Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Machine Wars Optimus Prime: Bastard Stepchild of the Primes

I'm going to skip the backstory of the Machine Wars and this particular toy, and save it for the end.

This Prime toy was released a little before I started collecting toys, and it's not been reissued since, so I never picked it up. I saw that someone had one on ebay only missing one missile for not too bad a price.

He's surprisingly small for an Optimus Prime with trailer toy, normally they're a bit larger than this (see the GI Joe figure for a scale comparison). Also odd is that the trailer isn't capable of swiveling on the hitch, on account of how closely the trailer fits to the cab. It also doesn't really have any kind of cargo capacity, the Fansproject commander armors seem to bear a surprising similarity to this now that I've seen it.




The transformation is very simple, and the finished bot bears very few similarities to the iconic Prime toys, although it does have the same joined feet as the generation 1 Prime, oddly. The articulation on this guy is almost nil, really only able to move his forearms forward at the elbow. But I suppose that's good enough to hold his gun.

What about his trailer? Surely it transforms as well? Why, yes, yes it does. Whenever Optimus Prime has a trailer, it always does at least one of two things: Becomes a base, and/or it combines with the smaller Prime to create a super mode.

This trailer is of the base only variety.




Really, I don't see so much of a base here, as a really big manned turret. It's truly an impressive amount of firepower, Prime has to climb halfway up it, and stand on a platform in order to use it. Which interestingly, puts him right in front of what appears to be a scope, or viewfinder, with transparent plastic.

Overall, it's got a certain classic TF charm, but it doesn't really feel like a Prime, it was one of the few Prime's I didn't have though, so I had to get it.

One last thing before I get into the backstory of this figure. Timeline. When Transformers first came on the scene back in 1984 it was just called Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, between the cartoon and the comic, it ran in North America and Europe until the late 80s. Transformers went on hiatus after that for a few years, and then was revived in 1993, this line was title Transformers Generation 2. After that fans starting referring to the original run as Generation 1.

Generation 2 didn't last too long, and with waning sales, was cancelled by 1996. At this point, Hasbro transferred their Transformers line over to Kenner (acquired 5 years prior, notable for being the makers MASK, the original Star Wars toyline, and countless other iconic 70s and 80s toylines) What they did with the Transformers property was to create Beast Wars.

Beast Wars was a very different direction for Transformers, ditching the vehicle modes for robots that transformed into realistic, organic seeming animals. This was also the beginning of more intricate transformations, and more articulated robot modes. Amusingly, while Beast Wars no longer carried the Transformers branding, it was actually a continuation of the original the original storyline, just occurring hundreds of years in the future.

That's as far as I'm going to take the timeline partly because I don't feel like typing out the whole thing, and because now we're at the point the Machine Wars came on the scene.

Hasbro decided to try and reintroduce the idea of vehicular Transformers. Since Beast Wars featured beasts, they decided to call it Machine Wars. The thing about Machine Wars was that one, the entire toyline was a Kaybee toys exclusive. Two, every toy in the line was either a repaint of late Generation 1 figures that were only released in Europe, or unreleased Generation 2 figures. Three, there was no fiction to support this toyline, no cartoon, no comics.

So, not only were the toys released in limited quantities, at a toy retailer that was even then famous for gouging customers, they were also of an engineering quality that was two steps backwards for the time, and lastly, no one cared about the characters.

So, now that we've got the bizarre back history of the toyline out of the way. Prime here, specifically, is a repaint of Thunder Clash, one of the European exclusive Generation 1 toys.


Yeah, I don't know what they were thinking with that color scheme either.

Which explains some of the oddities about him, like why he really doesn't look like an Optimus Prime, why he's such a small size. Also, I think he might be the only Optimus Prime that wasn't designed from the get go to be Optimus Prime. Normally Prime is the flagship toy of the line, and it shows in the gimmicks and engineering.


  1. The colors are funky, the big logo is funky but I really dig the manned turret!

  2. I'm thinking of picking this up myself, if only because I love the look of that trailer. It just seems so mean with the huge launchers. Surprised that it's so small though!

    Thanks for including the background on the figure. And here I thought the Power Core Combiners were the only continuity that wasn't supported by another medium.