Holy Jesus in a Pinto, the new Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Prime is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Like the new Starscream, he's a new attempt at the same design within the same size class. But the differences here are much, much, much more dramatic.
(Keep in mind that my first-movie Prime is heavily modified, both with additions of paint and some Reprolabels upgrade stickers.)
The old Prime looks kind of like a dumpy ol' brick in comparison. Inelegant. And, again, based on early concept sketches because the movie wasn't finished at the time. In context, it was amazing what they could do at the time with what information they had. And, man, did I love that first movie Leader Prime. He's another good balance of complexity and intuitiveness. But with the first movie in the past, a better Prime can be made.
Where the first Prime looked like he was chiseled into a block, ROTF Prime is tall and atheletic. His legs aren't stumpy, and his chest and shoulders are broad compared to his waist. Each half of his windowed chest is actually a separate hinged contraption which angles slightly up towards the neck, rather than the whole of the chest being flat and untransformable. Kibble no longer hangs off his butt, restricting his movement.
Now, here's the potentially terrible trade-off. ROTF Prime's transformation is amazingly complicated. Just his feet unfold and unhinge into most of the underside of the truck mode. Just his feet! There's that many parts involved. In fact, to give you an idea of how many directions this guy's parts go, the underside of his feet is the front grill and bumper of the truck. On his butt hang the taillights. His entire torso comes apart and forms the top two-thirds of the truck, from just above the wheel wheel to the roof. His arms become the nose of the truck and the criss-crossing parts of Optimus Prime's back reassemble into the blue section behind the cab.
Sounds fun? The ambiguity of his two-sided instructions makes sure it's not. At least the first time. It remains to be seen how rough a time it'll be on subsequent attempts. Now, none of what you have to do with him is along the lines of the worst of Transformer shellformers. Everything clicks into place. It's just that there's so much of it. So so much to do. He transforms like he should have been a higher Masterpiece-like pricepoint. The sheer number of parts involved is insane.
(So insane that some parts had to be dropped, apparently, probably for cost reasons. The photos of the toy on the back of the box show him with articulated hands. The final toy's hands are a single sculpted piece. Also, the wheels on his thighs would have been able to collapse in on themselves to achieve a thinner look in robot form, and the steps on his thighs also would have been able to fold out of the way.)
One thing to watch out for, when transforming him. Remember I mentioned that his robot chest is actually two separate hinged pieces? The end that attaches to his stomach in robot mode, you have to sort of yank it out for transformation - basically, you're pulling a piece out of its hinge. It feels like you're breaking it. This is not at all clear in the instructions, and on top of that I worry about eventually putting plastic stressmarks there.
He's got a flip-out blade on each arm. Push the triggers on the inside of his forearms, and they'll swing out. Also, when you push his head back or touch his head or push his chest or touch his chest or touch him at all, you'll activate his electronics. He says "I am Optimus Prime!" in Peter Cullen's voice and lights flash. I had to take the batteries out of him because trying to transform him and having the sounds go off every time I maneuvered him was driving poor Maggie insane.
So the difference between the new Prime and the old is night and day. This is most startling when you have them side-by-side in truck mode, where they look practically identical in size and shape. Somehow you get completely differently-assembled robots out of that same truck, one short and squat, the other tall and athletic. One's more simpler to navigate but isn't as pretty, and the other one's insane but is much more elegant in robot mode.
(And if you choose the Old Version, I've got my custom-painted Premium Optimus Prime up for auction. He also comes with the art you see to the right! Ends in three days!)