Powermaster Optimus Prime was the first new toy of the Autobot leader since the original toy's release in 1984. He is an all-new design, utilizing the Powermaster gimmick of requiring the partner figure, who transforms into an engine module, to be inserted into a special area on the main toy before it is able to transform.
Like the original figure, Powermaster Prime is composed of two major components: his truck cab, which transforms into Prime himself, and his trailer, which is essentially a heavily-armed version of the original. The trailer has a fold-down ramp to allow the storage of a smaller Transformer, or perhaps spare accessories. The trailer transforms into a battle station armed with two long black rifles and two grey double-barreled cannons (featuring seating for Powermaster engine figures), all of which Optimus Prime can also wield in his fists.
Aside from the Powermaster feature itself, the main gimmick of the toy is the ability of the truck cab to combine with the trailer to form the larger "Super Optimus Prime" figure. This is essentially accomplished by standing the trailer up, folding the cab in half and inserting it into the empty cavity in the trailer's torso, forming an imposing—if almost entirely unposeable—robot form armed with all four weapons. The head of this super robot form is a separate piece which can be stored in the rear of Prime's trailer when not in use.
The Japanese release of Powermaster Optimus Prime actually represented a new character named Ginrai, and featured several retools: the cab featured die-cast metal, shortened smokestacks, vacuum-metalized plastic and clear blue windows, while the trailer was given retractable super robot fists. This Japanese version was eventually issued by Hasbro in 2003 as part of the Commemorative Series collection (see below).