Series: Mastermind Creations Knight Morpher
To get the legal stuff out of the way first: The Knight Morpher Commander is not an official Hasbro / Takara-Tomy product, so he's not a Transformer in the strictest sense. He was created by Mastermind Creations based on unused concept art for the IDW Transformers comic series "Hearts of Steel" and obviously depicts Optimus Prime, but they can't call him that for legal reasons.
Where to start? Names aside, this robot obviously depicts Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. Despite a different alternate mode than the usual truck, the general look & feel of the figure is most definitely Prime-like. The head is, of course, a pretty straight-forward match. Several other details were also included, though, to perfect the look. He's got exhaust pipes on his shoulders, he's got those yellow stripes on his forearms, as well as multiple other little details to put Prime-fans around the world at ease. So absolutely no complaints on this front.
The figure has nothing worth complaining about in terms of posability. The shoulder-elbow-forearm design takes a moment to get used to, but everything works fine with no restrictions. The legs, too, are pretty much fully posable, despite the fact that the Knight Morpher wears the train engine's rail guard as an apron (of sorts) on his hip. The two parts can bend out of the way for whatever pose you want, no problem. In terms of wrist movement the Knight Morpher adopts a trick of sorts. The fists are immobile, but he's got two different sets of them which can be interchanged. The second set has the wrists tilted forward, so he can point his lance forward instead of straight up. Not sure that was strictly necessary, but it's a nice detail.
Which brings us to the weapons, of which the Knight Morpher has quite a few. First and foremost there is the classic Optimus rifle, in this version composed of the train's main chimney. He can either hold it ins his hand or plug it into his forearm Megatron-style. (Please note: When I took the pictures I failed to notice that you can flip out a tip for the rifle, so that's missing from the pics. In my opinion it looks better to keep it flipped in, though, but I wanted to mention it.) Then there are the two weapons that probably explain the 'Knight' part of his name: A lance and a shield. Both of these emerge from the trailer, or wagon rather, of his alternate mode. The lance is part of the cannon he hides in there (see below) and the shield is the front wall of the wagon, folded out. Holding both these weapons gives him a very nice steam-knight look, so thumbs up for that. Finally the remaining parts of the big cannon from his wagon can form a jet pack on his back, presumably giving him flying power. So the Knight Morpher can't complain when it comes to weapons.
Another thing worth mentioning: The Knight Morpher carries a Matrix of Leadership inside his chest. Just flip it open (you have to do that during transformation anyway) and you see it. Now here's where I caught a mistake in the video review hosted by BigBadToystore.com
: According to that the Matrix can not be removed, but it can be. Simply pull it out and you can put it in (or rather precariously balance it on) the Knight Morpher's hand. Inevitably you pull the big blue lightpipe thing out along with the Matrix, but I don't think that's intentional or that this serves any further purpose. The Matrix itself looks a bit different than the classic model, but that is probably again due to legal reasons. Looks good, though. I always like a Matrix with my Prime.
That only leaves my one tiny little beef with this figure: The general quality. I'm always a bit anxious when it comes to third-party Transformers and how well they'll be put together. In case of the Knight Morpher, that anxiety was mostly groundless. I'm saying mostly because the quality of this figure, while very good, is not perfect. The detachable robot fists already show stress marks after but a single exchange and some of the joints are so tight that I'm afraid of breaking them when I bend the knee or something. So not a big thing in any way, shape or form, but worth mentioning. It's not a toy made for being played with by kids.
Given that this figure depicts Optimus Prime as he would have looked had the Transformers come to Earth in the late 19th century, his alternate mode of a steam railroad engine is very much fitting. Again, though, the designers tried to stick close to the classic Optimus Prime look and so Prime transforms into a red engine with a grey wagon that attaches to him in alternate mode, just like the truck trailer of yore. Very nicely done. The transformation, too, is almost 1:1 identical to how G1 Prime
transforms into his truck mode.
The train offers little room for complaint. But the engine as well as the wagon behind it are very nicely detailed. A very nice detail, btw: The silver pipes running alongside the wagon mirror the stripes on G1 Prime's trailer. I'm a bit worried about the tiny little red plastic wheels of the train, but so far they've proven more sturdy than they look, so no points deduction here, either. All in all, a very nice-looking train mode. And if you want, you can have Optimus' head peak out front, so he can see where he's driving.
Partner / Add-On:
Just like with most trailers that have ever been pulled by an Optimus Prime figure, the wagon of the Knight Morpher is- dare I say it? - more than meets the eye as well. It flips open along its length and reveals a big artillery cannon hidden inside it. Now I'm not a specialist of late 19th century military hardware, but to my untrained eye it looks pretty authentic, including tiny rivets along his length, so I have no problem calling it a 19th century artillery cannon. The cannon can point up and down, turn, and slide along the length of the wagon. Very nice.
The underside of the wagon also offers a storage place for the additional pair of fists the Knight Morpher comes with, so they don't get lost. It's always good to have some place to store the loose parts, so thumbs up for that. Oh, and one interesting thing: The back of the wagon has an attachment rig for another wagon. Will there be more train-mode Transformers coming soon? I sure hope so. Anyway, all in all a nice little add-on for the Knight Morpher, both pratical and nicely nostalgic.
A few years back IDW brought out a Transformers miniseries not based in any existing continuity. It was called Hearts of Steel and posed the question what might have happened had the Transformers awoken in the late 19th century except our (more or less) present day. And while the comic series itself was not particularly good, it did offer some very cool designs, even for figures that didn't actually appear in the series itself, such as Optimus Prime.
Mastermind Creations created this figure based on the Optimus Prime design from that comic series and overall they did a very nice job. Except for some very minor issues with the quality of the toy (the fists especially) there is nothing bad I can say about the Knight Morpher. I'm not sure he's for everyone, as he's a) definitely not a toy for playing with and b) very much tailored toward the nostalgic G1 fan such as myself. Still, I certainly do not regret the decision to buy him despite his somewhat hefty price tag.
A loose part fell out of the box as I was putting it away and it turned out to be the Knight Morpher's helmet visor. Now God only knows why they didn't attach it properly. It's a pain to get it on right. In theory it can slide down over his eyes, but my recommendation is: Once you've somehow managed to get it to stick, never touch it again. Here are the pictures, as well as one with the correctly unfolded rifle: