Leader Class Sentinel Prime

Seeing as how it’s taking forever for the new Transformers: Prime – Robots in Disguise assortments to reach us here in the Philippines, here’s another overdue review. Got this baby a month ago and despite my hate-on for the movie, Dark of the Moon, I’ve got to say I’m really digging Hasbro’s Leader Class Sentinel Prime.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m going to spoil it for you with the rest of this introduction, so don’t go emailing me, whining about how I ruined it for you. Fair warning.

So in Transformers: Dark of the Moon Sentinel Prime (voiced by Mr. Leonard “Once Every Seven Years” Nimoy) is an Autobot who was thought to have been killed at the tail end of the Cybertronian civil war. It turns out he was just a piss poor pilot who got shot down, took a wrong turn and found himself on Earth’s moon several million years later (it was a long commute). The rest of the Autobots (who apparently live really long) discover his ride and decide to wake Mr. Van Winkle up.

Well, it turns out that Sentinel’s been (had been? Will have being? Wioll haven be?) scheming with Megatron (who also seems to be an equally bad pilot who happened to crash land on Earth), and has agreed to give the Decepticons the means to transport Cybertron into Earth orbit in order to end the war.

Despite being an old fart (he must be old because he’s got a beard and a croaky voice), he still has enough badass-itude to take on the Autobots when they discover he’s been drinking the wrong Kool Aid. He even manages to kill a few of them (Ahem! Ironhide. Ahem!). In the end, he, Optimus Prime, and Megatron settle their differences, have a threeway, and open up a restaurant on Frogstar World B (I’m re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so expect a few more of these references).

The Dark of the Moon line has a two more versions of Sentinel Prime available aside from this Leader Class figure: the Cyberverse Commander and the Voyager Class versions, both of which were marked down significantly and were still available last time I checked in relatively plentiful quantities locally. You do pay for the increase in quality. The suggested retail price of the Leader Class toys is Php 3000.00 (about $67 US), marked down to Php 2000.00 (in both Toy Kingdom and Toys R’ Us branches). The marked down Voyager Class figures are Php 1000.00 and the Cyberverse versions are currently at Php 250.00. However, don’t be fooled by the price differences: the Leader Class is the way to go.

The toy starts in robot mode and is pretty impressive in the box. The package gives you a good look at the toy inside so that you can check for quality control issues or damage, but as this is a Transformer toy, it’s not much of an issue. Paint applications are minimal and any damage usually happens in transit and is usually immediately apparent. Despite making up the majority of my collection, Transformers is the line that gives me the least problems when it comes to QC.

The Mechtech feature for Sentinel Prime is found in his shield, which has four prongs/blades that pop outward when you press a button. The spring action feature is innocuous, but rather dull. Neither “mode” of the shield is particularly impressive. The piece can be held by either the handle that flips out from the back, or plugged into his arm via three 5mm posts situated around the back of it. It’s not really stable if you use the handle (his fist doesn’t close tight enough to prevent it from swinging out of place), so I tend to favor the pegs.

Sentinel also has a double bladed sword that looks something like a butcher’s knife. It folds in half so that you can store it under his “cape” when he transforms. The hinge does create a problem though: the sword won’t straighten out. When you swing out the second blade, it doesn’t sit level with the other. You need to push it a little to make the two flush with each other, and even then, it eventually goes back to its canted angle. I didn’t include this in the QC paragraph because from the looks of the instruction sheet, it’s was made like that to look like that: I’d say it’s a design flaw. I suppose you could shave a little off the ends so that you can extend it all the way, but that would be work and I am a lazy bastard.

Neither of the accessories is all that great on its own, but damn if they don’t complement each other. Together, the sword and shield is a great combination, one to rival Striker Optimus’ rifle and shield. In fact, I have the two displayed together duking it out on my desk at home.

