Toy Collecting
20th Anniversary DVD Edition Optimus Prime
By Hervé St.Louis
November 2, 2006 - 10:13

The 20th DVD Anniversary Optimus Prime is a recast of the Masterpiece action figure celebrating the most known and popular Transformers of all, based on his appearances in Transformers the Movie, released in 1986. When the original version of this toy was released in 2003, collectors rejoiced. Today, few seem happy with this toy as they were in 2003. Hasbro’s marketing team has decided to release a commemorative DVD edition, without the DVD in the package. I guess they lacked imagination and thought it was a stroke of genius to encourage people to buy a lesser price item, by introducing a more expensive item to promote it.

The Optimus Prime action figure is inspired by the cartoon and the comic book series. Collectors would refer to his design as Generation One-inspired. Generation One is the name collectors and later Hasbro gave to the first Transformers characters products and media appearances starting from 1984 to 1988. There are details such as the hydraulic joints which were not present in neither the comic book nor the cartoon series which add some realism to the figure. There are changes such as fewer headlights on the top of the cabin. In the Hasbro version of the toy, the smoke staffs are shorter.

Robot Mode Sculpt

The robot’s sculpt is excellent. Optimus feels like a mechanical device whose authority and experience oozes from every turret. He also looks like he’s strong and ready to fight. All the majesty and power in the 1980s cartoons and comic books are captured by this action figure. Some element like the narrow edge of the two front plates that meet at the torso are not as pronounced as in the cartoon series, but it doesn’t matter. The sculptor managed to capture design elements from Optimus Prime that originally, were simultaneously robot and truck parts. The way in which they compromised, by building different parts for each mode is ingenuous.

There’s a button in the back of Optimus Prime’s head that allows his face plate to move, as if he were talking.

Car Mode Sculpt

The truck mode is not inciting although accurate to the older Transformers’ character. To many robot parts are unprotected and there is a complete hole where the driver and passenger’s seats should be. There isn’t even a floor to possibly support seats. No hypothetical passenger could seat in the cab. The thighs are not completely hidden by the legs. The visible rumps showing and are too much of a giveaway that this is a robot.

In this version of Optimus Prime, the lights are painted blue instead of white. Hasbro’s versions of the smoke stacks are shortened. The scale of the truck is too small compared with other Transformers Alternators as can be seen with the Spider-Man action figure which is in scale of 1/24 with other Alternator vehicles. A Similar truck in real life would be eight to nine feet tall. Here, it is short a few inches.

Cool features are the suspensions in the wheels allowing Optimus Prime to adapt to any terrain. It’s made of springs


The transformation is easy, although there is a potential to break parts. The second transformation back into robot mode took me 10 minutes, which is better than most Transformers Alternators. Parts logically seem to fit in other places. The only sensible part is the rib cage which transforms into the front wheels. Pressure has to be applied to remove them from the torso’s socket. One must also pull the back doors that stop them from moving and push the arms as far as possible to avoid them getting in the way.

I find how the hands go inside the forearms smart. Panels which can be used on either side serve as levers to pull the fists inside. The one thing that annoyed me about the transformation was pulling the thighs inside the tibias. It scratched both inner sides of the thighs because the tibias are in diecast. The thighs should have been thinner and the inner side of the tibias should have been polished. The next time I transform this action figure, the thighs will stay outside.


Part plastic, part diecast, Optimus Prime has decent paint application with blemishes and spot all over his body. The white band under his ribs is not painted with thick enough coating, letting us see the red plastic underneath easily. His face plate will lose the silver paint easily due to rubbing.


In truck mode, Optimus prime is too short to fit well with the Transformers Alternators. In fact the Dodge Ram version of Optimus Prime is almost as big as the truck. In robot mode, Optimus Prime is the exact size when compared with Transformers Alternators. Most Autobots fit just under Optimus Prime’s waist. They fell like little toddlers next to him. There is another action figure with Whom Optimus Prime fits especially well and that is the old Shockwave action figure from the 1980s.


Optimus Prime is stable even if his torso is quite heavy. His legs are solid and strong. I was afraid that it would be difficult to pose Optimus Prime in any position while he holds his balance.


