Optimus Prime – the very name has come to represent the Transformers brand. The most iconic toy of the first series of Generation 1’s debut in 1984 is most likely his toy. Transforming into a Freightliner FLA 8664 tandem-axle semi tractor and pulling a silver high-cube container trailer, Optimus has inspired more toys in his image than any other Transformers character.

US Patent for G1 Optimus Prime


Optimus Prime, like many of the other Autobot Cars, was originally designed for Takara’s Diaclone series as Car ROBOT No.17 Battle Convoy. This version featured the word “DIACLONE” and a smaller “Battle Convoy” printed on his trailer-side stickers, and included three plastic and die-cast drivers that could man the various positions in all of Optimus Prime’s modes. Interestingly, Battle Convoy was designed not by Koujin Ohno (the father of most of the Autobot cars), but Hiroyuki Obara. He is listed on the US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy assembly (aka Transformers G1 Optimus Prime) was filed on September 22, 1983 (U.S. Patent No. US4516948 A).


Optimus Prime’s alternate mode is a well-detailed replica of the FLA 8664 cab, although some slight deviances were made, perhaps to accommodate copyright issues or make the casting more practical as a transforming toy. His red cab includes many molded details such as raised rivets, handrails, roof marker lights, and air horns. The smokestacks, grille, front bumper, and fuel tanks are all accurately sculpted and finished with vacuum-metalizing “chrome”. A transparent windshield graces the die-cast metal upper front of the cab, which can swing down to open the driver’s compartment for two Diaclone drivers. His two styles of chrome wheels sport rubber Desert Dog tires, a real brand of offroad tire which he shares with Trailbreaker and Hoist. The rear portion of the truck is much less detailed or realistic, but it does feature molded rock guards in front of the back wheels, and the stickers on his die-cast toes imply brake and turn signal lights. The trailer, which is designed to fit over the wide, low peg on the truck, uses the same wheels and tires mounted on wide metal axles. The sides feature a great deal of molded detail, as well as the highly recognizable blue and silver stripe stickers, now omitting “DIACLONE” in favor of an Autobot symbol. The trailer’s rear is molded with vertically divided doulble door details typical to a real truck, but it in fact opens downward, forming a ramp for loading vehicles like Autobot Cars inside.

Optimus’s transformation is straightforward, with the sleeper portion and fenders of the cab forming his arms, his rear portion becoming his blue legs, and the head rotating to sit atop the cab. His blue fist accessories must be pegged into the headlights to complete the robot. He can wield his black rifle by a peg placed strangely in front of a molded handgrip.

The trailer provides a great deal of additional play value by opening down the center lengthwise after the tailgate is down. Its landing gear rotate out to the sides on the arms to support the open clam shell design. Inside, a number of large stickers decorate the interior of the trailer walls with computer consoles and other equipment. Two molded blue command consoles are situated on the trailer’s sides, and a spring-loaded vehicle launcher runs down the center of the trailer toward the ramp. The launcher is operated by a plate protruding out the front of the trailer, and was originally designed to launch Diaclone cars, or Optimus’s included vehicular parner, Roller. Roller’s body is a one-piece fictional buggy, with four seats and an accessory peg hole. Six black plastic wheels allow it to scoot across the floor when fired from the launcher. For the transformers release, Roller got two long cylindrical pegs on the back of its body to unlock the launcher by plugging into its two holes. Unfortunately, the launcher itself was modified to only function with the light Roller vehicle, and its travel was severely curtailed by the addition of an internal stop tab. The final component of the trailer is a repair robot that rises on a folding arm from its base near the front of the trailer. The robot, shaped like a small space ship, can fire a pair of missiles from its sides, or use its rotating radar and articulated claw to interact with other toys. It has an opening canopy to seat a Diaclone driver, and the arm it is mounted to can be moved to place the repair droid outside the trailer while the trailer is closed, either through a square hole on the front or on the top of the trailer.

His accessories include the blue fists, the small missiles fired by the repair drone, a black rifle, which can also be attached to Roller or accessory sockets in the trailer sides, a “gas pump” which can be attached the same places, and a rubber hose which attaches to the tiny fuel nozzle accessory.

Collector Notes

Most parts of the Optimus Prime toy are quite sturdy, but it is prone to a few typical breakages, like many early transformers. The semi cab’s smokestacks rotate laterally, but forces applied from the front or back can cause the stacks to snap off. Many front bumpers are similarly found with breakage toward the unsupported ends. The trailer is plagued with more problems, the most common being the hinges that hold the rear door. The door itself has two oft-broken tabs that latch around the trailer sides. The repair drone’s arms are a common point of failure, and the tongue-like vehicle launcher tab can be easily broken, since it is the only protrusion from the otherwise cubical trailer when closed.


