Superlink Grand Convoy (Energon Optimus Prime) Retrospective Review (Lengthy and Pic heavy!)

Discussion in 'Transformers Feedback & Reviews' started by SPLIT LIP, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    I think in the case of the gold, I think might be Hasbro just thought maybe people would like it better? Which I'm sure some people do, but it just looks terrible on Armada prime. Micron Legend Starscream definitely looks better with the brighter white. I actually don't have any of the Armada Seeker molds, so I had to look up pictures of it. Which I found, here. Not that I don't like them, just haven't picked them up yet. But, it is strange how the American version decided to add a little bit of yellow on the chest, which completely changes the overall look of it. Perhaps they replaced the white with grey, to make it look more like the G1 figure, but it looks so out of place on the American version. Making it look very dull at the same time. The brighter white, with the slightly darker yellow, just makes it look so much better.

    I like the toys for the Unicron Trilogy way more than I like the shows. I don't hate them or anything, but the shows were aired at like 6 am at in my area, so I rarely watched it. I did however, buy quite a few of the toys when they were still available.

    The thing I liked most about that era is that we got a completely new toyline every few years. A brand new Optimus and Megatron, along with all the other characters. Who all looked considerably different than their previous versions. I like the variety in alt modes, and things we don't get too often anymore. Like, the Decepticon warships, Tidal Wave, Mirage, I think was the Energon one? Half of Omega Supreme being like a battleship of some kind. Sharkticon was like submarine or something? I like the wide variety of things they turned into. Animals, warships, spaceships, trucks, construction vehicles. Whatever the heck Landmine was supposed to be.

    And, then there was Megatron. Which was a tank, a car, and that weird looking jet mode. We got three entirely different takes on Megatron. With Energon, being the best of them. It was the time Transformers was the most creative, in my opinion. Which is why it's one of my favorite eras. A lot of the toys just are very beautiful, with a lot of sculpting on it. All of which really popped in the Japanese versions.
     
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  2. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    I have debated getting Micron Legend Starscream for some years now. He’s the only Aramada Decepticon I’m missing, and I agree the white and red is quite pleasing. (Though I like the grey on Hasbro’s, I just like Takara’s a bit more)

    Energon really was the peak of sculpts for the UT. So much detail, yet the figures never felt drowned-out or overdesigned, and the sculpted details always implied function, like pistons near joints, pipes and tubes running between gaps in the armour, etc.
     
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  3. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    I do think Hasbro's looks okay, and would probably end up being the one I eventually pick up, just because it's cheap and quite easy to find. Unless I can find the Micron Legends version for fairly cheap. When it comes to the point that I am interested in buying Transformers again. Which hasn't been for quite some time. Mainly due the lack of space. That, and the modern generations, movie, and animated stuff don't really interest me too much anymore. Everything is just too, idk, G1. Like I've said before, I prefer when Transformers were creative, and changing all the time. Now, they're all basically the same things all the time. Hey, Megatron is a tank again. Yay?

    I really love Energon's sculpting. Especially Bulkhead, the one that looks a bit like Springer, with a mustache. That is something I really appreciate from the Unicron Trilogy. Not only were they really well sculpted, but they were also had amazing face sculpts too. In a lot of cases, had amazing light piping. Light piping has been my favorite kind of eyes since G2. Shine a light behind their heads, and they really do look like they've just come to life. My favorite example of this has to be Cybertron Soundwave. With those purple eyes that glow. That is something else I miss, when eye colors would be different. Reminding us that they are individuals, before they are an Autobot or Decepticon. Variety of colored eyes, really helped make them look more alive.
     
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  4. Mister D

    Mister D Bloosh Compatible

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    Love so many of these toys: Battle Ravage, Divebomb, Cruellock, Starscream, Sharkticon, Slugslinger, Mirage, Bulkhead, and Landmine are some of my favorite designs.
     
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  5. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    Yea, yea, they are definitely great toys. Like others have said, the Decepticons have the best molds in the Energon line. Not that the autobots don't have great molds, the Decepticons just have better. Especially with the terrorcons.
     
