"Generations" Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Generations, Leader, Titan Master, Titans Return

Generations
Titans Return

Powermaster Optimus Prime General Information:
Release Date: July 2016
Price Point: $45.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Apex Titan Master figure, Shoulder cannons x 2; Blasters x 2

Official images and text below in italics are from Hasbro.com:
Optimus Prime will stand against any threat. Autobot Apex helps him face enemies that even the Autobot Commander cannot face alone. The Titan Master carries a portion of the spark, and power, of Optimus Prime, increasing the legendary warrior's already immense ability. With that boost to his systems, he charges into battle as Powermaster Optimus Prime.

This Titans Return Leader Class Powermaster Optimus Prime figure comes with a Titan Master Autobot Apex figure. The Autobot Apex figure becomes the head of the Powermaster Optimus Prime figure. Unite them and power up for battle.

Titan Master figures can become the head for any Deluxe Class, Voyager Class, or Leader Class Titans Return figures. Unite this Titan Master Autobot Apex figure with other bots to create different combinations, or unite other Titan Master figures with this Powermaster Optimus Prime figure. Additional figures are each sold separately. Subject to availability.

This Triple Changer Powermaster Optimus Prime figure converts between robot, tractor trailer, and city modes. It converts from robot to tractor trailer in 21 steps, and from tractor trailer to city in 10. In city mode, the figure connects to the Titans Return Fortress Maximus figure to form a Cybertron City. Fortress Maximus figure is sold separately. Subject to availability.

The Titan Master Autobot Apex figure converts from robot to head and back in 1 step. When the Powermaster Optimus Prime figure is in vehicle and city modes, the Autobot Apex figure fits inside. Also includes a blaster accessory and character card with tech specs.

Includes Leader Class Powermaster Optimus Prime figure, Titan Master Autobot Apex figure, blaster accessory, collector card, and instructions.

Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the Headmasters era in new forms that pay homage to the originals.

Powermaster Optimus Prime is based on the 1988 version of Optimus Prime. Instead of being just part of the name, "Powermaster" actually referred to his special ability. Instead of a Headmaster whose head became a small figure, Powermasters had engines that detached and became small engines. Since "Titan Masters" are all heads, the "Powermaster" name was carried over into the name of the figure to retain that G1 connection.

Powermaster Optimus prime is a heavy retooling and redeco of the "Generations" Leader Class Ultra Magnus figure. At the time I wrote that review I had a suspicion that the sculpt would be turned into Optimus Prime, not so much because of the figure but because of its accessories! While not exact matches, I found the two distinct designs reminiscent of the ones drawn on Powermaster Optimus Prime in the Marvel comics, with one looking more like a rifle and the other having a horizontal, flat section. More on the accessories below.

Packaging:
Much like the Voyager Class packaging, Optimus Prime is in a large window box. One side has the "Transformers" logo set vertically with the "Generations" logo above it. You can see Optimus through the window and the name below him boldly declares him as "Powermaster Optimus Prime" along with the name of his Titan Master: Apex. The back of the packaging shows Optimus Prime's stock art in all three forms and the usual requisite legal information and personality blurb.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Optimus Prime includes the Titan Master Apex, two blasters and two shoulder cannons. I go into detail on Apex below. His blasters feature two different designs. One is vertically flat with a thick barrel that narrows at the end. There is a magazine sculpted into the middle section and a handle in the back. The handle is rectangular since Ultra Magnus' hands don't use 5mm holes but rather open up to hold weapons. There is a 5mm peg on the right side of the weapon, allowing you to attach the weapon to Optimus Prime in both modes. This blaster reminds me of Magnus' original weapon from Generation One. These blasters are cast in a metallic black plastic, which is much better than a flat black plastic.

The other weapon included with Magnus has a different design. The back has a flat horizontal section leading to a long barrel. The handle is flat just like the other weapon. There is a 5mm peg on top of the weapon, allowing other figures to use it. It also has 5mm holes on either side of the horizontal section. You can attach the barrel of this weapon to the peg on the back of the other weapon to form the handle of a melee weapon. On Magnus his missile launcher accessories attached to the top of this staff weapon to form a hammer. Since Optimus comes with different accessories, attaching the weapons creates a weapon that kind of resembles a hammer but it's kind of hard to ignore the four weapon barrels sticking up or down.

