The original Optimus Prime toy started life as the Diaclone toy, "Battle Convoy", created by a team of Takara designers who came on board when the original designer fell behind. This team included Hiroyuki Obara (listed as the sole creator on the toy's patent) and famed mecha designer Shōji Kawamori. The toy transforms into two major components; the first component being a red and blue White Freightliner WFT-8664T cabover semi-trailer truck partially composed of die-cast metal, and the second component being a large silver trailer of currently-undetermined model.
This gold vacuum metallized (save for his black joints, which they were made out of unpaintable plastic) Protoform Optimus Prime figure was featured as a Lucky Draw giveaway (along side similarly gold vac-metal versions of Voyager class Optimus Prime and Protoform Starscream) in the December 2007 issue of TV Magazine. Released in 2008, only 5 pieces were made, making it one of the rarest Lucky Draw figures; the images at right represent the only known photographs of it.
In 2003, Transformers: Armada launched a pivotal new era in the toy line. After several lines of toys produced by one company or the other, Hasbro and Takara united to produce what was purported to be a single, identical line of Transformers for release worldwide. In tandem with this new endeavor, Armada signaled a new continuity in its accompanying animated series and a new focus in both the show and the toys on Mini-Cons, a new faction of Transformers. The Mini-Cons were much smaller robots (not much larger than humans) who were neutral in the Autobot/Decepticon fight, but due to their incredible power and abilities, were sought by both factions.
For accessories, he comes with (according to his bio) "the ancient weapons of the Primes", such as his Nexus Sword (a reference to Nexus Prime), the Vector Shield (an upscaled, non-transforming version of the shield from his Cyberverse "Beast Blade" toy, and a reference to Vector Prime), as well as a generic cannon with a pressure-fired missile. All of his accessories can peg into his hands, right forearm, backside, and vehicle sides.
Virtually every toy in this list has a scannable insignia sticker on it. For Hasbro releases, it temporarily unlocks that toy as a playable character in the Robots in Disguise mobile game, and can only be scanned once per day. TakaraTomy releases simply check that off on their mobile app's collection list. It's honestly quicker and less redundant to say which toys don't have this feature. Meanwhile, scanning the Combiner Force toys' insignia stickers gives the player Tickets, which can be spent by giving them to Cryostase via the main map menu.
The Diaclone Powered Convoy figure had several additional features and modes which were mostly excised or left unmentioned for the Transformers release of Ultra Magnus. Principally, Powered Convoy came packaged with "Powered Buggy", who was left out of Magnus's release (see notes below for further details). Omitted from Magnus's instructions is the ability of his chestplate and super robot head to combine to form a small vehicle; the Powered Convoy version of the figure included small rolling wheels on the underside of the chestplate which were removed for Ultra Magnus. Additionally, three additional modes were included in the Diaclone instructions that Hasbro left out: a "preparation base" mode and an "Autobot base" mode were excluded entirely, while the third, a "catapult launcher" mode originally intended and proportioned to accommodate the Diaclone Jet Robo figure that became Starscream, was shown only on the front of his packaging, interacting with Silverbolt. The Japanese release of Ultra Magnus—released as part of the Scramble City sub-line—did include instructions for the preparation base and catapult launcher modes, but replaced the original Autobot base mode with a new configuration.
Takara's release of Optimus Prime the following year made a few changes, noticeably replacing the gold paint and plastic of the Hasbro toy with bright yellow and much brighter gold. The deco has been tweaked to be a bit closer to the original prototype glimpsed in early catalogs, with yellow added back to cab Prime's feet and the cab grill painted silver, and the Super Mode's waist getting much more paint. This version of the figure was never burdened with the mobility-inhibiting shoulder tabs. Completing the Super Mode combination triggered a new clip of Prime shouting "Convoy, ready for battle!" in Japanese instead of generic mechanical sounds. Late in the run, JUSCO stores offered this toy with blind-packed "Space Galaxy" versions of the individual Destruction Mini-Con Team members, one toy per box.
Exclusive to Walmart, this Deluxe Class Optimus Prime is an all-new mold, close in scale to Voyager Class Megatron. He has a high range of motion, with ball jointed shoulders and hips, swivels at the neck, knees, and feet, and double swivels in the elbows. As a result of the transformation process, he can also rotate at the waist, though this is hindered considerably by his "backpack" kibble. This can be remedied by pointing the truck nose downward, as it is in the packaging. Optimus Prime also features the spring loaded "Automorph" feature in his head, if the truck kibble pushes the small grey switch from his back before splitting the chest into half.
