- Optimus Primal is a Maximal and an Autobot in the Beast Era portion of the Generation 1 continuity family.
Young and untested, Optimus Primal was a mere captain of an exploration ship when he and his crew were diverted off-course to pursue a stolen Predacon ship. The rest, they say, is (literally) history.
Though he does have a penchant for stuffy speeches, Optimus Primal is much more down-to-earth than his legendary namesake. He is committed to the Maximal codes of honor and moral judgment, but he does view them with some irreverence, and is not above finding loopholes or administering unorthodox solutions if necessary. ("Sometimes, crazy works," he says.) He is eternally loyal to his friends and respectful to his enemies. He is brave and selfless in battle. However, he is so committed to helping others that he can withdraw into a deep depression when he feels he has let them down. This is the only time he is self-absorbed.
Optimus Primal is extraordinary for not only being able to distinguish himself despite living in the shadow of Optimus Prime, but for perhaps even surpassing him. It is possible Optimus Primal is the greatest Cybertronian hero who has ever lived.
- European-market name: Blackjack
- Japanese name: (Beast) Convoy, Convobat (bat-version)
Optimus Primal VS Megatron pack-in comic
Under the eerie shadows of a full moon Optimus Primal, a gigantic bat, Cheetor, a swift-stalking cheetah, and Razorbeast, a fearsome wild boar, hunt purposely through the depths of a jungle. Soon Optimus detects the thermal emissions and fusion activity from a building, which mean they've found their target. His motion sensors register what appears to be a harmless Earth creature below.
Before Optimus realizes his mistake the alligator lashes out with as smashing swipe of its tail, knocking Optimus into the swampy waters. The beast transforms and Megatron towers above him. The building ahead is the Predacon's genetics lab and he'll never let Optimus reach the secrets inside. He orders his troops to attack and everyone transforms to robot mode. The gigantic insects Tarrantulas and Waspinator engage Razorbeast and Cheetor respectively while Optimus and Megatron face off.
Optimus brags that the Maximal "bio-genetic morphing process has allowed us to create the perfect fusion of organic musculature and Transformers technology!" Megatron responds that his side did all that too, so nan-neh, but used the DNA of Earth's most vicious predators. When Optimus notes that the Maximals seem to be getting the upper hand, Megatron immediately detonates the lab and escapes, vowing to return with new forms and new plans when the Maximals least expect it. The Beast Wars have just begun!
(Note: This comic, along with the Tech Spec bios of the first wave of Beast Wars toys, predate the development of the Beast Wars cartoon and its backstory. Instead they seem to present the characters as a direct continuation of the previous Autobot/Decepticon conflict, with Optimus Primal actually being a new form of Optimus Prime and Megatron being his Generation 1 counterpart, and their battles taking place on present day, human-inhabited Earth, rather than in the distant past. Once the cartoon launched, the toyline adjusted itself to match that continuity instead, relegating this one to an aborted micro-continuity.)
American animated continuity
Timelines: Dawn of Future's Past
Optimus Primal was the captain of the exploration ship Axalon when his crew got word that the Predacon criminal Megatron had stolen the Golden Disk and a ship with transwarp capabilities. Primal's was the closest vessel that also possessed a transwarp drive, so the Axalon was sent to engage them. Primal followed the Predacons through a transwarp portal and appeared above a mysterious planet, but both ships were damaged in the ensuing space battle, and before both ships crashed into the planet's surface below, Primal ordered that the stasis pods carrying the rest of his crew to be ejected into orbit.
The planet was rich with energon -- so much so that prolonged exposure would short out their bodies, so the Maximals and Predacons were forced to take organic forms from the local creatures. Primal took the form of a silverback gorilla. Estranged from his comrades, the Predacon Dinobot challenged Primal to a duel soon after their arrival, seeking command of the Maximals so he could, in turn, defeat Megatron. Primal won both the duel and Dinobot's respect (although Dinobot wouldn't admit to respecting him out-loud), and Dinobot joined their ranks.
Both sides entrenched themselves on their new world and the "Beast Wars" began. Strange unnatural sites and artifacts were discovered, leading Primal and the others to believe that aliens had seeded the primitive planet with experiments and traps. One such trap, the Standing Stones, ensnared Primal's body for a short time, during which the Maximals scrambled to ascertain their chain of command. In his absence, the Maximals squabbled and fought over leadership, until finally his core consciousness was able to speak to them and name Rattrap as his replacement. Primal's body was subsequently retrieved from the Standing Stones, and he resumed command.
