The year is 1988. Transformers popularity is kind of waning, at least in Western markets, theories abound that it was due to the introduction of wholly plastic figures and futuristic modes rather than the quality diecast, real-world vehicles etc of yesteryear.
In Japan, Transformers were still going strong, they started the second original series for their continuity, Super God Masterforce (Masterforce for short, yeah?).
This was the year of the Powermasters , or the very grandiose God Masters, if you’re Japanese.
This was the first time we had seen an old character get reimagined, Optimus Prime was gone, but now he was back and stronger than ever as Power Master Optimus Prime! That’s quite the mouthful you know.
I had this guy when he first came out, it was a birthday present from my mum, along with a seacon, Nautilator the lobster if memory serves. Which it does.
Obviously I don’t have that particular copy any more, but I do have the 2002(?) Japanese reissue of God Ginrai and looking at it still fills me with the sense of nostalgia. I can remember where I was when I first opened it, I took it everywhere with me for weeks. Getting Transformers when I was younger, no matter how many I had, always made me ridiculously happy, I think that’s why I have one of those personalities that responds well to gifts now.
Let’s address the confusing terminology, is he Optimus Prime? Is he Ginrai?
Well, the answer to that depends on where you grew up. In the west, he was Optimus Prime, somehow back from the dead and powered up with a Nebulon partner called Hi-Q.
If you grew up in Japan, he was Ginrai, some truck driver who just happened to be able to turn in to the engine component for a Transtector that looked exactly like Optimus Prime, but wasn’t him at all. You just have to accept that it’s not Prime and then it’s all good.
There was also an addon sold in Japan called Godbomber, which more or less turned in to a pair of stilts and a backpack for Ginrai and powered him up to God Ginrai, making him the most unstoppable force in the galaxy, or something. At least until 1989 and a certain Brestmaster any way.
Godbomber was eventually released in the West as the Apex armor, and was part of the Toys R Us reissue series.
So let’s look at the toy, there were a few slight differences between PM Prime and Ginrai, most notable would be Ginrais diecast cab and retractable fists, both of which were not present in PM Prime. There were some others but they were purely cosmetic.
The smaller robot, made from the cab of the truck isn’t anything particularly fancy to look at, it’s just a blockier Optimus Prime toy, with the right look, chest windows, blue and red colour scheme, the instantly recogniseable head. The combined mode with the trailer is much more impressive, it’s big, it’s imposing, it sports a vast assortment of weaponry!
The trailer can also turn in to a battle platform, which again, isn’t much to write home about. Split the legs, stick the hands in the air and you have it.
You disassemble God Bomber in to his various component parts and clip them on to Super Ginrai to make God Ginrai, giving him platform shoes, a backpack, a biggo chest and bigger arms. It certainly boosted his height, though still not quite as solid as Overlord.
Still though, as you can see he looks pretty coooool. Also, to note, in making this post and taking these pictures, Ginrai paid the ultimate price and now I need to get a new one, man I’m glad they made so many and they are still relatively cheap!