Optimus Prime has several articulations at the shoulders, the biceps, the elbows, the wrists and fingers, the waist, the head, the hips, the thighs, the knees and the ankles. His arms have extending joints allowing him to move them in many directions and assume complicated poses.


Optimus Prime is part plastic, part diecast, and part springs. His body is an intricate construction with flaps on his jock hiding complex ball joints.


Optimus Prime comes with an energy axe, similar to the one he wields against Megatron in the Transformers’ cartoon episode More than Meets the Eye Part II. He also comes with a Megatron Walter P38 pistol which he wields in a few television episodes like Countdown to Extinction. The pistol’s handle can “squash” when inserted into Optimus Prime’s hand, to better fit. The axe is in orange translucent plastic and fits in peg holes inside of Optimus Prime’s wrists. Both props are fun to use.

Optimus Prime has his classic ion gun which has a different paint scheme than the Masterpiece Optimus Prime edition of this action figure. Here, the paint is blue with yellow paint for the gun’s flaps. It looks too bright. Inside the gun, there’s a translucent green plastic pebble, which is barely visible. The grey version of the Masterpiece edition looked better.


The clincher of this action figure is the ridiculous Autobot action figure stand with recorded messages that do not sound like voice artist Peter Cullen, who was the actor responsible for Optimus Prime’s dialogues in the cartoon series of the 1980s and the first Transformers’ movie, from 1986. There are a few lines from the movie, but without the background music, it sounds different and empty. I’m not sure Hasbro even had the rights to use the original recordings from the movie within this action figure. Perhaps that explains why the actor sounds different. There’s two recordings of the transformation sound effect used for Transformers in the cartoon series.

All the recordings sound cheap and are annoying. I guess Hasbro thought it could ignite nostalgia in 30-something men walking through department stores, trying the push button which is conveniently accessible in the package. The stand looks good, and is big enough to put an alternator Transformer car in it. So I imagine it being some kind of elevator, in the Autobots’ city, Iacon. This part of the toy was unnecessary and increased its price. It’s a cheap gimmick.


Optimus Prime is packaged in a box, with a clear plastic front. The figure is tied to a flame and laser background. While the package is nice, it clearly states that there is no DVD of the movie in the 20th Anniversary DVD edition of the toy. I guess Hasbro’s marketing has never heard about avoiding negative terms in a product’s package. Calling this a DVD edition and saying it clearly that there is no DVD protects Hasbro from legal challenges, but leaves a sour taste in the collector whose interest was ignited when he saw read the title on the package.

If Hasbro had put as much effort, in it’s packaging, to alert customers that they could download an instruction booklet on how to transform the toy into a truck, it would have been great. But they didn’t. There is not an instruction booklet, of course. So unless you have an Internet connection, you’ll have to attempt to transform this complicated toy on your own. Not a customer-friendly decision.


Although Hasbro sells this action figure for much less than any other retailer, I paid more than $120 plus taxes in Canada for the privilege of getting this toy. Many stores in Canada sell it for $100. In the United States, this toy costs about $90. It is an expansive toy and I feel like this was a bad purchasing decision. Sure, the toy looks good, but less complicated packaging and no useless talking action figure stand would have made it more affordable. I must truly say that I regret buying this toy, and that if you are currently wondering if you should purchase it, from my own experience, I’ll say it was not worth it.


Large department stores have started selling this item. You can also find it in comic book stores that order through Diamond Comics, the large distributor. The only reason I bought this is because I missed the first Masterpiece Optimus Prime action figure. Some stores still have stocks of the older action figure. I’ve noticed that some of them charge a premium on the original, as if it were a rare collectors’ items. If you can live with a brighter red coat of paint, don’t bother. The Japanese edition is even more expensive. Takara, Hasbro’s partner in Japan, has sold several variant of this toy. One has a cardboard trailer. Now, there’s a new edition with a real trailer.

It seems that Hasbro and Takara will release this toy in as many combinations as they can in the upcoming years. So if the 20th DVD Edition is not your thing, wait for another. Overall, I’ll say, the toy is impressive, but it was a bad purchasing decision.