Rescue Bots Optimus Prime (Monster Truck) Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Rescue Bots

Rescue Bots

General Information:
Release Date: April 2014
Price Point: $7.97 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None

Images:

*Images with asterisks and text in italics from Amazon.com:
Your little hero will save the day with this Rescue Bots hero! It's easy for his little hands to convert his Optimus Prime figure from fierce robot warrior mode to monster truck mode. Then he can roll his Optimus Prime monster truck over any kind of terrain! He'll love converting his robot warrior back and forth for awesome Transformers adventures! Playskool, Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Rescue Bots continues in its third year as the segment of the "Transformers" line aimed at kids 7 years and below. Unlike last year's line, which focused on a bulk of the characters being retools and redecos of the previous years toys, this year introduces a whole new set of sculpts along with a new size. This line of "Rescue Bots" figures is about 2/3 the size of the previous figures. This still makes them big enough for kids to manipulate, but also reduces the cost (and for collectors, storage room) of each toy. One of the first characters to get a new form is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots!

Robot Mode:
Optimus Prime's robot mode is very much an updated version of his G1 design. He has all the iconic Optimus Prime elements including a rectangular chest with the "windows" of the vehicle mode, rectangular sections forming his arms, complete with smokestacks on the upper arms, a vehicle mode grille on his mid-section and even a trapezoid shaped section with horizontal line details on his legs. Of course, the most iconic design element is the head, which features a crest, mouthplate and sections on the sides with circles and antennae like panels pointing upward. The way the head is designed, it's rounded a bit and his eyes are a bit bigger than you usually see on an Optimus Prime figure. The combined effect of these details is a somewhat "friendlier" looking Optimus Prime head.

While many of the details are inspired by G1 Optimus Prime, some are unique to this design. First you'll notice the huge monster truck wheels on his arms and legs. Also, the grille on his mid-body isn't the traditional, square or rectangular grille. Instead it has a very distinct shape: the Autobot symbol! The design is a bit obscured on purpose, so the details don't jump out at you but instead they're subtle and relaly add to the overall appearance of the figure. Other, more subtle details are different such as his forearms, which have a raised wrist section leading to the fists (looking almost like he has gauntlets on) and the rounded thighs with horizontal line details that look like he has metal bands wrapped around his legs. Overall I really dig this design for Optimus and actually find myself wishing there was a "Generations" style Optimus Prime toy with this design!

Optimus is cast in metallic red, blue and black plastic. The red makes up most of the torso section, while blue is used on the arms and legs. The black of course makes up the monster truck tires hanging on the sides. Silver is the most heavily used color for detailing. You'll find it on his mouthplate, crest, grille, smokestacks and thighs. His eyes are painted yellow, which - combined with the design of his head - gives it a distinct feel of the G1 Optimus Prime toy's head. That's a plus in my book. Black is used for the chest "windows", though due to the way he transforms, the effect is broken up by the hinges that enable the transformation of his arms. Red paint is used to fill in details on the arms since they are cast in blue plastic. While there ar eno color surprises here, I do think they look really good. Even with his modified grille and gigantic tires, the figure still feels like "an" Optimus Prime and pays proper homage to many designs that came before it.

From a functionality standpoint, Optimus really has no posability to speak of. That said, his fists do have 5mm ports in them. This allows him to hold tools from last year's "Energize" line and even weapons from other "Transformers" lines such as "Generations".

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
Like the previous years, the "Rescue Bots" figures aim at being "one-step" transformations based on a particular type of action (pushing, pulling etc.). In this case, you push the legs up to transform the figure. At the same time the arms will fold in, the rear wheel wells will move back and the front of the vehicle will slide over the head. That's quite a bit going on from one simple motion and I really respect how much gear-work is going on internally to make all that happen.

Vehicle Mode:
In his vehicle form, this version of Optimus Prime is a mash up of other Optimus Prime designs, most notably the live actionmovies with a bit of G1 Optimus Prime thrown in for good measure. See, this Optimus is not just a monster truck he's a longnose monster truck, similar to the live action movie Optimus' vehicle mode. The front of the vehicle extends out, then leads to a raised cabin section complete with a wind vane and smokestacks sculpted onto the sides. The back section has a raised, oval shaped section where it looks like a trailer could connect to the vehicle. All this sits on top of the four giant wheels, creating a weird, but kind of fun looking hybrid vehicle.

There are some nice, and unexpected small details on this figure. This includes small ladders found on either side of the cabin section, raised circles on the sides that look like bolts for armor and even springs/shocks on the rear wheel well pieces. The grille in this mode also replicates the look of the grille from the robot mode, providing nice continuity between the two forms. Like G1 Optimus, his windows are divided into two panels for the windshield and he has a row of lights along the top of the truck.

This mode shows off more of the red plastic than the previous form. Most of the blue plastic winds up towards the back. The wheels really dominate in this form since they're so huge. Silver is used to paint the smokestacks, ladders, rims and grille. Yellow is used for the row of lights above the windshield and in keeping with visual continuity between modes, the windshield panels are painted black. A light blue "Rescue Bots style" Autobot symbol is found on the hood of the vehicle. I really like the deco on this figure. While being a "Monster Truck" may be unconventional for Optimus Prime, the design looks great and really makes a powerful visual impact.

Final Thoughts:
I love this update of Optimus Prime. It offers kids a way to have Optimus Prime in a different expression that isn't another version of his flat-front end truck that has been done several times in the line already. It is worth repeating that this is aimed at younger kids, so many older fans who may be grousing about "simpler designs" should be reminded you're not the target audience for this figure. For its intent and design, I think this figure is stellar!