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By Thomas Wheeler

There a couple of ways you can add Optimus Prime to your TRANSFORMERS ARMADA collection. You can spend about $40, and get a large Transformer with plenty of technological add-ons, including an eerie function whereby transforming the main robot causes the trailer section to automatically transform along with it. Personally, this would creep me out.

You also get, according to severeal trustworthy reports I've had forwarded to me, an Optimus Prime who in robot form is no better articulated than some of the earliest Transformers from the 80's, which is to say "not very much at all". That was one of the main reasons I never got into Transformers very much in the early days. They looked cool, but when you see the characters running and moving all over the place in the animated series, and the toy just stands there, it loses something.

The other way to get Optimus Prime from Armada, perhaps for the more casual or the more financially strapped Transformers collector (I fit into both categories -- unfortunately in the case of the latter) is to spend about $10 on the carded version, which gets you a smaller Optimus Prime that, while it doesn't include a trailer -- automatically transforming or otherwise -- is nonetheless very nicely detailed, and as well articulated as anything you could ask for, on a par with either a Gundam or one of the Japanese SCF Transformers.

This carded Optimus stands about 5" tall in robot form, so admittedly he's not going to work all that well with the rest of the Armada collection. He will end up looking puny in comparison, especially if he's put up against the massive Megatron. On his own, however, he's a very nicely made Optimus Prime.

Transforming the figure from truck cab, which is how he comes packaged, to robot, is not at all difficult. If I can do it, anybody can, trust me. The robot figure is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, waist, legs, knees, and ankles. It also has some sort of back-and-forth punch throwing mechanism which either doesn't work all that well on the one I purchased, or I just haven't gotten the hang of it. Doesn't matter much to me, since I was never one for built-in gimmicks anyway.

This Optimus does come with a small Mini-Con, which transforms from a small jet into a small robot and back. Unfortunately he looks a little silly in robot form, but it's a nice addition to the overall package.

I'll admit I'm a pretty casual Transformers fan these days, and I haven't been following Armada that closely (although I am definitely saving up for Unicron!). But Optimus Prime is a special character in the toy world, and I'm always inclined to give new versions of him a decent looking over to see if they're worthwhile. The carded ARMADA version of OPTIMUS PRIME most assuredly is, and I highly recommend spending the ten bucks to get him, if you have any love for this long-standing line of fine robots.