Saturday, 9 July 2016

Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime

Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime

When I first reviewed Ultra Magnus I suggested the following retooling:
Power Master Optimus Prime who has never had a proper update. Generations Magnus' cab ends up in the right place but the whole trailer would need retooling. I'm not sure how this toy would go down wit a non transforming cab though.
I can't remember now if the rumours of a retool were doing the rounds then or they emerged shortly after. He was found in the Wal*Mart computer system in early October 2015 and hinted at at NYCC2015 shortly after before being leaked on Weibo and then officially revealed by Hasbro shortly after.


Powermaster Optimus Prime comes packaged in robot mode. "Powermaster" is something of a misnomer because he isn't a Powermaster! There's no removable engine here. Instead he's a Titanmaster, effectively a Headmaster. This is perhaps a bit confusing but most Transformer fans would associate the "cab merges with trailer to form a super robot with twin guns on each shoulder" with the word Powermaster. Some people have said "why make him a Headmaster?" Well the original Powermaster Optimus Prime was intended to be a Headmaster too and that feature is reflected in the final toy with the giant removable head, so the Titanmaster feature doesn't particularly bother me.

Like Blaster Optimus features a helmet that folds over the Titanmaster head to boost it's size. Optimus' helmet is almost all enclosing with only the eyes from the Titanmaster visible through a slot between visor and crest. Apart from the eyes being set slightly too far back it makes a good Optimus head. Folding the helmet back, it's hinged at the top of the rear, reveals a very different face on the Titanmaster. The central crest and antennae ears are still there but the face plate is gone revealing a nose and mouth. The face is cast in blue plastic with the central section painted silver. I think this is meant to represent the cartoon pre-Prime form of Optimus, Orion Pax, but I know some think it resembles Kup! The Titanmaster is still secure with the helmet raised as the strut down the back of the head tabs into holes on the rear of the leg. Fold this back at the hinge to release the Titanmaster and unfold it.

The head and chest detailing on the Titanmaster figure are clearly meant to mimic Hi-Q, Optimus' Powermaster, but the colours are wrong: instead of white chest & head, red arms and upper legs and black lower legs we get grey legs & head and a red chest & arms. The name they've chosen, Apex, has different Optimus connections: it was used on the figure that combined with reissue Powermaster Optimus Prime, previously known as Godbomber in Japan.

Elements of the transformation to vehicle mode will be familiar. Start by removing the Titanmaster, as above, both guns and both shoulder cannons. Fold the arms down to the sides. Fold the chest plate forward revealing the cab hidden underneath. Fold the cab back and then rotate 180° so the grill faces up and the head is towards you. Lay the toy down on it's back. Pull the cab forward: the first time I did this I had a friend with me and it took us AGES to shift the cab despite us both knowing it from Ultra Magnus. EXCESSIVE force was eventually required. Open the front of the cab, folding the halves out to the side. Fold the head down into it, forming a seat for Apex to sit in. Fold up the panel inside one cab half and close the cab halves forming the finished closed cab.

A small pause here: although Apex will sit in the seat very securely, aided by a slot for the tab on the back of his legs to fit in, getting him in is a pain in the backside due to the cab halves only folding out 90° to the sides and restricting access. A full 180° spread would have helped!

The cab itself is something of a surprise. Even though the windows were a little small and the front grill a little big it was a reasonable assumption that the Combiner Wars Magnus cab would be reused here but it isn't! Instead we get a new cab front with an even bigger and tinsy tiny small windows! If a retool was necessary for the changed mechanics of the Titanmaster head why not go for a more Prime like chest rather than a less Prime like one?

Back to the transformation: we've got the cab done, it's time for the rear of the trailer. Fold the waist down 90°. Making sure each arm is straight along the sides of the body fold each up & away from the body at the shoulder swinging them in to fill the gap, and massaging the tabs together. Fold each leg out to the sides so that you can unfold the inner & rear surfaces of the leg out. Fold the front of the legs forward. Bring the legs back towards each other and tab together. Pull the sides of the leg away slightly, releasing the tab just bellow the knee that holds them in place then swing the sides forward 90° so the tab locks into a new slot behind the wheels. Fold the legs forward 90° so that the chest plate locks into the rear legs and rests against the sides. Fold the top of the panels on the back of the arms back 90°. Lock the front on the legs panels into the robot's arm pits and tab the forward roof panels, on the back of the arms, into the sides. Fold the upright arm panels back a further 90° to become the rear roof panels and tab into place in the sides. Tab the legs fronts together and fold forward to become the trailer rear door: the rear of the trailer will part slightly to allow these through and securely tab into place. Fold the feet back under the rear of the trailer. Peg the dual cannons into the sides of the front of the trailer. Peg holes on the sides of the rear or on the roof can take the two black handguns.