Optimus Prime had a notorious number of non-interchangeable production variations. There are, however, some distinct primary versions. The earliest Generation 1 releases are the most distinct. They featured Roller, his launcher, and the trailer missiles molded in a silver-gray like the rest of the trailer. The sides of the trailer mount metal plates printed with the mechanical detailing, instead of the more common stickers. The metal plates are held in by tabs, which can be seen from the outside of the trailer by four rectangular holes around the stripe sticker. This version also included a distinct set of accessories, often called “bloated”. The large fists have a tall cuff to better grip accessories, and the rifle and gas pumps are significantly thicker to the point of being a different shape entirely. The cab also underwent several changes, many internal and not observable without disassembly. One of the common indicators of the grey Roller / bloated accessory Prime is the presence of a circular dimple in the license plate area of the front bumper. Later releases of Prime did away with these changes, using smaller fists, skinnier weapons, black missiles, and a blue Roller. The metal plates were replaced by stickers in every subsequent release. Another main version was “Pepsi Optimus Prime”, who featured a large Pepsi logo stickered over part of the trailer stripe. The Canadian release of Pepsi Optimus Prime had a Pepsi logo that covered the entire side of the trailer – molded detail and all!


Like all 1984 Autobots, Optimus was available again in 1985 with a rubsign placed over the screw hole on the top of the truck cab. He continued to be available in 1986 as a mail-away exclusive. He was available a final time during Generation 1 in Japan in the Good Bye Convoy set, with translucent blue windows, instead of the usual gray or clearish tint. A version produced by Joustra/Ceji for the European market sported red toes and different paint applications on the face. Optimus Prime was selected to be reissued in Europe’s 1990 Classics line with no changes. His first modern reissue was in Japan in 2000, including slightly modified fists, available in all-black at the JAFCON convention, or with gold chrome instead of silver as a lucky draw prize. He was reissued for Japan again in 2002 through eHOBBY, including both a bloated and skinny rifle, show-accurate blue eyes, a die-cast Matrix of Leadership, and an Action Master Optimus Prime figure. Japan’s Transformers Collection included him the following year, trading his bonuses for a translucent orange axe that could be pegged in his wrist. His co-release Starscream included an Optimus fist modified to hold Starscream’s Megatron gun mode accessory. Transformers Encore included him again for 2007, with minor deco alterations and a bloated rifle, but no extras. The U.S. started its slew of reissues in 2003 with Toys R Us’s Commemorative Series, which shortened Prime’s smokestacks and lengthened his missiles. This version was repackaged and re-released in 2012. A different version was sold in 2008 in considerably lighter colors overall, featuring the Toys ’R’ Us mold modifications. It also came packaged with a reprint of the original comic Issue #1, a DVD of the first three episodes of the cartoon, and an Autobot-symbol shaped voice box that played clips of lines recorded by Peter Cullen, and a few measures of the Generation 1 theme song.

Redecos & Retools

Optimus Prime’s mold has been re-used copiously in the 30 years since its creation. They are listed here with series, year, and market of release if applicable.

  • Diaclone Car ROBOT No. 17 Battle Convoy, 1983, Japan
  • Diaclone Powered Convoy, 1983, Japan, with a new trailer and color scheme
  • Ultra Magnus, 1986, using the Powered Convoy trailer and a new color scheme, reissued in 2001 (Japan) and 2003 (U.S.)
  • Generation 2 Optimus Prime, 1993, with a black trailer, new missile launchers and sound box
  • Pepsi Optimus Prime, 2007, U.S., a new red white and blue deco with a new stakebed trailer designed to hold a 20 oz. soda bottle, released through a promotion and Hasbroy Toy Shop
  • Music Label Convoy –Playing iPod Speaker–, 2007, Japan, an all-white deco with a new head sculpt and a working iPod speaker dock shaped like a box trailer.
  • Music Label Convoy –speakers for iPod–, 2008, Japan, a redeco of the above version restoring his Generation 1 color scheme, with a new decoration of the speaker face (hidden in trailer mode)
  • Music Label EXILE x TRANSFORMERS –speakers for iPod–, 2008, Japan, Ugh. I can’t do it. I have to cover this? Fine. This is an embarrassing redeco of the above mold in orange and red, sporting a bunch of logos and text promoting J-Pop band EXILE’s compilation “EXILE Perfect Year 2008 Ultimate Best Box”. Shameful.
  • Chronicle G1 Optimus Prime and Movie Optimus Prime, 2011, Japan, This reissue cab comes with a Deluxe-class Dark of the Moon Optimus, and a new Mech Tech trailer than either of them can tow.
  • Convoy Reissue BAPE ver., 2011, Japan, a green and camo reissue available through clothing store A Bathing Ape
  • Convoy Reissue BAPE ver. BLACK, 2012, Japan, another A Bathing Ape exclusive, this time in grayscale camo
  • Convoy Reissue BAPE VERSION RED CAMO, 2013, Japan, a third A Bathing Ape exclusive in a red and maroon camo pattern