A limited edition of the Optimus Prime toy sold as a mail-away exclusive by PepsiCo was made available in North America in 1985. This version of the figure came with a small fold-out leaflet glued to the top-right of the packaging, which contained two Pepsi logo stickers for the buyer to attach to Prime, mid-way through the traditional silver-and-blue stripe on his trailer. Canada also got a version of this promotional figure, but with much larger stickers that were the full length and height of the trailer. This promotion would go on to serve as the inspiration for the Japanese character of Pepsi Convoy, who would in turn be released by Hasbro as a new "Pepsi Optimus Prime" in 2007.

In the series released by Marvel Comics, before the Great War broke out on Cybertron, the robot who would be Optimus Prime, before he received the Matrix of Leadership from Sentinel Prime, was a Transformer of note, displaying his skills in the Infraformers Sharpshooting Competition. When the war began, Prime quickly made a name for himself as a combat leader of the Autobots.

When Sideswipe was accused and convicted of destroying the Nova Suspension Bridge, Optimus was infuriated that one of his own Autobots could commit such a heinous act. Optimus was tasked to hunt down and deactivate Sideswipe, though the task proved to be easy as Sideswipe did not run, hide or resist. After Optimus had deactivated Sideswipe, he was approached by Prowl, who pointed out that Sideswipe's actions made little sense, as he had committed the crime in broad daylight before many witnesses. Agreeing that the Decepticons might be behind the situation, Optimus allowed Prowl to take a team of Autobots to Carob Island to clear Sideswipe's name while Optimus and Jazz stayed behind to continue working on human/Autobot relations. Prowl returned with evidence that it was indeed a Decepticon-controlled clone of Sideswipe that had committed the crime. Optimus then presumably reactivated Sideswipe when his name was cleared. Deadly Paradise
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