The first time I transformed the trailer it was a floppy mess. I had done it wrong, probably involving not properly securing the chest plate which seems to be a crucial piece. For something that's a panel formed tabbing nightmare, it is a surprisingly stable structure when done right!

Prime's Trailer mode looks pretty good. The major distinguishing feature between the original 1984 & first Powermaster trailers is the dual cannons on the side and they're present here. The amount of red at the front of the trailer has been reduced a lot with just some round the shoulders being seen. The inner shoulder joints, expose here, could easily have been grey too to match in. Curiously they look like a reused part from Magnus but they're they only bits in that colour to be reused! Unfortunately immediately behind them is a 1.5cm x 1.5 cm gap at the top of the sides which looks a little sloppy. There's a larger gap too at the front of the trailer, but that's mainly obscured by the cab. Like Magnus the cab is non removable, and that has implications down the line, but can still pivot from side to sides. The rear doors fold down to become a loading ramp leading to space inside which is ample room for a couple of Generations Legends but, like Magnus, slightly too narrow for a deluxe. There's a number of accessible, and upright, Titanmaster pegs: one each side of the rear, three down the spine of the trailer roof, two on the front of the trailer roof and two on the cab roof plus another five sticking out each side of the toy which are less useful here. The cannons pivot up and down, via a peg in it's base, but it's possible to mount them the other way up or even sticking out to the sides, which lets a Titanmaster sit in them. More on that in the base mode.

Many Prime trailers are filled up with gimmicks and super mode parts with no room for storage: this isn't so it's hitting a positive note for me mimicking the original 1984 Prime and indeed beating the 1988 Powermaster. The Titanmaster pegs are pushing an "Actionmasters riding Actionmaster Prime's trailer into battle" button here and that's also a good vibe.

Possibly the best Prime trailer in truck mode since the original.

Like the original Powermaster Prime this toy has a base mode. Unfortunately, since the cab can't be removed, he doesn't have a smaller robot Optimus to go with it. Start by pushing the cab back further under the trailer. Remove all weapons. Fold the rear trailer roof sections back over the front, split the front of the trailer roof, fold out to the sides and raise the arms to form towers. Pull the trailer side panels away from the front of the vehicle. Raise the chest piece. Untab the rear side panels of the trailer front the robot legs, swing down and retab. Swing each leg out to the sides 90° at the thigh. Bend each knee about 45° and then swing each hip out to the side by about the same amount. Swing the robot foot out to form the side of the base. Fold down the stand under the cab to raise the front of the vehicle. Fold down the front third of the side to form a ramp under the arms. Peg the cannons onto the holes above the wheels and the guns into the side of the towers.

Um........ When I first saw pictures of Prime's base mode I was convinced it was mistransformed and that the ramps, which end in useful base mode connectors, should be pointing out to the sides. They're not, this is it, and it looks terrible. The ramps are restricted by the arms so you can't roll a car down it or usefully attach them to Blaster to allow transfer between the bases. The middle section of the base just feels like an empty hole surrounded by the chest armour, sides of the chest and rear of the cab. A big big mess so much so that fan made Ultra Magnus base mode looks far far better!

There's plenty of pegs to stand Titansmasters on, one on each wheel arch, two on each front base side panel, one on each middle side panel and one on the rear, which has become the ramp. These were the side facing ones on the truck. Additionally there' two more on the cab roof. Nice bit of detailing on the towers: moulded into them are Armada Optimus Prime's Smokestacks.

The best thing about this mode are the dual cannons. Now I like the ones one Powermaster Optimus Prime, and like the silver versions on Japanese Ginrai/the Powermaster reissue even more. But they've always been slightly too bulky, especially compared to those seen on the superb 1988 box back picture. Then the Powermaster had to straddle them to sit down looking very very awkward. The new cannons are a much slimmer version while maintaining the same general shape. Pegs on the top, bottom and both sides allow them to be mounted any way round, though I wouldn't have objected to an extra peg on the back of the weapon and neither would Combiner Wars Rook! Each gun has a seat in it to allow apex or another Titanmaster to sit in it.

