Age of Extinction First Edition Optimus Prime Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Age of Extinction, Amazon, Autobot, First Edition, Leader, Movie (2007)

Age of Extinction

First Edition Optimus Prime General Information:
Release Date: February 2014
Price Point: $59.99
Retailer: Amazon.com Exclusive
Accessories: Sword of Judgement, Sentinel Shield

Images:

*Images and text below from Amazon.com:
The battle against extinction begins here! As the Age of Extinction dawns, the Autobots find themselves fighting powerful new enemies from both Earth and beyond. The Autobot Leader Optimus Prime charges back into battle with a new alternate mode, a new design, and new weapons. This 10-inch tall Optimus Prime movie figure comes with the mighty Sword of Judgment and the battle-forged Sentinel Shield. Kids can imagine they're defending Earth with the heroic Autobot leader. This is also your first chance to bring home a figure inspired by the Transformers: Age of Extinction movie. It's not only the first edition of Optimus Prime, it's the first Age of Extinction edition of any Transformers robot!/i>

he Autobots were perilously close to a destiny-altering defeat in the Battle of Chicago. Their leader, Optimus Prime, suffered heavy damage, but managed to survive the battle, dealing a crushing blow to his arch-nemesis Megatron in the process. While the Decepticon leader may have fallen, new threats have risen in his place. If the Autobots are to defend the planet they have sworn to protect, they must find a way to defeat powerful new enemies. In a world where their standing is more uncertain than ever, one thing remains constant: their unyielding leader, Optimus Prime, will be at the forefront of the coming battle.

This 10-inch-tall Optimus Prime figure converts from a robot warrior to a semi truck and back again. Change from robot to truck mode in 15 steps and roll out. Reverse the same 15 steps to change back to robot mode and gear up for battle with the included Sword of Judgment and Sentinel Shield. It's the first Optimus Prime figure to feature the Autobot Leader's look from Transformers: Age of Extinction. Includes: Converting Optimus Prime figure, Sword of Judgment, Sentinel Shield and instructions.

Far ahead of its June 2014 release, the "Age of Extinction" toy line was kicked off by the release of an Amazon.com exclusive "First Edition" Optimus Prime action figure. While not billed as such, this figure is roughly the size of a Leader Class figure, standing at about the same height as other Leader Class figures such as the 2007 Movie Leader Class Optimus Prime.

This figure also represents the introduction of a new, simplified transformation philosophy first mentioned at Botcon 2013. The idea is to create toys that still represent the characters on the big screen well, but don't involve dozens upon dozens of steps to transform. In many ways, this embodies the spirit of a lot of the original "Transformers" toys from the 80's, which often had relatively simple transformations but are often celebrated as the epitome of what Transformers toys should be (this is, of course, subject to debate like so many aspects of the line). There really haven't been a ton of full-body pictures released of Optimus Prime from the film yet, so the figure will mostly be reviewed on its own merits rather than a direct comparison to the CG model, but I'll do those comparisons where possible.

Packaging:
First Edition Optimus Prime is true to its name as the first action figure released at retail for the "Age of Extinction" toy line. This also represents the debut of the all-new packaging style for "Transformers" toys for 2014. Unlike traditional "Transformers" packaging which focuses on a top down approach (logo on top, artwork on the side, figure towards the bottom or middle) this packaging grabs your eye in a very different way. The primary color is white, acting as an Apple-inspired "clean background" for the artwork and logo on the box to stand out. Along the right side edge of the box is a huge "Transformers" logo, using flat type-face instead of the traditional beveled font. The shape of the letters are based on the traditional logo but elongated vertically. On the middle and left side of the packaging is dynamic box art of Optimus Prime getting ready to charge into battle. It's very striking artwork and grabs the eye instantly. This artwork wraps around to the right side of the box along with a large Autobot symbol and another, smaller "Transformers" logo. On the bottom is the "First Edition Optimus Prime" name along with the faction symbol. In the center is a sand colored detail with the "Age of Extinction" logo indicating which segment of the toy line this figure belongs to. The top and the bottom of the box each have Autobot logos on them with a comet-like detail surrounding them. All the symbols and print details are done either in white or red, again taking that clean "Apple-inspired" look.

The back of the box features the official photography for the action figure. It calls out the fact that the figure changes in 15 steps. It also lists the accessories as the "Sword of Judgement!" "Sentinel Shield!" and points out that the figure is "Over 10 Inches Tall!". Interestingly, the background Optimus is set against look like blueprints for Grimlock listed as a "Class 01 Destroyer". Much to my disappointment, there is no tech spec to be found on or inside the box. I'm hoping this is because this is a special edition of the figure and future "Age of Extinction" figures will have tech specs.

The front artwork on the box is also a flap that swings open (held in place by two small velcro tabs). Open it up and on the inside of the flap is the "Age of Extinction" poster featuring the number "4" with half a Decepticon symbol next to it. This is against a sandy background with the words "Age of Extinction" on the bottom. On the other side is a large window allowing you to see the figure inside in robot mode. Its accessories are also clearly visible. The cardboard backing behind the figure has more of the Dinobot schematics seen on the back of the box. On the bottom is a photograph of the real life truck used as Optimus Prime's vehicle mode in the film.

