#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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#2007: Autobot Jazz

AUTOBOT JAZZ

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Autobot Jazz brings all he’s got to defeat the Decepticons”

Sometimes, the time is really right.  For review #2007, I’m jumping back to the year 2007.  2007 was a weird time.  We had two Marvel movies, which isn’t that odd these days, but they were neither one an MCU entry (because the MCU didn’t exist yet).  But before Marvel could re-brand their film franchises, another one was just starting up.  That July saw the release of the first of the oft-reviled Michael Bay Transformers films.  I was never a huge Transformers fan, but I was still in the audience opening weekend, and I still came out…less than satisfied.  In fact, I think a good argument could be made that the film scared me off the franchise for a bit.  Needless to say, I generally avoid Bay-inspired figures, though I’ve made my first exception for the subject of today’s review, one of my personal favorite Autobots, the aptly named Autobot Jazz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Jazz is a Deluxe Class offering from Hasbro’s Transformers: Studio Series, where he is numbered figure 10, and hit shelves in July of last year.  Given his demise during the first film, Jazz has been less lucky with releases since the original 2007 line.  This figure marks his first domestic release since all the way back in 2010, which is a pretty big deal.  In his Robot mode, the figure stands a little over 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 19 practical points of articulation.  Size-wise, he’s just a little bit taller than Bumblebee.  Given the scaling and price-point, Jazz is a fairly respectable recreation of his robot mode from the movie.  Not all of the details match up 100%, but the general proportions are there, and the robot specific parts are pretty much spot on.  It’s really the remaining elements of the car form that are slightly throwing off the look, and mostly limited to the arms.  Ultimately, it’s just down to needing a little bit of compromise to actually make things work at this scale and in order to maintain transformability.  While Jazz’s original alt mode was a Porsche, for the 2007 movie, it was changed to a Pontiac Solstice, which is still a reasonably sporty model, though it’s decidedly less distinctive.  Whatever the case, this figure maintains its accuracy by giving him the proper alt mode.  The transformation between the two forms is a little less tricky than the Bumblebee, but still a little more fiddly than the Siege figures I’ve been getting.  Overall, though, it was less frustrating than I was anticipating.  The end result is a pretty decent little car, though, like Bumblebee, he’s got a tendency to pop apart at the seams from time to time.  But, as is the usual case, I was more in this one for the robot mode.  Jazz is packed with his crescent cannon, which he can either hold in his left hand, or his hands can flip into the forearm to allow it to attach directly to the wrist.  It’s a nice little feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jazz was an impulse buy.  Well, he was as close to an impulse buy as I ever really get.  I saw him at Walmart on my way home from work and passed.  Later that same evening, I was out to dinner with Super Awesome Fiancee, and passed by the Walmart again, at which point I caved and went back for him.  Though I’ve never really cared for most of the Bay film designs, Jazz is one of the few I didn’t hate, and his death in the film was perhaps one of my biggest complaints about it.  This guy makes for a pretty decent toy, and I’m glad I went back for him.

#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.