When Inferno discovered evidence of the Vok's imminent arrival, Megatron called a truce, which Primal reluctantly agreed to. While investigating a newly-created Vok installation, Primal was tortured and captured by the aliens, who spoke to him (in the form of Unicron) and told him of their plans to 'sterilize' the planet. Barely escaping the Vok base, Primal returned to the Axalon to find it overrun by Tarantulas and Blackarachnia, who had turned a space stasis pod into an escape ship, in order to flee the doomed planet. As the planet's second moon was converted into a Planet Buster, Primal took the ship to do battle with the superweapon, against the objections of his crew. Primal planned to detonate the ship's transwarp cell when in range of the weapon, after ejecting to safety. The plan worked - with the exception of the 'ejecting' part. Megatron remotely seized control of the vessel, overriding Primal's ejection commands. The Predacon commander taunted Primal as he futilely beat his fists against the pod, until the detonation obliterated the pod, the Planet Buster, and Primal, reducing them all to so much space junk.
Primal's Spark journeyed to the Matrix, where it was soon recovered by Rhinox and placed in a blank protoform, which became his new Transmetal body. Primal now transformed into a mechanical gorilla with a gorilla-on-a-hoverboard third mode, using it to kick the crap out of the Predacons.
Later on, Primal was captured and imprisoned in yet another Vok base, this one controlled by his archnemesis Megatron. During a daring rescue attempt by the Maximals and Tarantulas, Optimus engaged in a furious battle with Megatron, destroying both the Metal Hunter and the alien disc. The Maximals then suffered a number of setbacks, including the death of Dinobot, the destruction of Transmutate, and Megatron's acquisition of the deadly Rampage. However, the Maximals were soon greeted with good news; the realization that the transwarp wavefront created by the destruction of the Planet Buster would lead Cybertron to them, in order to mount a rescue operation. Help arrived soon enough, but in the unexpected form of the rebuilt Ravage, who had come to arrest Megatron for his crimes against the Pax Cybertronia. In the midst of this, Primal was forced to chastise new recruit Silverbolt for his dangerous relationship with Blackarachnia. Primal assisted Ravage in arresting Megatron, but was soon betrayed by the ex-Decepticon, allowing Megatron to escape and reach the Ark, in an attempt to assassinate Optimus Prime.
Primal was forced to take the great Autobot's Spark inside himself to keep it protected. This caused his body to grow larger and stronger, gaining ground and air vehicle modes along with his previous gorilla form. This new "Optimal Optimus" successfully protected Prime's spark until it could be returned to his repaired body, saving history and the future from destruction.
With the location of the Ark revealed, and Megatron now desperate to end the war at any cost, Primal was forced to move his Maximals into the volcano where the Ark's hull lay. This new, defensive war was much more difficult to fight, and disadvantaged the Maximals severely. With the loss of their defense system, Sentinel, the awkward and violent maturation of Cheetor, proto-humans to guard, and the introduction of the previously treacherous and morally ambiguous Blackarachnia into their ranks, Optimus Primal had more than his share of problems to deal with.
The tide was finally turned when the Vok resurrected and combined Airazor and Tigatron into the mighty Tigerhawk, who obliterated the Predacon base. In the end, Primal's forces defeated Megatron's, and with the captured Predacon leader strapped to the roof of a borrowed Autobot shuttle, the Beast Warriors at last headed home.
Optimus Primal suddenly finds himself alone on Cybertron, back in his original organic gorilla body, unfamiliar with how he arrived there, and pursued by an army of tank drones. A supernatural force lead him to Rattrap, Cheetor, and Blackarachnia, and though all four appeared to be succumbing to the effects of a deadly virus that keept them from transforming into their robot modes, he was able to lead them to the legendary Oracle. The Oracle reformated them into new technorganic forms that were immune to the virus.
Eventually, Primal and his allies learned that Megatron broke free during their Transwarp flight home and so arrived on Cybertron before them. Megatron conquered the planet and laid a trap for Primal's crew and any other Transformers returning to Cybertron.
During the events that followed, Optimus Primal came to be much more in touch with his spiritual side than he ever was before, due to an almost mystical connection to the Oracle. This granted him visions and intuitions, guiding him to complete its designs. Though he had some trouble at first comprehending just what the Oracle wanted and how to go about it, he was, in the end, successful. Optimus Primal sacrificed his life, plunging with Megatron into the heart of Cybertron and initiating the reformatting that returned the deactivated population to life and gave birth to the new technorganic Cybertron.
Robots in Disguise
When a spirit guide was needed to counsel the Optimus Prime of a past, alternate reality, Optimus Primal rose to the task.
