*REVIEW* ThreeA – DOTM Optimus Prime


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INTRO

We’re spoiled.

Every one of us. Spoiled rotten.
That was the 1st thing I thought of when I removed Optimus Prime from the sleek ThreeA packaging.  I pulled Optimus from the safety of his cut foam coffin and was surprised when I felt an almost passive reaction to him.

Not in an unimpressed or poorly received way.. just a “Yup, it’s another ThreeA toy”
Which translates to, “Yup, it’s another highly articulated, insanely detailed, fantastically painted and weathered giant robot toy from ThreeA”

Sigh.

Let me explain. Think back to the kind of toys we had growing up (unless you’re still growing up, in which case.. get off my lawn!!”) Simple toys, unrealistic, cheap plastics, sloppy paints, limited articulation…. Back in our day, there wasn’t anything like the collectors market for action figures and pop culture collectibles like there is today. We were happy and impressed by the simplest Transformers Hasbro, Mattel or Kenner pumped on the local toy aisle. I mean, those are all still awesome in their own way.. a lot of the classics are absolutely beautiful to me.. but considering where toys are now.. particularly in articulation and engineering, it’s really hard to compare.

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Now we have companies like ThreeA, Hot Toys, Sideshow and 1000toys who are bringing out highly detailed, articulated and expertly painted figures to our shelves all the time. So much so, I feel like it’s getting to that point to where they don’t seem to get the appropriate reaction from me and probably a lot of you fellow toy collecting folks anymore. We’ve become over-saturated with the awesome and thus, spoiled.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite Louis CK bit where he talks about in-flight wifi and airplanes.

It’s perhaps a little ironic that I’m coming to this conclusion while reviewing a collectible based of a Michael Bay production. People (myself included) rag on his films all the time as being nothing but shallow tales with explosions, one liners and cinematic 360-degree-slow-mo-camera-pans. So, I’m not a huge fan of the man’s movies but what I do appreciate and recognize is just what he’s done for CG in film.

Say what you will about him, he’s among the pedigree of filmmakers, along side the likes of James Cameron, George Lucas and Spielberg who have pushed visual effects to their furthest capacity with every film he creates.

When he released the 1st Transformer’s film back in 2007, the visuals blew people’s minds! People flooded into theaters not only to see the 1st live action Transformer’s film, but to bear personal witness to the groundbreaking visual effects on the big screen. Like most folks, I think the 1st film is the best of the franchise, but really, I think it gets a lot of lenience simply because of how excited everyone was back when it was first announced.

Nowadays, everything is splashed and saturated with epic visuals and top notch CG… and it’s starting to have backlash. Everyone’s a critic, a specialist, a dissatisfied armchair expert on everything… so much so that when a hyper realistic ogre created by some of the world’s top CG artist walks across the screen in a World of Warcraft trailer, half the comments I read were along the lines of “That’s crappy looking CG, blah blah blah”

Really?

My point is, I think there’s a parallel there between how far toys have come and the rampant use of realistic CG… and the fact I’m reviewing a Bay-based toy from a Bay-based movie.. well, it’s my thought for the day anyway, albeit a little all over the place.

I just think, we live in such an amazing time where among the millions of other incredible things we can have, it’s easy to forget how astonishing these things have gotten over the past several years.

Now excuse me, there’s an almost 20 inch tall, screen accurate, Optimus Prime TOY sitting on the floor across from me and I need to go play with it.

Ten year old me would be losing his mind right now.

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PACKAGING

For the first time in a long time, ThreeA sent me a final production piece to review, which means I actually get to check out the final packaging as well!

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The (very) large box has a nice foreboding grey graphic wrap of Optimus’s profile. A grid pattern overlays the image, given it a nice textural look. There’s very little text to be found, only a small “transformers” tag on the side.

On the back there’s a little nod to the old school transformer boxes I grew up with. Every Transformer you bought back then had a graph on the back of their card telling you exactly where they rank in the power scale. Of course, Prime is pretty much solid 10’s across the board.

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Inside, you’ll find sturdy foam inserts and bedding that dutifully protects the giant bot and all his accessories. Everything inside made the trip overseas without a hitch, nice and tidy.

