Series: Legacy United
Prelude: Remember that one time Optimus Prime was not the leader of the Autobots, but rather the captain of a small-time repair crew out in the middle of nowhere? Well, it’s been sixteen years, give or take, since we got to know that particular version of Optimus and now the Legacy United series brings out an homage to him. Animated Optimus Prime is back, ready to slice and dice with his trusty axe. Let’s say go!
Robot Mode: Much like the original Animated Optimus Prime figure, this new Optimus, too, is a Voyager-Class figure and while he is a tad smaller than his predecessor, the difference in height is not particularly large. Now Animated Optimus looked pretty similar in general to the Optimus Prime archetype, having the red chest with windows, blue legs, blue helmet, the works. So it is very easy to recognize this figure as an Optimus Prime. The influence of the Animated stylings is a bit subdued, certainly not as pronounced as with the original figure, but it’s still there. Optimus might be the most Animated-like Animated figure we have seen yet in the Legacy toylines, though he did not escape the G1-inification entirely.
But let us look at the figure itself. Articulation-wise it is simply awesome. From twisting wrists to ankle tilt, Optimus has it all, so no complaints here at all. The head, which shows Optimus without a mouth plate, is a dead ringer to the face of the Animated character. I would have liked to see him with a removable mouth plate like the original toy, but I can live without it. The feet are not entirely cartoon-accurate (would need bigger soles), but otherwise Optimus really portrays the character well.
Now the one big letdown on the original figure was the axe, which did not look like it did in the cartoon at all (or like an axe, period). Legacy Animated Prime does a lot better here, carrying a huge axe that strongly resembles the one from the carton. There is even room to attach a blast effect on the opposite side of the blade to simulate the rocket-powered strikes he did in the cartoon. Very nice. The axe’s hilt can extend, too, just like in the cartoon. Which brings us to the one flaw of this weapon: the extending hilt is a bit too short. It is barely long enough for Optimus to wield the axe two-handed and does not reach the floor when he holds it upright like a halberd. Either the shaft should have been longer or it should have been possible for Optimus to grip it higher up, directly underneath the blade.
Bottom line, though: an excellent robot mode. Not quite as Animated-like as the original toy, but otherwise I have nothing to complain about.
Alternate Mode: Naturally Optimus Prime transforms into a red tractor, technically the front of a fire truck. The transformation is somewhat similar to that of Animated Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime, in that Optimus shifts up his chest plate and arms to basically encompass his head inside the driver’s cabin. And speaking of the driver’s cabin, Optimus actually has one. If you look closely, you can see that seats are sculpted into shoulders and a dashboard with steering wheel is on the inside of his chest plate. Might even be possible to put some Diaclone driver figures inside here.
The truck as a whole looks pretty good and certainly similar to the one the original Animated figure transformed into. Well, at least as long as you look at it from the front. Sadly the designers seemed to have forgotten about the robot’s feet until the very last moment, so the feet up on top of the truck’s rear, fully visible. Not sure why it wasn’t possible to somehow put them on the truck’s rear end like with the original figure. You can somewhat hide the feet when you store Optimus’ axe on the back of the truck, but then you have a truck with a huge, huge axe on its back. Not sure which is worse.
A very nice truck mode otherwise and I like the detailing of the driver’s cabin, but the highly visible feet are hard to look past.
Remarks: The year was 2008, the Transformers were red hot after the success of the first live-action movie, and the new Transformers cartoon series was something entirely different. Apart from a very different animation style, it also presented us with an Optimus Prime who was not the all-wise, experienced leader we had come to know, but rather a wash-out from the Autobot Academy whose name Megatron couldn’t (or refused to) even remember for most of the three seasons. Voiced by David Kaye, who previously gave us the greatest Megatron ever, this version of Optimus Prime became one of the greatest Autobot leaders of them all.
As a toy Animated Universe Optimus Prime (as his full name goes) gives us a terrific robot mode and a truck mode that, while overall nicely done, is dragged down quite a bit by the visible robot feet. That, combined with the handling problems of the big axe, cost him an A-rating, because otherwise he is very, very good. Fully recommended to all Optimus Prime fanatics and Animated fans.
UPDATE: I added some pictures of Legacy Animated Prime with a blast effect on his ax, as well as him wielding the ax from the DX9 Heroes' Toolkit. Many thanks to my buddy Caked-Up for reminding me of that ax.