Friday, January 25, 2013

A new take on Xovergen's Trailerforce - Powermaster Prime Fanmode

The only Optimus Prime toy I owned as a child was an oddity called "Powermaster"  Optimus Prime. It involved a smaller robot truck (Optimus) folding up, and becoming the 'chest' of his trailer -- which turned into a giant robot body. It was what people term a "brick-former", because it's transformation was essentially laying down, and flipping 2 panels. I still loved it though, and it's aesthetic is pretty iconic.

Fast forward a decade or two, and among my collection of various incarnations of Optimus Prime, I still lacked a modern version of that wacky "Powermaster" Prime.

Recently, I was pretty happy when these images were released by a 3rd party (non-Hasbro or Takara) Transformer manufacturer called "Xovergen":

I ordered my Xovergen "Trailerforce TF-01" Power Master Prime homage from Robotkingdom the week before last, and it arrived today.

Many Transformer toy fans who read about (or experienced) Xovergen's first dabbling with 3rd party products were a bit leery of Trailerforce. A fellow I spoke to at Transformer toy retailer admitted that it was due to the issues with "Grand Patriot" that they weren't carrying Trailerforce yet. Thankfully, this figure doesn't share any of the flaws that plagued that particular toy.

The plastic quality feels on par with Fansproject's City Commander or Explorer/Munitioneer-era plastics, and the chrome is a nice touch. There's no diecast, but everything moves the way it should. As per Encline's recommendation in his video review, I unscrewed the hip-screws slightly so the ratchet joint there wasn't so frighteningly tight.

My only complaint about the figure would be how the guns mount in the MP-01-esk hands. There's a 'groove' (read: 2mmx5mm rectangle) but that doesn't hold the weight of the weapon. It would have benefited from a Maketoys Green Giant / FansProject Bruticus hand-slot -- or have incorperated a 5mm peg design, similar to Fakebuster's Shapeways articulated hands. I still might replace them with something like that later on.

Despite this, this is still a phenomenal toy for anyone who has fond memories of Powermaster Prime, or carries with them a strange fascination for robots that turn into trucks. ;)

I'm currently using a Henki Classics Prime KO from Toymoda - it's chrome matches Trailerforce's nicely, although the reds on the KO are actually a bit deeper than Trailerforce, but not too noticeable.

For the last 2 photos, I sub'ed in my (Revised mold) Classics KO Shattered Glass Prime (implying that SG Prime in an 'Earth 1' PM Body drives both insane, heh - I also photoshopped the eyes green).

::: Fan mode!

Left: Fanmode           Center: Original        Right: Factory version

I love to tweak every figure I own to make it better. When it comes to modern Transformer toys, I like to find ways (either through customization, or through non-destructive modification) to make them look like their 1980's counterparts. I designed one for Hasbro's 'Fall of Cybertron' Bruticus a little while back -  I felt that it really added to the play/display value of the figure, and sought to do something similar for Trailerforce.

To maximize the Powermaster Prime homage, I did the following:

-In bot mode, take the 'gun rack'/trailer shell, and disconect the two sides. They pop off, and fit easily back into their respective grooves for vehicle mode if desired.
-Unscrew the plastic mushroom-screw from the center trailer shell-piece (by default it's on the blue-plastic side), and re-screw it in on the gunmetal gray side.
-Using the two pegs facing outward (this is if you're using Trailerforce with a Classics Optimus), carefully press them into the trailer piece. They line up really well, and cover up the Classics Prime legs hanging out the back. This works for both play/display, and survives the "shake-test".

-On each arm, I also removed the blue gauntlets, and unpegged the ball-jointed hands, then reattached them to the red forearms. To my surprise  the ball-joints are the same diameter as the forearm's gauntlet ports. I rotated the forearms around, so the top-rectangle gauntlet plug faces inward.

-For Trailerforce's legs, I popped the bot-mode balljointed feet off, and set them aside. The balljoints can act as heels, and let the figure stand with the wheel assembly mounted forward, rather than off to the side.

-Now, the left/right sides from the trailer partforming kibble can be put to use. Line up the lowest peg with the 5mm port on the 'ankle' area on Trailerforce's outter legs.
This attaches/pegs in well enough that it can be displayed like this, and immitate PM Prime's bulky tailer leg-feet. If it's handled (due to other pegs interfering with an even plug) it'll pop off. 

I'd love for (and would hire!) someone to design a 5mm port laticework (+ a mirrored copy) that lets this part correctly mount / attach to the three (3!!) 5mm ports on each leg. They have corresponding pegs on the trailer-shell pieces -- which really puzzels me. It feels like Xovergen planned this initially, since the peg-layout seems to line up reasonably well -- but it's off by a little bit in each instance except for the ankle area.

While I know the original PM Prime would come up to about the right of Trailerforce's windows in bot mode, the new height with the feet removed (and optional trailer shells mounted on the legs) is just about the right height for me. It matches how tall the original was in my childhood's "minds eye". 

That's about it. It's a fantastic figure, and I'm happy I bought it.

For more great photos of the standard figure setup, check out Sioce's pictoral review of Xovergen's Trailerforce TF-01 over at

Update: Here's a few shots of the figure with the heads from Trailerforce and the original Powermaster Prime swapped. I've also added some custom Reprolabel/GI Joe/various stickers for some extra detail.