I haven’t been good to my toys. Most of my toys from childhood were well-played with, and in my years as a father I’ve allowed my kids to play with my old toys. I encourage them to. Until the toys start getting trashed, that is. Yes, Optimus has no hands or rifle in these pics. That isn’t to say I lost them, they are just in a box in one of the kids’ rooms and it is pretty clear that 30 minutes of rummaging around has not produced them. I’ll have to wait until my oldest is home from soccer to find them since he might know where they are.
This is the Optimus Prime toy. Originally released in 1984, this figure is a ground-breaking item. It was modeled after a Kenworth K100 truck — you know, a big-ass 18-wheeler. And, dude, those were cool in the ’80s. 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit made them cool along with prime-time TV’s B.J. and the Bear. 18-wheelers were boss.
Optimus was the leader of the Autobots, an alien robot race from the planet Cybertron. He was awesome. He had a big, burly voice courtesy of Peter Cullen, and he was the epitome of a leader. And he was huge, more huge than all other Autobots and he kicked ass. He was called upon time and time again to save Autobot ass from the clutches of the Decepticons. He was passionate and dedicated to saving the human race, no sacrifice was too great in this battle. If a kid of the ’80s was looking for a hero or a role model, then Optimus was it.
Optimus has seen his share of play, but he’s held up marvelously over the years. The figure was pretty articulated for the time. Granted, much of that articulation was a result of the transformation, but the fact that he had those points makes him impressive for his time. He had:
- hinged ankles
- hinged knees
- hinged hips
- swivel shoulders
- swivel biceps
- hinged elbows
- swivel hands
This may not seem like much, but it was light years ahead of a lot of transforming toys. And light years ahead of some of his friends. And it was hours of fun. You could actually pose him; his knees bent, his arms bent! He almost had as much articulation as a GI Joe! And he TRANSFORMED! The Awesomeness couldn’t get any better. Until you realized he had die-cast in him.
There’s some die-cast metal in this toy — that was one of those things that made it cool. Back then Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were hugely popular, the aforementioned Smokey and the Bear and other car movies made die-cast cars a hot item to collect and play with. Hot Wheels had some fantastic playsets, and themes like Transformers mini-cons were a perfect fit. Not only cars, but there was the short lived die-cast line called “Metal Men” made up of articulated 3 3/4-inch posable action figures. And Micronauts was kicking around in some form then. Die-cast was hot. Optimus has die-cast in his chest and feet; it give the figure a nice, heavy, sturdy feel to it. And it was die-cast.
The trailer was a huge seller as well. You could open it up and there was a playset! Some sort of vehicle on an articulate fold out arm and another buggy thing. It was awesome! It was, like, the only playset for your Transformers figures and it was Optimus’s trailer. It just added more awesome to the toy.
You can scour Amazon.com or BigBadToyStore for rereleases and the occasional seller that has a an original figure for sale — your best bet is to get a reissue if you need this figure in your collection.
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