A DEDICATED father with no mechanical training has manufactured the world’s first fan-built Optimus Prime truck.
Back in the summer of 2016, 36-year-old Joe Fiduccia worked day and night recreating the giant full- size replica that weighs around 21,000lbs.
Optimus Prime is one of the most renowned characters to hit our screens from the hugely successful Transformers franchise that has already taken more than 4 billion dollars at the box office worldwide. And being the determined father that he is, Joe managed to produce this impeccable replica in order to inspire his 10-year-old son that anything is possible.
Joe, from Monroe County, Pennsylvania, told Barcroft TV: “This is the only fan-built replica that is out there.
“There are only two other trucks like it and those are the trucks that are owned by Paramount.
“The inspiration behind this truck was for my son. I wanted to pursue something that no one else had ever done before, something that seemed impossible and almost felt out of reach.
“I decided to go with Optimus Prime because Ryan loves the Transformers movies as much as I do.
“In the 80s, he was the leader of the Autobots and he still is now. He is that character that has strong morals, strong ethics. He is always making sure everyone is okay.”
With the help of around 25 people, including a few close friends and external parties, Joe worked tirelessly to complete the job.
But before he could start any work on the vehicle, he chose to get permission from Hasbro – the toy company that owns the Transformers products.
Joe said: “One of the first things I chose to do was get legal permission from Hasbro to build it.
“We had our legal team contact them and about a month later, we got a letter in the mail saying it had been approved.
“We were not expecting that at all. Even our lawyer said for a company like that to grant permission to build one of their products is extremely rare.
“From the time we got Hasbro’s permission, to the time that Optimus was out on the road, it was about a year.”
In addition to weighing a colossal 21,000lbs, the spectacular truck is around 30ft long and 12ft wide. And that means another tough job for Joe – the cleaning.
“Unfortunately, there is no car wash big enough to take Optimus Prime,” he said.
“Washing Optimus is a full time job. Especially during the winter time when all the salts from the roads kick up and I’ve got 5 hours of cleaning ahead of me.
“We actually ended up lowering the top stacks by around two inches to prevent any hazards whilst driving. The original Optimus is even higher.
“The paint-scheme was also quite an intense job – he’s got the red and blue warrior colours on him and around 16 logos.”
The replica Optimus can reach up to 65mph with its Detroit DD15 motor and 12 speed automatic transmission. And Joe admits that now the truck is complete, he gets attention wherever he goes – including when he takes his son to school.
He said: “When the kids come out of school, everybody has their cameras out, everybody is pointing. “Are my friends jealous of the truck? I think a lot of people are. But the main thing is that my son, Ryan, loves it.”
Ryan added: “And I really do love Optimus Prime. It’s just so cool having it in your yard. It took a long time and a lot of effort for dad. But it was worth it in the end. I’m really proud of him.”
Joe is reluctant to reveal the exact cost of the truck, but was quick to compare it to a second mortgage and a lot of debt.
He said: “Everybody wants to know what the cost of this truck is. I’ve had perfect strangers come up to me, whether it’s a show or on the highway at a fuel stop – and my answer is always it’s a second mortgage, a lot of debt and true determination.
“You know, I couldn’t have built Optimus Prime without the full support of my family.
“It makes a big difference when you go up to somebody and you tell them no matter what’s going on in your life, no matter how impossible something seems, whether you are a kid or grown adult don’t ever be afraid to try.
“Don’t ever be afraid to pursue what seems impossible. Because you never know, one day, you could be behind the driver seat of Optimus Prime.”
Until next time!
Joe & Nick at Barcroft
My video is at DLive