"Autobots! Transform and roll out!" These were the words often said by Autobot leader Optimus Prime from The Transformers. Optimus was one of those iconic fictional leaders from the 1980s that every kid looked up to. Prime was a courageous and passionate leader that also just happened to be a robot who could also transform into a truck. How cool was that? Those that attended BotCon, the annual Transformers convention that ran from 1994 to 2016, could fight over who was the bigger fan of Optimus Prime. But, how many of those convention attendees truly knew about Optimus Prime's body?
You don't have to be a Decepticon to keep secrets; Optimus Prime kept some odd ones close to the chest (between his Powermaster and the Autobot Matrix of Leadership). Sure, he transformed into a truck (there was one time where he transformed into a silverback gorilla), but what about the time he carried around large bottles of soda? Was he actually hiding maps in his trailer for Romulans from Star Trek? Raise your hand if you remember the time that Optimus couldn't actually transform? You'll be shocked and amazed at these nutty facts about Optimus Prime's body!
15 OPTIMUS HAS TONS OF FEELS
When Optimus transformed from a Freightliner FL86 semi truck into a robot, his tractor cab would also transform into a combat deck and a scout vehicle named Roller. The combat deck could serve as a base of operations, containing communications gear as well as weapons. Roller was a small scout that could relay info back to Optimus, but there's one massive flaw in all of this.
Since they're all technically a part of Optimus, one feels pain when the others feel pain.
This sounds like a very awkward weakness. Imagine Dwayne Johnson walked around with a chihuahua that was psychically linked to him. To defeat The Rock, all you had to do was step on the tiny dog. It seems as tough as Optimus is, why give him a remote control car that is just screaming to be destroyed?
14 OPTIMUS PRIME DISORDER
Who doesn't love Optimus Prime? We're talking about in real life. Believe it or not, in China, you can find the world's tallest Optimus Prime statue. In Shenyang City, the statue weighs 21 tons and is 11 meters tall, beating the previous record by one meter. In the Transformers world, some robots loved Prime a little too much and took it to an extreme degree. How extreme? Ever hear of Valeria Lukyanova, the woman that looks like a real life Barbie doll?
Well, there's a personality disorder called Primus apotheosis, where robots try to emulate Prime by copying his speech and even modifying their physical appearance to look more like the Autobot leader. Approximately 2 percent of Autobots suffer from Primus apotheosis, as well as the occasional Decepticon. The autobots Earthquake, Pyro, and Sureshot were known to suffer from the disorder.
13 OPTIMUS PEPSI
We'll admit it: the bulk of the cartoons from the 1980s existed primarily as advertisements for toys such as G.I. Joe, He-Man and Thundercats. The Transformers were no exception, and they had an interesting crossover with a beverage that resulted in one of the oddest versions of Optimus Prime to date. We hope that you're a fan of soda, specifically Pepsi, because here comes Pepsi Convoy.
Yes, that's Optimus Prime (rebranded slightly as Pepsi Optimus Prime) with a Pepsi logo instead of the Autobot insignia.
Apparently he's comprised of a form of sentient metal that also makes up the Japanese superhero Pepsiman. Instead of carrying Roller and his combat deck, there would be room to carry a 500ml bottle of Pepsi. Believe it or not, there's even a version of Optimus that transforms into a Nike shoe!
12 PARTICULAR SET OF SKILLS
They say good leaders aren't born, they're made. Perhaps this is proven true with Optimus Prime due to the fact that the Autobot leader is a robot. Peter Cullen has provided the voice of Optimus Prime in the 1980s Transformers cartoon, as well as the live action films starting in 2007. Although he's the iconic voice of Optimus (as well as Ironhide and Winnie the Pooh's Eeyore) was anyone kept in mind for the physique of Optimus Prime? Besides a truck?
Believe it or not, during the making of the live action Transformers movie, director Michael Bay asked the animators to model the body language of Optimus Prime after Liam Neeson. If it's an action star Bay was looking for, why not Terry Crews or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Neeson was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 for Schindler's List, so perhaps that award-winning poise had something to do with it?
