Thursday, 17 May 2012

Reissue G2 Battle Convoy (Prime of Justice)

Generation 2 came at rather an awkward time for me. After Generation 1 tailed off in the UK, I was at the age where decisions had to be made about University (nope) or seeking a job (or should that be 'falling into a career that has lasted me almost 20 years'). Once I started work, I found I didn't really have time for TransFormers, so I lost touch with them entirely until Binaltech and the 20th Anniversary stuff turned up. I've since bought a few Generation 2 models, but they tend to be quite hard to find, even in the secondary market. Some molds were reused in later lines (RiD, Robot Masters) but some, such as this one, had to wait for their official reissue.

Vehicle Mode:
The really funny thing about G2 Optimus Prime is that his vehicle mode is a dead ringer for the live action movie's Peterbilt truck. OK, he doesn't have the flame pattern, and he's mostly red and black rather than red and blue, but I am genuinely surprised that Takara haven't yet re-released this model with a movie-inspired paintjob... after all, they did produce a movie-inspired Spychanger version.

This is also only one of four G2 Optimus Prime molds - the G1 version got released with a black trailer and some additional parts, there was a 'Hero' version with a pneumatic weapon and a 'Go-Bot' version as well. This, by far, is the most impressive, though.

It is a fairly basic model, and there's really not much 'disguise' going on - Prime's blue fists are quite visible just behind the step plates on either side (doesn't help that the fuel tanks on his wrists are unpainted, of course), and the back of the truck looks like nothing much more than a pair of collapsed legs... because that's precisely what they are. It might have looked better if the feet were molded either in black or, at the very least, a less garish shade of blue. It's a bit of a shame that the smokestacks are neither painted not chromed, but at least the hubcaps, front bumper and grille are. On the upside, there's a fair bit of molded detail for the cab's interior, though none of that is painted.

Thankfully, once Prime's trailer is attached, it looks far more convincing, and the trailer rolls well behind the truck. It's styled after a fluid-transporting container, rather than the standard solid freight container, and has one of the gimmicks - a disc launcher - mounted on top. The whole thing can be rotated around to change the direction of fire, and the mechanism is friction-based - twist the rear dial and the discs are squeezed forward until there's enough force behind them to propel them out the slot at the front. The really cool thing about this reissue is that most of the trailer's shell is chromed, just like RiD Scourge/Nemesis Prime but with added details in red, so it looks spectacular. Stickers were supplied to run along the sides of the trailer, but I think it looks better without.

There's an additional gimmick on the truck itself - a button on the roof of the cab causes the headlights to light up, and a horn to sound. It was a nice feature to find, considering the RiD Scourge/Nemesis Prime version had the electronics removed.

Robot Mode:
Believe it or not, this was once hailed as one of the most poseable TransFormers molds. Sure, it has mobile shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees, but the feet are hinged - moving for transformation only - so it's only really stable with the legs straight.

But, oh my, what a paint job. The original version of this mold had a plain grey plastic chest, and the only real detail on robot mode came from the (fairly crummy) stickers on the 'chest-windows' and shoulders. It just didn't look finished. The stickers on this one are all electronic detail, and those on the chest imply that the Matrix of Leadership is within. I'd still say the shade of blue used is too light and too garish compared to the red, but it looks pretty good against the chrome. That said, the extensively chromed chest really is the only impressive part of the paint job. The stickers are nice, and all, but the plain grey of the hips and upper legs and the plain black of the lower legs (broken only by the red stickers on his knees) are something of a disappointment.

The highlight of this version of Optimus Prime - sometimes called Laser Optimus Prime or, according to the packaging on this Japanese reissue, 'Prime of Justice' - is that he has a red LED hidden in one hand. Plug in either his sword or his double-barrelled blaster, push the button on his back, at the weapons glow. It's a shame he couldn't have LEDs in both fists, but it's pretty cool as it stands.

On the downside, I'm not particularly impressed by the light piping on the eyes... That is to say, the effect works well enough... but since the eye piece is molded in colourless transparent plastic, it's distinctly underwhelming.

Of course, in this day and age, and particularly following the live action movies, it seems rather clumsy for this model to have the entire nose of the truck split in half and sat atop his shoulders. The molded details suggest they incorporate weapons of some kind, but I don't know for certain.

This has to be one of my favourite TransFormers accessories of all time. G1 Prime's trailer was OK, I guess, but it was more of a maintenance bay than a battle station. This thing is armed to the teeth.

The trailer is spring-loaded so that, once the end cap is flipped down, the whole thing opens out pretty much automatically. It's not Auto-Mech-Tech-Alive-Morph, but it was certainly impressive for its time.

The disc launcher from the roof swings down so that it can be directed around on one side of the base, while a spring-loaded missile rack flips up from the inside of the trailer. Additionally, there's a pneumatic missile launcher in the central tower, and Prime's blaster can be mounted at the top of the tower.

Being such an old model, its transformation is very simple, but no less satisfying because of it. The way the head stows in the robot's belly while in vehicle mode, and swings out on a fairly ingenious (for the time) slide is unique. It's interesting to compare with the two different version of Armada Optimus Prime, since the basic transformation is almost identical. The main difference is that the smaller Armada model is slightly more poseable (due to better jointing all round, not least in the ankles), but the truck's nose closes up more easily on this one because the head isn't in the way.

I don't recall how much I paid for this on import, but would guess it was significantly more than the original retail price of G2 Laser Optimus Prime. Nevertheless, even ignoring its value as an excellent, upgraded reissue of a classic toy, this thing has enormous play value. And, speaking of 'enormous', vehicle mode - truck and trailer - is over a foot long, and the base mode opens up not far short of 2 feet wide (about 20 inches).

I'd heartily recommend picking up one version of this mold or another. The original G2 Laser Prime turns up on eBay and tends to be fairly reasonably priced, as does RiD Scourge (though, remember, Scourge is without the electronics!), while this reissue is more expensive, but still well worth the spend.

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