Sunday, 18 December 2016

Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac

Titans Return Optimus Prime with Diac

I have never been that much of a fan of the 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime on which this toy is based. I didn't like the long nosed cab, which had admittedly already been done on both his Action Master & Star Convoy versions, I didn't like it was a black cab when to me Optimus should be red, I didn't like he was a Tanker not a truck, though did wonder why there wasn't an Autobot Tanker in charge of fuel. I didn't like the way the robot's articulation was hindered by the gimmick or how the chest wasn't the vehicle windows or how the base mode didn't really work in relation to Optimus' robot or the smaller Transformers at the time.

With age, I've mellowed on it somewhat as Optimus Primes which vary significantly from the original have been released. I think the best version is probably Robots in Disguise Scourge but I've continued to have issues with remakes of the Laser Rod toy. RTS Laser Optimus for example is a ****er to Transform as the stress marks on my version attest to! My favourite is probably the Universe Spychanger Optimus Prime repaint of Spychanger Scourge, which is the only version of the long nosed Generation 2 Prime done with a red cab, like 1984 Prime done up until now.

Let's start with the Titanmaster Diac whose name is a homage to Diaclone, one of the two toy lines that spawned Transformers. Like Hot Rod's Titanmaster Firedrive, Diac is moulded completely in grey. His legs are painted blue and his head is silver, a homage to the Diaclone line and the Microman (Micronauts) line that I believe Diaclone was spun off from. Unfortunately the head is completely painted silver which means the paint will scrape as it gets pulled in and out of the head socket. The tolerances are a little tight anyway, possibly due to the additional layer of paint. Transformed into Head mode we get a really nice Optimus head, albeit one mounted on a big grey lump! The blue on the legs helps soften the blow a bit but even then there's a layer of grey to get through.

I think IDEALLY an Optimus Prime Titanmaster would be Red, with Blue legs, and possibly blue paint down the outside of the arms to assist in head mode, and moulded to look like a small Optimus body. I have hopes that the rumoured Optimus Prime in the Titanmaster class will provide this.

As per all Titans Return toys, Optimus comes in robot mode. Start the transformation by removing the Titanmaster, gun and sword. Turn the tops of the shoulders 180°, so the grey detail on them faces back, then bend back 180° so they're behind what remains of the shoulders. Turn each arm out to the side 90° at the bicep, aligning with the shoulders and making sure the tab on what was the side of the elbow fits the slot on the shoulders. Fold the hands in, each forming half the grill. Bring the tail fins on his back together and fold over the neck socket so the end of the tail is flat against the neck base and the tail wings point up. Pull each shoulder away from the side of the body and bring together round the tail wings forming the cab. Fold the chest plate under the cab.

Lining everything up in the cab isn't fun. It'll need some practice and part massaging. Worse is to come.

The next step I've never seen anything like on a Transformers toy before. Push the hips back. In robot mode they're forward, in vehicle modes they're back but the toy comes packaged with the legs in a neutral position which isn't great for holding he robot up and will cause problems during Transformation. Swing the wheels on each leg out to the sides, fold the foot in, and swing the wheels back. Open the legs out to the sides. Fold the wings on the robot's back out to the sides and then swing them down & back 180°. Fold the wings together and then fold back a further 90° so they are between the legs. Close then legs round the wings with tabs on the inner face of each wheel mount fitting into holes in the wings and tabs & slots along the back of the legs meshing together. Fold the panels on the side of the lower legs up to cover the upper legs making sure the tabs on the top meets their slot on what was the robot's waist, each piece has a tab on the side of what was the vehicle but there's also one for the top of the vehicle on one piece, and that all the tabs & slots line up between the two halves. Peg the weapons into the side of the vehicle.

Got some more bugbears about the Transformation before I go on. The tabs aren't fun to line up, any of them. The ones on the side of the vehicle fit into stickered areas and any miss causes sticker damage which isn't good. After four days the side stripe down my vehicle looks tatty at the edges of the stickers where panels fold together.

