Left: Seraph 1. Right: Seraph 13 (minus an arm).
"Why would a prototype be more efficient than the finished model? Did they think that Big Daddies being fast, flexible and capable of self-preservation was just not being fair on everyone else?"
A Super Prototype is a testbed version of some piece of technology — like a Humongous Mecha
, Space Fighter
, or Killer Robot
— that is, for some reason, superior to the mass-produced version. A super prototype will have better weapons, stronger armor, and higher-quality speakers
than the units rolling off the assembly line. Even when there aren't very many of whatever device was designed in the first place, the prototype model is almost always the most powerful, or has at least some advantage over the other models.
A question that often comes up is why
the super prototype is so, well, super
compared to the production model. The typical reason given is that the production model is far cheaper or easier to make in large numbers. Sometimes, the technology that makes the device so much more powerful is Lost Technology
(although one wonders why a prototype of a future possible design would include tech the mass-produced versions would never be capable of including), and thus not easily replicated. It could be that the first model's success was something its creators could never have anticipated
. Or the technology in the prototype is difficult to use, thus requiring
an Ace Pilot
to operate, whereas the later models are less powerful but stable enough for normal soldiers to use. Mass-production models were likely made (in the grand tradition of military equipment) by the lowest bidder, who cut corners wherever possible. But mostly, it just lets The Hero
be that much more awesome
In Real Life
, a prototype is simply the first unit of a model to be built, usually made in order to do real-world tests of the design and correct any flaws before mass production begins. As such, you want your test unit to be as similar to your production unit as possible, so prototypes are frequently indistinguishable from standard models. note
However, a real-world concept that more closely resembles the super prototype is the experimental unit or concept car, which is intended to test out new technology and its limits without ever being meant for mass production at all. As cost-effectiveness is less important, experimental units frequently do
have superior performance to eventual mass production models. Military test pilots refer to this as "pushing the envelope" - the upper edge is height, the left edge is speed. Visualize this as the kind of envelope you mail somebody and you realize that particular area is where the postage gets canceled
. This distinction is rarely made in fiction, however. note
May be the result of a Black Box
; the "super" parts of the prototype are unreplicable.
A specific instance of Older Is Better
: the prototype came first, so it is better than all that came after it. The Opposite Trope
is the Flawed Prototype
and Superior Successor
. A closely related trope is the Ace Custom
. See also Reed Richards Is Useless
and Bigger Stick
. Related to (and often exists for the same narrative reasons as) the Conservation of Ninjutsu
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Anime and Manga
- This happens when any villain tries to replicate a Super Serum. The first villain to try it is bigger, stronger, faster than the original, but the original never pushes it to the limits because of the idiocy-inducing effects of an overdose, or the subject becoming completely musclebound or even exploding. On the rare occasions that the villains continue to use the super serum on Mooks, they will have much smaller doses and usually be sent in groups.
- Related to the above, Captain America is the super prototype for the Super Soldier program. Others are constantly trying to replicate his success with results ranging from severe mental deterioration (Isaiah Bradley from Truth: Red, White and Black, and William Burnside, the 50's Cap) to creating the Incredible Hulk (Ultimate Marvel) and the Weapon Plus program (Wolverine, aka Weapon X/Ten; Rogers is Weapon I). Captain America's shield is a Super Prototype as well, being the precursor to adamantium. Adamantium is the attempt to recreate the material of his shield, but even primary adamantium is weaker than it.
- Iron Man both subverts this trope and plays it straight. The subversion comes from Stark constantly producing improved models after the original prototype. The straight examples come from any even vaguely mass-produced derivatives, like the Guardsman armors, which are never on par with Iron Man's own gear. Of course, readers probably wouldn't want a bunch of glorified prison guards to be as powerful as the superhero. And, in fact, it's explained that Iron Man himself doesn't want a bunch of glorified prison guards to be as powerful as he is. He deliberately withholds the best tech for himself and even goes so far as to build in exploitable weaknesses in case the armors are ever used against him. Considering the number of times Stark's technology has been stolen, duplicated or reverse-engineered, he's got a right to be paranoid and hold back technology. (Although, as seen in the Armor Wars story, sometimes he takes that right too far, beating up innocent people like Stingray and Captain America.)