The other accessories included with Optimus are dual barreled cannons. These have their origins in dual barreled cannons that were included with G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime. Like those cannons there are two barrels in the front leading to a section in the back intended for a small figure to sit on. In G1, the Powermasters basically straddled the cannon, but in this case there is a small seating area in the back allowing a Titan Master figure to sit inside. These pieces are very detailed with fins on the cannon barrels, cross catching and "X" shapes inside the seats and even some additional detailing on the bottom. The weapons have four 5mm pegs. On eon top, one on the bottom and one on each side towards the back. This gives you a variety of ways to not only attach this piece to Optimus himself, but other figures and playsets in the "Titans Return" line. I was very happy to see this weapon as the G1 version was always one of my favorite aspects of the G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime design. Both weapons are cast in light grey and are unpainted (just like their G1 counterparts).

Apex

Apex's name has a bit of history behind it. Way back when Optimus Prime was first released in Generation One, his Japanese counterpart was a totally different character named Ginrai. Ginrai would later gain an additional trailer that could combine with him to form a suit of armor and power up the character. Known as "Godbomber", this trailer/character was highly sought after for years by fans. Many years later when Hasbro was releasing reissues of G1 figures and one of them was Powermaster Optimus Prime. Fans were in for a treat however. Instead of releasing the US version of Powermaster Optimus Prime, they put out the Japanese Ginrai figure which featured some die-cast metal and fists that slid out in robot mode instead of just sitting there as they did with the US version. Even better? They included the Godbomber figure but this time out it was called the "Apex Armor". That is where Apex gets his name from. It's interesting that both the Ginrai and Hi-Q names were not available trademarks but Apex is a good substitute.

Head Mode:
Powermaster Optimus Prime's head mode is another Easter Egg of sorts. Instead of the traditional mouthplate based look, this face has the traditional Optimus Prime helmet section with a crest in the center and antennae on the sides, but the face is a regular face featuring eyes, nose and a mouth. This is in fact based on the look of Orion Pax in the IDW Publishing universe, Optimus Prime's identity before he became Autobot leader!

This figure features metallic blue, red and grey plastic. The front of the head is metallic blue. The face is painted silver with light blue eyes. The red and grey show up in the back. When you attach the head to the body, you can slide a helmet over it which has details borrowed from G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime including a mouthplate and what appear to be weapon barrels on either side of the face! This is a really fun way to pay homage to Optimus' history.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
To transform the figure you hold onto the back and swing it down, revealing the Titan Master's limbs and body. The head of the Titan Master may need to be turned around to face the right direction. In Optimus Prime's case, it's best to make sure Apex's face is facing the opposite direction as Prime's face when connecting it to Prime's body. The other way works, but the head is super loose and won't stay securely in place.

Robot Mode:
Apex's sculpt features several details based on the G1 sculpt used for G1 Hi-Q. Here's a rundown of the details borrowed from that figure:

  • The head features a "helmet" section with a slope on top. The face has large visor eyes on it.
  • The chest has an angled section in the center and the details on it are asymmetrical, with a small badge like shape on the left side but not on the right.
  • The shoulders are curved and the forearms feature rows of lines.
  • The legs are relatively thin and curved, hinting at the humanoid characters in G1. Whether you were talking about Ginrai or Hi-Q, this figure represented a partly organic humanoid, and these shapes call back to that.

Apex features blue plastic on his back, grey on his head and legs and two shades of red. The torso section is a metallic red while his arms are a flat red. These colors look cool, but unfortunately there are no paint details on these parts. Now, you can get away with this on the arms and legs, sure. However the head is unpainted and since it's grey it just looks very plain. This is sad because the sculpted detail is very nice and paint would have helped bring it out.

There are five points of articulation on this figure. Since the legs are two pieces on hinges the hip and knee joints move together. All the joints are nice and tight.

