A Bathing Ape BAPE Optimus Prime G1 Reissue, Takara Tomy, 2012

As promotion for the Bayformers Age of Extinction movie in 2014, Takara Transformers collaborated with the popular Japanese streetwear brand, A Bathing Ape, designed by fashion / music superstar Nigo. Known for its colorful camo hoodies and pop culture influences, most notably its logo referencing Planet of the Apes, BAPE has made its imprint in the streetwear scene globally and as such makes an opportune collaboration for other collector cultures such as Transformers. Out of all of the numerous collaborations for Prime, from Pepsi to Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven, Ghostbusters and beyond, this release has been the only crossover piece that has intrigued me, both in cross-branding and in design.

A familiar box for any TF collector, but the logo swaps are a clever, well done touch.
I like they tampographed the BAPE logo instead of the Autobot logo, a nice yet subtle detail.

I’m usually not super interested in Prime’s truck mode, but I really dig the mix of BAPE and Transformers elements here, enough to want to display it in alt mode. It’s so very streetwear influenced and yet keeps the original TF “flava”. Camo, especially Multicam, is so heavily used in streetwear, and the black and gray tones give it that extra edginess. Super flossy.

Note the gold bling and smoky windows. Very nice complement to the gray camo.
“Ape shall never kill ape.” Humans, on the other hand… fair game!
Interestingly they made some mould updates and renewed the trademarks in 1992, perhaps marking the end of the G2 moulds and a milestone marking the G1 reissue era.

Prime’s base unit never gets any love, but with little Diaclone drivers, you get the real space base effect. Upright, you get the full sense that this is meant to be a repair dock, much like with any other towering robots, i.e. Gundam or Evangelion.

Roller just looks so blasé without a Diaclone driver, don’t ya think?
Oil change + Tires Rotated in under 30 minutes flat guaranteed!

Beyond using the G1 Prime for the collaboration, there’s no direct Diaclone homage here, although it’s cool that they included the original bloated version of Prime’s gun that came with the early G1 releases, same as the Diaclone version, however the fists, gas pump and nozzle seem to be from the later standard releases.

ALL UR BAPE R BELONG TO US.
BAPEtimus PRIME never misses a rhyme.
Stickers. The left side reads : A Bathing Ape and the right side reads: Optic Primate. Maybe a play on “Optimus Prime”? You never know with Japanese designers. It could just have been chosen because it sounded cool to them at the time, or it’s a super obscure reference.

If it weren’t for the gold chrome parts, this rendition of Prime would look like dead Prime, evoking semi-traumatic childhood memories of the 1986 animated movie, seeing our heroic leader die before our eyes and turn from the vibrant, patriotic red and blue into a ghastly grey pallor. The moment many of us learned about loss, youth no more. The end of G1.

👊

Regardless of the endless combinations colorway out there and whatever your preference, you just can’t go wrong with a G1 Prime.

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