Before the Transformers movies were ever a thing, Transformers were the be-all-end-all. We all wondered what it must be like to be in contact with these stellar beings that could turn into a motor vehicle at any given point. I can’t imagine what it’d even be like to be face to face with one of these things, but it certainly would be cool. Anyway, even though the movies have reached the point of “money hungry”, I can’t deny the fact that the Transformers themselves are still cool as heck. More specifically, I would like to touch on Optimus Prime.
Everybody knows the name and everyone is familiar with his role in the series, but there are a lot of things people really don’t know about him. I’ve done research and compiled a list of things that aren’t super well known about this magnificent being. Throughout this article, there may be some obvious facts, but just keep in mind that even if it is obvious to you, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s obvious to everyone else. I also won’t deny the fact that if at any point in our lives the Transformers suddenly came to a halt, there’d be riots. I often times put the Transformers world in the same vein as Star Wars and Star Trek. We’ve seen the series grow over the years, and we hope it will continue to stay strong, even if the money hungry directors attempt to squeeze out every cent they possible can. Can’t blame them though, they need money too.
15. Original Name
Something that isn’t super well known given that it’s not often popularized is the fact that Optimus Prime isn’t the original name given to this beastly vehicular robot. In fact, it’s gone through several alternate modes and changes throughout its history, but we’ll touch on those later. Optimus Prime was originally known as Orion Pax. Although Orion Pax was his name throughout the earlier parts of his life, once a reconstruction was among the changes made to this beast, it was given a new name, whom we now know as Optimus Prime. Along with this reconstruction and name change, Optimus Prime took the mantle of leadership to begin a war against the Decepticons. Once he took the position of leader, this remained the case for the next nine million years. Imagine if we made our leaders of the free world stay in office for nine million years. That’d be crazy.
Something you may find hard to believe is the fact that Optimus Prime doesn’t actually like to fight. Although he is the leader of the Autobots and was the leader amidst the civil war against the Decepticons, he actually doesn’t like to fight at all. In fact, Optimus Prime considers himself a pacifist. Definitively, a pacifist is someone who believes war and violence are unjustifiable. But…let’s be honest with ourselves. In the movies and stories we’ve heard about Optimus Prime, we don’t really see him get in full on brawls unless cornered. It’s not really that hard to believe that he is a pacifist since he’s always come off as someone that wants to bring peace over anything else. While this is the case, Optimus Prime is still seen as a straightforward and wise battlefield general. Along with that, his secretive pacifism is what makes him such a reluctant warrior, plagued by self doubt and insecurities.
13. Voice Actors
Unsurprisingly, Optimus Prime has been voiced by several different people. Not too hard to understand given that it’s a very unique voice acting job to take on. Hell, I think it’d be badass to portray your voice through someone as badass as Optimus Prime. But yeah, during the Rise of the Dark Spark and Transformers: Devastation video game series, Peter Cullen portrayed the voice of Optimus Prime as well as the television series. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Peter Cullen has also been the voice behind Eeyore from Winnie-The-Pooh and Monterey Jack from Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. During the Transformers: Combiner Wars animated series, the voice of Optimus Prime was taken on by Jon Bailey. That name probably doesn’t sound entirely familiar unless you’ve familiarized yourself with the Youtube series “Screen Junkies”. Last but certainly not least, for the Japanese dub of the Transformers movies released in 2007, the voice actor for Optimus Prime was taken on by Tesshō Genda, whom is also known for his voice acting of Batman in several animated tv series and films.
One funny thing about Optimus Prime is the fact that he’s not always been called Optimus Prime. Evidently in the movies and other forms of media, they don’t really touch on his several nicknames because they never get used. It’s a shame given that a lot of these names are pretty fantastic and dare I say clever. They are as follows: Autobot Commander, which makes the most amount of sense if you know anything about him. Chief, which is pretty self explanatory. Big Boss, unsurprising considering he is big, and is the boss in charge of the Autobots. And Roller, which I assume is a play on the fact that he turns into a motor vehicle. I’m surprised these were never used, especially given that it’d be a hell of a lot easier to portray him in the movies especially if people and allies alike didn’t always have to call him “Optimus Prime”. Hell, I’d call him Chief over his actual name any day of the week.