WHAT YOU GET

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Open the lid and BOOM! an instruction booklet!!
Ok, there’s cooler stuff underneath. (But seriously, read the instruction booklet, there’s some important info in there)  Prime doesn’t come loaded with accessories but you do get a few things to help mix up your display. The bambaland exclusive version came with Prime’s absolutely enormous gun that you could probably use in your own pretend living room showdowns.

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Along with the blaster or if you didn’t get the bambaland exclusive version – you get two very cool looking energy swords that can be held in his hand or attached to his wrists.

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And if that’s not enough things to use to kill other things, you also get a small claw for his left hand and various bits/pieces, like the left and right doors that need to be clipped onto Prime to complete his look.

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AUTOBOTS, TRANSFORM AND…

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I may have mentioned it once or twice already, but Optimus is HUGE. Of all the toys I’ve reviewed, save MAYBE ThreeA’s own MGS Rex, Prime is the largest toy robot I’ve ever seen. The only one that really comes close is ThreeZero’s Titanfall Atlas… I wasn’t able to drag him outside for the shoot but here’s a shot with a few other figures that should give you an idea of general scale.

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FourHorsemen Toy Studios/Mythic Legends figure is 6 inches, 3A’s Zomb is 12 inches, Getter Robo is about 16.5 and Prime is a whopping 20 inches tall.

He’s actually got some pretty nice weight to him too. With some of the ThreeZero toys I’ve reviewed in the past, I’m almost always surprised at how light they are. Optimus has just the right amount of heft to make him feel substantial to go right along with how he looks.

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So first impressions, other than the stuff I mentioned in this review’s intro? Wow. I’m blown away.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a Transformer Gen 1 guy. Other than appreciating what Bay did with CG and visuals in his Transformer movies, I’ve never been much a fan of his interpretation of my beloved Autobots.

Maybe if Optimus wasn’t covered in those silly flames, I’d feel differently.. but I digress.

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But having Prime here in front of me.. I can’t help but marvel at the stunning amount of intricacies going on with this guy. Dozens of gears, levers, metal looking machinery all peaking out from under the shiny blue and red painted truck shell.

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All over, Optimus seems to have a darker, greasier look to him. He’s heavily weathered with several of the metallic bits having a downright oily look to them. I was surprised once I started handling him to find that he’s completely dry, none of the paint is tacky or sticky to the touch.

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The painted truck elements have believable nicks and scratches on them. A lot of subtle build up of brush work and textures really sell every painted piece. Even some of the spray-like weathering so common on 3A toys is much more refined than some of the less expensive, common 3A releases. In fact, I’ll go on record and say that Prime has the best weathering I’ve seen from 3A in at least the past couple years.
You can really see the care that went into getting that to look right. This is a high-end collectible after all.

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ROLLOUT!

Articulation is just as plentiful as you might expect at this point with a 3A figure. Head swivels, shoulders rotate, forearms twist and of course, fully articulated individual fingers/thumbs. He can do the robot or pat his head/rub his belly, if you so wish.

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Something that’s always a “wait and see” for me with these bigger bots is knowing they’ll come packed with articulation but then seeing how that will actually hold up in hand. What I mean is, sometimes you’ll get a big bot and due to the weight of the torso, an ankle joint may not hold very secure or perhaps more commonly a wrist joint wont support the heft of an accessory.

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With so much complex points of articulation on Optimus, I was definitely hesitantly optimistic (does that count as a play on words?) on just how well he holds up once you start moving him around.

Well, good news. While there’s sure to be some differences between each produced piece, on the one I got, every joint holds stiff and secure.

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Legs bend out wide and ankles rock to get good dynamic stances. Arms can have almost full range of motion from the shoulder to the finger tips. Really the only place that lacks is the ab area… it bends and crunches, but due to physically being blocked, you can only bend the torso so much before it bumps into itself.

So yes, Optimus is solid. In fact, he’s almost TOO solid. The one hairy part of the figure is the shoulder joints. They are STIFF. I was almost afraid.. actually scratch the “almost”… I was TRULY afraid to move them too much because they’re so stiff they cause the support plastic to bend and give when trying to simply raise his arms up.