- Voice actor: Garry Chalk (US, script reading)
His sacrifice to end Megatron's evil and restore Cybertron was not the final battle for Optimus Primal. When the machinations of Unicron led to a new conflict, with Transformers abducted from across the multiverse forced to fight for Unicron's benefit, Vector Sigma and Alpha Trion chose Optimus Primal to lead the Children of Primus against this threat. Primal was returned to life, and chose his old comrades Depth Charge and Rhinox to return as well and aid him. (Returning Primal to life, however, also resulted in the resurrection of his old foe Megatron.)
Optimus Prime recalled the end of the Universe conflict, where Optimus Primal led an assault on the Minions of Unicron. But due to Unicron's sudden instability, Primal was victorious, and was able to escape back to Cybertron with his troops and rescue a number of Unicron-corrupted innocents.
(Note: Unknown to Primal, Unicron's dispersion was caused by the Grand Black Hole in an alternate timeline.)
Japanese animated continuity
Beast Wars II
After Majin Zarak's destruction, Optimus Primal returned to ancient Earth.
(Note: The events of the Beast Wars II movie, especially Optimus Primal having an Energon Matrix, did not occur in American continuity. It's not clear when during the Beast Wars Optimus Primal was taken.)
When Lio Convoy goes nuts and grows to giant proportions, wreaking havok across the landscape, Optimus Primal is summoned across time by the power of the Matrix to heal him.
- Voice actor: Yuto Kazama (Japan)
Optimus Primal chased Megatron in yet another time warp into the Generation 1 era. There, he met and joined forces with the Optimus Prime. Together, their special attack was a massive energon tornado called Double Convoy Tornado. The Double Convoy Tornado would come to be countered by Beast Megatron's and Rebirth Megatron's Double Megatron Tornado, but emerge victorious with the addition of Lio Convoy's Lio Typhoon Arrow, creating Triple Convoy Tornado Link attack.
He also had a temporary virus-induced Black Body form.
(Note: Since both were known as simply "Convoy" in their respective Japanese series, Optimus Prime was designated "G1 Convoy" while Optimus Primal was designated "Beast Convoy".)
Beast Wars Reborn text story
(Note: This story takes place after the events of Beast Machines.)
Both Megatron and Optimus Primal awoke inside a bizare temple-like spaceship which was hurtling through space. Neither had any memory of who they were or how they got there, only their own names and a feeling of discomfort between one another. The pair went about investigating the ship in search of answers. While Megatron's memory was lost, his personality remained mostly intact: he was more concerned with sezing control of the ship before Primal did in order to gain the upperhand.
They eventually found a data log and discovered that their sparks had been taken and they were reborn into new bodies (unbeknownst to them, bodies identical to their original forms). However, their memories were intentionally not uploaded into their new bodies. While searching the log they discovered that the ship's main power source was a Golden Disk lodged within a giant pillar. Megatron immediately raced to obtain the Disk and Primal followed him. The closer they got to the disk the more the ship attempted to thwart their advance by manipulating its atmosphere conditions.
Once they reached the chamber the ship's environment suddenly morphed to that of a decaying planet littered with the corpses of robots. The corpses came to life and began shambling toward them, intent on eating their sparks. They made short work of the zombies, leaving Megatron to obtain the Golden Disk and Primal with a feeling that he shouldn't entirely trust Megatron.
From another dimension beyond time and space, Primus recognized that something was amiss and sent one of his messengers to meet Primal and Megatron within the spaceship.
Beast Wars Metals manga continuity
Optimus Primal, who was killed while destroying the Vok Planet Buster, is resurrected as a sparkless monster using a voodoo ceremony. Rhinox rescues Primal's spark from Transwarp Space and restores him to his body.
Later, he eats Optimus Prime's spark.
The Metals manga takes Primal's manic action hero side to the next level. He once put a bomb in his mouth and tricked the cannibalistic Rampage into eating his head. "I have a spare," he says casually, transforming to beast mode.
- Optimus Primal vs Megatron (Basic versus two-pack, 1996)
- Japanese ID number: C-6
- The first Optimus Primal was a Basic size class blue bat which could autotransform into a robot by pulling the tail. Two swords were removable from under its wings for use as weaponry in robot mode. It was packaged along with an alligator version of Megatron and a Beast Wars mini-comic.
