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Modifying a G1/G2 Optimus Prime Roller-Launcher:

Sometimes the Japanese get the best toys. In certain respects this is true of Transformers, which often had features that were somewhat neutered here in the states due to our toy regulations. This was especially apparent in many of the figures' missile-launchers, which were unable to launch their projectiles for any distance. Optimus Prime was doubly affected. Not only was this case for the auto-launcher robot inside Prime's trailer, but the launcher for his roller-cart was similarly depowered. However, there is hope!

The Skinny:

If you own any of the G1 (or G2 for that matter) Primes released in the US by Hasbro, then you most likely own a Prime-trailer with a rather weak launcher for Prime's Roller-cart. This wasn't the case in Japan, as their version of Optimus (Convoy) had a rather strong launcher for Roller. The reasons for this are simple: US Toy Safety Regulations. However, with some quick and easy modifications, you can alter your Prime-trailer so that Roller will shoot off the combat-deck with a lot more gusto. And I'll be showing you how!

What you'll need:

  • A small screwdriver (phillips-head)
  • A pair of clippers (toenail clippers are best) or small, strong scissors
  • An emory board, or a small piece of medium-grade sandpaper
  • (optional) Some oil or WD-40

    For this article, I'm using an extra trailer-bottom I have laying around.

    Step 1:

    Flip Prime's trailer over. You'll find 6 screws holding the bottom portion of the trailer to the launch-deck. Take your phillips-head screwdriver and remove these screws, taking care not to strip out the heads. You can then remove the auto-launcher robot, and the plate holding the rear wheels in place. Set these parts and screws aside.

    Step 2:

    Carefully lift up the trailer bottom, and you'll immediately notice the spring attached between the bottom section, and the underside of the roller-launcher. Take note of the attachment points, and then unhook the spring and set it aside. Then, remove the trailer bottom and set it aside as well.

    Step 3:

    With the bottom out of the way, you'll notice a little tab sticking out that prevents the sliding roller-launcher from snapping forward all the way. This is what you need to remove. I've found that toenail clippers work the best, and can remove this tab in two snips. Once the tab is removed, sand it down until its almost level with the trailer-bottom itself. It doesn't have to be perfect, and don't worry about scuffing up the surrounding area, since the trailer-bottom will cover it up completely.

    Step 4:
    You can now re-assemble the trailer-parts. Just be sure not to tighten the screws too much.

    If the spring is a little rusty (which isn't uncommon with older Prime toys), clean the rust off with a soft cloth and a little oil. Before putting the spring back in, coat it with a little more oil or WD-40 to give it some protection from further oxidation.

    Step 5:

    Load Roller into the launcher, and watch him go! You'll notice a big difference in the power of the launcher, because its now able to fully snap forward. Pretty cool eh? In the case of a G2 Prime trailer, you will likely get even more power, due to the shorter spring that seems to be the standard in a G2 trailer.

    Optional Step 3.5:

    In this photo, you'll notice a pair of verical tabs. The purpose of these tabs is to keep the launcher from fully snapping out unless roller is loaded into it. When you slide roller into the launcher, the pegs on its back press down on these tabs, priming the launcher for action. This is a rather clever addition that also seems to be absent from the Japanese version of Prime's trailer. If you wish to have a launcher that can snap forward easily without having roller loaded, you can trim down the tabs inside the launcher itself.

    In the above pictures, you can see the sections inside of the launcher that need to be trimmed down, before and after trimming. After doing this, proceed on to steps 4 and 5.

    And that's it! Now you have a Prime trailer that functions a lot more like the Japanese version, and can launch Roller a couple of feet instead of a few meager inches (particulalrly on a flat surface). Just be sure to be careful where you point the little guy. After all, you don't want Roller shooting off and getting lost under the stove, because that would suck.

    I'd like to thank FortMax over at the seibertron boards, who informed us of this little trick. Thanks man!

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    Last Revised: Monday, May 01, 2006 19:48:45