“Andy, that’s just an orange Optimus Prime.”
You’re not entirely wrong, but also you are!
In 1988, Hasbro introduced a new play gimmick to the Transformers brand in the form of “Power Masters.” These followed up on the Head Masters and Target Masters. Where the Head Masters had little robots that turned into a larger robots’ head, and the Target Masters has little robots that turned into the larger robots’ guns, the Power Masters were little robots that turned into a larger robots’ engines that could plug in to the vehicle modes. Power Master Transformers couldn’t, well, transform, without the power of their masters.
The most prominent Power Master was Optimus Prime, the Autobot leader who had been rebuilt with more artillery to help in the battle against the Decepticons. Power Master Optimus Prime could also combine with his trailer to form a super robot.
Unless you lived in Japan.
While The Transformers cartoon ended in 1987 in the United States, and only the final three episodes of the series featured Head Masters and Target Masters characters, Japan got a whole season titled Transformers: The Headmasters in 1987. And in 1988, the season was called Transformers: Super God Masterforce. In “Masterforce,” we were introduced to the GOD MASTERS, who were all reinterpretations of the Power Masters characters and toys, several with different color schemes and most with different names.
But the most obvious change between the USA’s Power Masters and Japan’s God Masters comes in the form of the toy that America knew as Power Master Optimus Prime. In the Masterforce cartoon, he was called “Ginrai,” and was a new Autobot God Master engine that connected to a re-built Optimus Prime body. Ginrai could also combine with his trailer to form Super Ginrai, and then could ALSO combine with the heroic God Bomber, to become God Ginrai, the ultimate Autobot commander!
(Well, the ultimate “Cybertron” commander, as the heroic Autobots are called “Cybertrons” in Japanese markets…and I guess Optimus Prime is called “Convoy” in Japan, but whatever, I’m writing this under the assumption that you only know the VERY basics about Transformers.)
Anyhow, God Ginrai’s final attack was called God Fire Guts, and his entire body became engulfed in flame, and he hurtled at his enemies like a torpedo.
So of course, Takara, the Japanese manufacturer of Transformers, made a repaint of the God Ginrai figure in bright-ass orange and red, and dubbed it Fire Guts God Ginrai. It was released exclusively through Japanese online retailer, E-Hobby in 2002 — Much like Sunstorm would be, the following year. Fire Guts God Ginrai was limited to 1,600 pieces.
And then in 2014, at the Transformers convention BotCon, one of the exclusive figures released in that year’s Knights vs Pirates box set was an orange-and-red Transformers Classics Optimus Prime, dubbed “Cybertronian Knight Ginrai.”
As you can see, I took some liberties on the color scheme to try and make it more my own interpretation.
So, yeah. Fire Guts Ginrai is totally just an orange Optimus Prime. Except… he’s also totally not.
I mean, also, he just looks cool. Or, y’know. Hot. Because, fire.
Okay, come back tomorrow for something totally different.