Right, where shall we start? The colours. I've already mentioned the stickers on the side and they form a traditional blue Optimus stripe against a silver background. Combined with the red cab this gives us an Optimus Tanker toy in the original colours, which is a good thing, I always thought Laser Rod Op too garish and wouldn't mind seeing it repainted in these more traditional colours.

The cab itself has problems, it's a bit too large compared to the tanker, there's a grey lump sticking out the roof which is part of the tail fin, the Titanmaster can't sit in it and it doesn't turn in relation to the tanker. Frustrating. Is the first time Optimus has been done as a Voyager sized toy and included a Trailer? The closest I can think of is Dark of the Moon Armoured Weapons Platform Optimus Prime, and that bends in the middle with the rear becoming a battle station and the front a repaint of the Cyberverse Commander. Both Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime & Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus are recent cabs & trailers that turn into robots and they pivot but they're both leader size. I wonder if this vindicates the decision to just do Voyager cabs the last few years?

How you do store the Titanmaster is a little odd. He doesn't sit in the cab, which is a big black mark against the toy. Instead there's a space for him to sit in the forward section of the tanker covered by a clear yellow hatch. Odd. Even odder inside is the ability to sit him either way round, with a heel spur hole at either end. I suppose you could make him sit facing backwards, Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle style but in this mode alone it's strange. If you'd like him to stand on the vehicle then there's four Titanmaster footpegs along the spine of the tanker trailer.

Then there's the tanker forming the rear of the vehicle. It feels very thin and effectively is just a shell. I'm trying to remember the last time I felt a transformer like this and in an odd way it reminds of the Pretender shells, large hollow pieces of very stiff plastic. I don't like it.

The way the weapons are stored is odd, just pegged into the side of the vehicle. No concealing them at all. While I can understand the twin gun being mounted on the vehicle, though it is crying out for an identical partner on the other side, the clear yellow sword just looks odd.

So basically I don't like the tanker mode at all. But like all Voyagers in Titans Return he has two alternate modes so shall we see what the second vehicle is like?

Remove the weapons and the Titanmaster. Separate the legs and hold the wings out. Fold the jet nose halves out the back of the tanker and rotate 180°. Push the legs/tanker back together and lock the jet mode into place. Fold the tanker rear wheels back under the tanker. Split the cab in two and fold back 180° so they're alongside the tanker/jet nose and pointing to the rear of the tanker/front of the jet. Fold the wings out to the sides of the Titanmaster compartment.Fold the chest plate up over the neck socket. Fold the tail fin down and fold the the tail wings out to the sides. Peg the weapons back into the sides of the nose.


Anybody want to take a guess as to what the jet mode is meant to be? The air intakes at the front remind me of the Harrier Jump Jet but the cabin and rest of the jet are more like a traditional passenger jet. Once again the Titanmaster doesn't sit where you think he should, in the cabin, he's in the compartment facing the front of the jet, making sense of the extra hole for the heel tab. And again the weapons on the side of the vehicle look very unsightly. They're not helped by the halves of the truck cab being slung under the wings!

Not a winner in a Transformer's greatest plane mode competition either then. Oh well, Onto robot mode then.

Again remove the weapons and Titanmaster. Fold the window sections of the cab halves under the wings back 180°. Fold the ends of the wings in across the Titanmaster compartment. Split the tail fin in two down the middle and fold out to the sides covering the tail wings. Fold the tail back on top of the folded up robot wings. Split the plane body in two, rotating each nose half 180° before folding back into the jet body/robot legs. Swing the wheel sections round 90° to the sides, fold the robot feet out now the underside of the piece is exposed, and then fold the wheel sections down a further 90° to form the front of the legs & feet. Fold down the middle sections of plane body to become the sides of the lower legs. Fold the hands out the radiator grill and rotate each arm in 90° at the bicep. Rotate the tops of the shoulders 180° so the grey panels face front. Fold down the chest panel, replace the Titanmaster head and put the weapons into his hands.

