm, which is sort of carried over into the downsized Robotmasters Primal which has the tops of the arms lifting up and the weapons popping out. Maybe it might have been better to make this launcher removable - pegged into the elbow at the back, another peg underneath to act as a handle so it could be hand held. As it is Primal cannot deploy and use all his weapons at once ! That's no bad thing.

Summing up: The monkey is OK, decent action feature, but isn't really anything that special. The robot is superb - action feature, so many hidden weapons and a spot on likeness for the Optimus Prime. You can believe this is Prime in beast form - which I believe was the intention before the cartoon came along. It sets the bar very very high for Ultra figures. Although they are generally very good in Beast Wars - being just 2 a year there was a decent amount of time spent on them - few match the high bar set by Optimus Primal - to my mind just Big Convoy and Galvatron. It's a great toy and worthwhile getting.

Clear Beast Convoy

Repaints rule 8 "8: Try a clear plastic: Rare one this outside of Japan but a clear version of a toy is frequently quite nice "

Not the first TF toy to get a clear repaint - I think that's the G2 Firebots and Firecons closely followed by some of the G2 Gobots this is certainly the first larger toy to get the treatment. The toy is rendered completely in clear plastic bar some internal pieces and the blue weapons which are black. It's a tinsy bit boring but a nice curiosity piece.

Burning Beast Convoy

IIRC Burning Convoy appears in the cartoon movie crossover between Beast Wars and Beast Wars II. He's the result of a power up that he and Lio Convoy undertake resulting in Burning Convoy and Flash Lio Convoy. Burning Convoy is similar to Crystal Convoy except all the clear material is now a clear but slightly more opaque orange colour, the inside black bits are no longer visible, the weapons are still black and the face is painted gold. There's a smaller affordable version of this in the Robotmasters range.

Universe Optimus Primal

WARNING: Click on the link at your peril. This is a real contender for "Worst Repaint Ever !" up there with Universe Silverbolt, Energon Strongarm and FK Waspinator and TM Rhinox

Awful, awful, awful. And now I have to describe it to you. My eyes. The sacrifices I make.

All the red is bright yellow, as is the blue on the weapons and missiles. The forearms and outer Prime head are burgundy. White becomes dark green. I can't see properly from the photos but the rest of the black is a sort of very dark purple nearly brown. There's a red and silver stripe from his face back over the head. So so bad. And this was a toy used to launch a line of repaints. No wonder Universe failed. They should have just dug the white (for black, grey and the Prime head) & pale blue (everything else) out and given us a Yeti Ultra Magnus - I'd have bought it.

10th Anniversary Convoy

This version gets a new Robot head and chest, plus a new beast face, looses the mutant head and grey's down the black fur. I think it looses some of it's character and vibrancy doing this - the new head with the mouth takes away the Primeness of the toy.

If you get one, track down the original. Widely available in the UK there are some on eBay most of the time. Check that all the parts are there though !

There's a Robotmasters version of Optimus Primal (Beast Convoy) that I reviewed here

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