Do you like Battle Beasts? What am I saying? Of course you do. In Japan they were a sub-line of Transformers called "Beastformers," but they didn't really have much to do with the robots in disguise beyond marketing. Bot Shots, on the other hand, are sized similarly to Battle Beasts but are based on Transformers heavies like Optimus Prime, this particular version includes a launcher. For those keeping track, the Optimus Bot Shots mold has been used for three figures so far-- two of which are slightly different versions of Optimus himself.
If you like minifigures, this thing is some sort of gift from the heavens. If you open and play with your toys, this is worth picking up. Optimus is a super-deformed long-nosed cab, similar to the appearance of the character in Transformers: Armada from around 2002. He has rolling wheels and a spring-loaded transformation which is activated by a spring-loaded trigger in his bumper. Hasbro says the auto-transformation is best activated by crashing the toy into another one, but this could result in wear-and-tear on the plastic or paint... so you can also push it gently and the little 2-inch dude springs right up. As a robot, he has no meaningful articulation-- the arms stick out, and he just kinda stands there.
Much like Battle Beasts had a game with Fire/Wood/Water symbols, Bot Shots incorporate a fairly confusing Fist/Gun/Sword game. Each figure has a rotating symbol, each of which feature a numerical value which acts as a tie-breaker for the game. You see, the idea is you crash two figures together, and the fist beats the blaster, which bests the sword, which bests the fist. I think. Honestly, it's all a little confusing. I bought these just because I like the idea of squat robots.
As a vehicle, Optimus rolls nicely and features an Autobot logo as a hood ornament. It's small. The only painted faction symbol in the entire line so far appears on the launcher accessory, which can connect with the Optimus Prime mold and drive around on their wheels. It's pretty cool, plus it has a spring-loaded transformation. Just push down on a little black piece, and it unfolds-- there are some flip-out cannons, too, so you get a little battle station.
The launcher mechanism is a little tricky, but it shoots out the figures at a decent clip. While you certainly don't need the launchers to play the game, or to make the figures crash and transform, the goofy little thing really is fun but not particularly powerful. It's not like this can launch a Bot Shots figure across a room, but it is big enough to fit every one of the figures released so far.
Hasbro spent-- and if you ask me, wasted-- decent money on the inside of the launcher, painting the inside of the container walls for no readily apparent reason. I do admire the attention to detail, but if they put those pennies into painting Optimus' mouthplate silver rather than leaving it molded grey it would look significantly better. Hasbro painted Bot Shots Nemesis Prime, and well, just look at it below. It's gorgeous. I remember a lot of fun action toys out of Tomy in the 1980s like Zoids and Spinjas, and this is right up there as a fun, action-based figure combat toy. There's no reason this couldn't exist in the 1980s, and I'm glad they waited until I was old enough to be able to go to the store and feel like a big spender by dropping $55 and getting the entire line. If you're a regular reader of this column and generally like my taste, Bot Shots are a line I would suggest you buy. It probably won't last more than a couple of years and they don't take up a lot of room, plus the character mix for year one looks pretty great. As what was probably meant as an also-ran to go against the likes of Bakugan, this line is way better than it deserves to be.
Troubleshooting Note: There are two screws on each figure's chest. If you tighten these, the trigger is a little jumpier. If you loosen it, it weakens it a bit. Depending on how well the figures do (or don't) spring up, you may want to keep a screwdriver around to adjust them to your liking.
Deco Note: The Launcher Optimus Prime has different deco than the single, basic Optimus Prime as well as different stats on his "attack strength." The launcher Optimus has brighter, richer blue and red paint, while the single one is much paler. Between the two, the launcher one looks a little better.
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