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  6. theestampede

    theestampede Wandering Artist

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    Excellent review, had a lot of fun reading through this. Always wanted to pick this up, but this was during my dark ages I suppose. I'd like to go back and revisit a lot of this stuff one day, but im happy to at least live vicariously through reviews like these.
     
  7. shellformer

    shellformer @

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    Oh yeah, people talked so much shit about this guy back in the day. Respect. I only sorta liked him for being so different but not enough to shell out the cash, especially not for both him and Wing Saber (who iirc wasn't super common?). It's always a blast to revisit the UT because it gets a much fairer shake now that it doesn't carry the weight of being The Sole TF Line that must define all of transformers and carry the hopes and dreams of previous fans.
     
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  8. TacticalBacon

    TacticalBacon UT Gang Rise Up

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    I have so much nostalgia for this Prime since this was the Prime of my childhood. Despite its flaws I’ll still always have a soft spot for it. The Takara colors definitely make the mold pop tho, compared to the washed out colors of the Hasbro one at least.
     
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  9. Mister D

    Mister D Bloosh Compatible

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    Found my old review! It was published on TFormers. All the pics are gone, though:

    Optimus Prime

    Never in fandom has such a toy been so reviled before it had ever touched a single shelf. While I tried to reserve judgment, it was easy to understand the sneers and jokes. An open mouth face plate, a rhomboid trailer, painted windows, Technicolor drones, an unrealistic, kibble-ridden alt mode, and a Santa-like belly all sharply diverged from the Primes fans have come to love. What a shock then to find out that the toy itself is not only not horrible but downright impressive and a great deal of fun.

    Vehicle Mode

    A highly stylized truck and trailer. Long time Transfans will likely look at this and wonder what the Hasbro was trying to pull. It’s hard to accept this as a terrestrial vehicle, even one from 10 years in the future. As a “robot in disguise” Prime is a total failure. It is easier to accept if looked at as a Cybertronian vehicle, but for many its bizarre aesthetics will never pass muster.

    The cab is without question the most unique design we’ve seen for this character, but it is still clearly Optimus Prime. Relatively long and boxy, mostly red (as expected), but with a white rimmed windshield and black beneath the windows. The windows are a bit large and painted a deep metallic blue. While I prefer clear plastic, these look nicer than most opaque windows. The plastic tires also appear larger than usual, as if the truck was meant to be off road as much as on the highway. At the very least it adds a “moon rover” element that emphasizes its futuristic design.

    In a nod to Armada the cab has two mini-con ports, one on each side. These are well placed and work especially well with the mini-con weapons and missile launchers.

    Behind the windows, in their usual spots, are the faction symbols. On the passenger’s side is a standard, and rather large, Autobot symbol framed in white. On the driver’s side is a silver Autobot spark crystal. Finally the third symbol – a black “spark of combination” emblem – is painted on the roof over the driver’s seat.

    I think fans would be kinder were this all the design offered, but there is also a great deal of “kibble” to contend with. First is the “radar dish” which folds up from the back. I imagine this is what Prime uses to control his drones (all of whom sport a similar feature), but it is obvious this is part of his head (to be fair it might not be so obvious to someone unfamiliar with the character’s design). Prime’s gun lays across the back of the truck and no attempt at all is made to hide it. Perhaps if it were a dark color it would blend, but being white it stands out like a sore thumb. Finally, unforgivably, there are two arms – and there’s no mistaking them for anything else- extending down from the back of the cab. While some attempt was made to blend them into the vehicle’s design, it’s not fooling anyone.

    Like the cab, the trailer has a unique design- a gray, forward tilting rhombus. The trailer has a great deal of sculpted detail, and a little gold paint near the top of the right and left side. Two mini-con hard points, one on each side, are also located near this area, and as with the cab are in a good position to mount mini-con weaponry.

    The main purpose of the trailer is to hold Prime’s 4 drones. The sides of the trailers are cut away to reveal 3 of them, with the 4th compartment is uniquely covered by a black panel. Next to each cutaway is a sliding black lever that can be used to “launch” the drones in tower mode. The top of the trailer sports 4 more black panels, labeled OP1, OP2, OP3, and OP4.

    The rear of the trailer has a huge Autobot logo, unfortunately covered up by another radar dish. While this can be raised to better show off the logo, it doesn’t quite look right in truck mode.

