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This Optimus Prime Toy Looks Like It Stepped Out Of A Transformers Movie

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This Optimus Prime Toy Looks Like It Stepped Out Of A Transformers Movie

Optimus Prime was an icon to millions of children in the 1980s. And so powerful was he, indeed, that the Transformers' most-adored character, the leader of the heroic Autobots, defeated death itself, returning to the toyline's tie-in cartoon and Marvel-published comics alike after being cynically killed off to make way for new playthings in 1986's animated feature-length The Transformers: The Movie. (Speaking of which, a 35th anniversary release is imminent.)

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So when Optimus Prime made his big-budget, big-screen comeback in 2007's box-office smash Transformers - where the shape-shifting robots from Cybertron were given the 'live-action' treatment under the direction of renowned liker-of-explosions, Michael Bay - there was understandable confusion and disappointment when the voice matched the memories, but the look really didn't. No longer a big red truck with a heart of gold, Optimus was now a long-fronted Peterbilt mostly coloured in blue except for a flame design, rather than the stubby Frieghtliner of the 1980s.

Watch the trailer for Bumblebee, featuring the Optimus Prime depicted in the MPM-12 design, below...

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As the Transformers movie series went on, Prime moved further and further away from the personality of the original character. His voice actor, Peter Cullen, even expressed discomfort with how the head of the Autobots had become a more violent, less level-headed presence in the action. But 2018's Bumblebee - a soft reboot of the live-action Transformer movies - returned Prime to his selfless, valiant self, and gave him both a classic-feeling robot mode and an alternative, disguised form that those '80s fans could immediately feel a connection with.

And it's this version of Optimus Prime who now has a pretty darn close to screen-accurate representation as part of the Transformers toyline's Masterpiece series - specifically its Movie Series of Masterpiece figures, which is focused on the live-action 'bots and 'cons rather than high-price, high-detail interpretations of cartoon favourites. He's a bot who, on being told he has some red on him, will say yes, indeed, and that's a good thing.

MPM-12 Optimus Prime / Credit: the author
MPM-12 Optimus Prime / Credit: the author
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This new toy, MPM-12 (so, the twelfth figure in the Movie Masterpiece line), looks like it's stepped straight out of the cinema in its striking robot mode, with some exceptional detail evident from a cursory handling. There's all kinds of mechanical gizmos and intricate line work on this thing, and a small panel of translucent plastic at the back of Prime's head gives him glowing eyes - light-piping - when there is a light source behind the toy. At first glance, you might well ask yourself if it actually transforms at all.

But look a little closer and the clues are all there. This Prime's forearms, unlike an earlier Masterpiece figure MP10 (pictured here, for comparison), are astonishingly hollow, with a huge gap around the wrist. The windows on the forearms are unsightly, too, and more in line with the kind of we'll-just-hide-this-here compromising you'd find on cheaper Transformers toys, such as the still-adult-focused Studio Series line, which also covers Movie characters (and, more recently, expanded to the 1986 film).

MPM-12 beside an older Masterpiece-line Optimus Prime, MP10 / credit: the author
MPM-12 beside an older Masterpiece-line Optimus Prime, MP10 / credit: the author
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In robot mode, MPM-12 has a fantastic posing range (50 points of articulation, in total), but there's an unwelcome rigidity to his elbows and some awkward shoulder joints that do, again, feel more like something expected on smaller toys. I don't like the perma-clawed hands either - but there's a reason for those. The legs, however, are majestic, just awesome in their complex detailing and movement, each joint stiff enough to hold any position you want to mangle this figure into. But while these limbs are great in Prime's bipedal humanoid form, they lose their appeal when he's in truck mode.

Transforming MPM-12 takes, according to the instructions, 49 individual steps, but a lot of it is more intuitive than such a number suggests. There's a few fiddly faffs along the way, like lining his front wheels up with the bumper, and gaining clearance enough to spin the very top of his torso, the bit with his titty windows, a full 180 degrees. His arms collapse into his sides like Optimus Prime toys have since 1984, and his legs become his lower rear section, where a trailer (not included here) would be hitched.

MPM-12's truck mode (right) beside MP10's - his backside, not pictured (but that is his gun, poking out) / credit: the author
MPM-12's truck mode (right) beside MP10's - his backside, not pictured (but that is his gun, poking out) / credit: the author
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And here's where we get our biggest problem with MPM-12: his backside is just a mess. Not in robot mode you understand, where everything apart from those forearms is so tight that it's a genuine delight to kind of unpack his insides during transformation. But as a truck, a classic '80s-style Prime truck, he's all over the place with his shins just there, his fuel tank intact but a chaotic cacophony of parts nestling next to them, and when you bring his oversized rifle to the party, things get worse.

The gun folds in half for 'storage' in truck mode - but that storage is just a couple of tabs on the back, so it just sits there, fully visible, stinking up the rear end of this vehicle mode. Back to MP-10 for a second, and its rifle neatly folds up inside the cab - and looking at the gaps of the transformed legs on MPM-12, I'm not sure if designers couldn't have found a way to incorporate the weapon amongst the open space.

Back into robot mode and, phew, still a looker - which you'd expect, given it's actually based on the CAD files from the 2018 movie. And hey, the truck mode here isn't awful, I've seen worse - just, not on a toy with an RRP of £124.99. I don't know all that many Transformers collectors who display their figures in their alt-modes, but if you do, keep this one in a strictly forward-facing perspective, because at the right angle, sure, that is Optimus Prime, straight out of the 1980s via a real-world Bumblebee twist.

MPM-12 Optimus Prime (back, right) next to MP10, Earthrise Optimus Prime, and the classic Prime from the 1980s / credit: the author
MPM-12 Optimus Prime (back, right) next to MP10, Earthrise Optimus Prime, and the classic Prime from the 1980s / credit: the author

As a big toy robot, MPM-12 Optimus Prime ticks a lot of boxes. It looks great on the shelf and has a lot of pick-up-and-fiddle value, thanks to all of its posing potential. It has a massive gun, if that's a thing for you. And Transformers fans of all ages will appreciate that this Prime does include a removable Matrix of Leadership, which he can hold for some 'light our darkest hour' drama. That's where those hook-like hands come in - they really do grip this blocky Matrix very firmly, unlike MP10 or the smaller, 'Voyager'-size War for Cybertron Optimus Prime figure that's on sale right now, where such a stance never feels quite so solid.

This MPM-12 Prime has been on my desk for something like two weeks now, and I still play around with it a couple of times per day, and always appreciate how it looks next to MP10, as the two designs complement each other very nicely. What I don't do that much is transform it, though - so if that's your thing while on your fifth Zoom call of the day, you're better off with a Generations-range (War for Cybertron Trilogy, Studio Series, Netflix) Transformer or two, which tend to be both smaller and friendlier on the wallet. If you love the Bumblebee movie, though, and the Optimus Prime design in it, this is your guy - and while he's not perfect, he's about as screen-accurate as collectors are likely to get for an official, he-does-actually-transform version of this '80s-respecting live-action leader.

MPM-12 (right) next to Earthrise Optimus Prime, showing off his window-arms / credit: the author
MPM-12 (right) next to Earthrise Optimus Prime, showing off his window-arms / credit: the author

MPM-12 is available to pre-order now at Hasbro Pulse, Kapow, In Demand Toys and at all good stockists of, y'know, transforming action figures. It's set to release/ship in August 2021. The figure used in this coverage was provided free of charge by Hasbro's UK PR company. The figures it's beside were very much bought with the author's own money, much to the disappointment of his wife.

Featured Image Credit: Hasbro, Paramount Pictures

Topics: transformers

Mike Diver
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