It’s always clear to me that some toys face an uphill struggle when it comes to winning over the Transformers fandom at large. Take today’s subject as one example. Sure, it may be based on what is now one of the more recognisable character designs from the entire franchise, yet there are still numerous factors making it all too easy for people to give it a miss.
Firstly, the live action films continue to be seen as a nadir by so many collectors out there, despite their reach to an audience well beyond the confines of the fandom itself. The fact this particular design hails specifically from Revenge of the Fallen, oft considered to be the low point even of that series, doesn’t help much either.
Secondly, it’s a non-transforming figure, made for a collector base interested in robots that transform. If such a thing sounds counterintuitive to you then it’s only making my point for me, as rightly or wrongly, many will immediately see the very nature of such a release as missing the point somewhat.
Thirdly, it’s a bit of a standalone prospect too. Threezero may have released plenty of other figures in similar size and style but this is the first in DLX scale from the main films. These days it seems like everyone is all about amassing huge completed rosters of characters as they’re typically portrayed in the franchise fiction, sometimes leaving individual figures of this kind to fall by the wayside a smidge.
Yet in spite of it all, the positives of such a figure seem obvious to me too. Firstly, yes, the Transformers movies often come in for a bit of a drubbing, but the Optimus Prime design seen here is still one that can commonly win over even some of the most hardened haters given half a chance, and whilst ROTF specifically is sometimes seen as somewhat problematic, the forest battle, something this toy is capable of recreating in stunning detail, is keenly cited as a series high.
Next, it may be non-transformable but as I will continue uttering until my dying day, the ability to convert between modes isn’t actually the be-all and end-all some think it is when it comes to every Transformers toy out there (sacrilegious, I know). Even if I fail to convince you of such a point, this particular specimen brings a lot more to the table that would be otherwise sacrificed if it were made to change modes. The sheer volume of moving parts is unprecedented for one thing, to the point where I’d posit threezero have outdone even themselves for a figure this size.
And as for the isolated nature of the thing, well, it kind of is what it is, I suppose, although there is an accompanying Jetfire figure on the way too! In any case, let me assure you when you do finally see what a job threezero have done at bringing big-screen OP to life, I’m sure you’ll agree it has all the makings of being a real centrepiece in any collection, particularly given how absolutely *stunning* it is, even up close!
In fact, close quarters might be where this Optimus shines best, in my opinion. The finish and presentation on offer are beyond expectations, even in regards to threezero’s typical standard, and bear any kind of scrutiny you care to give. There are some incredibly small touches all over the body that add up to make it a true visual treat well beyond the arena where most transformable toys sit (including lines such as TakaraTomy’s Masterpiece releases).
The moulded elements are one part of that but the spectacular metallic sheen and intricate weathered coating take it all to another level, making this eleven-inch robot look like a shrunken down representation of the 3D model itself instead of a collectable figure. The way the light bounces off the red and blue plated sections is something else, for starters.
You get a similar feel from the heavy detailing found in the joints too, which is shown off to its mechanical best by the metallic-looking coat it’s all given. It may not be able to actually transform but one can certainly imagine all the various pistons and gears shifting in the way we’ve become accustomed to on-screen.
Besides, a lot of the parts do move, as I say, with an impressive fifty-seven individual points of articulation touted on threezero’s own product page for this release. As a Transformers reviewer, I’m quite used to discussing obvious stuff like waist swivels or ankle tilts, but I’m not sure even I could accurately account for all of the bits and pieces with some kind of motion to them here – it’s just insane!
For starters, on the chest alone there are various panels all attached to hidden ball joints that allow you to really pose Optimus however you wish, including the cab doors, the red bonnet sections on his abs, the blue parts underneath those and the gold cylinders above the waist. It’s a similar story on the legs where you can adjust everything from the flaps behind his knees to the wheels on the sides of his hips. You are most definitely not short of moving parts here!
Even the more standard points of articulation are impressive, with double-joints elbows and knees giving a fantastic range all round and finer touches such as adjustable hips and multi-hinged feet mean you won’t struggle when it comes to pulling off the more extreme poses. It helps that it all feels exceptionally solid too, to the point where these kinds of releases are partially redefining for me what decent joint tolerances should actually look like.
It makes for an incredible experience all in, a world away from how I’m sure some imagine the idea of a non-transforming Transformers toy. Again, I always say this of threezero’s releases but seriously, until you see them in hand, it’s very hard to properly convey everything they achieve.