    Overall I’d say I was pleasantly surprised by this vehicle. The design concept may have been flawed, but it was well realized. It is pretty fun to fool around with once you get past the odd appearance.

    Grade: B-

    Robot Mode

    This is the mode that has condemned Energon Prime to months of scorn and ridicule. It’s a shame as it is by far better than all but a handful of the Armada figures, and a few past Prime’s as well.

    If you know your Transformers, there is no mistaking this for anyone but Optimus Prime. The colors, chest windows, abdomen grill, blue helmet and face plate are hallmarks of the character, yet in the end this is also what damns the toy. Despite his familiarity, there are a number of differences that radically depart from the Prime tradition. His electronics give him a large girth and “rear package,” and his face plate has a hole cut in it so his mouth is visible. Optimus Prime’s image is so iconic that such substantial changes are at odds with most fans’ expectations. Some even complain about his gun color. While I can see why some are disappointed, when I look at this toy as his own unique character rather than try to fit him in the G1 mold, I find these issues substantially lessened.

    This is not to say that the toy is without its own flaws. Kibble and proportions are legitimate -if overstated - issues. He IS fat, no question, and this makes his arms appear stubby and his legs too skinny. The “radar dish” hangs off the back just as it did in cab mode. If you don’t mind robots with odd proportions, you’ll likely find these flaws to be minor, but again, some will be turned off.

    Colors, of course, are classic Prime red and blue, this time augmented with quite a bit of white and black as well. No real surprises – everything carries over from the truck mode.

    Articulation is well above par. Ratchet joints are used on the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees to give flexibility without the instability of ball joints. The shoulders and hips have both front-back and in-out joints, greatly increasing the range of motion. A nice touch is that the wheels on his hips will swing up so as not to hinder leg movement. His head can turn side to side, but not up and down. On my figure the joints are the perfect tightness – stiff enough to hold their position, but otherwise easy to move. If there is a flaw it’s that the toy lacks mid-arm and thigh swivels so he doesn’t have quite the range of motion as Bendy Prime. This omission was most likely necessary to keep his Powerlink mode stable.

    This mode doesn’t possess any unique gimmicks, but it does share most of the same features as the Powerlinked mode, so I’ll deal with them here. First up is his sound effects.

    He has 5 different sounds, one of which is unlisted in the directions. On his ample backside is a 4 way switch. Each sound is clearly numbered and corresponds to one of his drones. The sounds are activated by a well camouflaged button above the switch. Sound 1 is a fire siren, 2 a helicopter, 3 a drill (I guess) and 4 a “ping”ing sub sonar. Sounds 2 and 3 are a bit vague and would have been hard to decipher without 1 and 4 as a guide.

    The 5th sound, a firing cannon, is activated by a switch on the driver’s side of the cab. This 5th switch will also activate his Matrix light. Open up his chest windows and you will reveal the Autobot Matrix. When you press the button, a red LED in its center will flash 3 times. All in all, neat but not terribly inspiring. It is highly debatable if these features were worth all the Fatimus Prime jokes.

    Of course being an Energon toy Prime can also sport an energon chip and wield energon weapons.

    Lastly I should point out that the powerlinx points on his cab are covered by his wheels.

    I don’t believe that this mode deserves all the misery fans have heaped upon it. It is a fairly decent, if not quite spectacular, toy.

    Grade: B

    Base mode

    Turn Prime’s trailer into a base by tipping it over, raising the radar, and pulling out the kickstand (which in profile makes it look like a high heel shoe). While the rhomboid shape looks wrong for a trailer, it seems perfect here as the launching pad for Prime’s drones. Ops 1, 3and 4 can be launched by pushing their respective levers, forcing them to roll out the door (but not very far). Op 2 is a helicopter, so a rolling launch wouldn’t make sense. Instead Op 2’s compartment opens on the side, forming a landing pad. Slide out Op2 (alas no lever here) and he’s ready to fly.

    The base has a radar dish on its roof, which I assume is to control the drones. Quick examination of each drone will reveal a pair of radar arrays similar to the one atop the trailer and on Prime’s back.

