#2116: Optimus Prime

OPTIMUS PRIME

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Okay, so I usually do a better job of spacing out the Transformers reviews, but…well, I have a lot of Transformers these days, and they’re piling up ever so slightly.  I know, what a terrible problem I have.  How can I free myself of the terrible shackles that are this problem?  And how in god’s name do I now own three separate Optimus Prime figures?  That’s the realest question right there.  For today’s review, I’m going back to the thing that broke me into Transformers in the first place: Bumblebee.  I picked up the title character in his movie form, but had as of yet not gotten anyone else, preferring to stick with the Siege stuff for the most part.  Nevertheless, here I am looking at another Optimus Prime figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Optimus Prime is a Voyager Class release, as part of the Transformers: Studio Series line-up, where he’s figure 38.  He started hitting shelves right around April/March, arriving with the comparatively far less in-demand Constructicon Rampage.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 practical points of articulation.  Optimus is an all-new sculpt and is certainly heavily inspired by his G1-based design from the film’s opening battle on Cybertron.  He’s not a pitch-perfect recreation of the final film design, generally being a little boxier than the one seen on the screen, but he’s not too far removed, and it’s certainly clear which version they’re going for, especially in the robot mode.  Where the Siege Optimus was going for an animation accurate model, this one instead serves more to upgrade the original toy, albeit with some more movie-ized details, making him look a fair bit more “real-world.”  He’s not as clean or sleek as the Siege Optimus, and he has a few more spots of kibble, with the back and forearms being the most prominent.  The back doesn’t bug me quite so much, but the forearms are a little frustrating, especially since they aren’t as clean as the corresponding kibble on the Siege figure, and they have a tendency to start unfolding during posing.  That being said, the overall appearance of the robot mode is pretty cool, and he makes for a solid action figure.  Optimus’ alt-mode is the source of even more inaccuracy compared to the film because while Bumblebee turned into an officially-licensed VW Beetle, Optimus instead settles for an unlicensed equivalent to the Freightliner he turns into in the film.  It’s not quite accurate, but it’s admittedly not a bad design all things considered.  Additionally, while it’s definitely very fiddly and packed with false shell pieces for the final mode, the transformation’s not too bad on this one, making transforming back and forth pretty easy going.  Optimus is packed with his Ion Blaster he’s seen using in the opening battle, which is a nicely scaled piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, this Optimus is officially my “patience is a virtue” Optimus.  As one of the most demanded and sought after Studio Series releases, this guy came and went pretty quickly at All Time Toys, my usual spot for Transformers.  As such, I didn’t get one at the time of release, and in fact gave up the chance to grab a re-stock later down the line so that another customer could have him.  When a loose figure was traded into the store a few weeks back, the owner handed him over and said “your patience paid off.  Happy Birthday,” and just like that, I had an Optimus.  Like I noted when I reviewed Galaxy Force Optimus, the Siege Voyager remains my go-to, but there’s a lot I like about this figure.

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#1981: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: BUMBLEBEE (HASBRO)

Alright, I’m gonna level with your guys: you might want to get comfortable with the Transformers reviews.  Because there’s probably going to be a substantial uptick in them going forward. Read them at your own peril.  It’s okay, though, because I’m going to ease everyone into them, you see.  I’m not just jumping into Transformers willy-nilly. I’m going to be placing a lot of focus on the one Transformer that’s not odd to see around these parts: Soundwave!  Yes, he’s without a doubt my favorite Transformer, and as with all of my favorite characters, I’d like perhaps to own every version of him.  A man can dream.  And chipping away at that dream is today’s figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the overarching Transformers: Bumblebee line that came out of December’s Bumblebee film, in which Soundwave made a brief appearance.  He’s from the Energon Ignighters Power Plus Series‘ third wave, which just started showing up in the last month or so.  It features this guy here, alongside Autobot Ironhide.  He’s ostensibly based on Soundwave’s look in the film, but it’s a much looser interpretation than others.  I’ll touch on that in a moment.  Unlike most of the Transformers I’ve looked at on this site, where it’s a robot figure that turns into a vehicle, this one is kind of an inversion.  The vehicle mode is the real focus, with the robot mode there as more of a gimmick.  In the film, Soundwave doesn’t have a vehicle mode (that we know of), so this one makes one up for him, settling on a van that’s actually a pretty sensible choice if you don’t want to go for the classic cassette player, since it still kind of keeps that music theme going.  It fits the overall retro feel of the rest of the Bumblebee stuff, to be sure.  In van mode, Soundwave measures 4 1/2 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 2 inches tall.  All four wheels are actual, working wheels, and the back doors of the van are designed to spring open when the top of the van is pressed down, revealing some impressive looking speakers.  Paint on the van-mode is mostly pretty sparse, but he does have a decal in particular that I love: the mural on the side.  It features a cheesy ’70s-esque painting of a jaguar and a bird, homaging Soundwave’s usual companions, Ravage and Laserbeak, which I just think is the coolest thing.  Soundwave includes an “Energon Ignighter” piece, which is the gimmick for the whole line.  It drops into place through the roof of the van, activating the spring-loaded doors and allowing for a motorized pull and release movement.  Fitting with the overall theme of this release, the ignighter is shaped like a boombox, which is another fun touch.  Soundwave’s transition from van to robot is a fairly simple process, largely consisting of turning him over so that you can see the hidden robot that was under the van.  His appearance is certainly inspired by the classic Soundwave look, just like the movie, but I can’t really say the two designs are all that close.  If I had to guess, I’d say he was probably patterned after early designs for the character.  Whatever the case, he’s still pretty recognizeable as Soundwave, which is the important thing.  He’s not particularly poseable; you can pretty much only move him at the elbows, though there’s some slight shifting to be had in the shoulders as well.  Like I said, the robot’s not really the main focus of this release; he’s more a gimmick than anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: this is Max’s fault.  No, really, I swear it is.  See, he preordered one of these for himself on Amazon, but then found one in-store, and decided to grab that, but was unable to cancel his order.  So, boom: extra Soundwave.  Shame he doesn’t know anyone who would want a Soundwave… In actuality, I had actually wanted to track one of these down, because I dug that sweet van art.  It’s gimmicky, and not going to be anyone’s #1 version or anything, but for a Soundwave fan like me, he’s a fun addition to the collection.