- Whether this toy can be considered the Optimus Primal character is a matter of debate. Released before the animated series began, which established Optimus Primal as a separate entity from Optimus Prime, the accompanying profiles and mini-comic seem to assume that the Beast Wars are a progression of the same characters from the Autobot/Decepticon war. Whether the animated series' retcon affected this set of toys is probably a matter of personal preference. It can be interpreted as representing one of the more interesting micro-continuities.
- This mold was also used to make the Optimus Prime-recolored Convobat (who may or may not be a separate character to either Prime or Primal), and Onyx Primal.
- Optimus Primal (Ultra, 1996/1997/1998)
- Japanese ID number: C-1
- The second Optimus Primal toy was an ape in the Ultra size class. Though the transformation from primate to humanoid was a relatively simplistic transformation, the toy compensated with more than a fair share of weaponry and action features. A compartment on his right forearm opened to reveal a skull-shaped mace he could hold in its fist. His left forearm could open into a double-barreled missile launcher. On his back were two spring-loaded missile launchers which auto-flipped over each shoulder. By pulling a lever in the center of its back, both arms would either spin at the bicep or swing, depending on the placement of notch-buttons located on either bicep. And finally, like many first-year Beast Wars toys, a battle mask/"mutant head" could be deployed over its robot head.
- Takara released the toy as part of their Beast Wars line in July of 1997, nearly identical to the Hasbro version. In January of 1998, the re-did many of the toys with a few alterations; for Optimus, they changed the black to dark gray and the blue to metallic blue. The missiles for the Takara version are also thinner and simpler than the original Hasbro version, and would be used in all subsequent releases of the mold.
- This mold was redecoed into Universe Optimus Primal, and retooled into Beast Wars Reborn/Beast Wars Tenth Anniversary versus pack Optimus Primal. Takara also created multiple special variants, including all-gold (from Tele-V Magazine, only ten awarded), red and gray (Tele-V again, but only one awarded), blue-fur (a Comics Bom Bom design-contest prize, only five awarded), and colorless-clear with silver paint details (Toys 'R' Us retail exclusive).
- Convobat vs Megaligator
- Japanese ID number: S-1
- This figure is a red redeco of Primal's first bat form, and was sold with a purple redeco of Gator Megatron.
- Orcanoch (Microverse, 1997)
- Part of the Microverse toyline, this orca transforms into a Maximal base. It came with tiny, non-transforming versions of Optimus Primal and Tarantulas.
- Optimus Primal (Mega Transmetal, 1998)
- Japanese ID number: C-40
- Transmetal Optimus Primal is a mechanical gorilla that transforms into a partially organic robot. Like all Transmetals, it featured chromed plastic and a third vehicle-inspired mode -- in Primal's case, its gorilla mode could transform into a gorilla on a hoverboard. Two maces stored on his back, which could double as missiles for its hip-holstered blaster.
- Takara's version of the toy exchanged the brown plastic for translucent maroon, and was also available in a set with Transmetal Megatron.
- This mold was used to make Apelinq.
- Optimal Optimus (Super Transmetal, 1998)
- Japanese ID number: C-47
- Transmetal Optimal Optimus was the first toy in the Super size class, featuring electronics and four transformations -- robot, ape, jet, and armored transport. When a back section of the cannon module was pulled, its eyes and shoulder-mounted missile launchers lit up and fired. It came with four missiles, two of which stored on its legs. Its forearms featured blast-away armor plates that could also be pegged to its upper arms.
- Optimal Optimus's Tech Specs states that he has Cybertronian "air guardian" technology and twin scramjet modules. Jetfire's function was Air Guardian, and his Tech Specs said he had these same scramjet modules.
- This mold was used to make Primal Prime.
Beast Wars II
- Burning Convoy
Clear-red redeco of Primal, with gold "flame" markings also included. Was released as a limited edition figure to promote the Beast Wars Special movie alongside the Flash LioConvoy toy.
- Optimus Primal (Deluxe, 2000)
- The first Beast Machines Optimus Primal was a dark bronze and translucent blue technorganic gorilla that transformed into a technorganic robot. Its arm was spring-loaded to throw the shuriken that stored in its shoulder. Like all Beast Machines toys, it had a hidden "spark crystal" that displayed his faction allegiance. Had a transformation reminiscent of Optimus Minor.
- Blast Punch Optimus Primal (Mega, 2001)
- Japanese ID number: BR-01
- His second toy incarnation, which unlike the previous toy (which had been designed prior to the series) actually looked mostly like the character.