- The Blackhawks' aircraft during World War II was the Grumman XF5F Skyrocket, an aircraft that never made it past the prototype stage in Real Life.
- In a way, the Hulk. While created by accident, Hulk was the first gamma mutant, and most following gamma beings (the Leader, the Abomination, Madman, Ravage, etc) were based off either recreating that accident or specifically copying his DNA. While some have had greater base-line strength than the Hulk, and most have retained their higher intelligence whereas the Hulk is most often shown to be a savage, Hulk's potential strength (increasing with anger) and his other abilities (Healing Factor, psychic resistance) have shown him to be the most powerful of the gamma beings. Another factor in the Hulk's Super Prototype-ness is the fact that Bruce Banner's psyche is so damaged, because of abuse when he was a kid, that it allows him to do whatever he wishes. Becoming a gamma beast meant unleashing a particular repressed trait. The reason the Hulk is stronger than the others? Because they're not as screwed up as Banner!
- Super Dinosaur is superior to the successive Dino Men because of his armor which grants him unparalleled firepower.
- In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, the Metal Sonic Troopers, Rotor and Uncle Chuck-designed and built Metal Sonics based off of the original Metal Sonic, are easily dispatched when they're turned against everyone, compared to the original Metal Sonic, who gave Sonic and co. a very hard time. And then there's all those replacement Metal Sonics Eggman keeps making, which always get rolled out and blown up within five pages. They've practically become a running gag.
- In Exoria, a modern-day Zelda Fan Fic, Epona is a prototype military motorcycle, codenamed MRX-402A (second prototype model of the fourth generation military reconnaissance X-series). Aside from being able to achieve speeds over three hundred kilometers per hour, it has onboard electronic systems that allow it to analyze the terrain ahead instantly and adjust the suspensions real-time. It also has an auto-drive function, and two .50 machine guns. Seatbelt not included.
- In The Open Door, the Stiletto is the first craft built by newChaos as a test bed for the combination of the technologies available to them. Although officially rated as a frigate, it can punch far, far above its supposed weight. Eventually, with its long shakedown cruise over, its equipment receives rather drastic tonedown.
- Subverted and defied in An Entry With A Bang!: The first GDI monitor is an unstable hodgepodge of Clancy-Earth and BattleTech… uh, tech. The first prototype BearCat aerospace fighter is not mounting weapons. Both in-universe and at the writers' level, there has generally been agreement to take things slow and not do any funky stuff.
- In Project Ignition, there's the TYPE-Sione new model NEXT, which is obscenely powerful... The three stolen TYPE-Siones are actually production models, not prototypes. The Prototype is actually the exact same machine given to an unknown pilot. However, the Union stealing the TYPE-Sione is enough to start the Interior-Omer war. Also there's the XAF-Kushina, a prototype Arms Fort that actually is serving as Omer Science Technology's Main AF The Kushina is merely a prototype attempt at creating an XG-70 with Kojima Technology— it doesn't perform to Omer's standards, despite being able to lay waste to an entire continent., lastly there's the Fudai, a Light-weight NEXT being developed by Arisawa, following a recommendation from Tadashiro- subverted in that the Zephyr Fudai is merely a TYPE-Lahire with proof of concept parts, and is quite inferior to what Tadashiro has in mind for the actual Fudai. It matches one on one with Adler's Zephiris, and Tadashiro has never piloted a NEXT before that point.