Robot Mode:
Most of the time when you say "retool" and "redeco" some fans wind up rolling their eyes, considering such a move lazy and unimaginative. All issues of cost aside, I can confidently say that Powermaster Optimus Prime represents an ideal scenario of retooling and repainting. Looking over the figure and comparing it to Ultra Magnus, the two Autobots basically share precious few parts. The most notable are the hands, the feet and the top of the thighs. There are some similarities in the cab section that forms chunks of the torso, but even those are not exact matches. What it comes down to is this: this is a heavy retool, to the point where it's practically a brand new figure with a similar transformation to Ultra Magnus. Here's a rundown of what was changed:

  • The head mechanism is totally different to accommodate the Titan Master gimmick and to represent Optimus' face/head instead of Magnus.
  • The torso is different. The cab has a totally different design and a complicated looking engine-like piece (inspired by G1 Hi-Q) overlaps it. You'll also see small windows on the edges of the chest, a feature carried over from G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime.
  • The shoulder sections feature a single cone coming up, reminiscent of the two circles that came up from G1 Optimus Prime's shoulders.
  • The upper arms and forearms are all new pieces, with an interesting raised six sided design on the forearms and small machinery details like tubes on the top and outside of the forearms.
  • The hip/waist area has more machinery detail, including two tubes in the middle surrounded by a six sided shape.
  • The bottom part of the thighs are new designs, featuring a distinctive angle towards the knees and rows of horizontal lines - both details borrowed from G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime.
  • The legs feature several layers, including knee armor that sticks out and large feet. In addition to that the knee armor features a sculpted triangle design borrowed from a sticker found on G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime.
  • The panels on the sides of the lower legs feature a section that angles downward, then straightens out before angling inward. This is a more detailed version of similar details on G1 Optimus Prime's legs.

As you can see a lot of rework and retooling went into this figure. I'm very happy to see how many details were inspired by the G1 version of the character. However I'm also impressed by how many of these details were then taken a few steps further or how new details were added on. Some of the tinier details such as the machinery on the forearms and legs are absolutely awesome.

Optimus is cast in a beautiful metallic blue, metallic red, light grey and black plastic. The blue is concentrated on the head, back and lower body. The metallic red mostly appears on the torso and arms. The rest of the figure is mostly grey with metallic black making up the wheels. As enthusiastic as I am about this figure, the deco is where it is a bit too restrained for its own good. Red paint is used on the arms, parts of the torso and the hands. Silver is used on the torso, mouthplate and head. Silver is also used as a background for Autobot symbols on the shoulders. Unfortunately that's it. The parts that suffer the most because of this are the legs, which are just molded plastic with no paint details on them. There's a lot of detail here that would pop nicely if they were painted but instead they all kind of just blend into each other because the legs are just two big uniform colors (blue and grey).

There are twenty one points of articulation on this figure. That includes five on each arm and leg. In his head mode, Apex attaches to a slot on the top of the figure. The helmet section then slides on top of the head. This mechanism is designed to allow the head to turn from side to side. The head doesn't just turn a little, the head can turn in a complete circle (Galvatron could have benefitted from this). Instead of the typical fists with 5mm ports, Optimus' hands are like Ultra Magnus'. The four fingers can swing out (the thumb is locked in place). The weapons slide into the gap on the hand and they can be pushed into the slot on the bottom of the forearms for extra stability. I like this extra step as Ultra Magnus didn't have these slots so his weapons were not very stable in his hands.

But wait, there's more! One of the features of many larger Titans Return figures are tiny pegs to allow Titan Master figures to stand on the larger figures. This adds to the illusion of these figures being giant robots. On Optimus you'll find pegs like this on either side of his head and on the sides of his lower legs (right on top of the wheel wells). Technically his lower legs have more but they'd wind up having the Titan Masters look like they're standing on him sideways. Optimus has four 5mm ports to attach weapons. Two are on the shoulders and two are on the sides of the lower legs. The ones on his shoulders are a homage to G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime who had weapon ports in the same place.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach Apex and convert him into robot mode.
  2. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  3. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  4. Swing the chest panel down.
  5. Swing open the halves of the vehicle cab (revealed when you swing down the chest armor).
  6. Swing the head/helmet down and swing the panels back in place. Be sure to swing up the panel that forms the top of the vehicle cab.
  7. Swing the vehicle cab section up, then rotate it around and push it down into place.
  8. Holding on to the rear wheels of the cab section, slide the cab section up.
  9. Swing the section with the cab and arms back.
  10. Swing the robot arms in.
  11. Swing the panels on the bottom of the forearms out.
  12. Connect the parts of the two arms together.
  13. Swing the legs up.
  14. Swing the panels on the inner parts of the lower legs out.
  15. Lift up the front panels of the lower legs.
  16. Rotate the grey panels on the legs up.
  17. Swing each of the feet onto the back of the lower legs.
  18. Connect the two hinge pieces on the front of each of the grey panels to the corresponding sections in the front of the vehicle.
  19. Push the lower leg sections together.
  20. Bring the arm sections/panels down and slide the tabs on the grey panels into the corresponding grooves on the grey panels from the robot legs.
  21. Attach the hand weapons to the top of the trailer.
  22. Attach the dual barreled weapons to the sides of the vehicle in the front.
  23. You can open up the cab section and have Apex sit inside.

