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.
In just seven years, from 1997 to 2004, the number of elements in the company’s inventory exploded, ascending from slightly more than 6,000 to more than 14,200. So did its range of colors, which climbed from the original six (red, yellow, blue, green, black, and white) to more than fifty. As the number of components and colors mounted, soaring supply and production costs plundered the company’s bottom line. Here’s why.
Released by TakaraTomy as part of a 2010 promotion honoring the "future era" of the original cartoon (which was set in 2010 in Japanese continuity, you see!), this exceptionally morbid re-release of the Masterpiece Convoy figure recolors the Autobot leader in blacks and greys, representing his dead body from The Transformers: The Movie—but don't worry, kids, it's actually a "sleep mode", according to the figure's name! Limited to 2010 pieces in Japan (see what they did there?), it comes with all its customary accessories, including the Perfect Edition trailer, redecoed where appropriate: the trailer itself has become translucent, its energon-axe is now transparent grey, and Megatron, in another movie homage, is rendered in translucent purple, evoking the scene depicting his transformation into Galvatron. The figure was also released in other parts of Asia as a limited edition of 2010 as well, combined with the Japanese edition for 4020 total. The Japanese version denotes "Serial Number in Japan: ####/2010" on its bio card with the number out of 2010, while the Asian version denotes "C1 - ####/2010" with the number out of 2010 on its bio card.
In 2002, 3H secured the official Transformers convention license as well as licenses to produce comic books and start a fan club. Optimus Prime appeared in Transformers Collectors Club comics, a comic released by 3H enterprises. In the comic, he is the same Optimus Prime from the Robots in Disguise continuity, but is taken to the Transformers: Universe reality.
A redeco of Legends Optimus Prime replacing his red plastic with more blue and silver, but sprucing things up a bit with red flame paint operations. Defender Optimus Prime (ディフェンダーオプティマスプライム) was only available in Japan as part of their Transformers Animated promotion in March 2010. It was given away for free to customers who purchased Animated merchandise at Edion, Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera stores.
His original trailer is not included with the set; instead, he comes with a new deluxe-scaled trailer, not available with any other figure, based on the one towed by Prime in Dark of the Moon. The trailer is compatible with both figures, and sports 5mm post-holes that will hold (among many other things) G1 Prime's laser rifle and the MechTech weapon Movie Prime is armed with.
For Universe, a redeco of the Armada Super-Con Optimus Prime in more Generation 1-inspired colors was released in a Sam's Club exclusive five-pack alongside Runamuck, Longrack, Buzzsaw, and Blurr. Optimus was the only toy in the set different from the original releases. He came with a translucent red version of the remolded style of Cyber Key previously included with this mold's release during the Cybertron line, featuring a Powerlinx port to activate his punching gimmick.
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.