Of all the many toylines I can think of, there aren’t many that make a habit of portraying their key characters in corpse form. I can’t imagine why, but it almost seems like that sort of thing could be a bit of a difficult sell – who can say? Anyway, here’s Transformers giving it a go with “Alternate Universe” Optimus Prime, which, let’s be fair now, is just a fancy way of saying that this is the dead body of the iconic Autobot leader in toy form. Happy times!
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the reference here then, it’s a nod to the 1986 big-screen animated adventure of the robots in disguise, wherein Optimus engages in a duel to the death with long-time nemesis, Megatron, and sadly ends up worse for wear come the end of it all. He ultimately meets his fate in a harrowing and now quite legendary scene which features a deathbed goodbye to some of the newer characters that would then carry the franchise forward (at least until Optimus’ perhaps inevitable return!).
To say this moment went down as one of the most controversial decisions in 1980s’ kids flicks is perhaps an understatement, which a whole generation of little minds understandably quite distraught at the notion of their robotic hero kicking the bucket. Even for newer fans that have seen the film in retrospect, it stands out as by far-and-away one of the most brutal events in the franchise, even today. So, in a twist that has the collective fanbase both recoiling with a cry of, “too soon!” whilst also being oddly tempted by the prospect, Hasbro have delivered this thing as a rather gruesome homage.
It is of course a fairly straight-up repaint of the celebrated Earthrise Optimus Prime mould, albeit with a new grim and grey paint job to reflect the character’s lifeless husk in plastic form. Lovely stuff. Bizarrely it’s not the first attempt at such a nod, with the Masterpiece line having already delivered MP-4s Sleep Mode Convoy some ten years ago, a comparison of which to today’s toy you can see in my recent Unboxing video. Still, AUOP here is the only example put out to a wider audience in the Generations line and also sees a bit of a departure from the previous effort with how the colours are interpreted.
The main cab section looks very tidy indeed although is nothing shy of eery with those desaturated tones. It leaves a very weird feeling indeed, as you both at once marvel at the rather fabulous design going on here whilst sort of chuckling awkwardly at the reference it’s intended to portray. What a weird toy this is, after all!
Still, of the various OP designs I’ve seen, this one ranks fairly highly in terms of how it cleans up, with previous little kibble and some decent proportions on the whole. Even the rear bed section, often damned to look like a pair of legs folded up out of the way, manages to come off quite well on the whole despite the ever-prominent feet at the end. I also really dig the surprisingly effective weapons storage on offer, whereby Prime’s folded up blaster can be stowed on the back of the cab.
Naturally it’s with the trailer in place that this thing feels more whole, recreating Optimus’ classic look in newly-designed form. The trailer section itself feels somewhat basic and perhaps even a little undercooked versus the main toy, but still it’s a worthy-enough inclusion to see the vehicular form fully fleshed-out.
That said I do wish the trailer could turn a little more when hitched to the cab, as sadly it’s prohibited a little in terms of clearance. I also find that that it all looks rather bizarrely out of proportion, coming off as somewhat undersized on the whole.
Still, considering the price point and also taking into account what is truthfully required of such a release, it’s a decent job and certainly is appreciated as an inclusion, all things considered. You can open the rear door to the trailer should you wish, but given its smaller comparative size you won’t be able to fit many of Optimus’ Autobot comrades inside in vehicle mode, with only the smaller examples getting a look-in.
On the whole though, it’s a good stab (pardon the pun) at a classic Optimus truck and definitely breathes new life (wow) into an already-familiar form.
That’s just half the story, mind, as a few twists and turns later you’ll have Optimus decked out in his robot mode! The process of getting there is without-a-doubt one of the most creative I’ve seen on a toy of this character, both in terms of how it unfurls but also how it delivers such a clean result with surprising efficiency. Oh, and it’s a lot of fun to boot, remaining one of those conversions that I find myself happy to do over-and-over as a way of keeping my brain occupied.
Once you’re done then you’ll surely be in no doubt who you’re holding in your hands – this is the classic Optimus Prime done justice in 3D form, alright. This toy may indeed be intended to represent him after he’s already bought the farm, but rarely does a toy carry such a presence in terms of how it brings a character to life. How ironic.
In fact this thing just exudes personality all over, which is perhaps a combination of perfect proportions, superior posability and just all-round polished presentation. At soon as you pick it up, I have little doubt you’ll find yourself playing away – it’s just that much fun!
There’s a sense of real fluidity to the design that just works. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of those instant classics where it’s almost hard to imagine the thing not having existed already somehow – a bit like how you often can’t believe there was a time before a lot of Beatles’ songs were recorded.
It certainly carries enough weight and presence to represent the quintessential form of the franchise’s biggest name, and in that respect it’s not hard to look past the few small nitpicks I do still have about it.
