1996 Ultra Class Optimus Primal

Discussion in 'Transformers Feedback & Reviews' started by CheggyChonkers, Apr 30, 2020.

  1. CheggyChonkers

    CheggyChonkers Heroic Master of Buying Toys

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    Hey everyone, I've decided to start a new segment on here as an excuse to talk about older toys. I'm giving it a totally and completely non-cliche name, Throwback Thursday. And what better a figure to start this segment with than the original Beast Wars Optimus Primal? So sit back, relax, and enjoy as you journey with me to explore everybody's favorite Big 'Bot.

    Tech-Specs:
    20200430_164427.jpg
    I must confess that I'm an absolute tech-spec junkie. They're a genius way to give kids a character to the toy they just bought, and Primal's are no different. The artwork is incredible, and he has pretentiously scored a 10 in every area. Right away, you know that this is the Head Honcho, the Biggest Badass, and the Pinnacle Primate of the entire toyline.

    Beast Mode
    20200430_162315.jpg
    As was common for the toyline, Primal's beast mode is a bit of a brick. It does look very nice however. Being true to the toyline's name, Optimus sports great organic detail all around, and I much prefer the more animal-like appearance to the face, as opposed to his more human looking face in the cartoon. The only gimmick really meant for this mode is a lever that, when moved up and down, activates a "chest-beating" feature:
    20200430_162412.jpg
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    Transformation
    Primal's transformation from a humanoid animal to a humanoid robot isn't too involved, as one could expect:

    Start by unpegging the shoulder pads and flipping them up.
    20200430_162539.jpg

    Next, flip the Gorilla toes around to form the heels. It's not very necessary, but it is an actual step.
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    After that, rotate the waist 180 degrees.
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    Now you'll want to flip his robot mode feet down and unpeg the gorilla head.
    20200430_162723.jpg
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    After that, flip the gorrilla face in to reveal the robot mode chest and peg the gorilla head into the gorilla chest.
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    Flip up the head, and there you have it, Optimus Primal's robot mode!
    20200430_162853.jpg


    Robot Mode
    This is obviously where the toy shines. Primal comes loaded with gimmicks, and I'm happy to say that none of them get in the way and make the figure incredibly fun.
    20200430_162900.jpg
    Because Optimus Primal was released in the first year of Beast Wars toys, he features a "Mutant Mask". I can see why people dislike this particular gimmick, but I quite like it. I've always been a toy guy, not an accuracy guy. So to me, the mask is just an awesome detail that gives you more play options. However, the mask can be flipped down and around to reveal a much more accurate Optimus Primal face.
    20200430_162953.jpg

    Optimus also features a slew of weapons in robot mode: You can flip open an arm to reveal a wicked-looking mace:
    20200430_163032.jpg
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    Open the other arm to reveal a cannon that launches missles:
    20200430_163420.jpg
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    A button on his back activates two flip up cannons, which fire the same missles as his arm cannon, nice detailing on the panels as well.
    20200430_163844.jpg
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    There are also two dedicated slots for missles behind the head.
    20200430_164056.jpg

    And last, but certainly not least, flipping up the rear cannons reveal Primal's iconic swords.
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    Articulation is also very nice, Primal can pull off a variety of poses.
    20200430_164146.jpg
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    Final Thoughts:
    Optimus Primal is an incredible figure. He's packed with play features, none of which intrude on the overall quality of the toy. And despite all of the moving parts and play features, Primal is one of the most solid toys I've ever owned. Even after 25 years, he still feels like a toy you can send out to the wilderness of your backyard to combat the Predacons.

    Welp, there's my first review in this new series! Hope you enjoyed it, and stay tuned for a new one every Thursday!
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
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  2. Bumblejazz

    Bumblejazz :)

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    Great review! This figure still holds up today. Mine is missing the mutant mask and 2 of the missiles
    20200501_002705.jpg
     
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  3. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    I really love how every Beast Wars figure could hide everything in alt mode. No weapons pegged into obvious holes on the back, just everything all nicely tucked away.

    I was lucky enough to have Primal as a kid. My original is a junker now, but I got a replacement and it's still a fun toy.
     
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  4. Shin Densetsu

    Shin Densetsu I WILL DESTROY YOU Super Mod

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    This toy was an advancement in engineering that is very hard to surpass even now over 20 years later. It managed to retain full articulation despite 2 arm gimmicks that could've compromised articulation and you can turn the gimmicks off! The spring gimmicks and hidden weapons are still fun to me.

    You can even store the extra missles which I seemed to have overlooked back in 96. This toy has stood the test of time and is also very sturdy. Hips could've been tighter and the mace could've had an actual chain instead of string. Those aside, well worth the $20 it was back in 96 and a shining example of engineering, articulation and playability. A pivotal toy for Transformers development to me.
     
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  5. CheggyChonkers

    CheggyChonkers Heroic Master of Buying Toys

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    You can really see how much care went into him. It still surprises me that he only cost (with inflation) about the same as today's voyagers.
     
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  6. artiepants

    artiepants Transformers '84!!!

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    yeah, i agree, this guy is one of the all time best TFs ever, and certainly one of the best Beast Wars figures.
    His gorilla face could use a redo, and maybe some more sculpted detail on the robot t mode parts, but I don't know if any voyager-ish scaled figure has packed in so many gimmicks and so much play value in such a way that caused almost zero drawbacks for the core figure. The build quality absolutely shames modern figures.

    He's a definite A and just ever so shy of an A+ in my book.

