(October, 2010) Overview: BTS.Toys has cranked out a couple of neat products in the past, most notably their series of trailers for Classics Optimus Prime and SDCC Exclusive Classics Nemesis Prime. These were well-regarded for clever design, and also for their fair, affordable price-points.

Now they've given us the BTS Matrix of Leadership set. Its supposed to serve as an upgrade set for G1 Prime, and subsequent Prime reissues. It offers an opening Matrix, an Ion Rifle similar to the one Op used in the G1 cartoon, a rocket-pack, articulated fists, and an Energon Axe. The idea is a solid one, however, there are a few issues with the execution. Before we get to the problems, let's go over the positives first.

The Good: First off, at about $20, the price-point is very affordable. The packaging is sturdy and attractive, with clearly printed graphics, and even metallic gold rays radiating out from the matrix on the front. There's a grid-pattern reminiscent of the G1 packaging from back in the day as well. It looks pretty neat.

As for the toys within, the overall quality is high. The varied plastics they use in this product are durable, although the stiffer plastics feel very light. The Matrix and the Energon Axe are very nicely detailed, and the Axe is actually sharp in places too, so watch it.

The rocket-pack is a nice inclusion, and the fact that you can store items (such as the original Prime fists) within it is a nice touch. You can also attach Prime's rifle (and presumably G2 Prime's missile launchers) to the rocket-pack via holes along the top, one on each side. This allows you to turn them into shoulder-mounted weapons. And, thanks to an extra plastic mounting-tab, you can attach the pack to the front of Prime's trailer, which is also a nice touch.

Lastly, an unexpected bonus was included in the set. I'd heard nothing about it, so when I opened the set and a foil-pack came out with the tray, I was surprised. Within the foil-bag, is a translucent blue version of Prime's rifle, which is a rather interesting bonus item.

The Bad: This set has quite a few strikes against it, and please consider them before purchasing this set yourself.

First off, items in this set are not completely compatible with original G1 Primes (at least the common ones anyway), although I'm not sure about the metal-plate/bloated-fist Diaclone versions, as I have yet to try it on mine. However, I did attempt to fit it to the second version of G1 Prime and was disappointed. The Axe sits loosely in the wrist and will fall out if moved. The Matrix mounting-panel for Prime's chest will not slide in properly at all. The fists fit in the wrist sockets well enough, but they are a light-blue in color and unless you have one of the G1 Primes with the lighter blue parts as opposed to the darker indigo ones, they won't match up well.

Frustrated, I moved on to my G2 Prime mold, and found that the fit was much better. The mounting panel slides in properly, the axe fits in the socket a little more snugly, and the paint matches up better with the color of G2 Prime's parts (there are G2 Primes with darker, purple parts rather than blue, but they seem to be far less common). This makes sense, since to my knowledge the subsequent Prime reissues are based around the G2 version of the mold, and these should be more common than the G1 originals. However, the difference in compatibility is annoying.

Secondly, there seem to be some molding issues. Most notably with the rifle, which has areas that look creased or cracked, due to likely imperfections in the mold. Its not terribly noticeable, but its definitely there. Similarly, the quality of the casting seems to be rougher and less "polished" overall than it should be. For example, while the Matrix is nicely detailed, its look in spots is rougher than it should be. I'm not sure how that stacks up to previous BTS entries, but its evident here. The look and feel of the items Fans Project cranks out is far more professional.

The fit of the Axe, while better in the G2 Prime, could still be much better. Its still not as snug as it should be, even in the G2 wrists. Also, the moving parts are far too tight for the most part. I really had to work with the matrix to get it to open and close properly. The hands are difficult to open the first time, and the thumbs are also tough to initially rotate, and the thumbs are also rather fragile. In fact, I broke the thumb on the right fist when attempting to rotate it, and I think anyone who gets this set should place the matrix and fists in the freezer for a little while in order to loosen things up a touch. I wish I had.

In terms of small touches, there are spots where the paint apps were missed, and also the design of the rifle feels TOO clunky. Its a solid piece of heavy plastic, and it doesn't help that there's no hole or depression in the rifle barrel, which just looks wrong. The thumbs also look weird to me as well. Overall, the look of some of the items looks cheap and rushed, which is a sharp contrast to the Energon Axe in particular.

Verdict: Overall, I was rather disappointed. The fact that it won't work well with G1 Primes is a huge strike against it, and is my biggest issue with the set. However, I was also displeased with the lack of polish on several of the items in the set, particularly the rifle, and the Matrix itself.

Thus, due to my issues with this set, my overall grade is a C+


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