"Transformers Universe" Nemesis Prime Toy Review
Price Point/Size: Ultra (about $25.99 USD)
Retailers: Target Exclusive
Release Date: 2004
Accessories: Elephant Trunk/Missile Launcher; Missiles (black) x 2; Scythes Missiles x 2; Dead Matrix
The Universe toy line drew from many sources for molds to redeco. This included figures that were exclusives to Japan at the time. This included Big Convoy, the leader of the Cybertron team in the Beast Wars Neo series. Instead of just having a different colored version of Big Convoy, Hasbro turned this figure into a different character: Nemesis Prime! This version of Nemesis Prime was a twisted clone of Optimus Prime tortured into being a Herald of Unicron. This made him an important figure in the Universe storyline.
Big Convoy was designed to represent an organic looking mammoth in beast mode. This meant a lot of his colors leaned into the brown range of colors while other colors were inspired by Optimus Prime including the use of red, blue and silver. By the time this figure was released, the template for an "evil Optimus Prime" had already been set by Black Convoy. This gave the designers a baseline to start from when creating the deco for this figure.
The base plastic colors for Nemesis Prime are black, beige and translucent red. Black makes up most of the "shell" of the figure, with beige making up smaller parts like the lower legs, horns, shoulder connection pieces and the right side forearm. Translucent red is used for his chest plate and left arm. It is a good combination of colors and it really tilts the aesthetic of the figure towards a traditionally "evil" appearance.
Paint colors used on this figure include metallic teal, red and silver. The teal color calls back to Black Convoy (and other versions of Nemesis Prime). As does the red to a lesser degree. The silver adds some fantastic detail to parts like the left arm and torso. In an unexpected move, the red paint is also used on his Tonfa weapons, which was unexpected since they are out of sight most of the time.
There was no retooling done to this figure for this release. For the most part it doesn't need it, but what is interesting is that the Maximal symbol sculpted into the chest is still there. The designers did their best to hide it by painting it black. From a quality control perspective, the joints are just about as tight as the ones on my copy of Big Convoy, however there is one very unfortunate issue. The launcher on the left leg can come off very easily on my copy of this figure. Oddly, the one on the right does not have the same problem. You have to actually use force to pull that one off. However, during transformation the left one falls off every time. Over the years I have not heard of a huge epidemic of this so it may be limited to my copy of the figure, but it is still unfortunate.
Nemesis Prime has all the play features of Big Convoy. His giant cannon can launch two missiles. The launchers on his legs can fire his scythe missiles. His arm joints are not quite tight enough to hold the missile launcher cannon pointing forward, but tilt it up a bit and it looks fine. The chest compartment opens up to reveal the "Dead Matrix", which is black with a translucent red "crystal" in the center. The inside of the chest features some nice paint details, which is a welcome touch.
Overall Nemesis Prime's robot mode looks fantastic. It looks dark and dangerous and this figure has plenty of play value in this mode.
Transformation to Beast Mode:
- Detach the missile launcher and set it aside for now.
- Straighten out the arms and legs.
- Push the horns inward on the head.
- Push the two halves of the feet together.
- Holding the lower body, pull the torso up so it slides over the head.
- Raise each arm up to the sides, then rotate them forward so the tab stucking up ont he shoulders fit into the slots on the beige shoulder pieces.
- Rotate each of the beast mode head halves around and forward.
- Swing each arm down.
- Swing the robot legs up, bending them at the knees so the lower legs wind up over the robot chest.
- Take the missile launcer and swing in the handle for the weapon. Now swing out the rear of the beast mode and tail. Straighten out the panels on the sides and push them up against the head piece. The end result should look like the top part of the beast mode.
- Attach the cannon to the tab on the back of the beast mode and push it down.
- Push the sides of the head in, connecting them to the section with the mammoth trunk.
- Clip the top of the front legs into the corresponding tabs under the halves of the head piece.
- Peg the top of the rear legs into the corresponding ports on the underside of the tail section.
- Rotate the side panels (the scythe missile launcers) and clip it into place against the front beast mode legs.
Nemesis Prime's beast mode is basically a brick. The only "articulation" to speak of are the action features involving the trunk and the tusks. Pull the lever on the top of the head back and the trunk curls upward. Pull each ear back and the tusks will move up. The tail can also swing up and down. By today's standards this would be unacceptable by many fans, but to me it is an artifact of the era this figure came from and of course a consequence of the "shellformer" design. Your mileage will vary on whether this is a dealbreaker or not.
This mode mostly shows off black plastic with an off-white plastic used for the tusks. The eyes are painted red and there is some red on the edges of the tusks (which is a pretty cool and gruesome detail all at the same time). Silver is used on the bottom edge of the beast mode, fading up into the black plastic beautifully. I really love the look of the deco in this mode.
The original Big Convoy figure is one of my favorite Transformers figures. The deco on this figure rocks and I am still very impressed that Hasbro decided to use a sculpt that had previously been exclusive to Japan. This figure will cost you easily two to three times the original retail price of $25 or so USD. If you can get it around $50-60 USD I think it is worth it given how the aftermarket works. Recommended!
- Fantastic sculpt.
- Cool deco that looks nice and evil.
- Fun play features.
- Still one of the few Transformers figures that has a Matrix it can hold in both hands.
- The left side missile launcher falling off is unfortunate and annoying.
- The beast mode has very little articulation to speak of.