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Series: DNA Design
Allegiance: Maximal
Categories: Upgrade Set
Year: 2019

Prelude: DNA Design seems to specialize in doing upgrade sets for official Hasbro / Takara-Tomy figures that show a lot of potential, but fall short in some way. Which is pretty much the original raison d’être of Third Party Companies in my book. In this case DNA is taking on Optimus Primal, more specifically the Throne of the Primes special edition. A good figure, but with room for improvement. Let’s see if DNA can fill that room.

Robot Mode: Now some of the parts DNA has packed for Optimus Primal are the usual stuff you expect from a third party upgrade set. Optimus gets slightly bigger, far more articulate hands. The wings on his arms are replaced with slightly larger wings, as are the armor plates on his forearms, which can also serve as shoulder pads. Unlike the original armor pieces these can fold out into a larger armor plate that doubles as a shield for the smaller robot. The guns on his chest are replaced with, you guessed it, slightly larger guns, though these can also extend like they did in the Beast Wars TV series. All these replacement parts can be swapped out with minimal effort, no problem.

Then we come to the new parts. Remember that orange rifle that the original BW Optimal Optimus had? The one that was far too small for his giant hands? Well, DNA gives us two of these rifles, better scaled for Optimus’ hands, which can also be stored on his back. The set also contains two swords, closely resembling those used by BW Season 1 Optimus Primal, for use with the smaller robot. The bigger one can wield them, too, but they look a bit small in his giant mitts.

Finally the set contains six wheels (five really, but one comes in two parts), which are attached to Optimus’ back and legs respectively, which will come into play in alternate mode. Suffice to say that all the extra parts can be applied without the use of any tools and do a lot to improve the robot mode in subtle ways. Bigger weapons, better hands, and just a more powerful look in general. Very nicely done so far.

Oh, and side note: I finally removed that pin that connected the smaller robot mode to the back of the bigger robot and separated them. As mentioned in my Throne of the Primes review, it doesn’t hurt the bigger figure in any way, and the smaller figure looks much leaner and can still attach to the bigger robot in all modes without problem.

Alternate Mode: The primary purpose of the upgrade set is to give Optimus Primal his missing fourth mode as a ground transport. That’s what the wheels are for. The ground transport mode is basically identical to the jet mode, only instead of spreading the robot arms and wings out, they are tucked close to the body. The rear wheels flip out from his legs and the two halves of the big front wheel are attached between his fists. All the extra weapons go on top of the vehicle mode. The resulting vehicle doesn’t look like any real-life vehicle I’ve ever come across, but it looks really, really cool. Come on, it’s a big armored vehicle with fists at the front! How can you not love it?

The wheels and extra weapons are also part of Optimus’ pre-existing jet mode, of course. The rear wheels are flipped in, the weapons are still on top, and the two big wheel halves are mounted behind the wings, where they serve as jet engines now. Looking very good and actually managing to make this very un-jet-like jet look a bit more jet-like. Just a bit. Oh, and just for completeness’ sake: in ape mode the big front wheel is stored in the hollow back. No other changes here.

Bottom line: the upgrade set certainly does its job here, vastly improving Optimus Primal’s rather lackluster (or missing) vehicle modes. Two thumbs up!

Remarks: The Power of the Primes Optimal Optimus figure, be it in its normal retail version or the SDCC Throne of the Primes special edition, is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a good figure, but the whole Evolution concept (a smaller robot linking up with a trailer to form a bigger robot) wasn’t really meant for a beast-former. Given that, the figure performs admirably, but really needed some upgrading. DNA Designs really came through, though, and vastly improved the figure. It’s probably still not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a fan of Beast Wars figures and own one of the versions of this figure, I fully recommend getting the appropriate DNA Upgrade Set (there is one for the orange and blue retail version, too). You’ll end up with a much better figure.

Rating: A-
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