Cartoons, Toys

The Robot’s Toys: Hot Toys Optimus Prime (Starscream Version) Sideshow Exclusive Edition

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It’s safe to say that one thing on every toy collector’s bucket list is to someday, somehow, own a Hot Toys figure, rather than just staring at the ones in the glass case behind the counter at your local collectible store, drool collecting on your T-shirt as you marvel at the photo-realistic likenesses and inclusion of every possible accessory the character ought to have.

Being sent one to review was a surprise. And it took a while to collect my thoughts once I got past the “HOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHIT” phase.

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You open the box, remove a protective paper sleeve that briefly explains the backstory, and there’s the figure.

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No twist-ties hold him down, nor does any tightly gripping plastic warp. This is collector-friendly packaging to the max, so much so that I was able to box him up again at the end with no trouble. The secret is a series of plastic trays that work in layers.

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I may have mentioned before that I LOVE diorama bases. Domestic toy companies find them uneconomical, but Hot Toys just says, “Screw it. We’ll make a base if we want, and if the price goes up, fine.”

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Here’s a regular Darth Vader figure, just to show scale.

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The instructions are very basic and simple. Optimus is more or less fully formed as a figure – you just need to know how to put in his batteries and add extra accessories if you want.

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Even though Hot Toys are so pricey that they’re considered high-end collectibles and often just put on display, it’s clear that at least this Optimus is built to be played with. He’s light, very articulated, and fun to re-pose. The thinking behind this figure seems to just be that the designers wanted to make an action figure with perfect detail, every relevant accessory, full-on paint job, and if that means it costs $350 (it does), so be it. Let American companies worry about “shared parts” and “dropping the extra weapons for cost.” Such mundanities do not concern Hot Toys, and apparently there are enough people who buy them to keep them in business. Long may that continue.

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What looks like wear, tear and sandblasting is all painted and sculpted detail. Plus his chest opens to reveal the Matrix of Leadership.

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Again, not rust. Deco.

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My philosophy of Transformers used to be that they are toys first and foremost, and should always transform. This one does not, but I’m not disappointed. Though if his waist could do a full unimpeded 360, it might be possible to get closer than this…

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Did I mention his FINGERS are articulated at every joint? On the default hands, anyway. He comes with an extra set of rubbery hands that are unarticulated and designed just for holding his gun. They even have both in trigger poses, so you can make Optimus right or left handed.

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One thing the instructions DON’T tell you is how to put him on the base. You need to stick in this clear plastic rod – the rod-imus prime, if you like – and then add the black clip that slides under Optimus’ crotch. Yep, you get to feel up a Transformer in ways Michael Bay has only dreamed about. Because the figure is not that heavy – he looks like metal, but isn’t – he doesn’t overbalance easily.

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I’m not going to try to count all the points of articulation, but I will demonstrate how many there are by showing off some key ones. Like here, in his shoulder, there’s a hinge that contains a double ball joint…

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And then his hips have piston-and-double ball joints too. The instructions tell you to pull down on the legs and up on the waist first to increase their range of motion, though if you want to keep him in a static pose, you don’t have to.

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Now, let us look at what else he comes with.

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Starscream’s severed head! Plus, here’s an INSANE detail – Starscream’s head has a ball-jointed neck! This head is the Sideshow exclusive accessory. See? It’s not just Bayformer Optimus who’s into decapitations.

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If you’re curious about the L-shaped connectors, they’re to add the wings to Optimus’ back. And there are two DIFFERENT WAYS you can do that, because at this point the toy makers are totally showing off their pwnage.

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So, you can either use one set of connectors to plug them into the wheels on his back, OR you can take the wheels off altogether and just stick them directly in in place of the wheels.

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Both options allow the wings to flip up like so.

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Starscream’s guns attach to clips that have rubber grips inside, which easily slide on to Prime’s wrists.

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Here he is with the right alternate gun-hand. The gun is removable from the hand.

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Here’s Vader for scale again.

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Impressive so far, right? But there’s more. He lights up.

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The dark cab windows conceal it initially, but…THE MATRIX LIGHTS UP TOO.

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Okay, so you kinda know going into a Hot Toys review that it will impress. But the numerous ways it does impress are still a surprise. So the real question is – is he worth $344.99? (You can buy him at Sideshow’s site still, and do installment plans, which is nice of them).

It’s hard to quantify, but when I look at the Castle Grayskull I paid $300 for, and the $100 NECA figures, and I accept those as good value given what the market for toys is…yes. This Optimus Prime is exactly what you’d want for what he is, and does everything you’d expect save actual transformation. He’s so good I packed him right back up and said to myself, “Self, we need to wait till I live in a house and have a true place of honor for this thing.”

And if I ever become rich, I’m gonna be wanting a lot more.

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Bryce Abood contributed to the photography in this review. The good parts of it.

About Author

Luke Y. Thompson has been writing professionally about movies and pop-culture since 1999, and has also been an actor in some extremely cheap culty and horror movies you will probably never hear much about (he is nonetheless mostly proud of them, as he met his wife on one). As editor of The Robot's Voice since 2012, he can take the blame for the majority of the site's content, all of which he creates because he loves you very, very much. (Although he loves nachos more. Sorry.) Prior to TRV, Luke wrote for publications that include the New Times LA, Los Angeles CityBeat, E! Online, OC Weekly, Geekweek, GeekChicDaily, The L.A. Times, The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Nerdist