Bumblebee may be beloved, but so is Optimus Prime and writers have seemingly killed off Optimus a million times in different continuities. So it can’t be too much of a surprise to know that Bee has met his maker on a few occasions as well. In the “Dark Cybertron” storyline of the IDW Generation 1 continuity, Decepticon Shockwave goes mad with power and wants to destroy all Autobots and Decepticons. In the process, Shockwave kills Bumblebee and sets off a chain of events that leads to retribution against Shockwave.
In robot mode, like Combat Hero Prime, the bottom of the truck became his familiar windowed chest based upon the original Optimus Prime toy. His main gimmick was light up LED headlights, and a lightpipe in the bottom of his right fist, illuminated by an LED in his right forearm, that would illuminate his clear sword or his double-barreled rifle if they were used in that hand. All three LEDs were activated simultaneously by pressing the sunroof-like depression on the roof of the truck.
This redeco of the Ginrai tooling of the Powermaster Optimus Prime figure (released concurrently with the 2001 reissue of the Ginrai figure) was a Toys R Us Japan exclusive black repaint, made to represent the original Optimus Prime equipped for a special mission. All of his red and blue plastics were changed to black, his clear blue windows were now tinted red, making his overall colour scheme very reminiscent of the now-familiar 'Black Convoy' color schemes.
In the war for Cybertron eons ago, Optimus was once Orion Pax, a historical archivist in the Iacon library. Throughout his studies on Cybertron's past, Orion became aware of the social inequality among Cybertron's populace. He became inspired by a gladiator taking the name of one of the thirteen original Primes, Megatronus. Megatronus attempted to start a revolution to overthrow Cybertron's current leadership and take the mantle of Prime. However, Orion preached a different ideology, declaring that violence is not the means to achieve justice, and thus, Megatronus changed his name to Megatron and severed ties with Orion, starting the Great War that destroyed Cybertron. Orion soon ventured into the core of Cybertron and was bestowed with the Matrix of Leadership by Primus, becoming Optimus Prime. After Cybertron became barren and lifeless, he and Megatron took their war to Earth, after which Megatron disappeared for three years. With Ratchet, Arcee, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Cliffjumper under his command, the Autobots were granted asylum on Earth by the US government if they kept the Decepticons at bay. However, in "Darkness Rising", the Decepticons return, killing Cliffjumper and target Jack, Raf, and Miko, three children who were seen with Arcee and Bumblebee. Optimus requested they be brought to base and know the full story, much to Arcee and Ratchet's dismay. Megatron returned soon after, wielding Dark Energon and nearly killing Optimus and Ratchet with a horde of reanimated Cybertronian corpses. Optimus later fought Megatron on the latter's space bridge, which Megatron intended to use to bring forth an army of undead to conquer Earth. Though Optimus is nearly killed by Megatron, he is able to gain the upper hand, and leaves Megatron to his apparent destruction when the Autobots destroy the space bridge. However, Optimus later confided in Ratchet that he still mourns Megatron's death, as he had a small glimmer of hope he could be turned to good. However, he does not underestimate Megatron's successor, Starscream.
The third version  would quite possibly have been the most gimmick loaded Transformer in the history of the line, simultaneously being a Powermaster, Headmaster, and triple changer. The Headmaster also would have been a triplechanger, turning into a sort of armored four-wheeled rover (Roller II?) and robot as well as a rather silly looking Optimus Prime head with four vertically aligned wheels jutting off the sides. It seems that when the extra Headmaster gimmick was scrapped, the super mode head remained separate rather than being reintegrated into the trailer hitch such as on the earliest design. Notably, the body of this design is extremely close to the final design.
Another thing different now from when I was a kid (70s/80s) is that the sets contain much fewer basic bricks. It seems the models are made out of all these exotic specialized pieces which are less useful for general building. Is this a business strategy to sell more sets by reducing the reusability, a marketing ploy to sell more pieces by making every set include unique collectable parts, or just trying to make the models look more realistic/slick? I think Lego was more fun when the majority of bricks were basic.