Thankfully, after moving him around a little bit, they seemed to loosen up while still remaining stiff enough to hold whatever pose I want to get.

While the important stuff is super solid, there are a few fiddly points that I’d be mindful of. Other than one of the small removable pieces that I popped on myself.. the only bits that gave me any real headache are these 4 small rubber piston details around his abdomen.

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On the left side of the picture is what you should have there, on the right is what it will look like after you start moving him around… empty holes. It’s because those little details are just sorta clipped in there without any glue so they can pop out pretty easily. They’re tiny so definitely something if you’re not aware of, you’ll lose. It’s not hard to put them back in, and when I did, I put a tiny drop of superglue in there to keep them in place as there’s zero reason for them to be removable in the first place.

In several of my reviews of big bots, the weapon seems to be a point of contention and difficulty.. almost always due to it’s scale as well as the lack of gripping strength with pose-able fingers. Every single review I’ve done where that’s an issue, I complain and cry about it. If you like, you can read a few of those frustrations in some of my other reviews like ThreeZero’s Titanfall Stryder and ThreeZero’s Getter Robo

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Well, I won’t take any credit for it… because there’s none to take, but I can definitely praise 3A for finding an elegant way to secure that huge blaster to Prime’s hands via a nice little peg/hole on his palms. It helps nest the gun into his grip more securely without being visually unappealing and you get to spend more time playing and less time picking up his weapon off the floor.

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As usual, the one thing I wasn’t able to test out on Prime was the light features. The required batteries are a little tricky to track down here in Hawaii. Once I get some in, I’ll update this review with a few night shots.
Prime actually has two different spots for batteries, one for his eyes and the other for the lights on his chest. Accessing the batteries in Primes head couldn’t be easier.

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A simple magnet holds the top of his dome on.  Pop it off, toss in some batteries, push the button on the back of his head and boom, glowing eyes. The chest area is similarly easy to access and I’m happy I don’t have to break out a screw driver every time I potentially would want to flick the lights on.

Final word

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When 3A told me they wanted to send me a review sample of Prime, I actually hesitated a second because of the fact that I’m not a big Bay Transformer’s fan. In a lot of ways, I have some resentment towards it. In my mind, Bay took one of the most important/iconic pop culture icons from my childhood and bro’d it all up. I was a little worried that mind set would carry over and prevent me from giving this guy a fair review. As it happens, I had nothing worry about.. it’s impossible not to be impressed by what 3A have put together here.  Their take on Optimus Prime is absolutely top notch across the board from articulation to paint to engineering.

I really don’t know if there’s much more I need to say about this guy. If you’re a Transformer’s fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a big robot fan, you’ll love it. If you just want the biggest, most detailed and poseable toy money can buy, here it is and… you’ll love it. If you’re like me and was never a big fan of Micheal Bay’s take on Optimus Prime… you’ll love it, anyway.

If you don’t have any money to spend on giant toy robots, you’ll be filled with resentment and you’ll still love it… which honestly, will probably further fuel your resentment… and become a vicious cycle which will eventually require visits to an expensive shrink… where you’ll spend 6 months in counseling, costing you a ton of money.. money you’ll realize, would probably have been better off spending on Optimus Prime in the first place.

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Pros:

  • Amazing details in the paint and weathering
  • Complex articulation that is largly unrestricted making dynamic poses a snap
  • Accessories can be held securely and as expected
  • All joints are nice and tight
  • Stands 20 inches tall!
  • Incredibly screen accurate
  • Battery and light feature access is frustration free

Cons:

  • A few small pieces that are not fastened very securely and could be easy to lose if not handled carefully
  • Sold out everywhere

As always, a huge thanks to Ash, Cody, Greg, Kim and the rest of the 3A gang for sending us this amazing toy to play with, photograph and write words about! Thank you to our readers and those that keep swinging by to catch the latest toy reviews.  If you’re not already, stay up to date! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTubeand Twitter for all the latest from Rad Toy Review!

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