Energon Toy Reviews: Optimus Prime & Overload

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Costco, Energon, Superlink

Energon

General Information:
Release Year: November 2004
Retailer: Costco Exclusive
Price: $29.99
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories (Optimus Prime): Missile x 1, Rifle, Corona Sparkplug Mini-Con Figure
Accessories (Overload): Missiles x 2, Rollout Mini-Con Figure

General Images:

The Holiday Shopping Season is upon us in 2004, and as part of that wonderful season Transformers exclusives are popping up like woodwork everywhere you look. One of the more recent entries is a Costco Exclusive 2-Pack of Optimus Prime and Overload from Armada in new decos. Packaged in "Energon" packaging, one can guess that perhaps these are the pre-Energon TV Show incarnations of Prime and Overload.

This review will focus on the changes made to these toys for this release. For a more detailed review of Optimus Prime, read his Armada review. Also check out the Armada "Final Battle" Optimus Prime review. For Overload, check out his original review and the later review of the toy as Energon Ultra Magnus.

Optimus Prime

Images:

Between the U.S. and Japan, this marks the fifth version of this toy released. Sixth if you count the "gold plated" contest variant in the U.S., which (I believe) was limited to ten pieces. This also marks the second time this toy was released as a store exclusive in the U.S.

Vehicle Mode:
While he has been redone several times, I think this is the most unique color scheme that has been applied to this sculpt. I'm convinced that the idea behind this two pack was having Optimus Prime and Overload be a rescue team of sorts. There's a good chunk of yellow on this toy, both in paint apps, translucent and opaque plastic. However, Prime's primary color in vehicle mode is dark grey. The sides and most of the cab are dark grey. The top and parts of the cab are maroon colored.

Yellow can be found on the cab and trailer. The cab has a yellow front grill and the smokestacks are translucent yellow. The trailer has yellow on the sides and the rear is completely yellow. What makes me think of emergency rescue are the painted yellow lines on the hood of the cab and the sides of the trailer. These alternate with the grey color to form a "warning" type pattern. Some silver is used, both in the plastic and paint apps. The rear treads are silver while the missile pod in front and the tabs (with Mini-Con Powerlinx points) on the top are molded in silver plastic.

One detail I really like are the white stripes on the front of the cab. The pattern is straighter than the curved one used on the first Armada Prime. It's just nice having a bit of style continuity between the various figures.

Robot Mode (Cab):
In his robot mode, Optimus Prime takes on a distinctly non-Optimus set of colors. No sign of blue here, Prime is mostly grey in this form. Silver is used for detailing, and certain parts such as his feet, upper legs and waist are maroon. The robot head is red with a silver crest and mouthplate. Yellow plays a role too, making up the chest panel and paint apps on the arms. The Matrix inside the chest is painted gold with a blue center.

I actually like this color scheme as it differs a lot from the other Primes. The yellow livens up an otherwise very dark set of colors. However, I'm not as nuts about the red head, which just kind of stands out a lot against the other darker colors. If the same red was present somewhere else on the toy in this form it would look better.

Functionally Prime is intact. Even the moving mouthplate feature on the robot head works just fine. His joints are tight too, so it's nice to see after so many uses his tooling is holding together well.

Base Mode (Trailer):
The color pattern for the trailer's base mode seems very close to the one used for Final Battle Optimus Prime. Instead of black however, the designers replaced it with dark grey. The red is replaced with maroon and the light grey has been replaced with a dark shade of silver. The circle on the left side (facing the base) is still gold but several parts such as the doors on the sides are yellow.

The base mode's sound effects are still present, along with the lights on the viewscreen at the center of the base. The dual barreled cannon on the right side still activates by using a Mini-Con, and the missile launcher on the left side fires just as well as the earlier versions of this toy.

Super Robot Mode:
I have to confess that at first I really did not like the color scheme for this form. Of course, it offers another lesson in how different the experience of seeing a photo online can be from having the toy in front of you. The pictures I saw previous to actually owning the piece really just emphasized the yellow so much that it looked like Prime was turning into some kind of Sun God. But in reality, yellow makes up only a small portion of this form.