11. Alternate Modes
So, not only is Optimus Prime this badass leader of the Autobots that turns into a truck, he’s also got a lot of alternate modes of which we briefly discussed prior in this article. Optimus Prime has been seen taking the form of several different vehicles such as a Cybertronian truck, a Cobra Sentry & Missile System tank, a Lamborghini Diablo (fancy!) and a Dodge Ram SRT-10 among others. It’s interesting to think that in some world or universe, albeit fictional, you could be looking at a really nice Lamborghini or Prius and somehow…it could be a living being that could take the form of an Autobot or Decepticon. I’m not saying you have to suddenly be skeptical of fancy cars because let’s be honest…the chances of it being an actual robotic living being is very very slim. I’m not saying impossible because even if it’s obviously impossible, the world works in mysterious ways.
10. Peter Cullen
We talked briefly about Peter Cullen in this article already, specifically for his voice acting skills with Optimus Prime. But, I bet you were unaware of the ridiculous fact that Peter Cullen has voiced Optimus Prime 26 times. It makes sense considering he is the original voice of the brute, so why would you want to give the job up if you know you’re good at it? But yes, indeed it is true, Peter Cullen has taken the job of voicing Optimus Prime not only in the animated series of Transformers, but also in all five Transformers live action films. Along with that, he’s voice Optimus Prime in four TV series, 13 separate Transformers video games. We did talk about Peter Cullen and his other amazing features of voice acting in other shows like Winnie-The-Pooh etc, but it should come as no surprise that this particular voice acting gig has been the high point of his career, and rightfully so.
9. Dialogue Suggestions
Back when the first Transformers movie was all we really had in regards to live action films, Michael Bay took to the internet while directing the movie to allow fans of the upcoming movie to give their suggestions as to what Optimus Prime should say in the movie. Unsurprisingly, this was met with tremendous popularity, and Michael Bay promised that the winner would have their suggestion featured in the actual movie. Once this “contest” of sorts ended, the winning line that would then be featured on the script was “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” Funny thing about this particular line is the fact that although it’s never spoken by Optimus Prime, it’s influence comes from the original packaging of the 80’s version of Optimus Prime toy line. I honestly wish more directors would do this sort of thing, because it allows fans of a certain series to feel like they are part of something special.
8. Dynasty of Primes
While being one of the most badass figures in the Transformers movies, he’s also had a pretty good deal of traits surrounding him in the animated shows. In several instances including Transformers: Covenant of Primus, Optimus Prime is labeled as the “Dynasty of Primes” which is known as an ancient Transformers race. Although in the movies and some media, Optimus Prime owns the title of leader or general, in this instance Optimus Prime is given the title of “The Last Prime”, insinuating that he is depicted as the last of his kind. It is interesting to consider the consequences of what happened to display such a namesake. More specifically, the reason for this is because of a tragedy that eventually ended the Prime era, though Optimus Prime decided to be reborn into the new race of Transformers. This eventually is what prompted him to take the name of Orion Pax, which again…changed later in time.
7. Generation 1 Vehicle
We discussed earlier the different forms Optimus Prime has found himself in regarding vehicles, but in the very first generation of Optimus Prime, he took the form of a Kenworth K100 truck. Given that this is the very first vehicle we see him take form as, it’s up to Optimus Prime to ensure that all his parts are working together, otherwise under specific circumstances of one being damaged, Optimus Prime still holds control over the specific part. This holds true due to Optimus Prime being able to have control over all the moving parts if a tragedy were to occur. However, differentiating from this, if the combat deck or the roller portion of him were destroyed, Optimus Prime would still be able to live. But, coincidentally these separate parts would not be able to survive without Optimus Prime. Basically giving off the impression that one is not complete without the other. Sort of like a soulmate type deal.