    In addition to its mini-con pegs, the base radar also has a standard sized hole in its stem, allowing you to mount energon weapons for improved defense.

    I’ve never been fond of base modes, but this one’s simplicity and practical function elevates it above most previous designs. It may not be much of a trailer, but as a base its pretty good.

    Grade: C+

    Drones

    Prime’s drones have suffered the same insults as the rest of him, and again I think such slights are not entirely warranted. While they are each brightly colored, they are far from childish. Each has a nice amount of sculpted detail, and its own unique action feature – something that really isn’t necessary for glorified body parts.

    Each vehicle has the ability to become an arm or a leg, and those with clear hands in arm modes have placed the thumb so that it can serve as either the right or left arm.

    OP1 is an orange fire truck with an extending ladder and a rotating pair of nozzles over his cab. It is possible to hide in the “hand tab” in arm mode by swinging out the foot, tucking the tab, and putting the foot back.

    OP2 is a white helicopter with (what else) rotating blades. This is a bit too bulky, and is the least convincing of the 4 drones.

    OP3 is a yellow drill (what is it with Japanese and drilling vehicles?). Its bottom wheel is a gear that turns the nosecone when the drone moves. This is a very effective gimmick, and makes me wish that a similar device was installed in OP2.

    OP4 is a blue sub with a grabbing claw. While I think it has nicest color scheme, the claw and wheels seriously takes away from the illusion of a sub.

    The only complaints I have is that their modes only vaguely resemble real world vehicles, and each has a huge hole in the back to connect to Prime.

    The drones are fun little toys, and a worthy descendant of Roller. While not a reason to buy Prime, they are a nice bonus.

    Grade: B-

    Powerlink Mode Yes, once again the PLOP acronym raises its ugly head. As if the fans need any more reasons to poke fun at this toy.

    Transformation is fairly simple – fold up Prime’s feet and arms, open his chest, and slide on the drones however you like. Finally pull up his radar helmet and you’re done. It doesn’t sound like much, but this transformation is a dramatic improvement on the basic figure. The drones add needed bulk to his limbs, and with the larger body his girth no longer seems as obese. The one real flaw is his helmet, which is a bit too large,

    The ability to configure the drones however you like (in a scamble city manner) adds a great amount of play value. Op 1 and 2 give you basic hands (right or left as mentioned above) to hold his gun or energon weapons. Op 2 also gives him a spinning blade attack, though unfortunately the blades are a bit long and sometimes hit his shoulder. Op3 gives him a very powerful drill punch, and Op 4 a vice-like grabbing claw (unfortunately the claw is in a poor position to actually hold most weapons).

    As for legs, there isn’t much difference one way or another, though certain people may prefer to keep certain color combinations. The one I don’t much care for is Op3, as the drill gives a pointy-toed look that seems out of place. Nothing awful, just odd.

    There have been complaints about the colors, and again I feel this is largely justified by the fact that he is a Prime figure, and Primes have to have certain colors. Multi-colored combiners have been a staple of animation for years (not just Power Rangers as some younger fans may believe), and that includes some of the G1 scramble city teams.

    While the figure is always seen with his matrix exposed, there is no reason why you can’t keep the chest closed. It does lessen his appearance, but the chest flaps now won’t interfere with the arm articulation.

    Speaking of articulation, this is one of the most articulated Super Primes ever, just behind Fire Convoy. He has all the articulation of his smaller form (though the head is more restricted, the arms actually have greater range), and puts Armada’s “Pants” Prime to shame.

    Without a doubt this is the toy’s best mode, and I feel it justifies whatever sacrifices had to be made in other modes. My one real complaint is that there are no usable mini-con pegs or mounting holes (aside from the hands) that could be used to augment his firepower.

    Grade: A

    Overall I would say that it would be a mistake for any fan to dismiss this figure out of hand. While I grant that most of the complaints have merit, they are also overstated. The play value packed into this figure is tremendous. I think any child would dearly love this toy, and in 20 years will be as fondly remembered as any G1 figure. For older fans, I think the enjoyment largely hinges on how much you can put aside past prejudices and accept some new design elements in this character. As far as I am concerned, it is well worth the price of purchase.

