Really great, well-researched article. I think you hit the nail on the head here – the fact that there are more expensive sets than ever before affects perception. Also, I’m pretty sure the presence of a baseplate (light but large) in the old sets made them seem bigger. I don’t like the lack of baseplates in new sets – it does make them seem smaller.
The figure's transformation scheme is based on the original G1 figure, the only differences being that the fists are not removed but become the headlights, and instead of flipping backwards inside the chest, Diablock Convoy's noggin flips forwards with the aid of opening chest windows. A "laser rifle" in the shape of his ion cannon can be built from black bricks, and stickers bearing the Autobot faction symbol can be placed on his shoulders, although this is not recommended as it is designed to permanently stick to multiple tiles which dislodge easily and may damage the sticker.

With the failure of the Generation 2 series, Hasbro and Takara decided the franchise needed an overhaul. They went in a new direction and a new beginning. While there had been Transformers that change into robotic animals, the premise of the new line was that all figures would transform into animals with realistic appearances. The Beast Wars toy line was launched in the autumn of 1995, and Mainframe Entertainment produced a computer-generated imagery, or CGI, animated series program to tie in with the new toy line. A fresh idea coupled with a TV series program with strong stories assured this series the success Hasbro and Takara needed, as this series was a giant hit in international markets as well as in Takara's home market, Japan.
This reissue of the original Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime figure was made using the modified version of the mold created for Robots in Disguise Scourge, lacking the sculpted Generation 2 Autobot insignias on the disks featured on the original. It sported a modified deco, with the flat grey plastic on both the trailer and Prime's chest now replaced with silver chrome; additionally, new Autobot symbol tampographs were added to the doors of Prime's cab mode and the front end of his trailer, and a pair of new chest-window stickers featuring an illustration of the Matrix of Leadership replaced the original decals.
The stickers may not be cut right, my copy has them off-center, they're probably using an 80's type bladed stamp with little QC to rush them out. The cab will not have the stripes applied, those are included on a strip of mylar/foil/whatever silver but you have to measure and cut them to fit. Every KO can be identified easily by these missing stickers in the box. Older releases also had the trailer's stickers separate but those have not been made in some time.
Rounding out a bumper year of Japanese-exclusive Generation 1 Optimus Primes, the Takara-licensed Kawada brand Diablock Convoy is a fully transformable Lego-style block building figure similar in premise to the earlier American Built to Rule sets. The Diablock figure, however, easily outstrips the Built to Rule sets by both being an accurate representation of the toy on which it is based, and being able to transform between modes without having to be partially disassembled and put back together first.

Platinum Edition Optimus Prime was only available as part of a 2-pack with Megatron, named "One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall" after Optimus Prime's famous line in the movie. In the United States and Canada, this set was officially released as an Amazon exclusive. It was also available in several of Hasbro's Asian markets (namely the Philippines and Singapore; it's currently unknown whether it was exclusive to any particular stores there or not). In Australia, it was sold at Myer stores, whereas in the United Kingdom, it was both sold at Toys"R"Us stores and available via Tesco's website (but never found in stores). Surprisingly, it was (and still is) a common find in Brazilian online stores.

The figure features newly redesigned hip ratchets to make both robot and combiner mode stable, which were also installed in both TakaraTomy's Motormaster, Grand Scourge, and a revision wave of Hasbro's Motormaster. The pegs that Legends Class Rodimus (or Blackjack) attach to have also been slightly modified to provide a tighter fit, making the latter toy much less prone to falling out.