For the most part, Optimus is dark grey and maroon in this form. Sure he has yellow, a stripe on the chest, the waist and a bit on the upper legs, but that's it. Even the yellow is broken up here and there. The chest has an Autobot symbol on it. The waist has black paint apps offering extra detail.

There are some interesting visual continuity bits here. The Super Robot head is the same shade of red as the cab robot mode's head. Like the cab robot mode, the mouthplate and crest are silver. The "smokestack" ears are white, which seem to follow the pattern of the white lines on the upper body. Very nice.

Prime's light up fist still works just fine and unlike the early versions of Armada Prime, this one's right arm can move up and down fully (this was
also done during the toy's Armada run).

Optimus Prime comes with Corona Sparkplug. There was no change made to this toy for this release.

Overload

Counting U.S. and Japanese versions, this is the fourth use of this mold. If you count the recent "Sentinel Maximus" retool/redeco, that's five altogether.

Rollout

Vehicle Mode:
Following the "rescue" theme of this two pack, Rollout is mostly yellow. The yellow is a rather dark shade of the color, not neon at all. He has some maroon parts, specifically the top, middle section, the back thrusters and the bumper area in the front. He also has blue paint apps for detail, most prominently on the front of the vehicle where his weapons are sculpted. Thankfully, the barrels of the weapons in this section are all painted black, allowing for more detail. The windows are also painted black, giving some good, dark contrast to an otherwise fairly bright toy.

Robot Mode:
The robot mode benefits from many of the colors seen in vehicle mode becoming more prominent. The maroon only hinted at in vehicle mode takes center stage here, making up the robot head, the arms and part of the legs. The head has blue paint apps and white eyes, giving it some more definition. The yellow really acts as an outline color here, so it doesn't overwhelm everything else.

Weapon Mode:
Essentially being flipped upside down, the weapon mode is the most plain looking of the bunch. The bottom is completely yellow, with no paint apps. And really, I'm not surprised, it's not often the bottom of any toy is painted up, and he's really just a gun in this form, no need for super special detailing. Having the barrels done in maroon was a good idea however as it does break the monotony of the color.

Overload

Vehicle Mode:
The trailer portion of the Overload vehicle is where most of the yellow in this two pack went. The yellow used is a darker shade of the color which keeps it from looking absolutely garish. I'm guessing the yellow was meant to really emphasize the "rescue/emergency" idea behind the set. It also contrasts heavily with the dark grey on Optimus Prime.

The same maroon color found on Optimus is found here towards the front of the vehicle. It's also used on small paint apps on the side. Black is also used on the sides and top of the vehicle, which is always a good color to use with yellow. The same shade of blue used on Rollout can be found on the trailer as well.

Robot Mode:
Overload is still mostly yellow in robot mode, but he utilizes all his other colors a lot more to add detail. On the arms, chest and legs you'll find black painted on for detail. The chest has blue apps thanks in part to Rollout forming the chest. The robot head is maroon with blue and white details. The white eyes staring out from the blue face really look menacing. It's a great blend of color and sculpt. The one disappointment I have are the missiles in the shoulders. The pieces were left black, with no coloring on the missiles themselves. This was a silly detail to overlook.

Overload retains his electronics in this form, so when you attach Rollout and push him in, it pushes the button that activates the classic G1 sound effect. To this day the coolness of any Transformer goes up a notch (okay, a couple notches) with this sound effect in the toy.

Weapon Mode:
In his weapon mode, Overload attaches to Optimus Prime in Super Robot Mode or the Base Mode. The missiles are molded in yellow. All theo the colors simply carry over from the other forms since no real new parts are being introduced. When combined with Optimus, the yellow works very well because it is contrasting against the dark colors on Prime. The missiles still fire just fine. Overall, Overload still looks fairly intimidating in this mode.

Final Thoughts:
My initial reaction to this two pack was to stay away as far as possible. However, after checking it out up close, it's actually an interesting set, but it may or may not appeal to your individual aesthetic. However, for $29.99, this set is a steal. Consider Prime himself cost $39.99 at one time and Overload was $19.99 or so. If you don't own these two at all, this is a great price and it's an exclusive to boot!