    Final Grade (not an average): B+
     
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  10. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    He really wasn’t. In Japan he was a mass release yet still somewhat hard to find as, IIRC, once Omega Supreme came out Wing Saber stopped being the flaunted combination.

    In America things were weird. He was introduced about halfway through the show but didn’t see release until the tail end of the line when new figures were slow to hit shelves. (This happened to the Combiner teams, agonizingly splitting them up over months, leaving so many Gestalts half-completed) And even when he was out, he was hard to find because the line had all but run out of steam at retail. Also exacerbating this was the fact that Omega Supreme was out, so again the newest, biggest Optimus combo was stealing the spotlight. If it weren’t for the delay he may have seen wider release, but he came out way too late to strike while the iron was hot. He was one of the few Superlink toys to significantly predate his Energon figure as a result. (Most Energon releases were earlier or around the same time) As a result some fans at the time questioned if he’d be released at all because he was, well, barely more than an accessory.

    I wonder if this might have something to do with the toy’s design. He’s physically huge, towering over Optimus in Standard robot mode, and not far below Leader class Megatron. However his transformation and posability are rudimentary at best, so I could see Hasbro struggling to decide just what size class to release him in. Too big for a Mega, too simple for an Ultra. Eventually he was released as a Mega (in a Leader sized box) which is pretty amazing compared to today. Hasbro chose the most sensible, if not financially viable, price class to release him in, compared to nowadays where if there’s any question whatsoever of a figure being oversized for a size class, they will almost always, always be relegated to the larger option. (Cue endless debates of Voyager retools in Leader packaging with added accessories and whether that justifies the MSRP increase)
     
  11. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    I remember Wing Saber being quite rare when he first came out. I ended up having to wait a few years, and buy it second hand. Which is how I ended up with the Hasbro release. it was quite tough to find, unlike Omega Supreme who was everywhere, for a few years to come.
     
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  12. DoubleClouder

    DoubleClouder Prototype / Testshot collector

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    God I still hate the design of Eneron Prime to this day. Wing Saber made it somewhat bearable, but the power ranger colored limbs and the overral design of the main body made me really dislike this figure. I also have the one with the open mouth plate, which I thought was terrible as well. This line was very polarizing for me. The designs I didn't like, I really didn't like, but the one that I did like, I thought were fantastic (Scorponok, Megatron, Shockblast).
     
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  13. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    Even though I don't mind the drone transformation that much, I think the figure would've been much improved if Prime had a different designed trailer that split apart itself to form the limbs for Super Mode, without the multi-coloured limbs and asymmetry.
     
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  14. Applejacktimus

    Applejacktimus Still see the Sunshine

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    I've always wished the trailer did something too. RID, Armada, & Cybertron OP's upgrade parts can still be used as battlesations if he's in Omega Prime/Jet Convoy/Sonic Wing Mode, but the Energon trailer just kinda gets set off to the side once Prime combines with anything. An alternate set of limbs would be a good use, maybe justified by saying the trailer's plating gives him sturdy armor and Wolf Ring Super Poise, while the Prime Force drones give him special abilities like ice, wind, a big damn drill to pierce the heavens, and... sonar senses? ...powers thematically linked to each drone.
     
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  15. darthsutius

    darthsutius Minor Sith Lord

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    Thanks Split Lip...I have really fond memories of this toy, since it was the first Optimus I bought for my son (who is 18 years old now!!!).

    I remember at the time how much people in the fan base were hanging shit on fatimus prime, but for my boy - who was very young at the time - it was an amazing set. Really good playability and just a great, fun toy. And then a year later we got hold of the Wingsaber 'statue/figure' and that turned it up another notch. Great time for kids who actually played with their toys.
     
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  16. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    That's not a bad idea. I think if each drone was allowed to be more visually distinct, maybe without the restriction of having to fit inside the trailer, we could've gotten more elaborate gimmicks. I also think the colours of the drones, especially the American version, help contribute to that lack of exuberance. Fire one is orange, which isn't the most attractive colour by itself but feels especially out of place on Prime's body when contrasted with the much more fiery red (weird since Prime has so little red by default) and Copter two is just white with a bit of black, colours found in quantity on Optimus, making it stand out the least. Driller three is just a completely random colour, and Submarine four feels too understated being dark blue on an already blue and black 'bot.