Robots in Disguise
- Air Attack Optimus Primal (Supreme, 2002)
Intended for release in the Beast Machines toyline, this delayed figure is by far the most show-accurate version of BM Optimus. Unfortunately, being a supreme-class toy he is grossly, indeed uselessly out of scale with his fellow Maximal figures. Or pretty much anyone for that matter. Still he looks swank, and he talks! With Gary Chalk's voice!!!
- Optimus Primal (Ultra, 2003)
- Beast Convoy
- Japanese ID number: RM-11
- Beast Convoy Limited Black Version
- Available only via mail order through Hobby Japan magazine
- Burning Beast Convoy
- Japanese ID number: RM-21
- This toy refers to the Beast Wars II movie form where he partnered Lio Convoy, turning them into Burning Convoy and Flash Lio Convoy respectively.
Beast Wars 10th Anniversary
- Optimus Primal (2006)
- Beast Wars 10th Anniversary (BWX) Optimus Primal is a new toy design based loosely on his original ultra ape action figure and pulling some elements from other figures, including a transformation very similar to the Playskool Go-Bot Gorillabot, which itself was a nod to Optimus Primal's Beast Machines form. BWX Optimus Primal comes with a hoverboard that fires a missile when a Cyber Planet Key is inserted. The board also features a spring-loaded extending "assault blade" (or "ass lt blade" as the directions call it). Though it is not intended to be removed, the blade can be popped off and held in Primal's hand thanks to his posable thumbs.
- He is also packaged with a mini-comic-sized reprinting of IDW Publishing's The Gathering #1, a small Axalon ship figurine, and a Jungle Planet style Cyber Planet Key without a Cyber Key Code stamped on it.
- This mold was redecoed and released as Cybertron Optimus Prime. It's worth noting that the sculpt for both BWX leader toys were intentionally designed to blend in with the Jungle Planet aesthetic, "in case" they didn't get a Beast Wars Anniversary release (according to Aaron Archer's statements at BotCon 2005).
- Optimus Primal vs Megatron (Toys "R" Us, 2006)
- Identical to the Beast Wars Reborn set as detailed below, but in new packaging with a DVD of the Beast Wars episode "Possession."
- Japanese ID number: TM-01
- Basically, just a concept similar to the Beast Wars Reborn set below, but with Robot Masters Beast Convoy. It's a recolor of the figure in the style of the show's colors, so it's very show accurate. And not as neon. We all love that.
Beast Wars Reborn
- Convoy vs Megatron (2006)
- Japanese ID number: BWR-01
- This release is a retool of the original 1996 Ultra toy, with new heads and robot chest sculpted to match the television series' portrayal. The color scheme was also altered to be show-accurate, changing the black to dark gray, much of the light gray to medium gray with hints of bronze, primary red to crimson, and blue to a more dull steel blue. This figure came packaged with a similarly-remolded Megatron and a Golden Disk CD-ROM that contains control art for a number of Beast Wars toys.
- Optimus Primal (3" Robot Master figurine)
Features Primal in his Beast Wars Season 1 appearance, with swords drawn in an action pose.
- Optimal Optimus (6" Transformable figure)
For undetermined reasons, this incarnation of Optimal Optimus does not include the beast mode. Interestingly, this does have precedent in the fiction: When Megatron built a copy of that body for himself at the end of Beast Machines, his version didn't have a beast mode either.
- Dawn of Future's Past (Boxset, BotCon 2006)
- Primal's gorilla mode, paired against Megatron's t-rex mode, was inspired by the showdown in King Kong.
- Indeed, gorilla Primal's original tech specs (which belong to the micro-continuity that takes place on modern-day earth) seems to strongly imply that Primal is a building-scaling ape of Kong-like stature. As speculated in the Beast Wars volume of the Cybertronian action figure guide, this may have been intended to explain why he is in the same scale as Megatron, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This would also make somewhat greater sense in the context of the toyline itself, wherein the leader characters were of a much larger "Ultra" size-class than their minions, unlike their eventually much smaller depictions in the CG cartoon.
- According to a guide book published in conjunction with the Beast Wars II theatrical film, Optimus Primal's original body had the following technical specifications. The veracity of these numbers in relation to anything actually featuring Primal, of course, is questionable.
- Height: 2.8m (9.19 feet).
- Weight: 2 tons.
- Running Speed: 60km (37.28 mph, beast mode), 50km (31.07 mph, robot mode).
- Airspeed: Mach 7.
- Maximum Power Output: 1,000,000 horsepower.
- In his Transmetal form, Optimus Primal's spark chamber is on a hinge in his chest to swing down to the opening in his abdomen. In his Optimal Optimus form, he stored Prime's spark in his vehicle mode cockpit.