I found these new toys to be rather interesting on several levels. I like the chance to see where the earth mode robot designs are coming from so to speak. The Protoform version of Prime (and Starscream) has many elements from the more "traditional" look of the character, and design wise they do make a good "bridge" between Cybertron and Classics Prime, and the movie one. In Seibertron.com I saw a digi-paint of these two in traditional colors, and they do really look good that way. I think if I had seen these versions first, the movie versions would not have looked quite so "out there". And I wouldn't have reacted quite so badly to them.
Another reason I find them interesting is I have a little more hope for the movie versions after seeing these, the pictures of the earth mode robots we have seen are still "work in progress". These are finalized designs, and may represent the way the final earth modes will look on a few details that were bugging me. I really disliked the earth mode Prime's face, and I actually like his face in this version. I also hate the proportions of Starscream in robot mode, and here his proportions are much better, so I have a little hope.
Also these seem to be a first look at final toy designs, and it may give us a glimpse of the quality of the other toys, and I actually like what I see. They seem to be very articulate and reasonably detailed, which is all good.
Last is the oft criticized alt modes, and here I am going to surprise myself a little, and say I actually kind of like them. I think it is hard to judge what they look like because the perspective in the picture is extremely foreshortened, so they are going to be longer than they look, though it is hard to say exactly how long they are. I "think" they are actually more like a blunt nosed helicopter in proportion rather than rock with a tail. I think the windows and "wheels" on Prime aren't as out of place as some people might think. In close up of the side of the legs there are three black "wheels" the one on the thigh and calf, and a small one near the knee. The one on the knee is a functional wheel that lets the toy roll in alt mode, and Starscream has them as well. I think they are like the small wheels on most tank transformers, only there so kids can push it across the floor. The "wheels" on the thigh and calf are not actually round, they are flattened ovals, and I think they are meant to mimic the "thrusters" (or maglev or anti gravity pods or whatever they were supposed to be) on the bottom of the ships in "The Matrix". I think Primes alt mode is a cross between a ship from "The Matrix" and those little space pods from the recent "Planet of the Apes". It is implied in the text on the back of the cards that this alternate form is used to let the transformers arrive on Earth undetected by mimicking a meteor. Starscream's alt mode also has obvious control surfaces, air intakes and such, so they both seem to be actual vehicular forms, and not just an alien space rock. Prime and Starscream may be similar in form because it is meant to perform the same function, a powered atmospheric entry that looks like the ballistic entry of a small meteor, the odd faceted surface designed to scatter radar, making it seem much smaller. (A 30-40 foot meteor strike would be large enough to be significant.)
So I guess these actually work for me, and will grab Prime if I have the money to spare, though I will paint it once I get it.