Complex transformation doesn't always mean great figure
Best thing about Transformers is that they can be, and do, pretty much anything. The only real limiter is the imagination. We've seen big things like entire planets and cities, medium things like space shuttles and jets, small things like microscopes and toasters, and scary things like monsters and dinosaurs. Really as long as the subject has some amount of mass it isn't off limits.
Yet people will often balk at the idea of a character that usually turns into a truck being reimagined as a car. Why? I really can't say, just can't handle change I guess. As long as there's a compelling enough reason I'm fine with that.
So, here comes Takara Tomy's latest attempt to rebuild Optimus Prime into something that isn't a semi truck.. In this case he's taking on the form of a Super GT race car. The story is that a handful of Transformers wanted to buildup Transformer-human relations and felt the best way to do that was on the race track. Sure, I guess I'll buy that, beats some of the other more confounded story lines Takara Tomy has come up with.
Follow me after the jump and we'll take a closer look at the number one figure of this new line: GT-R Prime!
Figure Name: GT-R Prime
Let's kick things off with a look at the box. First thing that should stand out is the beautiful Prime box art. Note that this isn't Optimus Prime or Convoy, just Prime, or GT-R Prime if you want to be super accurate. The art extends over the top and really looks great in person. On the left you'll also notice a sort of blueprint of Prime. Something else that should stand out is the number of logos gracing the box front. A lot of companies are credited for the making of this figure, which probably has a lot to do with the ridiculous price tag (no, that's not a typo up there). The Super GT logo alone appears three times on the front. The paragraph of text (in English!) on the bottom right corner encourages you to pair him up with Masterpiece Convoy and stick him in the trailer. Does that hurt anyone else's brain? The rest of the box is pretty much the same, check the gallery to see the back and sides.
Let's jump right into the car mode. If you haven't figured it out yet Prime is based on a real world GT car, and features all of the authentic sponsor logos of the original. The car mode is done in the same scale as GT Association official car models, so Takara Tomy was looking for some major crossover appeal when making this figure. It's made to be displayed with scale models so you can bet they put some serious effort into making this car as realistic as possible.
Check out the tire details. They're made of real rubber and even have logos on the rims. Look inside and you can see all of the brake details. All in all it's pretty impressive, because this is actually fairly small figure, but more on that later.
As with most scale modes the hood and doors can be opened with completely detailed interiors.
Engine details can be seen easily on the inside. Due to being involved in the transformation process there details aren't all there, but it's enough that you know it's an engine.
Interior details can be seen here. It's a bit of a minimalist approach, there isn't a whole lot of detail, but it's all there. Since this is a Japanese/European style racer the driver is on the right.
Time for bot mode!
Let me just make this clear: This is not a toy. It looks like a toy, but this isn't something you're going to want to play with, and definitely not something you're going to want to give a child. Of course, when you're paying around US$100 for something this small you'd have to be crazy to give it to a kid, so maybe that goes without saying. No, this is actually a display piece. You transform it; you pose it; you put on the shelf, or maybe you just leave it the box and just admire it that way, the box is certainly good enough for that. Why would I say that? Because this thing has one of the most convoluted leg transformations known to the franchise.
Just look at that! I've transformed him from car to bot, bot to car, and car to bot again and I still couldn't tell you exactly what you're looking at. This is a rear view and somewhere in there is the entire back end of the car including the tires and rear window. Plastic origami is what that is, and when you finally get it all folded up you end up with such a strange looking foot you need those big stabilizers on the side to keep him from falling over. I really don't get the point of making it so complex if the end result isn't going to be something amazing.
And the legs aren't the worst of it, check out the arms:
They barely qualify as arms. They're so short and stubby they don't even reach beyond his chest. Yes, that's his arms straight forward. Sure, the shoulders have some range to them, but the only time the arms look good is either out to the sides or bent to give the illusion that they're short for a reason. Like I said before, this is a figure made for display, the arms don't have much play value to them. One other point is that his hands don't really hold the weapon well, it just slides in loosely. For the price, I don't think articulated hands is asking much.
And yet, with all that effort put into the body and legs this is the view from the back. Roof, windshield, and hood all just sitting against his back with no attempt to hide it at all. Surely with the rest of the figure being so complex they could have figure out a way to fold this better. Why would they stop engineering here?
OK, time to address the elephant in the room.
This here is Misaki. She's here to add value to the figure and make you think you're actually getting something extra to warrant the high price. Does she? Not really, for reasons that will soon be apparent. But let's start with some positives.
She actually has an amazing amout of articulation for her size. She only stands about 3.5 inches, or around 9cm, and is articulated like a Play Arts Kai figure with lots of double joints, a bunch of swivels, two torso joints, inward/outward pivoting shoulder joints, and feet that can swivel, bend, and pivot with ease. She even has interchangeable hands, including some that can bend at the wrist and some that are fix posed. Also, the paint lines are pretty spectacular and her skirt is flexible.
So where's the problem?
Well for starters, despite being so small, she's not to the same scale as Prime. She's actually quite a bit bigger and looks like a giant next to him in car mode. What's the point of including a race queen that can't be posed next to a car? Another problem is that as nice as the articulation is, it's a little ungainly and just looks like a mess of joints. Plus, she can't stand on her own and there isn't a stand included with her so the articulation is rather moot. There's also a problem with that metallic paint chipping off the joints, especially at the feet. The whole figure feels like it was just shoehorned into the set which makes me wonder if they have other plans for the body style as a line of its own similar to figma.
Let's take one last look at Prime and talk about scale.
I've mentioned that he's actually pretty small for his price so I'm going to point out a few things about his size. He's actually smaller than the original Optimus Prime figure (this one is the original Hasbro reissue). I will say that I like how well they matched GT-R Prime's colors to G1 Prime's. Red, blue and silver all hearken back to the original shades, and aside from the addition of black it's a good match. Also, something that I've neglected to mention up until now is that there's two pretty sizable chunks of diecast underneath GT-R Prime in car mode, or buried inside his body in bot mode, which gives the figure some rather pleasing heft.
Compared to Alternator Optimus Prime it's no contest. Granted, Op was pretty big for an Alternator, but the entire line really towers over GT-R Prime. The same can be said for Classics Voyager class Optimus (see the gallery).
No, if the figure is close to anything it's the Deluxe scale of the standard lines. He's just a little bit bigger than your average deluxe, which isn't so great. It does make his complexity something of a marvel, but at the same time you still have to wonder why he's so complex in the first place.
Probably the biggest argument against him is the very same Masterpiece line they're advertising right on the front of the box. Both lines feature cars at the same scale (like Sideswipe here) and a similar (though slightly lesser for MP) level of complexity. Sure, the MP line doesn't have fancy opening doors and hoods, or rubber wheels, and the diecast is used sparingly if at all, but...
...you're going to get a bigger bot mode with a much more appealing appearance for around half the price. It's very hard to recommend the GT line when right next to it is the Masterpiece line that looks just as good, if not better, is more playable, displays well, and costs less. If you're a gearhead that collects cars and Transformers then this line should be like a dream and you'd be willing to pay extra for it. For the rest of us, you might just want to grab Prime for the shelf and forget the rest of the line. There's really not a lot going for it if you aren't into racing.
[ Big thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing the review sample! ]
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