Return of the Fallen
Leader Class Optimus Prime
If you read any of my reviews of the toys from the first movie, you'll not that I'm not really a fan of the line. There are alot of things they try that doesn't really work. The original Voyager Starscream, the Voyager Ironhide, and the abyssmal Leader Class Megatron, which frankly belonged in the bargin bin it ended up in. As the second movie approached, Hasbro needed to get rid of the their leftover stocks, so local distributors got a great deal on the toys which translated to very, very happy kids and collectors here in the Philippines.
Among that sea of blah product, I found the original Transformers the movie Leader Class Optimus Prime. This was the one Transformers Movie toy that I could not stop playing with. It had all these great things going for it. Heft, electronics sound and lights, articulation, a spring-loaded projectile launcher, rubber tires, a a great look that was worthy of the name "Prime".
Skip to today. Hasbro releases the toys for the second movie. Overall, I think they did a fantastic job. Not only did they bring back favorites (re: re-paints) like Ratchet, Ironhide, and Bumblebee, they gave us brand new characters, and still managed made new molds for some of the biggies. Megatron (aka "Chickenwing"), Starscream (a huge improvement), and Optimus Prime.
The new Leader Class Optimus Prime comes packaged in a box that is more well designed than the original. At first I didn't like the look of them, since it looked like it was complicated and going to be quite a job opening from the pictures, but it turns out, the box is perfect. It's just big enough to offer some protection, but not too big to waste tons of space. It's has a nice window on the front to show off the figure, and even windows on the side. It opens like a REGULAR BOX. You cut the tape on the side and open it, sliding out the tray. How INGENIOUS! There a few twist ties to go through, but once they're cut through, you're good to go.
Out of the box, he's a monster of a robot. He's easily a head taller than the old Leader Class Prime, with a sleeker, more "athletic" build. It really is amazing how they've engineered him to have the least amount of kibble he possibly could. The first release had an odd sort of backpack with all this extra truck stuff, plus little doohickeys and thingamajigs that were obviously after thoughts that didn't have anywhere to go. This guys all put together. There is still a backpack, but it looks more like it's supposed to be there, like it houses important, FUNCTIONAL gadgetry.
Articulation is even better than the first Optimus. Because his legs are longer, he can have a much wider stance. His arms as well have a range of movement that just boggles the mind. His feet still retain the ball joints the first one had, but they're much more useful now.
If there was a two-handed sword that came with him, I'm sure that he could hold it above his head and swing for the fences. He's even able to look down in a way, thanks to a little extension that has to do with his transformation.
He still has the whole electronic lights and sounds gimmck that kids seem to love. In Robot mode, he says "I am Optimus Prime" over and over again. In truck mode, there's a sound that I suppose is something like a truck rollign along the highway. When you transform him, there's also an automatic "Transformation" sound (It's triggered by a hidden switch which really sucks). If you're a dad, I'd think twice about buying this for your son as all three sounds will be triggered when he transforms this thing, which can get really REALLY irritating.
Speaking of transformations, this has got to be the toughest sonofabitch I've ever come across. I love trying to figure out how to change a bot to vehicle without the instructions, but after a good hour trying to figure out how to get the cab to come down, I gave in.
I shouldn't have bothered. It turns out, the instructions are worthless. due to the way he transforms, the graphics on the sheet are useless in illustrating what you need to do.
I got about here when I gave up:
After struggling with him for that hour, one of his chest pieces finally came off and I realized it was supposed to. You took them off like so:
And locked them into place beneath the hood cover, like so:
Sad to say, the vehicle mode leaves something to be desired.
I don't know if I was spoiled by the first toy, or if it really is a reality, but the Return of the Fallen Optimus seems to be much cheaper than it's predecessor. First off, you'll notice he's smaller than the older one. Though he towers over him in robot form, in vehicle mode, he's slightly smaller in dimensions. His wheels are noticably smaller too.
Speaking of wheels, the new one's are made of crappy plastic, not the excellent rubber tires of the first one. That feature sold me on the first one, and it's lack in the new one is a big mark against it. There's also the problem of his articulation. Though he does have some great arm movement, his leg joints leave something to be desired. His knew and ankle joints are good, but his thigh cuts are not. For some weird reason, mine are locked and can only rotate a few degrees, which makes all the other articulation less useful. Talk about aggravating. They also did away with the individual fingers. One of the best features in my opinion.
You'll also note that if you were lucky or hard working enough to get yourself a Premium Optimus Prime during the overstock sales, then you've seen the nice sheen on the toy. The Nightwatch Prime shares the same kind of finish, which almost looks like metal. The plastic on the new one looks like the cheap cast plastic you'll find in most toys, and it doesn't have much in the way of paint apps to cover for it. The plastic of the smokestacks really annoys as well, since they're translucent and bend much too easily.
Lastly, the swords. While the idea of Prime having two pop-out weapons to kick Decepticon tail with is all sorts of awesome, I do wish they didn't pop-out every time you blew on them. It's impossible to keep they in place while transforming him, and when he's in robot mode, it's impossible to pose him satisfactorily unless they're out. They do not fit well in on his arms in the folded position and you can't hid them. Personally, I liked the one you could remove.
Overall, I think that thought the new Optimus is a nice piece of engineering wizardry, it's inferior to the first set of Leader Class toys. The points covered above take alot away from him. If you don't have any of the first batch of Primes (regular, Nightwatch, or Premium), I'd say get him. If you do, then he's not really a must buy.
Then again, This might all change when the Leader Class Jetfire comes out. The combined mode might push this Prime over the edge.