    I bet if the drones were all primarily white, perhaps with colour details only present in their individual forms, the combined mode wouldn't look so incoherent to many. The combined mode isn't bad, I'll defend it in that regard until I die, but I'll admit it's just not the best execution of the concept. (which would be Wing Saber, but I feel like a halfway exist between the two power-up forms.)

    I love hearing this. There's a reason UT was a smash-hit with kids: it got them. It knew that kids liked play features and quality, not one or the other.
     
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  17. rikkomba

    rikkomba Hunger

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    This is the best TF review I ever read, a true work of love for the figure and the UT. Kudos.
     
  18. artiepants

    artiepants Transformers '84!!!

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    gotta say, as someone who tried really hard to like this figure (so much so I ended up with the Superlink set)
    I feel qualified to say that, no, it in fact has no redeeming qualities.

    the alt mode is ugly as sin, and the exposed arms are truly unforgivable

    The drones are cheap feeling and looking

    The standard robot mode is a proportions disaster on a level I was always amazed got off the drawing board.
    (He earned the Fatimus moniker for a reason)

    His heads undersized, and putting an oversized helmet over it just compounds the issue.

    The Megazord mode looks stiff and blocky
    (and is so off brand looking/feeling because it does seems o "power rangers-y")

    he ALMOST looks good in the Wingsaber configurations, but all the added articulation points are super awkward with the permanent-curling elbows. He at least makes a DECENT display piece this way, and too me is the only way he looks anywhere near acceptable

    and then, after all that, a year later Galaxy Convoy came along and just utterly schooled him by looking great in alt mode, fantastic standard bot mode, and maybe having the best super mode Optimus Prime's ever experienced.
    (not that Super Fire Convoy can't still bring an argument)

    his colors are nice, and the sculpting was a nice return to form after the overly soft and overly greebly sculpts of Armada.
    I can appreciate that they tried something new, but he just never felt fully baked or like he even made sense over all.
    (which also goes for most of the Powerlinx Autobots - I really like Energon overall, the basics were awesome - still my favorite interpretation of Arcee, the Ultras were a cool concept and the Decepticons represent some of my favorite TF molds ever, but the Powerlinx Autobots just had ambitions that seemed to exceed their level of engineering prowess and materials)

    I do still have a soft spot for the deluxe version, his proportions were at least a TAD better overall.
     
  19. rikkomba

    rikkomba Hunger

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    How can you be so critical of the Super class version, and then casually mention the Deluxe version is better? Come on.
     
  20. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    I feel that is untrue and dismissive.

    Are they? When every G1-style Prime makes zero effort to disguise the legs, (MPM BB Prime) that's a pretty harsh accusation.

    Hell, I just happen to have Fanshobby's Machine Wars Prime's cab in front of me and even it didn't bother to hide the arms or feet.

    Most toys looked, and were, "stiff and blocky" back then. Except it was often a good thing, since it usually meant heavy ratchets and solid builds, as is the case here.

    As for feeling off-brand, is it really? In light of all the gimmicks of recent years, Crash Combiners, Combiner Wars (hell, all of Prime Wars) it's almost quaint. The current mainline gimmick is disassembling dinosaur skeletons and slapping them onto traditional TFs in ways that look neither functional nor aesthetically pleasing. The "Megazord" combination is pretty standard in comparison.

    Only in "Fight Mode," "Flight Mode" has fully-articulated arms with bicep and wrist rotation.

    But at the same time had a far less engaging transformation. I love Cybertron Prime to death, but his super mode consists of simply giving him a backpack and extending his legs with add-ons. It feels pretty weak as far as "armoured up" forms go, and doesn't do much to change the look of the robot mode. Likewise his combination with Wing Saber simply swaps out one backpack with another, again feeling a lot less like the robot mode has changed in a meaningful way. (in fact despite being called 'Sonic Wing Mode" his wings are smaller and flimsier-looking) And let's not even bring up Savage Claw Mode. Energon Prime's three super mode combinations all feel distinct, each one serving a purpose and having its own identity.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021