Vehicle Mode:
When the original version of this sculpt was released as Ultra Magnus, he transformed into a car carrier truck. This meant the trailer could have several gaps since it was basically just a bunch of rails on wheels. This time out however the trailer has to be an enclosed trailer like the one the original G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime had. For the most part the designers succeeded. There are some gaps in the front and top but it is mostly a rectangular box (in true Optimus Prime fashion). Unlike his the original Optimus Prime's trailer this version has a lot of extra detailing on the sides including doors, steps and mechanical details towards the back. If we are to assume Optimus is scaled to humans, he winds up being gigantic in this form. Indeed, if you put a Titan Master next to the doors on the sides even they are huge compard to a human!

Optimus carries over many aspects of his G1 counterpart. The sides of the trailers have rows of horizontal lines sculpted into them with a wide, angled line that goes in a straight line, angles up, then goes horizontal again. This is an iconic detail for Optimus Prime and has appeared on several versions of the character. The way his dual barreled weapons attach to the front of the trailer also calls back to the original Powermaster Optimus, as do the way the other weapons attach to the top of the trailer.

The cab section uses the G1 cab as its starting point, but then takes the design and makes it look more futuristic. The grille section is tall and wide. The windows are thin and the lines are more curved and streamlined than the blockier looking G1 cab. There are lots of neat details including ladders on the sides, notches on the smokestacks and even small cone shaped details along the top of the cab that are most likely meant to represent horns (but could also be lights). Overall the vehicle mode looks great and is full of beautifully sculpted details. For those wondering, this cab is a different sculpt than the same section on Ultra Magnus. Not only that, it's actually a bit smaller than Magnus' cab.

Optimus rolls on ten wheels in this form. The cab section can turn side to side, but it is not meant to disconnect from the trailer. The dual barreled weapons can be attached using the pegs on the sides. This allows you to have Titan Masters sitting inside them. Speaking of Titan Masters, this mode has small pegs all over it allowing you to attach Titan Master figures. The top of the trailer has five towards the front. There are two located above the rear wheel wells. The cab has two on top. Want more functionality? The back of the trailer can swing down and you can slide a Deluxe Class figure in vehicle form into the trailer! I managed to fit Blurr in there without a problem, and of course that means you can fit Legends Class vehicles in there as well.

For the most part this mode is grey with a red section in front and a metallic blue section connecting them. The biggest deco in this form is on the classic angled pattern on the sides. The outer borders are painted blue, the line in the middle is white and there is a large Autobot symbol in red on top of the lines. The cab gets some attention too. The grille, headlights and smokestacks are painted silver while the windows are blue. An Autobot symbol is painted on to the top section of the grille. I like the deco on this mode. Thanks to the way the silver is used in the front and the big blue/white line on the sides he does not look plain at all. I do wish the tinier sculpted details had some type of paint (maybe a black wash?) to help emphasize just how intricate they are.