6. Video Games
Of course, to be expected with every big thing whether it’s a line of movies or a popular TV show, video games of the namesake are bound to make their debut. The Transformers series of movies and TV shows is no different as there are several video games that follow the story and namesake of the aforementioned. In Beast Wars Transmetals for the Nintendo 64, Optimus Prime makes a cameo being killed by Megatron. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for multiple video game platforms, Optimus Prime is available as a DLC. Optimus Prime specifically is pretty much included in nearly all of the video game releases including Transformers: Autobots & Transformers: Decepticons, Transformers Animated on the Nintendo DS, and most recently Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark on various video game platforms.
Leave it to China to do yet another amazing thing regarding popular culture. I’m actually impressed with the extent that they went regarding their love of the Transformers series. In Kunming City, there stands a 40-foot statue of Optimus Prime. Now, I’m not one to scream when I feel someone has wasted money, and I’m not going to start now. Let’s be honest, if your city was basically known for being awesome for various reasons, the next best thing to do is create a huge statue featuring the leader of the Autobots. Hell, if I were able to, I’d build a statue of my favorite leaders in my back yard. It’s pretty impressive though, and if you look at the image provided, you can see that they did not skimp out on delivering a beautiful piece of art. This should give other cities the incentive to go ahead and build enormous statues that relate to popular culture.
4. Optimash Prime
Alongside the various versions of Transformers video games, the popular series also garnered a bunch…and I mean a BUNCH of toys. Transformers toys have been provided through the art style of several different generations of Transformers, and some of the older ones are probably worth a lot of money today. That’s not what we’re here to talk about though. I’d like to discuss one of the funnier versions of a Transformers toys by the name of Optimash Prime. We all know the famous Mr. Potato Head toy, either by owning one as a kid, or watching Toy Story a million times. Well, to keep up with the Transformers hype, Hasbro’s Playskool toy line decided to embrace the hype and create a Mr. Potato Head based on Optimus Prime. Of course, you can’t just call it the “Optimus Prime Version” so instead…they went the clever route and called it Optimash Prime. Great marketing strategy there, I do say.
3. Transformers Hall of Fame
As if the Transformers namesake didn’t have enough to their name as it is, they also have a Hall of Fame aptly named the Transformers Hall of Fame. Unsurprisingly, Optimus Prime was inducted into the Hall of Fame at BotCon in 2010. Although he is one of five robots inducted in 2010, the inductees officially started that year, and have continued on for years after. For example, in 2012, Grimlock, Jazz, Shockwave, and Wheeljack were inducted into the Hall of Fame, and similarly in 2011, Ironhide, Ratchet, Soundwave, and Waspinator were inducted. As of 2016, there are currently 21 Transformers characters inducted into the Hall of Fame. Alongside that, there are 14 human characters that have also been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Names like Steven Spielberg (2011) and Peter Cullen (2010) have been inducted. It’s pretty crazy to think that Transformers as a whole has gotten to the point where an entire Hall of Fame has been created.
2. Richard Sherman
Yep, the same exact Richard Sherman that we’ve come to know with the Seattle Seahawks has taken part in the Transformers lore, though not directly. By his fans and I would assume by his teammates, Richard Sherman is not only known as part of the Legion of Boom but also known as Optimus Prime. I would assume this has something to do with his leadership skills and ability to play hardball when it calls for it. I guess if you really laid it out, Optimus Prime and Richard Sherman have a scary amount of similarities. Optimus Prime does everything he can to meet a peaceful outcome with his enemies, and Richard Sherman never attempts to get dirty while playing against someone in football. Somebody needs to get Richard Sherman an Optimus Prime costume, and he needs to wear it to the Super Bowl…if they ever get there again that is.
Along with being a famous figure in movies and TV, Optimus Prime is also an influential on several different labels within the sports and music genres. More specifically, there is a Transformers Music Label that was introduced back in 2007 which features the characters we know and love with added music attached to them. Some of them include Optimus Prime and a semi truck with a grey speaker that works with an iPod. Other labels much like this are influenced by Transformers to use the likeness of Optimus Prime or Megatron in order to be included in the hype. I suppose this could be within the same vein of what companies do in terms of making video games and toys, except through these labels they have more rights over them. Hell, it must be interesting to own a Megatron figure that seconds as a Nike shoe. Now our own footwear turns into living robotic beings. Scary!