Sometimes the greatest compliment I can give is to step back and say "hey, this is pretty good!" It really is! Optimus Prime IDW Version is a Gundam-kit-like figure that is not a toy. It's brittle in places and requires hours to assemble, but the results are well worth it. It's a 6-inch robot based on Optimus from the comics. Hasbro has given us a simplified 4-inch figure of the design, but nothing that's scale to the Generations toy line. Flame Toys made something that fits in with your Siege or Titans Return stuff. I got this one because the idea of IDW Megatron as an Autobot was a real thrill, and I couldn't wait to see what he might be like - so I got Optimus.
If you are an expert modeler, this might go together quickly - it took me two evening sessions of 2-3 hours each. You'll need a hobby knife, patience, and possibly glue - there are some optional gluing steps around Optimus' crotch.
Many of Flame Toys' Transformers kits follow their own original designs, inspired by a pastiche of Generation One 1980s influences and giant, exaggerated thrusting-forward crotches. This Optimus instead conforms to the proportions of the comic books, which puts it squarely on the block-like look favored by Hasbro these days. It looks like it could transform, but it can't - you'll find vestigial wheels on the back of the legs as well as kibble on the back and arms. There is no sig of the smokestacks, but you'll see the truck mode's cab on the chest as well as other elements throughout. It's a real fake licensed Transformers kit, the likes of which I would have loved to have seen Hasbro tackle as a transforming toy if such a thing were to be possible. Articulation is on par with most modern 6-inch action figures, with things like swappable hands, rocker ankles, and lots of arm joints to give you multiple poses and moods for a faceless character. Hands can point, hold a blaster, or be a fist.
Assembly took time and patience, but my relative lack of skill was no problem for this one. Stickers were another concern - the silver abdominal labels won't stay down, and one of the helmet stickers was about the size of a grain of rice and not pre-cut correctly. I wasn't able to perfectly trim it, so it's a little awkward. Also some stickers go over non-flat surfaces, like the aforementioned helmet sticker and the belly grille. I would have preferred no stickers, or a flat surface on which to place them. I assume with time, the former wish will be granted if they dry out and flake off.
Much like how third-party toys euphemistically fill the void left by Hasbro (so far), this Flame Toys kit gives you a take on the Autobot leader that Hasbro opted to not manufacture during the long-running IDW comic series. This was his look for a considerable part of the story, so there's demand for this kind of thing and it seems to be selling just fine. You might want to pre-order Megatron along with Optimus if you can find him in stock somewhere. He's priced similarly to a Generations Voyager, sized about the same, and if you're like most adult collectors you'll probably spend more time customizing and building the kit than you ever would play with Hasbro's toys. Not a knock against them - it's just that we don't tend to give our toys a lot of time and love as adults.
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