Overall the packaging on this figure is striking in how different it is than traditional "Transformers" packaging and I am very impressed by it. It really grabs the eye and I like how much of the figure you can see in the window.

Robot Mode:
In previous films, Optimus Prime kept the same basic form for three movies. That form was heavily inspired by his Generation One counterpart, complete with windows on his chest, a Matrix compartment and so on. This time out, Optimus Prime has changed his form to a much taller, thinner and sleek looking one. Between what's been leaked online, revealed in magazines and the Super Bowl teaser trailer, it's clear this figure is meant to represent a leaner and meaner Optimus Prime. The torso, arms and even most of the legs all point to the look of a trim humanoid shaped creature with a suit of armor on. I get the impression of armor from various design cues, perhaps the biggest ones being the "collar" like designs near his head on the top of the chest and the U shaped waist piece which hangs over the waist area like a loincloth. On top of this he has curved armor pieces draped over the shoulders and even the sides of the thighs have curved armor pieces on top of them. Underneath these armor sections are intricate details that look like machinery. You'll find this on almost every body part, with the torso being the most obvious.

There are still influences from his previous design. The head sculpt looks like a stylized version of the head design from the previous three movies, but this time the crest has more layers and the mouth portion seems to have more layers to it. He still has vents on either side of the mouthplate which gives a nice level of detail to the head. The other parts that resemble his previous form are the lower legs (which have angled armor panels wrapping around the section) and his feet (which have "toes" like the previous versions). Overall, these portions of the sculpt look fantastic.

Where many fans will lose interest in this figure is the large back pack on the back of the figure. This is not a detail seen in the footage that has been revealed of Optimus so far, so it's not there for movie-accuracy, it's there because it was the simplest place to put it without making the toy much more complicated. What winds up on his back includes the smokestacks from the vehicle mode, panels that from the side of the vehicle mode and parts of his cylindrical tanks. Unfortunately, having all this stuff on his back does indeed detract from the aesthetics and posability of the figure. There is some great sculpting here to be sure, the aesthetics of the back pack simply do not work for this iteration of the character.

Optimus Prime is cast in dark blue, dark grey and black plastic. The dark blue makes up parts like his lower legs, the head, parts of the "back pack" and the waist armor. Dark grey is found on other sections such as his arms and the smokestacks. Black is used for his wheels which peek out in this form on the back of the figure and on the sides of the legs. Several parts of this figure are vacuum metalized silver. This includes the torso, shoulders and thighs. On top of this vacuum metalized silver are blue and red details on the torso and blue on the sides of the thighs. Red paint is used for details on his forearms and for the flames of the vehicle mode (which show up on the sides). Silver paint is used for additional detailing such as the middle area of the lower legs and the robot face.

The irony of all this is that the smokestacks, which should be vacuum metalized are not, but large chunks of the figures' body are vacuum metalized silver. I'm sure this was due in part to how the mold trees worked out and which parts received which color treatments, but it still works since the grey of the smokestacks contrasts nicely with the vacuum metalized plastic.

Optimus Prime comes with two large accessories. One is the "Sentinel Shield" (no word on whether it's made from bits of Sentinel Prime). This shield seems to be a circular piece with points on the top and bottom. This shield then looks like it expands a bit and projects "energy" out to protect Optimus. Here the entire piece is cast in translucent yellow. Silver is then used to fill in the "metal" sections of the shield while the rest is left translucent yellow to give the feeling of energy coming out of the metal parts. The "metal" sections of the shield are painted silver. It's a really nice way to convey an "action" that may be seen on screen if Optimus uses his Sentinel Shield in combat. The other accessory is a large sword known as the "Sword of Judgement". Based on longer, European style swords, this weapon comes to a point at the end. Some silver is used where the blade meets the hilt.