#1932: Bumblebee

BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

You know what was a really good movie?  Bumblebee.  As someone who couldn’t make it through more than one of the prior live action Transformers films, I was quite pleasantly surprised by how thoroughly enjoyable a movie Bumblebee turned out to be.  It was fun, it was coherent, it had a cool ’80s backdrop, and it had a runtime that didn’t urge me to say goodbye to my loved ones before departing for the theatre.  It also revisited its title character’s design, returning him to the car he had been at the beginning, a VW Beetle, and by extension removing the perceived need to make him “cooler” that had been added by prior films.  And what do you know, all that change actually prompted me to buy a toy.  Please, try to contain your shock and awe.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bumblebee is one of the Deluxe Class releases from Hasbro’s Transformers: Studio Series line, which is a whole line devoted to producing slightly more movie accurate figures from all six movies in the series.  He’s figure 18 in the line, and started showing up in October/November of last year.  In robot mode (ie, the mode he’s in right out of the box), he stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 19 practical points of articulation.  Bee’s robot form is represented pretty well here.  There were clearly some changes between when the figure was designed and when the final movie arrived in theaters, as well as some additional changes necessitated by the figure’s actual transforming features.  On a whole, the figure is a little boxier, and not quite as polished as the Bee of the film, but he’s certainly recognizable, and he keeps the important changes from this design compared to earlier ones.  The implementation of the articulation is solid for the scale and the concept.  I might have liked some side to side movement on the wrists, but the hinge at least provides *some* movement.  I was quite happy with the movement on the head; that balljoint has a nice range to it.  Bee’s alt-mode is, of course, the Volkswagon Beetle, a major selling point, given how finicky Volkswagon is with their products.  The car mode is pretty decently handled.  The Volkswagon design is nicely rendered, and well captured, and there aren’t too many consolations that have to be made to make it work.  The transformation between the two modes is a little tricky, at least for me, a Transformers-pleb.  The biggest trick is folding up the hood and roof of the car behind him for the robo-mode.  It felt a bit like I was going to break it getting it in place there.  Similarly, getting everything locked into place for the car mode can be a little nerve wracking.  Ultimately, I was looking more for a cool robot figure that has the potential to turn into the car, not a car that can sometimes be a robot, so I’m okay with leaving him in the robot mode most of the time.  Bumblebee is packed with a few extras, all meant to accent the robot mode.  There’s the battle-mode faceplate, which swaps out for the regular one.  The first swap was a little tricky, but they generally go back and forth with relative ease.  There are also two weapon attachments: a cannon arm that swaps out for his right forearm, and a blade attachment, which can be plugged into either of the arms.  All this allows for a nice coverage of Bumblebee’s looks from the movie.  There’s also a cardboard backdrop, for them that want such things (I’ve never been much into them myself).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I eyed this guy up a few times before seeing the movie, because I did just really like the design, but held off because I was trying not to get hooked on Transformers.  I really, really was.  But then, like a fool, I saw the movie.  And I really liked the movie.  So, then I *had* to have a Bumblebee.  And maybe some others, but more on that later.  Fortunately for me, my friends at All Time Toys were happy to set me up with one.  I’ve seen some negative opinions of this figure, but I myself am pretty darn happy with him.  He’s a fun little toy.