And, leaving it till last to prevent you forgetting if you're coming to the robot mode fresh out of the box, PUSH THE HIPS FORWARD!

What you have here is a Voyager sized Optimus in the traditional red arms & chest with blue lower legs & head Optimus Prime colours. The only thing that's really making me think Laser Rod Optimus here is the raised shoulders, which have a grey panel front with two circles on like the G2 version. These look a little odd at the rear with a small section of cab window protruding in on the inner edge, a relic of the cab being cut oddly to accommodate the tail fin. If you don't like the raised shoulders then these can be rotated 180° and folded back 180°behind the shoulders, as per the transformation, to give a more traditional looking Prime.

Now I think the Titanmaster head by itself is doing a pretty good job here but, like the other Voyagers and Leaders, it gets a boost to do the job on a Voyager. If you press down on his chest grill a large pair of Optimus antennae "ears" shoots up beside the head. Um .... You know I think these would work better if the rest of the Titanmaster head was blue, the grey of the folded up robot separates it somewhat from the rest of the head.

Weapons: No complaints about the gun. Black double barrelled cannon modelled on the original Laser Rod Op Cannon. 5mm peg handle, 5mm pegs sticking out of both sides of the rear, seat for the Titanmaster, 5mm peg holes in front of & behind the seat. Decent gun, wouldn't mind couple more of these. The sword however..... Well I can see what they're getting at with the sword, it's a new interpretation of the G2 Laser Rod Op Sword but it feels a bit long & thin for a figure of this size. The colour doesn't help, a clear yellow like the Titanmaster hatch on the vehicle modes. Long handle tapering down from 5mm just bellow the cross guard, which has a 5mm peg for storage mounting sticking out the side. Op can hold the sword by the handle OK, but figures with peg hole hands that aren't open at the bottom won't be able to. The length of the handle, and indeed the sword, makes me worry for it's longevity given what it's made of.

Toy's balance isn't good. He REALLY could do with some heel spurs and it almost felt like the back of the leg is higher than the front. His knees bend, there's a thigh swivel and universal joints at the waist. Head turns at the Titanmaster ball joint with the ears lowered but when they're raised he's limited to a few degrees to each side just like Sentinel Prime and Alpha Trion. Shoulders rotate, but will be limited moving back by the folded up wings. Arms swing out to the side at the shoulders, turn at the biceps and bend at the elbows.

Every mode on this toy had something, usually more than one thing, that annoyed me. Getting between the modes wasn't fun either. I don't think it's intended to be Optimus but the tanker and robot were too good an opportunity to miss for giving us an Op repaint. I'd say avoid, and get the intended use when that comes out but I don't think that'll solve the basic problems this toy has.

Optimus Prime was release in Titans Return Voyager Wave 3 with Megatron & Doomshot.

Titans Return Octane

Now it's painfully obvious that Optimus Prime with Diac and his opposite number Megatron with Doomshot are due to be new versions of Octane & Blitzwing. Blitzwing, as mentioned above, has some serious issues with his most recent version, Octane's never been done in the Voyager scale the rest of the Triplechangers have been and Astrotrain has already been remade in Titans Return as a repaint of Sentinel Prime, another use of a "pre paint" where the repaint comes out before the obvious intended version.

If the design wasn't enough to tell you what this toy is really meant to be then computer listings reveal a Voyager Octane, probably in Titans Return Wave 5 due circa May 2017.

Future Repaints

Personally I'd be happy to see this mould go away and never be heard from again but 1995 Generation 2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime colours would enthuse some people and I've already seen it customed as Scourge. There's also the Laser Rod Ultra Magnus & Year of the Goat repaints of the original Laser Rod.

RTS Laser Optimus also got repainted as Scourge. He has Shattered Glass, Cancelled G2 Combat Hero repaint and Ultra Magnus decos that could be used.

But please don't Hasbro. Make this mould go away.

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