Review: Transformers Age of Extinction Leader Optimus Prime, Voyager Grimlock, Deluxe Slug and Drift
The Allspark.com were fortunate enough to get our hands on advance copies of a few of the Transformers: Age of Extinction toys due out on store shelves May 17th (Although some lucky fans are finding stores already stocking the figures). Among our samples were Leader Class Optimus Prime, Voyager Class Grimlock, Deluxe Class Slug, and Deluxe Class Drift.
From first look at the packaging, you can see that the Hasbro graphic designers were set on a “less is more” philosophy. The packaging is a little more on the simple side than fans may be used to with its stark blocks of pure white and red. This was actually done to help the toys themselves make a bigger impact. Without the distracting, complicated designs on the packaging, the toy doesn’t get as “lost” in the mix. Also to give the toys more of a presence, they were packaged with weapons in their hands or in an action pose so that it looks that much more interesting and action-packed. You can see this in the way Leader Class Optimus Prime is packaged with his sword drawn, and the way that Drift has his swords crossed and ready for a fight.
Speaking of Optimus Prime, let’s start there with our review! Optimus Prime is one of two Leader Class figures being offered for the first wave of figures, the other being Grimlock. Optimus comes packaged in robot mode, standing valiantly in preparation for battle, so that’s the mode we’ll start with first.
Robot mode – Let’s just say that his mode was surprising! Online imagery has shown the arms in several different poses, but left the legs mostly static making it appear as though the figure had limited articulation. Let us tell you that is NOT the case! Optimus has plenty of articulation – ball joint head, double-hinged shoulders, rotating biceps, elbows, turning waist, universal hips, knees, ankles…even rotating thumbs! A downside to this mode is all of the vehicle parts on the back – any view other than forward straight-on view makes him look like Tony Stark strapped to a bed frame in Iron Man 3. It’s not a particularly good look. And the flaps on the sides of the waist being connected to this back frame rather than locking in place at the sides of the hips presents some awkwardness when you try to get the figure into more extreme poses.
Transformation – Thankfully after some of the past Movie Leader Optimus toys, this figure’s transformation is relatively straight forward and intuitive. The only step which may require a glance at the instructions is when you fold the arms away, since that’s not entirely obvious just by looking at the way things line up. As you can probably tell by the truck parts hanging off of his robot mode, this Optimus is a shell-former. Which means you do have to fold the robot mode away and then massage the vehicle mode panels closed around them. He is, though, a fairly simple shell-former and it’s not too much of a pain getting everything tucked away correctly.
Truck Mode – This one is a little strange. It has obvious collector-oriented details like rubber tires and chrome grill and exhaust but the rest of the truck seems under-painted. It’s very unfortunate that there wasn’t room in the budget to make the back half of the truck a little more detailed and vary in color a little more. It’s just so very blue. There are also the clear yellow windows that stick out in contrast against the chrome and rubber wheels. The whole vehicle mode together just gives this weird impression of being a collectors’ item but at the same time being an obvious toy. It’s probably not the best combination.
Overall – Robot mode has a very action figure feel to it rather than the end result of a puzzle like some other movie Optimus toys. Which is a good thing since it makes you want to pick up the toy and pose it in all sorts of heroic and stoic poses. And the truck mode does have a sleek look to it. So despite some of the criticisms, the toy is still recommended. However, more so for collectors who “have fun” with their collection rather than collectors looking to have an impressive display piece. The latter are still going to want to stick with their Buster Primes.
Leader Class Optimus Prime – B
Next up is Voyager Grimlock. This figure is again packaged in robot mode, so let’s start there.
Robot Mode – There is something VERY anime about this robot mode. The proportions, the curves, the design of the armor, he looks like he wouldn’t be out of place fighting Kaiju or alien invaders. He has fantastic articulation which can pull of some phenomenal poses…although his oddly shaped feet do give him balance issues. Which is why he’s not in any exaggerated poses in the images below. His weapon is odd – it’s a bladed stick with a massive, but hollow, mace attachment. Also the hand hold is a bit awkward sticking out the side the way it does. It ends up looking like a very unnatural way to hold what looks like it should be an extremely heavy weapon. Something that does help though is not pegging the forearms together. This allows you to rotate the wrist and get a slightly wider variety in his poses with the weapon.