Both Jet Power Optimus Prime and the accompanying redeco of Voyager-Class Revenge of the Fallen Megatron would have come with an issue of the Unite for the Universe comic book, but due to the cancellation of both figures, the comics were eventually included with the Movie Masterpiece releases of Leader-Class Starscream and Bumblebee. Of amusement is the fact the comics are essentially showcasing toys that have been canceled.
Available only at Kay-Bee toys (well, at first), Machine Wars Optimus Prime is a redeco and slight modification of the European Generation One exclusive Turbomaster leader Thunder Clash, transforming into a Cybertronic truck cab. It also lacks the mouthplate, revealing the mouth. The trailer unit unfolds to become a missile-launching assault tower. The tower's gravity-feed missile launchers were retooled to accommodate the new, longer spring-loaded missiles in lieu of the much smaller original projectiles due to projectile choke-gate safety testing.
Hot Rod's tech specs list him as an Autobot Cavalier, while as Rodimus Prime, he is listed as an "Autobot Protector" - unlike Optimus Prime's, which directly states "Autobot Commander". A commercial for the toy hinted at his ascension, but pitted him against Cyclonus and Scourge instead of Galvatron, who was his chief adversary in the animated series.
Available only at KB Toys, Machine Wars Optimus Prime is a redeco and slight retool of the European Generation 1 exclusive Turbomaster leader Thunder Clash, transforming into a Cybertronic truck cab. It's easy to see why Thunder Clash was chosen to become the new Optimus Prime, given his adherence to Prime tradition: the cab disconnects to become the robot, while the trailer unfolds to become an assault tower with twin missile launchers. On the original Thunder Clash version of the mold, the launchers operated on a gravity-feed system that saw a new missile drop into the launcher from above each time one was fired, allowing for twelve to be fired in rapid succession, but for Machine Wars Prime, this feature had to be dialed back for safety reasons. The missiles had to be lengthened to prevent choking hazards, and so the toy's launchers were modified to accommodate them, becoming straightforward spring-loaded single-firing weapons.
As one of the first Transform Jr toys, this version of Optimus Prime was released under the early name for the series, Transform Gōkin. As a smaller, simplified version of the original Generation 1 Prime figure intended as a low-cost alternative for younger children, Prime features a similar transformation, with a removable head in addition to fists, but lacks rubber tires and translucent windows. As with most other Transform Jr figures, he lacked any of his major accessories, coming only with his rifle and a cardboard replacement for his trailer that had to be assembled by the buyer.
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Most notably in terms of new tooling, the panels on the undersides of Powermaster Optimus Prime's forearms feature slots under the fists, which allow the guns to tab in and be held much more stably than with Ultra Magnus. And due to the amount of empty space in the cab area in vehicle mode, Powermaster Prime can fully transform without the need to remove his head.
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The first Generation 2 Optimus Prime toy was largely identical in sculpt to the original release. However, his trailer was cast in black plastic, with the original blue and silver striped sticker replaced with a red and silver one that had "Optimus" in large block letters on it. The trailer also featured a soundbox attachment with a sculpted Autobot symbol on the front. The soundbox could activate a truck engine noise, a laser gun sound effect and a (badly) garbled voice that said "I am Optimus Prime!". This soundbox could also be attached onto Optimus Prime's back and be used as a sort of backpack.
Part of the first wave of Mini-Con Battle Pack figures, this Optimus Prime figure is a new mold, about the size of a Scout Class figure (In Optimus' case, the size of Cyberverse Commander figure), and scaled with Legion Class figures. Its transformation scheme also takes some cues from the Legion Class figure. Battle Pack Optimus Prime also features a transparent orange battle axe & armor pieces, although the chest armor/flip-up mask piece is needed to be assembled first. The included pieces can be combined into a clawed battle axe, or attached to his body to form his armor (although the flip-up mask can restrict his head articulation). Optimus Prime can totally wield the axe dual-handed. As an undocumented feature, the axe can be stored on his truck mode with the tab featured on Prime's right shoulder.
Optimus Prime is among the three Autobot figures available to play in the Monopoly Transformers Collectors Edition game.[28] As the figurehead of the entire Transformers franchise, Optimus Prime has been on more pieces of merchandise than can be stated here. Several statues and busts of Optimus Prime as well as Optimus Prime themed objects have been released by various companies since the return of Transformers to prominence, such as the "Optimus Prime Oral Care Station". Other figures released include various PVCs as part of Takara's "Super Collection Figure" line, which were later imported as part of Hasbro's "Heroes of Cybertron" series. Larger "Mega Collection Figure" PVCs were articulated and came with energy axe and gun figures. As part of the merchandising wave for the first Transformers film in 2007, Hasbro's Playskool line released a Transformers-themed version of Mr. Potato Head based on Optimus Prime. To keep with the potato theme, the toy was labeled "Optimash Prime" and the packaging included the slogan "More than meets the fry", a potato-oriented version of the Transformers slogan "More than meets the eye".
4. Collectability/Internet/Ebay: While Lego has always been a somewhat collectible product, the age of the internet has increased the collectability of Lego. Nostalgic adults came together on the internet to trackdown and re-acquire sets from their child hood. I think Lego has embraced this as evidenced by large limited edition sets aimed at the adult market. This is also evident in the increase in tempo of development of sets and themes that drive the collector to want to buy more and more; which overall is good for Lego. In the past, an individual set and theme seemed to have more life than they do now.
Just which character this toy represents is up for debate. The toy's bio claims he used to turn into a tractor-trailer (indicating Optimus Prime), but considering the timeframe of when they were written and the whole lack of a stance on who Primal "was" before the show and blah blah blah... it's just easier to file this under the same iffiness as the original toy bios set on modern Earth and leave it at that.

This version of Optimus is a redeco of the original Legion Class Optimus Prime toy, featuring additional paint details. He features an Autobot insignia on his faux chest. His head was not entirely clipped down in his stock photos. The stock photos shows him having darker plastics & silver paint as opposed to the final product. This seems to have been a trick of the lighting, as the released toy remained its standard plastic colors & silver paint apps.