There are nineteen points of articulation on this figure in robot mode. A majority of these joints are ratchet joints, giving the figure a really stable feel when you pose it. This includes four in each leg and arm. Unlike most "Transformers" figures released nowadays, First Edition Optimus Prime does not feature 5mm pegs or ports on the figure. Instead, both his sword and shield use another size that is larger. Interestingly, the sword has a connection point near the hilt that would allow you to attach a Mini-Con or weapon, so 5mm pegs weren't completely forgotten about - it's just that for some reason no one thought to use that standard for his hands. Another interesting note, the shield can only attach to the left arm where there is a corresponding hole. I'm not sure why this is the case, it would seem to be little to no problem to get a hole on the left side too. In terms of play value, the figure delivers. It's imposing looking with some good "chunk" to it thanks to the back pack. The sword and shield are not a play pattern we've seen much of in the Movie toy line, so it's cool to see that incorporated into the figure as well.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached and set them aside for now.
  2. On each lower leg, swing the back of the legs out.
  3. Swing the leg panels down and up, then open up the hinged sections.
  4. Swing the sections from the legs all the way up and fit the tabs from the side panels into the corresponding slots above the section with the "Western Star" logo and over the front wheel wells.
  5. Push the two legs together to begin forming the front of the vehicle mode.
  6. Swing the waist armor piece up.
  7. Pull the upper body section forward, you'll find it rests on a hinge piece.
  8. Swing each forearm up against the upper arms, then swing the arms back at the shoulders.
  9. Push the upper body section down.
  10. Swing the blue panels from the sides of the "back pack" section forward. Each of them has an angled tab that slots into the grooves revealed by moving the robot shoulders back. This is perhaps the part where you'll have to very carefully align the panels to make it work. The tab at the bottom of the blue panels should fit into the slot above the "step" that leads to the truck doors.
  11. Swing the middle panel on the back up and over, sliding its grooves into the tabs on the side windows.
  12. Swing the rear section of the vehicle forward, then flip it over. Fit the "T" shaped sections into the corresponding grooves on the front half of the vehicle.
  13. Attach the section of the sword near the hilt to the dark grey slot in the middle of the truck's underside.
  14. Attach the shield to the back of the truck.

Vehicle Mode:
The "Transformers" live action movies often bring real life vehicles into the toy line, and this time is no exception. In the previous films, Optimus Prime was a Peterbilt truck, but this time out he has taken on the form of a Western Star 4900 Custom Truck. He's definitely not a truck that just rolled off the assembly line. The vehicle has an extremely sleek and curved appearance that sets it apart from the standard Western Star truck. From the front grille all the way to the wind vane and smokestacks, everything on this vehicle is curved and sweeps towards the back. The front grille has a really tall vertical section on the bottom and if the steps to get to the driver side door are any indicator, this would not be a small truck in real life! The sculpt follows the appearance of the real life prop truck very well. Its shape is true to the real life vehicle even down to smaller details such as the row of lights above the windshield, vents along the side of the hood and even the shape of the door handle. He even has a bar sculpted on the other side of the truck where a human driver would grip to pull him or herself up to get into the truck. A nice touch that exists on the real life vehicle is an Autobot symbol at the top of the grille section, and that detail can be found in this figure as well!

There are some differences between this sculpt and the real life prop truck. For one, there are no side view mirrors on this vehicle mode whereas the real life truck does have them sticking out from the door area on each side. The prop truck also has two, angled antennae like pieces above each side window that angle backward. These are not present on the vehicle. Also, the design of the wheels and rims on the figure are totally different than the ones on the real prop. The prop truck uses large Goodyear tires, but this vehicle form has generic looking wheels with nicely sculpted traction patterns sculpted into them. The rims have Autobot symbols in the center which extends out to five "spokes". The real life prop truck only has raised circles in a circular pattern. These differences are relatively minor however, and I don't really think they impact the aesthetics of the truck overall.

In terms of color blue rules the day here, making up most of the armor from the front section to the middle and rear. The wheels are black with grey rims on the sides. The smokestacks are also cast in grey. The windows are a light translucent blue that you can easily see through. The robot mode isn't the only one to have vacuum metalized parts. In this mode the grille has vac metal and it looks great, both eye catching and true to the real life truck. You'll also find vacuum metalized parts on the sides of the vehicle where the text "Western Star" is sculpted into the section behind the front wheel wells. Red paint is used to provide an intricate set of "flame" designs going from the front of the vehicle to the back. The design isn't a 100% match of the one used in the movie prop vehicle, but they come pretty darn close. Silver is used for additional detail such as the lower portion of the smokestacks and the panel above the windshield.

Overall Optimus Prime's vehicle mode looks great and it's a really nice translation of the vehicle used in filming the movie. In a very real sense, this mode succeeds a bit better than the robot mode in "recreating" the movie appearance than the robot mode.

Final Thoughts:
I find myself finishing this review the same way I started it: conflicted. You see, the simplified transformation shows here and I'm sure is a huge culprit in creating such a huge "back pack" for Optimus Prime to carry. These two things alone are enough to turn off a lot of fans, especially older ones - and part of me can totally understand that. Older fans have gotten used to a certain aesthetic and level of complexity in "Transformers" figures of this size, so to not get that is jarring and ultimately disappointing. On the other hand, the goal of these simplified transformations was to make the figure intuitive to change, fun and not have someone spend 45 minutes transforming it from one mode to the other, and in that sense the figure succeeds completely while still having some really nicely sculpted and colored details.

The older collector in me is a bit disappointed in the figure, partly due to the bizarre decision of not using the 5mm peg/port standard, but the young kid inside me thinks it's fun to mess around with and that the sword/shield combination of accessories is pretty darn cool.

Overall, I'd recommend this figure to anyone looking for a nice, big Optimus Prime that is easy to transform and fun to play with. As a super screen accurate figure with tons of steps and high complexity, this figure does not succeed. I would also really give a lot of thought to how badly you want this before spending $59.99 on it as that is quite a chunk of change to plunk down on one figure. Recommended but with very specific caveats noted above.