Optimus Prime was not always the leader of the Autobots. Then again, he wasn't always named Optimus Prime. In the animated series, 9 million years ago Prime worked on the planet Cybertron as a dock worker named Orion Pax. In IDW Comics continuity, he started out as a police captain. After a battle with Megatron, Orion was damaged and found himself in a place called the Undergrid.
The Matrix healed [Prime] not only of his injuries but also of his self-doubt and fear.
While in the Undergrid, Orion found the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. This was incredibly important because up until then, robots were using a fake Matrix to claim leadership. The Matrix healed Pax not only of his injuries but also of his self-doubt and fear. He renamed himself Optimus Prime and with a new inner and outer strength, set out to free Cybertron from oppression.
10 WHERE NO PRIME HAS GONE BEFORE
In the comics, the Transformers met with G.I. Joe on several occasions. Marvel Comics ran a four-issue series called G.I. Joe and The Transformers back in 1987. IDW Publishing ran a series called Transformers vs. G.I. Joe in 2014 and gave it a retro look. If you like cool crossovers, perhaps you're as excited as us to see the Black Lighting/Hong Kong Phooey Special in DC Comics coming May 2018. Will we ever be so lucky to see Transformers crossover with Star Trek? Well, it kind of already happened.
Inside of Optimus Prime's trailer is the scout Roller and a combat deck, equipped with weapons and a communications array. The array allowed Prime to speak with other Autobots as well as get information about the environment. For those that still own the mid 1980s toy, look at the display: one of the arrays has a map of the Romulan Neutral Zone!
9 MISSING TRAILER
In the cartoon versions of Transformers, often Optimus Prime would transform from truck mode into robot mode and battle the Decepticons. He would then transform back into vehicle mode and his trailer would reappear almost magically. What about when Prime traveled significant distances in robot mode? Was his trailer following him the entire time off-screen? Actually there's a more elegant solution.
The trailer was simply teleported away (possibly to the Autobot base).
Keep in mind his trailer housed such important items as Roller and his combat deck; they could be essential in reconnaissance and communications, but this could also be a logistical problem if the trailer had to travel over impossible terrain. Fortunately, the answer was that the trailer was simply teleported away (possibly to the Autobot base) and then back to Prime when it was needed using something called an orbital jump.
8 OPTIMUS AS A GO-BOT
Do you know what specific kind of truck Optimus Prime transformed into? Don't worry if you don't, because the brand of truck changed over the years. He originally started out as a Freightliner Cab-over-engine Class 8 truck. In the first three live action films, Optimus was a Peterbilt truck, but for Transformers: Age of Extinction, he's a modified Western Star truck. In some toy, animated, and comic versions of Optimus, he's a completely different vehicle.
In Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Optimus Prime transformed into a Hino Brandlier fire truck. In the Titans Return version of the toys, Optimus Prime was able to transform into an airplane. There's even a Go-Bot version where he transformed into a car (not to be confused with GoBots, made by Hasbro toy company rival Tonka).
7 OPTIMUS AXE
In the animated Transformers episode More Than Meets The Eye Part II, Optimus Prime fought against Megatron on top of the Sherman Dam. While fighting, both Megatron and Optimus Prime produce energon-based weapons from their right hands. For Megatron, it was a mace and for Optimus it was an axe. Although they're cool weapons, they're not seen again in the animated series.
Even though it only appeared once in the show's history it made a lasting impression.
In some toy versions of Optimus Prime, instead of attaching his fist you could mount onto his arm an Energon axe. In the live action film Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Optimus Prime does battle with Sentinel Prime while holding an axe in his hand. In the live action films, Optimus can generate other Energon-based weapons, such as hooks and swords.
6 GOING APE
We mentioned that Optimus Prime has transformed into other things besides a truck, but what about an animal? We're not monkeying around when we say that instead of transforming into a vehicle, he transformed into an ape! Beast Wars: Transformers, the first show to feature computer-generated characters, had the Autobots becoming the Maximals and the Decepticons becoming the Predacons after an event known as The Great Upgrade.
