LEGO Optimus Prime 10302 (2022)
After undergoing a pretty serious dental surgery, I needed something to keep my mind occupied. I chose Lego’s new 10302 Optimus Prime set, the first fully-transformable Lego figure that you can change without having to add or remove any parts (more on that in a bit). This set is geared to the 18 and up crowed, contains 1508 pieces, and costs $240 Canadian dollars. That’s a price per piece of 16 cents a brick, which is not too bad by today’s standards. Licensing costs money, we have to remember.
The set is broken up into 11 bags (two are numbered “5”) plus one bag for the tires, and a small sticker sheet. There are only five stickers: his knees/thighs, belt and front fender, and name plate for the display. The belt/fender piece is the only one that the instructions say to swap out for transformation. Most people just keep in the piece they like best. I chose to keep in the fender piece rather than the belt on my final display. The instructions also tell you to put on the knee/thigh stickers upside down. Fortunately it’s just a matter of flipping the piece. Every other detail in the set, such as the autobot logos, head details, and rims are all printed pieces. There are also some cool brick-built details such as a black arrow on the backpack.
The large instruction book takes you through the build bag by bag, with each bag corresponding to certain components such as chest, legs, or arms. Aside from some segments where all the parts are darkly coloured and hard to see, the instructions were easy to follow.
As much as the final toy is fun and hefty to handle, the true joy came in the building process. This was my first Lego build in 15 years, and there are many new parts and therefore new techniques as well. Studs on the sides, top and bottom. Interesting new curves and angles that were impossible before. Small details and technical pieces that didn’t exist before. Even a brand new faceplate, specifically designed for this set and since exported into other Lego lines.
You start simply, by sticking bricks on top of bricks. Before too long, something with the dimensions of Prime’s chest starts to emerge, complete with hinges that will enable the transformation later on. You can see where the arms will go, and you can see where other parts will attach, but it’s not even clear which side is front until you get a little further. There are plenty of smooth flat plates so that parts can move over each other, but also just for aesthetics. The final Prime has very few studs at the end of the build, and is mostly smooth and detailed.
As things come together at angles you thought were impossible, it’s actually quite a surprising and enjoyable process. Your mind is constantly at work, ensuring things are in place. There is very little tedium, as things are only repeated on the legs and arms, and only repeated once.
Prime is fairly solid, once you learn how to handle him and transform him. Fortunately if bits fall off, you can just snap them back on. Optimus is articulated at the head with a socket joint, at the shoulders with a full 360 degree rotation, and outward shoulder joint. You can also butterfly his shoulders backwards, using the transformation joint. His hips are fully articulated in and out, backwards and forwards. His knees will not bend due to the need to keep the figure stable, but they do swivel. His feet are also on a rocker joint so you can pose Prime with legs slightly spread, but feet still flat on the ground. He has hands with a swivelling wrist, plus thumb and mitten movement. You can modify the hands by removing one piece, to get all three fingers moving independently.
Optimus comes with a few accessories, which are built after the main figure. This part is total anti-climax and really should have come at the beginning, or middle, of the process. To come at the end is just not at all satisfying. But you get Prime’s matrix of leadership, which fits in his chest compartment via opening windshield. You get his excellent ion blaster, a really remarkable piece when you look at that stock and how the gray inner detail comes together. This piece attaches to his arm, while his hand appears to be holding the gun’s grip. You get one pink transparent energon cube that you will never use for anything, and a pretty clunky orange energy axe. This axe can be attached by removing either of Prime’s hands, and inserting a black technic bar into a ready-made hole. Finally, Optimus Prime comes with his name plate for display, and that extra belt/fender piece that you can swap out if you so choose.
Minor quibbles aside, Prime was an excellent way to spend two days of recovering from surgery. The final figure is large, heavy, and looks more like a toy. He is easy to transform and works very similarly to the original 1984 toy. His finish with printed details and silver bits looks quite high-end. And it should, for that price.
Please enjoy the massive photo gallery below that takes you through the entire build page by page. You may need to give the page time to load.