Height: 13cm to top of head
Articulation: 24 total points - Ball joint neck; 6 points each arm: Universal shoulder joint, bicep swivel, hinge elbow, wrist hinge, wrist swivel; Swivel waist; 5 points each leg: Ball joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, double joint ankle.
Colors: Molded blue, red, grey, black, clear orange; Painted red, silver, yellow, black, gunmetal grey, light blue.
Accessories: Energon Axe, rifle
Release Data: Released in the United States in July 2013 at a retail price of US$12.99
Long before the burden of leadership was forced upon him, Orion Pax was a great thinker, an intellectual revolutionary. he spent his life plugged in to a console, sorting, parsing and filing historical data. As the world outside grew darker and more bleak, he saw hope for the future in his world's past. He saw, when no one else would, that Cybertron could once again be free - and he has clung to that dream even through the dark times since.
There is a weird love for the concept of Orion Pax lately. Hasbro makes an Optimus Prime without a face plate, and decides it's going to represent the pre-Prime existence of Optimus. Then they request of IDW a special comic book featuring the toy, which ends up set in the far past. All while current IDW continuity has Optimus Prime give up his name and start calling himself Orion Pax, albeit still in his most recent body design. Plus not very long before the original printing of this Spotlight issue hit, there was a story in More Than Meets The Eye that featured another adventure of Orion Pax And Friends. For the present-time IDW stuff the change to Pax makes sense because it's an important part of setting up the new world. But I don't know why Hasbro has suddenly jumped on board the notion too. Maybe they just decided it'd be smart to trademark the name?
I was pleasantly surprised with Pax in general, but there's a couple nagging things I'll go ahead and get out of the way. This toy wants to be bigger. That's based almost entirely on the head being ridiculously tiny, but there's a certain pattern to the build complexity that makes it feel more like it was trying to be a Voyager at some stage of its life. That'd certainly bring the head in to proportion with other figures. This toy also relies a lot on paint to accomplish its color breakdown. It's great that it can do that and get the amount of paint needed, but it leaves a lot of room for errors. I'm thinking that's why the abdomen on this one looks like it's wearing badly applied lipstick rather than being a red portion of the body like it's supposed to be. Individual variation, of course, but errors will happen and it can be a risk if you have to buy these sight unseen over the internet.
Most everything from that point though is pretty positive. The body is a lot more solid and together than I found to be the case with Bumblebee. It doesn't do parts faking to get the structural appearance and doesn't have sheets of alternate mode junk laying around wherever it happened to land. About all that could be accused of doing so are the weird looking flaps that cover the back half of the truck, and the front wheels. In neither case does this become unsightly or interfere with handling of the figure, and that's what matters on this score. Pax's head is tiny relative to all the other toys in his assortment, but it also has a really great looking sculpt that comes across sharp and clean even under the painted areas. Notably, the stock photography shows a face that looks like it has no faceplate, but also no mouth. The actual toy has both as clear as day (you don't even know how much I wanted to say "as plain as the nose on your face" right there), and the hand painted unit in the stock photos just suffers a huge paint blob. And unlike what happens in some cases with maskless Optimus figures, this one has the right shape that you could imagine it looking exactly right if the faceplate were to be applied to it.
There are of course distinct Optimus details, like the arrows on the forearms, or the yellow shapes on the pelvis. The shape of the torso itself to me calls back most distinctly to Voyager Classics Optimus Prime, giving this a feel of a lot of the best style elements being brought together to express the idea in this toy. For a toy that is never named Optimus Prime anywhere on its packaging, a lot of careful attention went in to making this convey Optimus Prime. Probably the neatest among the more general design elements is the clear chest windshield over silver painted generic machine details, looking like a view of some of the inner works of the robot. Nothing groundbreaking, but with the wraparound windshield you get some unusual depth in this application.
Pax is a well rounded figure, and that shows in the poseability as well. The
ball jointed neck can only get a few degrees of tilt because of the helmet
shape, but has good freedom of movement to the sides. The shoulders sadly do
not have the arrangement of transformation joints that gave Bumblebee and
impressive range of motion, but they manage as well as any average Transformer.
I've found that the connection to the torso is not very solid though. There's
tabs on the sides of the body that should catch grooves on part of the
shoulders, but the fit isn't tight so it all slides right off. It's not a huge
problem, but a bit annoying. Pax gets wrist swivels, which sometimes seem like
a novelty anymore. Another case of the toy looking like it was supposed to be
quite a bit bigger, the hands look almost absurdly oversized compared to the
head in order to properly house 5mm peg holes. The waist is smooth and
unhindered, and while the legs don't do anything numerically different, the
ankles are constructed in the reverse of Bumblebee's, giving the foot the ball
joint connection and giving a greater freedom of movement. Overall the toy's
use of its articulation feels really nicely balanced and there's nothing in how
it was designed to complain about - it all works and I haven't yet had a
feeling of movement being restricted unreasonably.
Transforming to vehicle mode doesn't feel anywhere as firm as I'd like. The
problem is largely in getting the hood/fender sections in place, though
unclipping the torso is a little difficult to work out at first too. You have
to rock the chest backward just a bit to unlock it and then roll it forward to
make room for the front wheels to pass around it before folding it all the way
back finally. But getting the front end together is a task that relies on very
specific positioning of the legs in the complete absence of any means of
identifying when you've hit that spot. There's no natural stop or resting point
at the required angle, you just kind of have to know. Fixing the arms and chest
to their vehicle mode positions is a similarly indistinct effort, but the hood
is the part that I really get bothered with.