The Maximals and Predacons time-travel and crash land on what they find out later to be prehistoric Earth. The planet has raw Energon that the Transformers find toxic, so to protect their robotic selves, they transform into the beasts around them. The Maximals becoming mammals and the Predacons become insects and reptiles. Optimus Primal was a silverback gorilla. So are they the same character? No, but at one point Primal's body also contained Prime's spark while Prime's body was being repaired.
5 GRUESOME DEATH(S)
Optimus Prime is one of the most beloved Transformers of all time, so why does he keep dying? In the comics and animated series, Optimus has been off-lined in a variety of horrible ways. In Transformers: The Movie (as well as the live action Revenge of the Fallen), he dies after a final battle with Megatron.
In Transformers Animated, he is killed by Starscream.
Optimus Prime even envisioned one of his deaths. Prime was experiencing visions of a dreaded force that was going to devour everything. It was discovered to be a cloud-like mass (no, not the Galactus cloud from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) called the Swarm. The Swarm came to Earth and Prime sacrificed himself by convincing the cloud to be a force for good. They were even kind enough to remake his body after devouring him.
4 HEADLESS, HEARTLESS OPTIMUS
Transformers were cool robots that transformed into even cooler vehicles. What more did you need? Well, this was the 1980s and there was stiff toy competition coming from every angle, so the Transformers tried to come up with ways to innovate. One of these attempts was involving living beings as part of the transformation.
With Targetmasters, a race of beings called Nebulans transformed into usable weapons. For Powermasters, a race called the Nebulans became living power sources for both Autobots and Decepticons alike. Another version had the weapons of the Transformers as organic creatures, creating Targetmasters. The 30th anniversary toy of Optimus had Roller actually transforming into his gun. Optimus also becomes a Powermaster and the Nebulan Hi-Q becomes his energy source. With all these additional transforming elements, it only becomes more bizarre when Action Masters are introduced (Transformers that lost their ability to transform).
3 OPTIMUS MAXIMUS
They say bigger is better, so what can you do to make the Transformers even more transform-y? Triple Changers were introduced. Springer, for example, could change from a robot into a tank and then into a helicopter. Borrowing a page from Voltron, Transformers introduced Combiners, where Transformers could combine with each other to create even larger composite Transformers. For example, the Constructicons had six Decepticons that not only transformed into construction vehicles.
They also joined to become the mighty Devastator.
Although Autobots had the Protectobots, five robots that could combine and form Defensor, the real impressive act comes from the Autobot leader himself. During the Combiner Wars, Optimus Prime could with any four Autobots to become the giant Ultra Prime. However, when he combined specifically with Autobots Mirage, Sunstreaker, Ironhide and Prowl, Optimus became the massive Optimus Maximus.
2 WHAT'S A TRANSFORMER?
What was so great about the Transformers was that you were buying one toy and literally getting another one for free (two if you bought a Triple Changer). The only thing better than a truck is a truck that also turns into an awesome robot. However, there was one moment in the Transformers history in which the Transformers literally stopped transforming.
Much of the fighting between the Autobots and the Decepticons was over Energon, a fuel for the Transformers. Eventually the Autobots found a source of fuel called Nucleon. Taking it makes you stronger and faster, but it robs you of your ability to transform. Now called Action Masters, Optimus drove a gigantic truck called The Armored Convoy. Yo, dawg, we hear you like trucks, so we put a truck that transforms into a truck driving a truck.
1 LAST OF THE ORIGINAL PRIMES
The Transformers made its television debut in September 1984, and although it was a kid's cartoon, the history of the Transformers is as elaborate and complex as a Shakespearian tragedy that took place millions of years in the past. In terms of the Autobot leader, Optimus was his name and Prime was the rank given to the deignated leader.
Optimus is also considered the thirteenth Prime, as well as the last of the original Primes.
In the beginning, there was only The One, and it created two beings: Unicron and Primus. Primus then created the Dynasty of the Primes, 13 robotic beings built to fight against Unicron. But what about Prime's Orion Pax origin? Optimus went to the Well of All Sparks and came out as Orion Pax, reborn without the knowledge of his life as Optimus Prime. Simple enough, right?