And hey, even if the movies aren’t your jam, there’s no denying how breathtakingly accurate to the source this thing is, with an attention-to-detail and a sense of craft hitherto unknown as far as my experience goes. To say it makes the MPM-4 release look like a mainline toy is an exaggeration, no doubt, but we’re certainly calling into question which release deserves the title of ‘Masterpiece, let me say that much.
However, for all this figure’s good looks, I did find myself being rather surprised by some of the proportions on offer. I always think of Bayformers OP as a bulky bruiser, yet here he proves to be incredibly lithe and rather long of limb, particularly in the lower half where he’s got legs for days and feet that could flatten a village.
Perhaps I’ve just become far too accustomed to the look and style of MPM-4 because it was something that took me back about this toy on first removing it from the box. One has to assume it’s correct to the source, especially given threezero work off the 3D models used for the films themselves, but I clearly never realised what a slender fellow this Optimus really is!
There have been other things to get used to as well, including how fiddly it can be at times. I say such a thing reservedly as it’s not a word I would typically apply to any of threezero’s designs, yet one downside of being so intricate is the slight propensity for bits to pop off occasionally during handling, as I’ve discovered.
The worst offenders are the flame-adorned panels on the inside of the lower legs, which pop out of place far too easily for my liking, but the same is true of the cylinders on the shoulders and one or two other smaller pieces too, such as the section directly under his chin. This was the most worrisome bit in many ways, as it’s so tiny I was worried about losing it!
It’s a little frustrating only because of how solid my previous experiences of threezero’s output have all been but equally, I don’t think it detracts too much from the overall enjoyment factor here – more that it’s just one element to be mindful of as you’re handling him if anything. For as robust as it is, this remains a fragile collectable figure, at the end of the day.
Still, whatever its status, there’s a fair amount of play value to be had along the way too, not least because of the gimmicks included in the box. One of my favourite examples is the pair of orange blades popularised during that iconic forest fight scene, which can be attached using small slots by the sides of the wrists.
They look fantastic once they’re in place and although I’ve opted to add a bit of a dramatic glow to them in the photos you see here, they still do the big-screen depiction of the character justice when they catch the light just so. This was always a feature I felt didn’t quite land on MPM-4 so I’m thrilled to see it done justice here.
Similarly, you can equip Optimus with his signature handheld blaster weapon, although you will need to swap out the hands in order to do so. It’s a wee bit fiddly to get it all in place but once you have it the result is a real sight and again, instantly recalls the character’s presence from the films. There are actually two examples of the blaster included in the box, the second one with a small shield piece that covers the side of the arm, should you prefer.
Next, there is a swappable face and several sets of replacement hands. The former is incredibly easy to do and will be a familiar solution to anyone who’s collected Masterpiece Transformers before, whilst the latter just pop on and off at a ball joint in the wrist. I’ve mentioned a few times how this isn’t my favourite solution for expressive hands ever, especially as it means having a lot of extra accessories hanging about the place, but in this case, you can’t argue with how good the result looks.
Then there’s the usual light-up gimmick seen on all of threezero’s figures, activated by a pair of batteries installed inside the head. You need to remove the top of Optimus’ helmet to locate the activation switch although once you’re done, the effect is really the last thing needed to make the toy come to life, emitting two small but effective blue lights for his optic sensors! It’s the cherry on top of an already fantastic head design, in my opinion, bringing the big-screen boy to life better than ever before.
Finally, there is a multi-part stand that can be compiled and attached to the figure for a dose of additional stability should you wish, although thus far I haven’t found the need to even take it out of the box to be completely honest!
All in all, I’ve had a remarkable time giving threezero’s latest Optimus design the once over. I’m still quite sure not everyone will be convinced given the points we discussed above but for my own part, I’m so far down the rabbit hole with it all that I’m having too much fun to worry about it.
My only hope would be for the company to continue pumping out awesome recreations of the Autobot leader in all his many guises from over the years, given what an amazing job they’ve done with the likes of the Bumblebee movie and WFC designs as well. If they keep it up then I’m quite sure I’ll be here wanting every last one of them!
For today though, what else could you hope for but seeing one of his most well-known designs brought to life in high-end, ultra-detailed, hyper-articulated fashion? When you think about it that way, what is there to put you off?
WHAT’S HOT? I mean, just *look at it*. But yeah, it’s super fun to handle and pose too. Stunning.
WHAT’S NOT? The bits that pop off are slightly annoying.