I have a hard time getting a read on what this vehicle form is trying to be. There are aspects that want to suggest semi cab, especially in the shape of the hood and wheel wells which strongly remind me of more modern types that have more effort put in to their aerodynamics than some planes. But at the same time it doesn't look tall, and the flat roof and what would be the passenger compartment being kind of elongated speak more to a pickup truck shape. It's confusing and makes my brain sad. The big empty space under the hood makes me sad as well. There's nothing inside to offer structural support, leaving the somewhat thin hood/fender panels to their own devices. The front end thus feels really flimsy, compounding the issue during transformation of getting it to line up the right way. The panels will bend and shift with terrible ease, and there's no feeling of strength to the vehicle structure because of it. If you read the review of Bumblebee yesterday, you may recall I mentioned how one thing that especially annoys me is wheels which won't align and all rest flat on the ground. And sure enough, the absence of internal support here gives plenty of room for the wheels to get just enough out of whack that the truck can wobble around. And Pax had been doing so well up to this point, too...
It's a big deal to me too that a lot of this doesn't even look like it's all settled down in the right place. The windshield slopes inward at the bottom to help make the shape of the robot's chest, but instead of doing what you'd expect and burying that in to the hood panels so the windshield appears to sweep smoothly in to the line of the hood, it just sits right out in plain sight. Even as much room as there is the adjust the positioning of all those panels there isn't a way to make that not out and visible. There's transformation joints visible from the side, which isn't itself a big deal, but they're seen through what look like gaps since they're a little recessed. They're angled relative to the body panels too, which makes them look like they're not correctly set in place. And really, running through the transformation it can be hard not to think anything is placed incorrectly because so little has a solidly defined resting point. Everything about the way the mid body looks from the sides screams that it's all out of position and transformed wrong, except for this is exactly how all the joints make it work. The main hinge inside the body can't bend farther to sink the cab back or down, and even if it did the arms - one of the few things that peg in and secure somewhere - would prevent it because they're bending in the opposite direction.
I said before the toy relied a lot on paint to get its colors right, and
that's most evident in the truck mode. The hood, fenders, and "door" panels are
all blue plastic, but two thirds of that surface area is covered in red paint
to get the right color balance. Those surfaces get a gloss finish that's kind
of nice looking, but it almost seems a little absurd once you look at the
insides of the panels and see all the blue under there. Of course, if they ever
were to recolor this mold as someone else it'd be easy to make a very different
looking toy by just sticking to the plastic colors alone. The toy looks nice,
the color layout is pleasing and is unmistakably Optimus. I just look at all
the important painted surfaces, some of which fold in on each other, and see a
future of scratches, chips, and general wear slowly eroding the toy's
appearance. It makes it difficult to maintain confidence. I wish the side
panels didn't need to be painted and take up so much of the deco allocation, if
the weird wrap around panels over the back end could have been painted silver
it would have been really nice looking. As is, those light grey bits are the
only thing that especially stands out as being any kind of lack in the deco.
A long handled energon axe cast in clear orange plastic, with all but the blades then painted black. The handle isn't super long, but it would definitely be a two-hander. For the toy's use, only about half the handle can be used as a grip. There's a ridge partway up to prevent the hands passing further after which the handle becomes more detailed. I don't really know why that was needed. Surely there couldn't be any harm in letting the toy grasp the axe nearer the blades? The style of the blades reminds me vaguely of maybe one of the DOTM Mech Tech weapons with axe features? I'm not certain which, but I know I've seen shapes like this in the recent past. There's a short 5mm peg out to the side so the axe can be carried in vehicle mode, even though it looks more than a little awkward having a huge axe mounted lengthwise along the side of a truck.
What I ended up really liking is the rifle. It's the classic Optimus rifle design, at least as a starting point. But it's kind of a squashed down version. It's a big gun, but short barreled, and the combination makes it look powerful. Like a handheld cannon more than a standard gun. I'm probably not expressing my enjoyment of this well, but it's a little hard for me to define for myself. I just know that I really like the look of it.
And then... the head of the axe has a particular shaped opening, that just happens to fit a 5mm peg. Now, I'm not entirely sure if this was intended, but you can totally plug the handle of the rifle in to the blade of the axe. I guess in case you need to shoot while you chop? It makes no sense at all, but that's why it's so entertaining to attach a gun to an axe, I guess.
The gun-on-axe thing seems less silly now, though this can't possibly be intentional.
Orion Pax has a really nicely done robot mode that has all the basic levels of articulation and the ability to use them well without significant issues, and it certainly has the appearance of an Optimus by any other name. But that's really the best of it. The transformation is much too imprecise for my tastes, and the vehicle not only lacks for structural strength, but has noticeable areas where the transformation will always look incorrect or unfinished. That's a problem for me, you may feel differently.
As much as I want to stick a Could Have Been Better on this, I can recognize objectively that the toy does a lot pretty well, and some of my hang ups are somewhat specific personal taste matters. It can probably hold up to a rating of Good on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric scale, but that's largely on the merits of the robot. Really, I can't at the moment think of a Deluxe Optimus that feels less sturdy in vehicle mode than this one, and I'm pretty sure I have all of them.
|Date||August 7th 2013|
|Score||(6 out of 10)|
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