Optimus Primal The best cheap toy Hasbro has to offer?
Transformers Authentics Bravo
Item No.: Asst. E0618 No. 6756 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:Two cannons Action Feature:Transforms from Gorilla to Jet Retail:$3.99-$6.75 Availability: April 2023 Other: Basically a big "Basic" or "Legends"
It's so easy to be jaded. I've written more about toys than most people would ever care to read, and a lot of it lately is lamenting increasing prices and quality that doesn't necessarily increase over the years. That's what makes Optimus Primal so unusual. I got a hot tip that ALDI grocery stores had Transformers Authentics for $3.99. For those keeping track, that's very cheap - previously Five Below selling them for $5 was the cheapest I've ever seen them. Kenner charged $5 for similarly sized Beast Wars basics in the 1990s. Transformers Armada Mini-Con 3-packs were $6.99 in 2002. Heck, 1984 Bumblebee figures were around three bucks. To get something like Optimus Primal - a 4 1/2-inch action figure with two blasters and 14 points of articulation for $3.99 - it doesn't seem natural. Obviously it's not as good as Hasbro's "collector" offerings, but it's bigger and more robust than its Core-class toys for 66% cheaper. That's something we should all take note of - toy collecting doesn't have to be expensive. You can make mass-market stuff that kids can buy with a small allowance.
I'm very satisfied with the Optimus Primal toys I already owned, but a $4 figure was something I could not resist. $3.99? In the toy world, that's not even real money. If it is terrible, you got your $4 worth of entertainment merely complaining about it to your friends. And if it's good? Bully for you. In this case I think you get your money's worth. It's also worth noting it comes in the new plastic-free packaging box, which is significantly more robust and uses much more material than a carded figure. Maybe too much!
Hasbro, if you're reading: you're very good at your job. I challenge you to make more toys and original characters (that don't have legacy restrictions) in this format at this price point. I bet you'll amaze us all.
As a toy, it's pretty good - bigger than a Basic/Scout-class figure, larger than a 3 3/4-inch action figure, and sculpted pretty nicely. It's my assumption that Authentics toys are sculpted by real talents and partially hobbled on purpose so as to not compete with higher-priced offerings. In this case, it's Primal's elbow joints - they have ball joints but only swivel. Obviously Hasbro could design it to bend as well, and we've seem Optimus Prime [FOTD #1,995] have similarly, inexplicably less useful elbows. It's not a budget issue, especially given Optimus Primal has two blasters that you can mount on his shoulders or in his fists. If Hasbro sold this exact toy in the 1990s for $8 - and when I say $8, I mean 1990s money - I really think fans would be pretty happy with it. He stands, his knees bend, his ankles are on ball joints so they have a good range of movement. Heck, his fists have sculpted-in blasters so you can pretend to pew pew pew at other toys. This is a real toy here - it's not as flimsy as some other ones, with much tighter joints than I would expect from this line.
Had Hasbro threw a little more paint on him, you'd probably feel like this may be the bang-for-the-buck toy of the year. If Hasbro is competing with cheap bootleg robots and Dollar Tree's Final Faction toys, this robot as merely an action figure is a fine example of throwing down the gauntlet to say Hasbro is indeed still capable of making a good toy for kids at a price that seems cheap by the standards of the previous century.
But he transforms into a robot gorilla!
Given that it's Optimus Primal, you know how it's going to go - twist the waist, bend the knees, fold down the shoulders, and engage in some chest and head rotating. It's not a bad transformation, and the gorilla is not fantastic - but he has cool cyber-greeblies on his head. The arms and head look nice, but the back of the figure has some plastic back kibble to drape over the robot legs. With a little more time in the oven I bet they could make it look even better, but it's not that much worse than fully-featured, higher-priced versions of the character..
I can say, without reservations, that this is worth the money. With Kingdom and Masterpiece and Rise of the Beasts you have a ton of options for this character, but none of them are this cheap. Authentics Primal has great fur sculpting, excellent mechanical bit sculpting, and a nice head too. It's molded in blue with red eyes and a silver face, complete with cartoon-inspired mouth plate. I wish Hasbro could have more clearance at the hips so the legs could swing forward so he can sit better, but Hasbro doesn't even do that for its non-transforming action figures sometimes these days. Along with the bigger Authentics Alpha Wheeljack [FOTD #2,437], Primal is one of the very best figures these lines have to offer. You get a good toy at a fair price. Sure, you can spend more and get better toys, but the entire point here is that $3.99 is less than you probably spent on your last milkshake. Get an Optimus Primal - at $3.99, it's almost too cheap.
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