So why did Phil not buy this toy, and the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary Megatron, when they first came out? Well partially because the original Beast Wars Ultra Toys were so good, partially because I'd recently bought the superb Robotmasters versions but mostly because I just didn't like them, Optimus Primal especially.
The Ape isn't that bad but there's far too much grey here whereas the original Primal beast mode is all black..... and a pure beast, this one has robotic parts everywhere including the robot's chest stuck behind it head! It's almost a Transmetal 2 style Optimus Primal mixing up both organic & robot parts. No my biggest problem with the toy is the Ape's accessory: a huge flying surfboard thing for it to ride on (the board has 5mm pegs, there's 5mm peg holes in his feet) OPTIMUS PRIMAL DOES NOT RIDE A JET PROPELLED SURF BOARD THING! Transmetal Optimus Primal does but this isn't Transmetal Optimus Primal, this is the original version and he doesn't. There's a lot of plastic in that weapon and that affects the size of the rest of the toy bringing it down to a deluxe figure when Megatron's beast mode is getting on towards the older Mega sized toys.
This is what colours of plastic have been used to make up his beast mode:
Black: hands, outer forearms, face, back, crotch, outer upper legs, lower leg, foot.
Grey: hand guards, inner forearms, outer upper arms, chest, back of the head.
White: inner upper limbs, shoulder & hip ball joints and much of the internal construction.
Red: toes, plus joints on surf board.
Silver: surf board.
There's no grey on the original toy. Loose that for black and it would look much better straight out the box. The red toes are *slightly* odd too, I'd make them black as well. I also think the cream on the chest & the face somehow doesn't quite work. Checking the original Ultra Ape both are grey paint applications over black plastic. I refer you to my thoughts above....
Articulation isn't bad: ball joints at shoulders. elbows, wrists, hips & knees with bending ankles & toes and an independently ball jointed big toe. The angle of the struts with the hip's ball joints on is a little odd, diagonally down instead of out to the sides, and means that sometime the limb moves oddly when you turn it at this joint.
TRANSFORMATION: Pull the face and the chest forward, fold the face back onto the back of the chest. Split the crotch down the centre & fold to the sides. Fold the top of the back down. Fold the back of the head/robot chest back, causing the beast arms to spring together at the shoulders and the beast legs to separate at the hips. Bring the beast arms together to form the robot legs, folding out the hand guards to become the front of the feet. Stand. Fold the beast's chest onto the robot's bottom (yes I do see what the beast head is now kissing!) Fold the beast legs to the sides of the body to become the robot's arms. Open the flap on the robot's chest. Fold the beast's back backwards between the shoulder blades to form the robot's back, fold the beast's crotch halves over the sides of the robot. Fold the chest forward over the robot's head & close the flap. Fold the big toes inwards to form the robot's thumbs.
The Robot mode is basically a decent Primal likeness. The most obviously wrong bits are the feet, big square flaps completely unlike the slender white feet linked to the legs by a sliding red bar that you get on the original. The head, moulded in grey plastic, opts for cartoon accuracy and depicts Primal with a mouth. There's a lot of the grey plastic visible, it could have done with some blue paint round the back too. But it isn't the worst Primal head ever by a long way. The arms exhibit one of my pet peeves for transformers: if the arms bend then the top of the moulded hand points out to the side. But Primal doesn't hole his weapons in his fingers like most Transformers do, if you want him to use a weapon then he had a 5mm peg hole in each palm. With the arm bent t the elbow the peg hole faces up so he's holding the weapon the right way up even if it's not held in his hand. Beast leg articulation becomes robot arm articulation and vice verse, but we also get a ball jointed neck added into the mix. The same comment I made about the odd angle of the beast's hips also applies here. Sadly he lacks the fold out shoulder pads of the original Ultra Optimus Primal which alters the look and the shape of the toy quite a bit.
Primal lacks the swords, missile launchers and skull headed morning star of the original. Instead the surf board transforms - via a Jungle Cyber planet key - into a huge missile launcher which is so big he can't hold it properly especially as the posts for the beast to stand on are awkwardly placed for the robot to hold.
Both Primal and Megatron lack the DVDs & combining robot parts that came with the six other toys in the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary toy. Instead they're packaged with miniature spaceships, Optimus Prime coming with a small version of the Axalon, the Maximal spaceship.
Now I have it in my hands Primal isn't a bad figure. There's little there that's really wrong that changing the colour of some of the plastic and loosing the oversized accessory wouldn't cure. It's better than the other swap arms for legs Primal, the Beast Machines deluse and is easily the best of the three Beast Wars remakes (this, and Universe Cheetor and Dinobot) that I've reviewed so far.
Optimus Primal was sold in the USA in 2006. It was not sold in the UK or Japan, but an almost identical version, minus the spaceship was released in Japan in 2012 as Transformers United UN-31 Optimus Primal, not Beast Convoy as the Japanese version of the toy was originally known. The only obvious difference between the 10th Anniversary and United toys is the presence of a small Maximal sticker on the inside of the back plate.
The presence of the Cyber Planet keys on both the Optimus Primal & Megatron 10th anniversary toys shows that they were developed with an eye on the Cybertron toy range. Sure enough each toy shows up in that toy line as a repainted version.
Here's the colour swaps made to Optimus Primal:
Black (hands, outer forearms, face, crotch, lower leg, foot) stay black
Black (back, outer upper legs) becomes brown
Grey becomes brown
White becomes creamy yellow
Red becomes creamy yellow
Silver becomes black.
A good comparison between the two versions of the toy can be found in this blog entry.
I'm not sure they went quite far enough here, I'd have made all the black parts brown. The remaining ones stick out like a sore thumb and makes me wonder if there wasn't some sort of miscommunication between Hasbro & the factory here as we speculate may have happened with other toys.