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Nemesis Prime Hasbro, 2003

Nemesis Prime Review Capsule
Nemesis Prime is the embodiment of each and every Japanese TransFormers series one chief requirement: an evil clone of the Optimus Prime character. This is one of the best molds in Armada recolored as a Decepticon. What more do you need to know? If you're a fan of the toy line, you need this. As it's one of the nicest Armada toys, it's worth snagging.

Introduction

Despite a very limited role in TransFormers Armada, the Toy Gods deemed Nemesis Prime worthy of a toy. Sure, the toy came first and they worked him into the show, but this is the fourth Optimus-As-A-Decepticon toy released in the USA in the past few years. So, naturally, it stands to reason that this is an easy sale as far as Hasbro as concerned.

For the record, the other black (or in this case, very dark blue) Optimus toys released in the USA were as follows:
Scourge (Robots in Disguise, new mold, basic size, in a two pack with X-Brawn)
Scourge (Robots in Disguise, Toys "R" Us exclusive recolor of Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime)
Scourge (Robots in Disguise, Kay-Bee exclusive recolor of Generation 2 Hero Optimus Prime)

This figure includes a Minicon Over-Run and two easily lost smokestacks. There are some clear rubber bands around the smokestacks, so you can leave those on and the emissions-emitting pieces will stay put.

Robot

A most excellent recolor of a most excellent toy. While not an amazing cluster of bolts and articulation, it's a nicely jointed Decepticon and one of the final releases under the Armada banner. And if you like black repaints, this is right up your alley.

As you can see, it's a nicely sized toy. There's a lot of detail here. Thankfully, the robot mode is solid and there aren't pieces of truck hanging off it in some awkward, unpleasant fashion as some other transforming toys were prone to have. The truck mode is a fairly convincing truck, and the robot is convincing as a robot that can turn into a truck. Which is, of course, what it should be.

The toy's sculpt is identical to the smaller "Supercon" Optimus Prime which has been available since November or December 2002. The head is very striking, but does not have the moving "mouth" that the large Optimus toy mold carries. The smokestacks on the arms are removable, but unlike the larger Optimus toy, do not combine to form a gun. As such, they have a bit of a "get lost in toy box" action which, really is nutty. Hasbro would have been better to have either permanently grafted them to the toy, or to have allowed them to be placed elsewhere on the figure so they might not get in the way and then fall off.

While many repaints just alter a few colors here and there, Nemesis Prime has several changes made so there's no mistaking it for a simple redeco of the older Optimus toy. Some major differences:

  • Hands, feet no longer have paint
  • Stripe on helmet now green, does not match face mask
  • "Dirt" removed from grille, front bumper
  • Chest where "Matrix" would have gone colored differently
  • Green stripes added to "shins" where Optimus had no deco previously
  • Red accents added to arms
  • Figure's rear flap left unpainted
  • Decepticon logo on hood
  • Of course, there are some obvious changes too, namely a lot more black and green, his red eyes, and the odd sandy tan coloring on many parts of the toy that were silver previously. As some parts remain silver, it can look a little odd in places, like the design was a little bit of a ramshackle one. The decision to use the tan on Nemesis Prime instead of the somewhat marble-like silver plastic on Optimus was a smart one, as there are no unusual patterns appearing in the mold that take away from getting a clear look at the sculpt.

    While this toy isn't the hero of Cybertron that was originally released (and is still widely available), it turns out quite nicely and in many ways is a bit of an improvement because it lets you get a better look at the toy.

    Truck

    As the name might imply, he's the evil version of Optimus, and what's more evil than a black truck with bright red windows?

    The truck is basically the same as the original version except for the obvious changes in coloration. The decision to make the headlights in a red color seems a little odd but it fits in with the overall look of the toy. Without a trailer or some vehicle-based action, it seems a little dull and can't do much other than roll. Since it's difficult to get all six wheels on the ground, it doesn't roll especially well, but probably well enough for most fans to not have a problem with it.

    Accessories & Gimmicks

    He includes the two smokestacks (not shown separately) and the Minicon Run-Over, and he's pretty much a recolor of Over-Run. (See below for photo.)

    The silver coloring on the Minicon has been removed in favor of the tan color seen elsewhere on the main toy, and a few other details have been changed. The stripes on the wings have been removed, the black "glass" has changed to red, and the robot eyes are now red instead of yellow. The mold seems identical right down to the copyright information, but for some reason a very small "B" has been molded into the top of each wing. Not sure why.

    The toy still converts to all three modes-- jet, robot, gun. The toy feels more solid than the original version, but that may be because the original has seen more than a year of play.

    It's a great accessory, and Hasbro should really make more robots that turn into weapons. It was a marvelous concept. Of course, the Minicon can also join up to Nemesis Prime to perform a double-punch attack. The smaller toy connects to a Powerlinx point on the back of Nemesis, and you pull down to initiate the action.

    As the movement is limited, it's a rather dull action feature. Thankfully, it doesn't get in the way of the toy's transformation or its ability to be posed, so it's a fairly benign botched feature.

    Packaging

    This toy came packaged in regular TransFormers Armada: The Unicron Battles packaging with the usual compliment of twist-ties. Surprisingly, it appears Hasbro opted to drop the Unicron Battles sticker on the bubble in favor of yet another choking hazard warning.

    One should also note the sticker artwork. The eyes are yellow, while the toy has red eyes; the art shows painted silver feet while the toy has black feet. Also, this is all-new artwork, while some of the other recolored Armada toys came with a sticker that had a drawing that was merely recolored.

    Other Versions

    While this is not a complete line-up, here are a few other black repaints of Optimus Prime toys. The largest one was Scourge, a Toys "R" Us exclusive. The medium one is Scourge, a Kay-Bee exclusive still available in some areas. The smallest one is not shown, but is a Hot Wheels-sized toy based on the largest Scourge.

    For the curious, Nemesis Prime is compatible with the large red sword that was packaged with the larger Scourge and the Japanese and Korean editions of the Black Battle Convoy toys.

    Fin

    It's a wonderful toy. If you have $10 to spare and see one, please use your good sense and pick one up, even if you have the original toy on which this is based. It's quite striking and will look excellent next to your other Decepticons. While it's hard to judge this as a superior or inferior toy when compared to Optimus, it's easily just as good and different enough to be interesting.

    Also, this is one of the final Armada toys, and sometimes the end-of-the-line items get lost in the cracks. As such, don't pass on this, because it is cool enough to warrant your $10. As a wise man once said, "don't ask why, just buy, buy, buy!"

    Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
    Sample purchased at a Phoenix K-Mart on November 7, 2003
    Reviewed on November 10, 2003.

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