What is essentially kryptonite to the budget of a nerd who grew up in the ‘80s, Lego and Hasbro’s first collaboration is finally available, but is the brick-built version of Optimus Prime worthy of a spot in your collection?
Hasbro provided io9 with a sample of the new 1,508-piece set, and we’ve documented the entire build process, bag by bag. If you’re curious about what lies ahead for the set you already pre-ordered, or are still on the fence about how cool a Lego Transformer could actually be, follow along as we dive head first into all 10 bags and spend about four hours building and wallowing in nostalgia for two of our favorite retro toy lines.
Bag one felt like one of the shortest builds in this set, and while the earliest steps in a larger Lego model are often all about building a sturdy framework that gets completely hidden later on, right out of the gate we’ve already gotten one of Optimus Prime’s recognizable features: the truck’s windshield that ends up on his chest in robot mode.
The second bag completes Optimus’ windshield, adds additional lighting to the top of the truck’s cab, a swiveling support for Prime’s head, as well as the robot’s hips, attached to a swiveling mechanism that’s an essential part of the transformation process.
The entire build focuses on Optimus in robot mode, and bag three introduces the start of Prime’s legs with his upper thighs attached to his hips with articulated joints that facilitate posing (and careful balancing) when the model is standing. The first pair of wheels also get attached here, which become the front wheels in Optimus’ truck mode.
Bag four assembles Prime’s right lower leg, which brings with it not only some fun detailing with the silver grill section, but also some interesting technical elements with connectors on either end for attaching this portion of the leg to the upper thigh and a foot.
Bag five starts to feel a little repetitive as it’s essentially a mirrored copy of the lower leg section assembled in the last step, but it ends with the addition of Optimus’ two pairs of back wheels, making Prime ready to roll out, but not quite ready to transform.
Bag six might not seem like the most exciting build, but it adds a pair of rotating fuel tanks on either side of Prime’s legs, and, more importantly, both of his feet, which finally allows the half-assembled Autobot to stand on his own.
There’s a lot going on with bag seven, which not only includes Optimus’ front grill, headlight panels, and bumper, but Prime’s swiveling shoulders too, complete with panels pre-printed with the Autobot logo. All in all, there are just four decals that need to be applied in this entire set.
Although there are two additional bags of pieces after this one, bag eight is the build’s real pay-off as it includes not only both of Prime’s arms and hands, but his head too. This bag essentially completes Optimus himself, but what’s a robot fighting an intergalactic war without some armaments?
Bag nine arguably makes Optimus Prime the best accessorized Autobot on planet Earth, as it includes his energon axe that attaches to either arm by completely removing his hand, the Matrix of Leadership which can actually be stored inside Prime’s chest behind the windshield, a glowing energon cube, and his iconic and impressively large blaster, which by itself is a surprisingly fun build.
To be perfectly honest, I was tempted to skip the last bag in this build, as number 10 only includes a buildable jetpack accessory for Prime allowing the Autobot—who is usually permanently grounded without a spaceship—to take to the skies. Given the choice, I would have preferred this bag to include a buildable version of Spike Witwicky instead.
Lego has designed its version of Optimus Prime to more closely match the character as he appeared in the ‘80s animated series and movie instead of Hasbro’s original toy version, but there’s no complaining here. Prime looks fantastic in robot mode with his blaster in hand, but don’t expect the same level of play value as the Optimus toy you grew up with.
The figure can be a little unsteady and wobbly on its feet, thanks in part to the rotating mechanism just below its chest that uses just a single axle piece, but there’s enough articulation in the arms and legs to let you find a pose that keeps Optimus well balanced. I still think Voltron is the best transforming giant robot model Lego has ever created, but Prime is now a very close second.
Not only does Lego’s Optimus Prime look great in robot mode, he actually looks even better as a truck. The transformation process very closely matches the same steps used for Hasbro’s original ‘80s toy, with the addition of a 180-degree twist at the waist, hands that fold out of the way instead of needing to be removed, and the front of the truck temporarily swinging up and out of the way providing extra clearance as various parts move around.
I like that Prime’s legs feature clips on the inside so that they can be secured together when flipped 90 degrees to form the back of the truck, and I kind of wish the arms had a similar locking mechanism too, as they tended to sag in truck mode, creating noticeable gaps in the body panels.
I’m going to award some bonus points here because while accessories like the jetpack, axe, and energon cube don’t really have any place to call home when they’re not in use, the truck mode’s design includes a spot between Prime’s legs where his blaster can be stored more or less out of sight: a clever solution until Lego decides to release a buildable trailer for Optimus as well. (Please… pleeeeease!)
Lego Optimus Prime is available now through Lego’s website, or its brick and mortar stores around the world, for $170.
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