Back to the combined robot now: remove all the weapons and any Titanmasters. Straighten the legs at the knees and wrap the trailer side panels round them, tabbing in place. Fold the feet forward and twist each leg out 90° at the thigh. Push the legs in towards each other. Fold the stand into the cab. Open the front of the cab, fold the roof panel in, fold the helmet out and close the cab. Rotate the cab 180° around it's axis so the wheels point up and the windows down. Fold the cab back into the front of the trailer, then fold that back so the cab rests on the waist and fold chest piece into place. Straighten the legs and stand. Peg the dual cannons into the shoulders. Place the Titanmaster into it's socket with the tab on the back of the legs fitting the slot at the base of the hinge. Fold the back of the helmet up so the tabs on the rear fit into the slots on the Titanmaster. Fold the head down into place.

The guns are probably a peculiar place to start but there again the guns are a bit peculiar. They're the same ones that were sold with Ultra Magnus. Now to me, the Powermaster Prime guns are a bit distinctive anyway so they're onto a looser here. Then recall the difficulties Magnus had holding his? Well the gun handles means Prime needs similar opening hands which in turn means he, like Magnus, can't hold 5mm peg weapons, a big minus point for me. Hasbro are obviously aware of the problems with the Magnus hands so they've decided to give Prime some help holding them by tooling a shallow slot in the structure under the hand for the base of the gun handle to fit in and yes this does help. A little bit. The grip isn't as secure as it would be with a 5mm peg handle but there's also a minus point: Prime can't hold the weapons if you combine them into hammer mode. And separately, held as guns, they are two different weapons whereas Powermaster Optimus always had two identical guns! The solution to this is of course to steal one, preferably the longer one, from Combiner Wars Magnus!

Onto the robot itself. It's ticking most of the major Powermaster Prime boxes straight out the box. Prime head, red chest and arms, blue legs fronts and dual cannons on each shoulder. Since the only thing original Powermaster Prime could do was turn hi arms at the shoulders you know this one is going to win any articulation battle and so it proves. Head turns a full 360° degrees. Shoulders turn as before and raise to the sides. There's a bicep swivel and bending elbow on each arm: elbows in particular always bothered me on Powermaster Optimus as it looks like he should have them especially on the Ginrai version of the mould. We already mentioned the hinged hands when we talked about the guns, and it looks like the fingers are another reused part. But the hinged fingers do allow Optimus to grasp a Titanmaster in his fist which is quite nice. No waist this time, unlike Magnus, but his hip, thigh, knee & ankle articulation is the same due to the same pieces being used. There's four upright Titanmaster pegs in this mode: one each side of the head for Titanmasters to confer with their commander and one on top of the wheel arch at the base of each foot.

Some of the detailing needs commenting on: The lower arms are moulded in grey plastic and are part of the same piece as the forward roof sections. The inner side of the arm is open allowing you to see the grey inside the arm and that really spoils things. If the arm has been red, with the grey ramp attached to the bottom, that would have worked better..... but if the arm & panel were separate I'd want the hole at the bottom covered by the panel! I'm not 100% sure about having the panels hang off the back of the arms anyway! The red inner shoulder panels are set into grey plastic here and stand out: I wouldn't have bothered and made them grey as well to blend in better in bother modes. The tops of the shoulders are also grey, which helps conceal them in vehicle mode but doesn't makes them a bit obvious here. There's truncated hollow cones atop each of them, mimicking the tops of the original Powermaster Optimus shoulders. Again grey, so they stand out. Unfortunately the diameter of the hole in top is greater that a 5mm peg so they can't serve a useful purpose. I think I'd have got rid of them and replaced them each with a Titanmaster foot peg.

Unfortunately the chest armour looks like a sprawling grey and silver mess that's splattered all over the front of the radiator grill. I get it's trying to mimic the Powermaster but it doesn't quite work. You can remove it, to change the look of the front of the body to just the chest cab, but that affects the stability of the toy which is no longer held together at the front. Magnus's chest front is considerably less keen to come off so no chance of swapping them on mine at least.

So robot mode: Good, definitely Prime, could have been better.

This is an odd, odd toy to play with. It feels fun in two modes. The truck mode, which I hated the first time I touched it, has since been proved to be very good, but even then the cab just looks odd. The robot mode is a good super robot, but aesthetically doesn't quite feel Powermaster Prime enough. The base mode IS a complete disaster, nothing can save that.

The reused Magnus guns hurt the toy but they're the only bits that do. For the record, here's the complete parts reuse I've spotted:

Ultra Magnus
Optimus Prime
Inner Shoulder
Guns & Wheels
Feet & Inner Lower Legs
Dark Blue
Ankle Hinges, Thighs & Hips

Takara however appear to be taking a a slightly different approach.....

No comments:

Post a Comment