Ultimately my biggest grumble will always be the unflattering presence of the bumper & wheels on his bum, which not only stick out in terms of visual design but also have the unfortunate effect of becoming cumbersome to the otherwise-excellent articulation on offer. Whereas this guy poses like a charm on the whole, it’s just a shame to see the waist swivel being impeded in such a way, and whilst it is possible to unclip this section should you wish, I would have maybe liked to have seen them execute a more preferable solution built-in somehow.
Still, it’s a small gripe to have on a toy that is otherwise as smooth as this, with just about every other aspect on offer working together to take your mind off it as best they can. I will say that had the wheels been better presented then I would have had little reason not to proclaim this as one of the most definitive designs for Optimus Prime I could think of – as it stands it’s still a truly excellent endeavour, just with a bit of a caveat.
But hey, don’t let me put you off, for it truly is a bloomin’ marvellous robot mode, at the end of the day, and as I say, I defy you to not find some fun in handling it.
In terms of this specific version of the mould, you may be wondering just how much enjoyment can be wrung out of handling your hero’s cold remains. Well, far be it for me to tell you how to play with your toys, but as far as the colour scheme on offer goes, it looks pretty spectacular.
All of the paint applications are on-point, with a nice silver trim being used to provide some welcome highlights amid the sea of dark grey, and even some slightly warmer tones on areas such as the legs and the windows. I’d say there are some strange choices versus the more default representation of Optimus’ Earthrise mould, such as that toy’s black gun now being represented in silver here (does the gun change colour when he dies?), but on the whole AUOP is still a bit of a showstopper in his own right.
Of course there’s also some varied moulding going on here, with the headsculpt now featuring some mangled antennae alongside a few additional touches of paint to represent the character’s battle scars from the film. It’s both intricately artistic and acutely horrific in equal measure!
Oh and of course, this toy wouldn’t be complete without the final blow… literally! Yep, that fatal would on Optimus’ left ab section is present and correct, just in case you were in any doubt. Brutal stuff indeed.
So, what else to say on the robot form? It’s handsome, lithe, poseable, proportioned and handles like a beast. All told, it’s a stellar job.
The fun doesn’t stop there mind, as he’s also loaded with gimmicks. I really like how you can stow his rifle away on his back (or indeed on his arms, thanks to a plethora of potential peg holes) for a bit of at-ease badassery.
Then you can flip out his chest windows to reveal an intricately-detailed interior complete with some sparkling gold paint and a little mini-matrix accessory. As far as recreations of the sacred Autobot object go, this one looks pretty good on the whole. It’s by no means as detailed or as finished as the equivalent Masterpiece version, but for what it needs to be here I really like how it looks.
Next it’s time to bring that trailer back into the equation, because as is common with a lot of G1-inspired OP toys, there’s more here than meets the eye.
Yep, just flip the whole thing open and you have yourself an oven-ready combat deck. Sadly there’s no Roller in sight, but at least everything else presents as a decent facsimile of the classic trailer module, complete with the little cockpit section on a moveable arm (although it’s been given a Short Circuit-styled makeover here, for some reason!).
You can even position the combat deck stood up as a kind of repair bay, much in the same way that the original toy would allow. I will say that whilst the inner workings of the trailer look nicely moulded, it does present as being slightly unfinished on account of a lack of paint. Still, at least they’ve kept it simple instead of increasing the price, no doubt!
Besides, what more than makes up for it is some of the functionality that carries over to the robot form, as you can detach both the main component of the combat deck and part of the rear trailer door to form extra armament for Optimus himself. The shield and backpack accessories work really nicely and bring a much-needed sense of ingenuity to what is otherwise a very slavishly classic design.
Of course the combat deck provides yet another use – that being in how it doubles up as Prime’s deathbed in a recreation of that iconic 1986 scene. Yep, have no fear, kids – this toy does it all, with real kicking-the-bucket action!
Just when you thought the paint job and aesthetic stylings of this toy couldn’t be more on the nose, you simply pose him in true belly-up form and you have yourself quite a memorably morbid display option indeed. It’s perhaps not what every fan envisaged as being an essential item for their collection, but it has to be said that this effort certainly makes the most of it.
Ultimately what you get with Alternate Universe OP is a rather extraordinary toy done differently in deceased-styled design. That may sound ghoulish in theory, but there’s still no doubting that there’s a lot of love and reverence for that rather notorious part of the franchise’s history here, and in that regard he remains pretty spry for a dead guy.
WHAT’S HOT? Fantastic robot mode, buttery-smooth and creative transformation, very nice cab mode on the whole. Oh, and a fab homage to one of the most iconic parts of Transformers lore!
WHAT’S NOT? Those rear bum-wheels are perhaps my only major nitpick on the whole, but even that’s not enough to really put me off.