Select your language

Series: TransArt
Allegiance: Maximal
Year: 2020

Prelude: The nineties were a strange decade. During that time, it totally made sense that an alien cybernetic organism would transform into an organic ape and then mutate into a cobalt-blue robot ape with a flying skateboard in order to “hang ten on the air waves”, whatever that means. So, yeah, Transmetal Optimus Primal was already a pretty weird concept, but a great figure regardless. Now we get him in Masterpiece-size from third party company TransArt. Can they recapture that wonderful weirdness of the late nineties Transmetals? Let’s say go!

Robot Mode: Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Skateboard Gorilla looks pretty much the same as Transmetal Optimus Primal, just bigger. He’s dialed up to Masterpiece scale, fitting nicely between MP Beast Convoy and Perfect Effect Beast Gorira. That already solves what was really Transmetal Optimus’ only major flaw: that he was smaller than his season 1 predecessor. Anyway, size aside there really isn’t much difference to be found here to the original. The larger size leaves room for a bit more detailing, the grey parts are a bit shinier, but it’s clearly meant to be the same figure.

Skateboard Gorilla features the same gimmicks here as TM Primal, meaning he has a harness with two maces on his back, which he can flip forward into a kind of artillery mode. SG comes with blast effects for his mace guns, which also fit into the larger gun he can clip into his right leg by way of a flip-out holder. The larger gun contains a light, a pretty bright one, so please don’t look directly into it the first time you turn it on. It lights up the blast effects very nicely and somehow looks awesomely retro in SG’s hands.

Speaking of hands, SG has articulated ones in place of the standard fist-with-hole that TM Primal had. The hands look pretty good and you can sort of clip the gun grip into the palm of either hand, though it’s not terribly stable. The one minor downside here is that the hands can’t really hold the maces solidly. You can fit them in there, but it’s not a solid connection of any sort, so I advise posing him first and then putting the maces into his hands. As for the posing ability, SG is very nicely articulated, more so than the original figure, and can pull off all sorts of great poses. The feet, strange as they are, give him a solid stance, so no problems with balance, either.

Finally SG comes with three different faces for his robot mode. An angry one, which kind of resembles the face of the original figure, a smiling one, and a neutral one. I love the smirk on the smiling face, but that’s purely subjective. So bottom line, I love the robot mode. It takes everything that was great about the original figure and dials it up a little and makes it shinier. Not a major reinvention or anything, but a great Masterpiece-sized version of a robot mode that was already pretty cool.

Alternate Mode: The Transmetals were all about switching things around, making the robot modes look more organic, while making the previously organic-looking beast modes look robotic. Same here, where Skateboard Gorilla transforms into a shiny cobalt-blue robotic – you guessed it – gorilla. The transformation isn’t very complicated and basically identical to that of the original figure, only the switching of the heads is slightly different. There are some additional panels in the feet (previously the knee pads) to make them a bit more stable, but that’s pretty much it in terms of differences.

The gorilla itself is basically the robot with shorter legs and a different head. The main difference to the original figure is that it’s missing the ‘Optimus’ name on his right breast. Articulation is better here, though, as the ape’s head can actually be moved and it’s actually possible to put him in a walk-on-all-fours pose without him looking down all the time. The one minor thing I don’t like here is that the hands, while not the same ones as in robot mode, look identical. The original figure had at least minor differences here, the robot mode hands looking a tad more organic. Here, though: both sets of hands are identical. Just a minor thing, really, but it did bug me a tiny little bit. Just like the robot, the gorilla also comes with three faces. An angry one and two others that I thought to be identical smiling ones at first, but one of them is raising an eyebrow.

The true fun begins, of course, when you put Skateboard Gorilla into his ‘third mode’, which is really just the beast mode with a little extra. In SG’s case he forms a skateboard from the shins and feet of his robot mode and you got the surfing cobalt ape you saw on TV. His gun from robot mode can be put on either end of the board as a rocket motor and the blast effects serve as an exhaust flame, which can light up here, too, of course.

This is also where the flight stand included with the figure comes into play, allowing for all sorts of flying poses. The flight stand actually comes with four struts and four joints, so you can create a very elaborate ‘arm’ to pose your figure on. Given the weight of Skateboard Gorilla, though, I advise against using all the parts, as a three-part arm was already struggling to hold him up. I am looking forward to using the stand with other, lighter figures, though.

So bottom line here: if you can understand the sheer insane joy of having a cobalt blue gorilla surfing on a rocket-powered skateboard, then you should be fully satisfied with this mode.

Remarks: Of the various versions of Optimus Primal, it often seems that his Transmetal version, seen in the second season of the TV series, is the redheaded stepchild. There have been many releases of his season 1 gorilla form, and several different versions of this third season Optimal Optimus form, too. Transmetal Primal, though, is usually just remembered as the skateboard guy and paid homage to by somehow including a skateboard in a figure otherwise resembling season 1 or season 3 Primal.

Personally I was always a big fan of the Transmetal version, not just because I consider season 2 of Beast Wars to be among the best Transformers TV ever. Weird concept aside, the Transmetal Optimus figure was pretty damn good. So when TransArt adapted it for their Skateboard Monkey, they pretty much went the same route as Fans Hobby did with Gun Fighter II or MakeToys with Galaxy Meteor: don’t try to change a figure that’s already near-perfect too much, just scale it up to Masterpiece size, make it more detailed, and add a bit of luxury feel to it. So bottom line here: Skateboard Gorilla is nothing more and nothing less than a bigger, more detailed, and shinier version of Transmetal Optimus Primal. For me, that’s quite enough, especially as he was still quite a bit less expensive than any of the current official Masterpiece figures.

Rating: A-

Toy DB Link

Picture Gallery:

No comments