You say, "It's about time!" and then spend the next few months waiting for him to turn up, because on top of everything else, he's short-packed in his case assortment and, obviously, a popular Transformer to pick up.
This particular Optimus has, however, seen a share of controversy. Optimus has generally been known as a large commercial truck, a semi, more often than not. Obviously this wasn't all that feasible for the Alternators line, so a compromise had to be reached.
For those who don't know, the Transformers Alternators line takes real- world vehicles, officially licensed from their respective manufacturers, creates very authentic 1:24 scale versions of them - and then turns them into popular Transformers.
I've said it before, and I'll probably say it any time I review one of these - The amount of engineering that has to go into creating an authentic, approved by the automaker, 1:24 scale model of a real-world vehicle, complete with moving parts, and then get the thing to transform into a fully-articulated humanoid robot that at least bears some reasonable resemblance to its original Generation 1 counterpart, is nothing less than staggering. I literally can't imagine what this must take. But - it certainly works. The Alternators have been among the most popular Transformers for the past several years.
Now granted, a few compromises had to be taken in the case of Optimus Prime. And that's been one of the controversial points. A lot of people are saying he doesn't sufficiently resemble his original version. I say, if you're going to take a character that is based on a robot that transforms from a commercial semi-truck and condense him into a pick-up truck, managing to get as close as they did and having as fully-functional a toy as any of the other Alternators is going to be an impressive achievement, and in this, Hasbro and Takara certainly succeeded.
Optimus Prime is based on a DODGE RAM SRT-10, a powerful-looking pick-up truck. And here's where two more elements of the story of Alternators Optimus come into play. Japan, apparently, is not known for pick-up trucks. They just don't use them over there all that much. I don't have the full story, and there are conflicting reports, but apparently it took a little convincing to get one into the line. Still, I'm glad they did.
Then there's the other part of the story - a Dodge Ram SRT-10 is a pretty good-sized pick-up truck, certainly larger than the previous cars that have been made part of the Alternators line. But they did want to maintain the 1:24 scale. So technically, in vehicular mode, at least, Optimus is the largest Alternator to date, and by a fair measure.
Even his packaging is bigger. Although the cardboard base is the same size, the plastic bubble that goes over the top is different. Instead of being sealed to the top of the cardboard base, it's sealed to the sides, because it needed that little bit of extra space to accommodate the truck.
So - how's the toy? Pretty darned cool. Optimus' transformation isn't quite as complicated as some Alternators I've encountered. Whether this is a result of simply how the truck design worked out, or (and I would hope this would not be the case) Taraka taking a few shortcuts on an Alternator that they may have been a little reluctant to do in the first place, I'm honestly not sure. Nor is this necessarily a complaint. The Alternators are easily among the most complex Transformers ever created. I'm not going to argue if one of them is a little more straightforward than some of the others.
In truck mode, Optimus is pretty cool. He looks like a very tough and sturdy pick-up truck. His license plate actually reads "Cybertron" on it. Of late, Alternators have had license plates representing actual states, but what state would you assign Optimus to without alienating the other 49? So having a "Cybertron" plate seems appropriate. The plate itself reads "PRIME".
In robot mode, Optimus works out pretty well, too, although a number of people haven't much cared for his look. The plain hood, which becomes his chest, seems far removed from the "windows" that we're used to seeing, and a number of collectors also aren't pleased with the fenders soaring over his arms.
While perhaps not entirely invalid comments, I have to say I see this as nitpicking on a toy that, given that its vehicular base is distinctly different from a traditional Optimus Prime, still manages to pull off an amazingly effective Optimus. Certainly the head sculpt looks good, the arms work well, and even the legs are decent. The blue trim that one would expect to see on an Optimus Prime is reserved for the robot parts, but it is there and it does work.
If I have one complaint about Optimus, and I suspect this is just the one that I bought, since I haven't heard of this being any sort of pattern, it's that his articulation is just a bit on the loose side. The only real problem this causes is that he doesn't like to stand up all that easily. But it can be worked with.
Interesting observation here - although in vehicle mode, Optimus is distinctly larger than other Alternators, his robot form - at least from top of head to top of head of another Alternator (in other words, excepting the huge shoulders) is just about identical. That must've been a good trick for the design and engineering team.
Optimus Prime's engine block transforms into a weapon for him to use. I was a little surprised when I pulled it out and it said "Viper" on it, initially thinking that he'd gotten a recycled weapon. But he hadn't. And apparently Dodge Ram SRT-10's really do use Viper engines. There's even the word "Viper" marked on Optimus' hood.
Overall, the paint work on Optimus is excellent. The Transformers seem to have managed to avoid the sloppy paint-work that has plagued other Hasbro lines such as G.I.Joe, Star Wars, and even Sigma 6. I suspect this is due in no small part to Takara's involvement, and probably keeping closer tabs on the work the factories in China put out. About my only complaint here is that there are a few parts completely painted in red that probably could and should have just been molded in that color in the first place. But at least they're neatly painted.
Although the Alternators don't provide full file cards or tech specs on their characters, ever since the most recent package switch, they do offer a quote from the character. For Optimus Prime, it reads, "The defense of freedom requires the dedication of the mighty." Not bad. Wonder who writes his stuff?
Now, it's common practice for Hasbro and Takara to want to get as many uses out of their Alternators molds as possible. This is understandable. Toy molds are expensive, and for something as complicated as an Alternator, they're also extensive. But what - or rather - who else can you do with this truck? There was a ComicCon exclusive NEMESIS PRIME toy that went very quickly from the few stores outside of ComiCon to have this piece. That Alternator is rather scarce, and given how hard it was for me to track down Optimus, I know it will even tougher to find this one. Hopefully I'll get a chance to review him in the future, though.
Meanwhile, TRANSFORMERS ALTERNATORS OPTIMUS PRIME most definitely has my highest recommendation. And I also recommend that if you see him - grab him immediately. For all the mixed reaction he's getting in some circles, that's clearly not stopping people from buying him!