Transformation to Base Mode (from vehicle mode):

  1. Be sure Apex is set aside.
  2. Detach all the weapons and set them aside for now.
  3. Separate the hinge pieces from the sides and swing out the panels.
  4. Separate the top part of the trailer (the robot arms) from the side panels.
  5. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  6. Swing each arm up, then swing down the grey panels.
  7. Rotate each arm at the shoulder to form two towers.
  8. Push the cab section in.
  9. Swing out the stands located on the bottom of the cab section. You can open this up for the base mode as well.
  10. Swing the chest panel from the robot mode up.
  11. Swing the legs out to the sides.
  12. Rotate the legs using the swivel joint on the thighs so the wheels face up.
  13. Holding on to the wheel wells, lift gently and then rotate the panels around.
  14. Push the panels from the front of the lower legs back in place.
  15. Swing the panels from the sides of the trailer down to form ramps.
  16. Attach the metallic black weapons to the sides of the arms.
  17. Attach the dual barreled weapons to the holes on the rear wheel wells.

The transformation sequence described above is the official way to form the base mode. Unfortunately there is one problem with it: the ramps formed by the sides of the trailer become almost useless because any vehicle running down those ramps would crash into the towers formed by Optimus' arms. Tinkering with the figure I came up with an alternate transform that works much better. Instead of keeping the legs straight and having the ramps face back, do the following once you've swung the legs out to the sides:

  1. Bend the robot legs at the knees three notches (it is a ratchet joint so you'll feel the notches).
  2. Adjust the ramps so you can now have vehicles face front when they zoom off into battle.
    Attach the dual barreled weapons to the wheel wells.

Not only does this method take away a bunch of fiddling, but now the ramps face front. There is plenty of clearance and the dual barreled weapons can still be used as weapon emplacements. In promotional photos for the Takara Tomy Ginrai release of this mold, they have the panels on the towers swung up so they look taller. While it does add height to the base mode I think it takes away some cool details so it's not my preferred alternate transform.

Base Mode:
Nowadays when folks think about an Optimus Prime toy, a base mode is not one of the things fans associate with the character. In fact, Optimus has had a long history of having some part of him form a base. This goes back to the original Optimus Prime figure whose trailer became a base complete with a spring loaded launcher for smaller vehicles. The Japanese incarnation of Optimus Prime known as Star Convoy turned into a base, cab, trailer and all. Later in Generation 2 "Laser" Optimus Prime's trailer also became a battle station. Most importantly, G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime's trailer became a base, and it is that base that served as the inspiration for this base mode.

Like the G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime's base, this base features two towers formed from the robot arms and the legs become sections with ramps on the sides. There is also a platform in the center for figures to stand on and the way the weapons attach to this mode are analogous to the way the weapons attached to G1 Powermaster Optimus' base mode. There are differences of course. G1 Powermaster Optimus Prime's base had a ramp in the middle, this base does not. Also the cab separated from the G1 version to form Optimus himself, in this case the cab is integrated into the base. I would say overall the "spirit" of the original base mode is definitely alive with this figure.

There are some fantastic sculpted details that really get to shine in this mode. The towers for instance feature raised sections that look like some type of vent and exhaust system. At the base of each ramp are small details including gears, tubes and what look like tanks that could store liquids or gas. I love little details like this, especially in a base mode.

There are no color surprises here. Most of the parts you see here that were not visible in other forms are just grey, including the middle section. Thanks to the blue and white line details featuring heavily on the ramps and the colors from the robot chest right in the front of the base there is a good variety of color in this form.

I have always been a fan of base modes, partly because they help create the fantasy of a larger world for the Transformers to inhabit. This base mode succeeds in doing this partly thanks to twelve Titan Master pegs! On each of the ramp sections you'll find five pegs. The other two are on the cab section in the back. When you take a bunch of Titan Masters and place them on these pegs it really looks like Optimus is a base that characters inhabit. Even better, thanks to their size, they help create the illusion of Optimus forming a giant base. Add in some figures standing in the center section and others in vehicle mode on the ramps and the result is what looks like an active base in the Transformers universe!

But wait, there's more! The ends of Optimus Prime's ramps have special hinges on them that allow them to attach to other figures such as Blaster in base mode or Fortress Maximus. This too helps sell the fantasy of a Cybertronian City being formed with these characters.

Final Thoughts:
Powermaster Optimus Prime is a fun modern take on a toy that is fondly remembered by many fans including yours truly. The sculpting is fantastic and there is plenty of play value. The weakest aspect of the figure is the deco, which is light at best. I do appreciate the use of the beautiful metallic blue and black plastic colors, but I really wish there was more going on with the deco in robot mode. Overall this is a fun addition to your Titans Return collection.