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.
The real selling point of the toy, however, is the colossal Omega Combat Armor. Optimus' trailer transforms into nearly two feet of limb extensions, armor, and wings. The armor remains completely integrated (except for the Ultimax Super Cannon) during transformation, with no partsforming, although this renders the final power-up robot mode somewhat limited in articulation, having no leg articulation whatsoever aside from swinging the hips out slightly and twisting at the ankles for maximum stability. The armor adds six more 5mm ports of dubious utility around the feet, retains the four from the cab robot and the eight from the trailer (on the backs of the wings), and has his own pair of 5mm fist holes. In trailer mode, it can support itself using folding blue landing gear, although the attached ball-jointed struts make it somewhat less than realistic.

Hot Rod first appeared in the Headmasters limited series as one of the Autobot crew led by Fortress Maximus. He became a Targetmaster in the fourth and final issue of the series. However, his Targetmaster partner is called Sparks, instead of Firebolt (though the UK comic would occasionally call him Firebolt). Hot Rod made sporadic appearances, with a few UK stories starring him as the lead, but most of those were set in the past or future. Kup's Story revealed the first meeting between Kup and Hot Rod, and how Hot Rod's influence shook Kup out of depression; and Ark Duty starred Hot Rod and set up the creation of Autobot City. Hot Rod debuted in the main continuity after the loss of many wars to the Underbase powered Starscream, as part of Fortress Maximus' group. He served as an eager soldier who idolized Optimus. However, he was killed during the Decepticon ambush on Klo in the last issue of the Marvel G1 comic, only to be resurrected by Prime and the Last Autobot.
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Following a battle which left him grievously wounded, Optimus Prime's entire structural integrity and circuitry processors were reprogrammed into a sleeker, stronger, combat-ready configuration. With a new giant laser-targeting rocket launcher, ripple-fire missile blaster and armor-piercing discs, Optimus was ready to immobilize Megatron once and for all.


This redeco of the Dark of the Moon Voyager Class Optimus Prime figure features a really unusual deco pattern consisting of red transparent tires, the vehicle front grill and fuel tanks (the fenders remained opaque red due to unpaintable plastic). Some of his parts like the vehicle front hood and the truck roof features a pattern similar to the ones used for the Tech Specs in the Generation 1 toys. He features a new sword and shield accessory, which can be used to decode the patterns.
Part of the first wave of Bot Shots Series 1 launchers, this repaint of Optimus Prime comes with a large trailer that pops open to form a battle station with a spring-loaded launching platform. He appears to have the same plastic colors as the single release, and the same set of paint operations, but his paint is done in different shades, having glossy dark blue paint and glossy bright red paint. The black part of his launcher is sculpted to look vaguely like the repair done that is part of Generation 1 Optimus Prime's repair bay.
Q-Transformers Optimus Prime is a super deformed toy based on his Age of Extinction design, transforming into a cute little Western Star 4900 SB. It was sold as an exclusive at Transformers Expo months before the proper release of the toyline. Being only one inch and a half tall, this is actually the smallest transformable figure of movie-verse Optimus Prime, and it even gets close to being the tiniest transformable Optimus Prime ever made if it wasn't for another slightly smaller Q-Transformers release.
This minor redeco of the Optimus Prime Launcher features grey wheels, blue optics, and added red paint on its upper arms, while the launcher has grey plastic in place of black, smaller Autobot symbols on its sides, and gold paint on its interior instead of silver. The stock photography on the packaging depicts Optimus with a blue stripe on his built-in "trailer", which was omitted in the final product.
Released as part of TakaraTomy's Transformers Movie The Best toyline to conclude the 10th anniversary of the live-action film series, this Optimus Prime is an extensive redeco of his Evasion mode toy. He also uses the faceplated head and the dark gray-colored Ion Cannon used for the Evolution 2-pack/Platinum Edition 5-pack release. While his deco had taken cues from both the TakaraTomy release of Evasion Mode Optimus Prime and the Platinum Edition Breakout Battle figure, the weathering pattern bears a similar resemblance to his rusty version of the figure. Unfortunately, this release suffers from heavy mold degradation, particularly in the form of ill-fitting tabs around the truck front/shoulder area.
The series begins when Optimus and his crew, after picking up a disillusioned ninja named Prowl, are sent to clear rubble from a space bridge passage. There, the Autobots stumbled upon the Allspark and are immediately attacked by Megatron's battle cruiser, the Nemesis. Through treachery by Megatron's second-in-command, Starscream, Megatron was fragged and the Autobots crashed on Earth in the early 21st century. After being in stasis under Lake Erie for 50 years, the Autobots awaken in Detroit of the near future, where they immediately discovered humans in need and became heroes of the city after stopping a Sumdac Industries experiment gone wrong. During the battle for the possession of the Allspark, Optimus goes offline after defeating Starscream, only to be revived by Sari Sumdac and her Allspark-infused key.
TakaraTomy released another reissue based on the Encore version as part of their Chronicle line in 2011, lacking the original Generation 1 trailer. Instead, the Chronicle version was available in a two-pack with Dark of the Moon Deluxe Class Optimus Prime and a new trailer that could be used by both Optimuses, thanks to a retooled trailer hitch on the Generation 1 Optimus Prime figure.
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