    Loses maybe a couple of cool points from a standpoint of it always annoys me when a 4 legged-beast former uses the exact same limbs for the 4 robot mode limbs (especially the front as arms and back as legs), often just feels a bit lazy. BI given that his alt mode is a Gorilla, I don't ding him too much there.
     
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  7. CheggyChonkers

    CheggyChonkers Heroic Master of Buying Toys

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    That's one of the standout points of Beast Wars for me. It did give some figures a bit of kibble, but it was never annoying. It made for some pretty real looking animal models in the early years of Beast Wars
     
  8. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    The animal modes were SO GOOD back then considering most toy animals were single-piece, pre-posed toys with questionable detail. (unless it was something like Jurassic Park) I remember being amazed that Optimus' arms moved, or that Grimlock had near-full articulation.

    It really is astounding how much they tried to fit into every toy back then. It's like they wanted every toy to be the "best" of the line (unless you're Retrax lol) or size class. Gimmicks were (mostly) uncompromising or optional, and detail/paint/articulation were standard.
     
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  9. ComicGuy89

    ComicGuy89 Well-Known Member

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    Great review! I love this toy, as a kid I could not afford it so I longed for it for years. Since then I've owned a number of Primals (Telemocha TM-01, Supreme RiD, Masterpiece) and I also managed to get this mold in the Telemocha DX version: Convoy (DX) - Transformers Toys - TFW2005

    This mold is still king and it really was a gem of a design. So much so that it remains my definitive Primal and I've since sold my MP (it was a good toy, but not as fun as this).
     
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  10. CheggyChonkers

    CheggyChonkers Heroic Master of Buying Toys

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    Thanks! I love at how incredibly the original has held up as well, it really shows how involved the designers were.
     
  11. microclone

    microclone Well-Known Member

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    a great toy, I bought this back then as a young adult and do regret selling it on ebay when I tried to downsize, and yes, have rebought since..... the play value is amazing, and a hark back to the time when TF's were still solid and polished. With weapons fully deployed its an amazing looking piece, plus the transformation is fast and satisfying though the mask does get in the way a bit. Easily in my top 5 BW figures. BW just seem so amazing even after all these years, when I rebought polar claw I was amazed at how many freaking springs the shooting bat has!
     
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  12. Smokescreen38

    Smokescreen38 Fight fire with smoke!

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    Nice write up.
    1996 Ultra Primal is easily one of my favorite Transformers of all time. The retools were nice but the original was a darned near perfect toy, IMO.

    I was in college when I got mine in 1997.

    Looking back, having that experience with Optimus Primal at that particular age, is partly responsible for making space for Transformers in my adult life. Primal (along with a bunch of other BW gems) were omnipresent in my dorm room...they were always a positive presence. everyone who stopped by had to grab one and transform or shoot a missile across the room. TFs have been back in my life ever since...for better or worse!
     
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  13. Eric

    Eric Well-Known Member

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    Easily one of my favorite toys I had growing up. :) 
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
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  14. AndreyOfDoom

    AndreyOfDoom maximize

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    Great era of toys that carried all the way through RID 2001 with crazy great articulation and design. Then Armada reset the clock with near G1 levels of brick loaded with insane gimmicks that get in the way of transformation and articulation.
     
  15. Insurgent

    Insurgent Big Red Fire Snorting Dragon

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    You can also slide up/down the black tabs on his biceps and the chest thumping becomes arm spinning for his swords and mace.

    This figure really is a seriously awesome mould. Got it as a kid when it came out and is probably one of my all time favourites. The size, the posing, the quick to transform, the gimmicks, it all really is awesome incarnate!
     
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  16. Goldlock

    Goldlock and don't call me Shirley

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    It's great to see so much love being thrown this figure's way in 2020!

    And I completely agree, it's without doubt one of the best Transformers ever made. My parents sold off my original years ago, along with Megatron, TM Tarantulas, Iguanus & Laserbeak, but I tracked down another a few years later. I was lucky to own a copy of it during the heyday of Beast Wars and my childhood though.

    The Universe repaint stands on my "greatest hits" shelf and deserves every centimetre he takes up in the display.

    IMG_20200505_232003961.jpg

    The only thing I could possibly ever say against the mould is that I've personally never liked the face sculpt. There's just something about the thin, almost chinless faceplate that doesn't look right to me.

    I "fixed" it on the repaint by giving him a faceplate with a more proportionate Primal-esque border, but when a small issue like that is the most criticism that can be levelled at a figure, you know it's a gem.

    IMG_20200505_232248745.jpg
     
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  17. CheggyChonkers

    CheggyChonkers Heroic Master of Buying Toys

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    The Universe version's paint job is great looking, is it based on anything?
     
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  18. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    That deco reminds me of when the colour palette changes in Jojo.
     
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  19. Goldlock

    Goldlock and don't call me Shirley

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    I can't think of anything in particular that the paint scheme is referencing, but Split's comment made me think, it might be based on a "negative" pallette switch from Primal's original colour scheme?

    It's a rad look at any rate, and I like how it gives Primal's gorilla face actual eyes in beast mode, as an alternative to the glazed blue stare of death on the original.
     
  20. Chaos Muffin

    Chaos Muffin Misadventure Veteran

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    He was the #1 toy of the decade in my book.

    For many of us, the suprise of seeing him on the store shelf in 96 was the biggest holy shit moment that brought us back into TFs.
    It’s been uphill since.
     
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