I don’t really frequent Divisoria, a market district at the heart of Manila. It’s a maze of tiny, cramped alleys with thousands of vendors selling everything from cheap surplus clothes to semi-used sex toys (ok, maybe not used, but I’m sure there isn’t a woman on Earth who wants to buy a vibrator from a cart on the sidewalk). If I do go to one of the malls In the area, I try and go on a weekday, early in the morning. Weekend afternoons are awful for a guy like me (who’s anti-social tendencies border on agoraphobia), and it gets exponentially more crowded the closer we get to the holidays.
Every now and then, though, I make a Divi run to hunt down the odd knock-off Transformer that I just can’t get anywhere else. The Taikongzhans Dian Ying Ban Di San is one of those toys.
I’d seen the Taikongzhans Dian Ying Ban Di San or Power Robot (I base the translation on the blurbs printed all over the box) on the boards at Cybertron Philippines several months ago, but when I finally was able to schedule a run out to the area, the dealer had already sold the last one. He still had the box with him (the buyer had just taken the toy since the package was so huge) and I immediately saw that this wasn’t something that I’d be able to walk around 168 with. A haul like this required a plan.
Armed with an escape route and a few alternate exfil sites, I set out to bring Power Robot home. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that tough.
The box that the Power Robot comes in is simply, but unexpectedly sturdy. The cardboard is thick and durable, and the toy is secured well so there is no slippage. The box is equipped with its own handle that is reinforced with another layer of cardboard underneath. Despite the weight of the box and toy, there was no tearing around the handle area. It was kind of a downer, though, since I’d brought a very long length of plastic twine to wrap that sucker up for transit. It sat unused in my bag on the way home.
The box is plastered with all sorts of copied text and photos from the new Mechtech line of Transformers, those that are associated with The Dark of the Moon movie. The blurbs that cover the panels all end in exclamation points: I count at least a dozen.
At least they’re enthusiastic about their product.
It’s always a good rule to know what you’re buying. This toy is a good example of that caveat since all of the photos are of the recent Ultimate Optimus Prime. That toy is a new design that is made to fit with the new power-up armor that comes with it. The armor becomes the trailer in vehicle mode. While the box that this toy comes in looks big enough to hold an up-sized version of that trailer, and the toy in the pictures has one, you won’t find the accessory included in the package. In fact, the figure is a copy of the older Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime, which is an entirely different design.
That’s entirely okay with me since I prefer that figure to the new one. Apparently, Hasbro still likes it, too, since they used it for both the Striker Optimus Prime and the Jetwing Optimus Prime. There was also the Walmart exclusive Optimus Prime Value Pack which featured the shrunken, Voyager Class version of the same figure with Deluxe Comettor.
Since I love the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Prime, this purchase was a no-brainer. An 18” figure for less than the price of a Leader Class Transformer? Hell, yes! The thing stands almost as tall as the Marvel Universe Galactus and is much, much wider than the Devourer of Worlds.
However, before you drop Php 2,500 to Php 3,500 ($55 to $77 US – prices have risen quickly because of the holiday season), there are some things you should know about this toy.
First off, don’t believe everything you read.
I’ve already mentioned that there’s “Truck and Trailer Mode!” to be had here because of the lack of the trailer. That also means that there is no “Power-Up Mode!” either. You’re basically stuck with a robot mode, and the Peterbilt 379 truck mode.
The truck mode looks much the same as the original, but with significant if subtle changes. This being a knock off, the machining of the parts isn’t as true as the Hasbro Leader Class version. The various parts don’t fit as cleanly as they do on the smaller toy. Considering how complicated the transformation is on this thing, that’s a pain in the ass.
The manufacturers of the Power Robot also simplified some of the pieces of the figure. The most prominent change is the lack of knees. The original toy had the most awesomely click-y knee joints. This one’s legs are one piece (well several glued together, but that’s the same difference). Other points are the rear wheel wells (they used to fold up and attach to his back), and the door windows on his chest (which used to move forward to give his torso a flatter profile). There are also the two sets of rear wheels which no longer line up properly because of the removal of several points of articulation there.
I got so frustrated trying to align the parts when I changed it to vehicle mode that I vowed I’d never do it again. Though he does end up looking passable when viewed from a distance, and he is very nearly in scale with 1/18th scale figures (the Power Rangers in all the photos are about 4” in height), the little irregularities really annoy me.
The robot mode is the better of the two, though it isn’t without problems. The biggest flaw is that though the manufacturer increased the size of the toy, they did not increase the load tolerances of things like the catches that hold his shoulders in place. There’s a click when you press it in, but the assembly can't hold the arm in place. Unless you rest the arm at his side, the shoulder will fall right out of the socket. Coupled with his lack of knees, it makes for a pretty crap play value score.
He comes with some of the Ultimate Optimus Prime's toys, giant-sized to his scale. Unfortunately, he wasn't really made to use either.
Both the Meng Lie (apparently Chinese bootlegger for "Mechtech") Weapons System and the Super Diaper were made for the newer figure. While the underpants may fit, they aren't much use without the rest of the power-up armor, and though you could probably get the humongo gun to work with his fiddly arms after some doing, it's not worth it.
And don't fall for the "Electronic Lights & Sounds!" written on the box. There aren't any special action features like that on this toy. In fact, the lever that activates his voice is molded right back into the torso.
Despite the simplifications, the silhouette of the figure remains near enough to the Hasbro version. All I really wanted this figure for is to act as a centerpiece on my toy self or desk, so I have no regrets whatsoever with the purchase. However, I doubt that the average collector would be so forgiving about the quality issues (paint is haphazardly applied, though tampographed flames are present, the plastic is generally more glossy and brittle than Hasbro stuff, joints are either too loose or too tight, and panels don't fit together well).
The figure is great at standing there at the back of your display looking noble and menacing, but if you're hoping for a true replacement for your Buster Prime, this ain't it.