As the number of sets released has increased, the harder it has been for stores to parcel out their shelving space. In order to make more sales, decisions have to be made as to which sets will be carried. Not every store can carry the whole product line (not even all official LEGO stores carry the whole product line). This process will favor the sets that drive sales the most, such as the licensed sets. The traditional boxes of bricks are pushed out of the way for the more profitable lines.
For many, it may seems that the advent of licensed sets3 correlates with the perceived increase in prices. The 1990s and before were a nostalgic heyday of affordable LEGO sets. This is not quite true. Below is a chart that compares the price per piece of licensed sets and unlicensed sets starting in 1999. 1999 is the first year that LEGO had major licensed themes.
Another redeco of Deluxe-Class Dark of the Moon Prime, this release uses a darker grey, a less magenta-y red, and less gold on the front end. Included is the trailer originally available with the Chronicle release. The trailer holds up to seven MechTech or similar 5mm peg accessories. Four holes are located on the top-front end of the trailer, with another three inside. The door also folds down to become a ramp, and the inside of the trailer is big enough for several Legion or Commander Cyberverse toys, or one smaller-end Deluxe figure. Two C joint bars also run along the bottom of both sides.
Like the previous Prime, it is loaded with features, though it ditches the first movie's Automorphing for the new Mech Alive gimmick. When a grey tab on his midriff is pressed, Prime's entire pectoral region "flexes", lights in his chest and eyes glow, and he declares "I am Optimus Prime" in Peter Cullen's voice. For the European release of the figure, to get past the language barrier, the Cullen sound clip is abbreviated to just "Optimus Prime"; in some regions, including Quebec and the UK (but only after a month or two), both versions were made available. A transformation sound effect activates when his torso is transformed, and once Prime is in truck mode, an almost unnoticeable button (a small square located beside the screw for the battery compartment, undocumented in his instructions) is revealed, which activates engine-idling noises.
Hot Rod is featured again in Maximum Dinobots. Returning to Earth to continue his search, Hot Rod arrived at the gates of the Machination's complex, and Scorponok prepared himself to deal with the intruder. Unfortunately, Hot Rod found himself fighting well out of his weight class as he was man handled by Scorponok, who cheerfully bashed his face in, put out one of his optics and snapped his leg. The Headmasters dragged him into Scorponok's control room where, with absolutely no prompting, the big man explained his entire plan for the Dynobots, Skywatch and the Machination. Hot Rod seemed less than impressed with this rather mundane approach, which ticked Scorponok off enough for him to point out that it was obviously just the first stage in his master plan. He was also warned to remain awed or he'd be of no further interest. When the Dynobots and newly arrived Monsterbots seemed to turn Scorponok's plan on its head, Hot Rod burst out laughing, at which point, Scorponok ordered him taken out and shot. In the lift to the surface, Hot Rod suddenly erupted in flames, killing his captors, but draining his power supply. Weakened and with a crippled leg, he collapsed on the floor.
Early in this new series of encounters with Megatron, Red Alert contacted the Autobots on Earth and asked for Optimus Prime to join then on Velocitron. Ransack and Crumplezone tricked Hot Shot and Dirt Boss into believing that a race between them would determine which of them would be allowed to race Override for the Planet Cup. During the race, Ransack and Crumplezone caused a rockslide that buried Hot Shot. Hot shot was saved when Optimus Prime, Vector Prime, and Landmine arrived, but Optimus was upset that Hot Shot had become involved with the locals. Clocker and Brakedown were eager to help the Autobots. After being unable to obtain the Planet Cup from Override herself, Optimus Prime endorsed Hot Shot's plan to win the cup in a race with the aide of the other Autobots. Ransack and Crumplezone were contacted by Megatron and were told to keep on eye on things. They also decided to enter the race, either to win the cup and cause as much damage as they could to the other racers. Override, Dirt Boss, Ransack, Crumplezone, Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, Red Alert, Landmine, Clocker and Brakedown participated in the qualification round.
Released as part of the Bumblebee Energon Igniter's Speed Series line, this Optimus is a Legends/Legion-sized mold that transforms from robot into a Cab-over truck with the transformation scheme shared with the Transformers (2010) Reveal The Shield Legends Class toy, and he features 3mm compatible hands. Optimus' truck mode can also be attached with the Energon Igniters core, and due to the toy being lightweight, it can propel his vehicle mode forward very quickly, making him a fast-moving truck. Due to its simplified transformation, Optimus' robot shoulder parts ended up sticking out from his truck mode, and his upper cabin panel ends up being integrated with his head. Unlike most Speed Series toys, his Energon Igniter port is ends up under his right foot in robot mode rather than on his knee.
Although peacetime in the decade that followed the apparent deaths of Unicron and Galvatron afforded Prime the opportunity to train his own elite squadron of Autobots the martial art of Kumite. The re-emergence of the war, however, forced him to return to his role as commander. The conflict for control of the Mini-Cons and the truths he was forced to face in his confrontation with Unicron seems to have changed him. Optimus Prime, Grand Convoy' in the Japanese version, was now a stern, more direct commander and shows little of the conflict that held him back before. Despite this, he is still known to make the same kind of decisions, which include an emphasis on team work and the foundation of the Autobot values.
Released as part of the Allspark Power refresh of the movie line, First Strike Optimus Prime is a extensive redeco of Voyager class Optimus Prime in a colour scheme based upon Generation One and Classics Optimus Prime. The included toy bio describes this coloring as Prime paying tribute to the markings he wore as a young soldier when the war began. Due to the transformation scheme, this figure actually ends up being less like its G1 counterpart in robot mode, a sacrifice made for the slavish redeco of the vehicle mode. You can't have your cake and eat it too, folks.
A figure of Prime combined with Jetfire was released as part of the second Big Transformers wave, which came with no accessories of its own, but could hold any of the weapons released with the other second wave figures, including Jetfire's gun, the Star Saber, the Skyboom, and the Requiem Blaster. As with the first wave figures, he came packaged with Ramune candy.
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.