The thing that I like most about this toy is its articulation. He's got a swivel neck (limited by the electronics and his collar), shoulder swivel and pivot joints, upper arm swivels, hinge elbows, wrist swivels, finger hinges, hip swivels (allowing forward, backward and sideways movement), thigh swivels, hinge knees, and some truly wonderful ankle joints that effectively allow him to keep his feet flat on the ground no matter how you pose him. Hell, even his “cape” is articulated, separated into several flat pieces that you can pose however you want. Most of the weight-bearing joints are ratcheted as well, so he can hold poses like the best of your Marvel Legends, even wider lunging poses.

The accuracy of the sculpting is something that you’d have to consult someone else on. As I hated the movie, I didn’t see it enough to really wrap my brain around the details of Sentinel Prime. I’m sure that with the overly complicated designs that Bay’s team created, there are several discrepancies and omissions on the toy for the sake of costs and sanity. However, I’d hazard an opinion that the face on the toy looks to be a little too squat. I remember it looking longer and gaunter when they pulled the camera in for close ups.

Size-wise, he’s ok compared to deluxe figures like Bumblebee, but feels a little on the small side compared to Optimus Prime and Ironhide. I figure a “legendary” Autobot like this should be larger than life, like Jetfire was in the second movie. He’s also a little bottom heavy, with his legs taking up more of his total volume than his chest.

Transforming the figure is what made me decide that this one was a winner. Hasbro could have made him a complete shell-former (a Transformer which is a robot inside various panels of plastic that form a “shell” around it which you peel open), but instead they’ve broken down the surface of his Rosenbauer Panther 6x6 airport crash tender alternate mode into smaller pieces to make it more interactive.

The biggest panels form his “cape” but, as I mentioned, it’s separated into smaller bits and given some articulation so that it doesn’t just look like a flat flap of plastic. Some of the panels also fold up to form his legs and feet. Very little is left to hang off him as obvious kibble (obvious vehicle parts on the robot form or vice versa) like they did with both Optimus Prime and Ironhide (both of those figures have huge truck plates just hanging off their arms that serve no real purpose). When all the steps are done, and you’ve unfolded all the paneling and fitted all the pieces together inside, you have a nice looking airport fire engine that has very little in the way of obvious robot parts. Well, except for his undercarriage, but that has been an acceptable place for robot kibble since the start of the franchise.

An airport crash tender is a little different from the regular fire trucks you normally see on the road. They are made to accelerate hard and drive into pools of burning jet fuel and force their snozzles into the fuselage of an aircraft if necessary (hence the all-wheel drive). They look far more like tanks than they do trucks. Sentinel Prime looks great as one of these fire-fighting appliances and rolls freely on his 6 wheels.

The accessories he has can be carried in his truck mode as well. The sword can be folded and placed inside his “cape”. There are irregularly shaped pegs that slot into holes in the blades. They’re enough to keep the blade from moving and when you close the flap, you don’t even notice there was ever anything there.

The shield is a little less well-thought out. There are some pegs at the bottom of the fire truck that fit into rectangular holes in the front of the shield. The shield is held securely in place, but the lowest pieces of it (the 5mm pegs) barely clear the surface of whatever desk, counter, or shelf you have him sitting on. What’s worse is that it’s not really integrated into the design or hidden away. It’s just there: a weird thing, hanging from the undercarriage.

What’s odder is that the two things combine and can be secured on top to create some kind of battle mode. The shield goes on top of the crash tender, you press the button to open it up like a pair of giant scissors, and place the sword across the assembly. It looks ridiculous.

Still, that’s probably the biggest thing wrong with the figure, and honestly, if it bothers you, you don’t have to do it (I don’t). Hasbro has added it to the set of features of the toy, but it’s not required: out of sight, out of mind.

The sound chip inside him gives him another action feature that doesn’t kill too much of the fun of the toy. It’s not Leonard Nimoy’s voice, but it’s close enough for this purpose. He says stuff like “ I am Sentinel Prime” which is expected. He’s got may 2 phrases, some truck noises, etc. Not as great as the Masterworks Galactus, but it makes a decent effort.

In the end, this was a purchase I’m not at all regretting, and I doubt I would have minded even if I’d paid full price. It’s just one of those movie-verse Transformers that proves to be a load of fun despite the movie aesthetic. If you can find it, it’s definitely a keeper, despite the accessories problems.

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