Transformation – Converting from robot mode to dinosaur mode is fairly easy, although not quite intuitive given the somewhat odd angles you end up contorting the robot mode parts into. It feels like you should be doing something else with his robot torso, for example, as it folds together at a strange angle. It’s not until you move the last pieces into place that you realize you’ve had it right the whole time.
Dinosaur Mode – When you get him into dinosaur mode, you might shoot him a strange look. His proportions are a little off compared to Tyrannosaurus Transformers we’ve had before; he has a huge head, huge feet, but yet a short body and tail. You can make the tail longer by attaching the weapon to the end of it, although this makes the tail a little too long and doesn’t really flow with the lines of the rest of his body.
Overall – The same anime character vibe is transferred into the odd dinosaur proportions as he ends up looking cartoony yet fun. The weapon could have used definite improvement and you might want to look for a replacement if its awkward hand hold or dinosaur mode attachment aren’t for you.
Voyager Class Grimlock – A-
Following Grimlock, let’s go with another Dinobot – Deluxe Class Slug.
Dinosaur Mode – Slug is one nasty-looking triceratops with angles and spikes all over him. He looks like he’s ready to take on the Decepticons and anyone else who might cross paths with him! He’s also got some articulation in this mode to help him pull off this look even further. A hinged neck lets him drop his head to look as though he’s going to charge. A hinged mouth makes him look like he’s growling. And articulated legs can be made to look like they’re pawing the ground. He also can store his weapons by sticking them in the sides of the dinosaur…but that looks a little ridiculous.
Transformation – More or less your typical “stand 4-legged animal up on its hind legs” transformation, but with a few twists like the robot arms coming from the dinosaur’s stomach and the rear legs unfolding to give them more height. The only tricky part of this transformation is getting the front dinosaur legs to peg into the sides of the robot correctly. The pegs are quite particular about the angle at which they enter the corresponding slots.
Robot Mode – Like all of the Dinobots in this line, Slug has a look of Medieval knight armor to his robot mode, including a frog helm style head sculpt. It is a very unique look among Transformers toys. Articulation is good, although the Triceratops head parts on the shoulders do tend to collide and jam into other parts, limiting some of the range of the arms.
Overall – He’s a purple and red Triceratops. Regardless of any other praise that can be heaped on him, if you don’t like that color choice, you’re not going to be convinced. Great dinosaur mode (if you forget the weapon storage), good, straight forward transformation, and decent robot mode though lead to a recommended purchase. He may not end up being the best Dinobot from the line, but he is a good representation nonetheless.
Deluxe Class Slug – A
And last we have Deluxe Drift. Ah Drift. A toy with so much potential, but dragged down by a few too many issues.
Robot Mode – It’s hard to start anywhere other than that face. Especially with that really stellar character art on his packaging hovering right above the toy…whose face looks nothing like it. The art shows a really interesting Samurai style mask, however the toy is more cartoonish with a doofy grin and strange puckered lips around the grin. It’s very bizarre. Once you get past the face, the rest of the robot mode is fairly decent. The chest and torso continue the Samurai motif with armor plating strapped on. He also has some wrist flick hinges to help with his swordsmanship. Below the torso, we run into problems again. His legs are very chunky to the point where they interfere with their own movement. So while he can pull off fantastic sword swinging poses with his arms, his legs remain fairly static. It would have been great if his knees bent more and if his waist swiveled. Something that is cool though is that all four swords can stow in his back – the 2 short swords on the inner roof of the car, and the longer swords on the inner surface of the car’s trunk.
Transformation – Drift has quite a few panels and hinges that tend to get in the way of each other. They also need a bit of massaging to fall into proper place. They’re not quite as bad as some Revenge of the Fallen toys, they’re more on par with some of the first movie’s toys.
Car Mode – Drift’s car mode does look pretty nice. Of course as a Bugatti, how could it not look good? There are a few obvious panel lines that break out the sleek curves of the car’s exterior, which is unfortunate, but this effect is limited to the areas around the doors and side panels for the most part.
Overall – Drift really had some great potential. Unfortunately there are just a few too many things holding him back – his head sculpt, his legs, and even his color scheme. The blue on blue isn’t nearly as striking as it could have been if the medium blue was just a little darker. Honestly, it may be worth holding out a little to see if there isn’t a redeco planned. Hopefully with an alternate head sculpt.
Deluxe Class Drift – B-
Hopefully you enjoyed the review and a few images of these toys! Look for them on store shelves on the 17th!