- C.L. Werner's New Era Godzilla stories were set to feature the Ultra-Gyaos, progenitor of the entire Gyaos race. It was a creation of ancient Atlantis meant to be used to destroy Mu, but when they saw it was powerful enough to betray and destroy them, the Atlanteans were rightly frightened and sealed it away in an orihalcyon chamber deep beneath their kingdom
- In Star Wars, Darth Vader's TIE fighter was a custom model with a distinct appearance. At least one Expanded Universe technical manual says it's one of a Low-Rate Initial Production batch of unsuccessful Super Prototypes; the design was rejected as too expensive and the TIE Interceptor was selected instead.
- This was further explained in the Expanded Universe, specifically the TIE Fighter game. They had designed a model of Vader's TIE Advanced X1 that was intended for mass production, known as the TIE Avenger, but it and its successor, the TIE Defender, were shelved due to too many resources expended during internal civil war. Which was probably a good thing for the Rebels, seeing as how the Defender was widely considered to be the most advanced starfighter of its time.
- The Trade Federation in The Phantom Menace uses two types of battle droids, that look the exact same. You have the OOM models, which possess advanced and independent programming, and the B1 models, which are dumb as a box of rocks. The kicker, the OOMs are the prototypes. You would think that with code being easily replicated, ALL battle droids would be OOMs, but instead the Trade Federation decided to shoot themselves in the foot.
- Batman's costume in Batman Begins is a prototype armor suit that was rejected by the army because it was too expensive. The same with the batmobile, which was designed for jumping gaps to lay cables for bridges.
- The Falcon's flying exo-suit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a military prototype. No reason is given for why the suits never saw mass production, but it's implied that the other users had all been killed during combat in the Middle East.
- The RoboCop program arguably nailed the concept in their first try, but failed to deliver a single functional/reliable cyborg after that. In RoboCop 2 a string of subsequent models fails in increasingly gruesome ways - it turns out there are certain qualities the person must possess for the operation to work properly. Knowing this, the corporation resorted to a junkie drug lord with a messiah complex as source material, reasoning that his addiction and vanity would help keep him in line (It Makes Sense in Context). The results were quite unsavory, to say the least.
Mythology and Religion
- Apocryphally, Lilith. The first woman created by God, made of dust (like Adam) instead of being made from part of Adam. She wanted to be treated as Adam's equal but her strong will caused a bunch of relationship troubles, so they got divorced and God settled for a more passive production-model woman in Eve who would be more supportive (and/or more subservient) to Adam. She's also something of a Flawed Prototype, given that she, while still angry over her would-be marital issues, declared she would kill newborns if they didn't have amulets with the names of certain angels transcribed on them as part of a deal to get them to leave her alone.
- In Joel Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov trilogy, the title character is a prototype of a new and improved version of the "GIs" used as soldiers in interstellar combat. The main improvement is in her intelligence rather than her physical capabilities. She is creative and capable of lateral thought, making her more flexible and independent than lower level GIs who mostly serve as grunts that follow orders.
- In the Star Trek novel Final Frontier (no relation to the fifth movie), it was revealed that the Enterprise was the prototype for the Constitution class line. It was deliberately overbuilt, explaining how Kirk (and Scotty) could constantly push it past its design limits. Constitution ships-of-the-line were economized, resulting in them being more delicate ships.
- The Long Shot in Larry Niven's Known Space 'verse is the only Quantum II hyperdrive ship ever built. Big motor in the biggest hull made left no room for profitable cargo.
- In Mad Skills by Walter Greatshell, coma patient Madeleine Grant is a testbed for an experimental brain surgery that uses leech brain cells to supercharge her mind to Singularity levels. Actually, she's a prototype testbed for a lot of separate projects, qualifying as an Artificial Human to some degree; her body is the repurposed shell of a brain-dead pop star, while her brain is entirely artificial and contains heavily-edited memories taken from an orphan girl who was quietly killed, and that brain is what's upgraded with the Leech-Tron. The Leech-Tron also incorporates a wi-fi connection that allows subliminal commands and advertisements to be beamed directly into her brain, but the amount of brainpower she has available allows her to slip the leash by mid-book.
- In Daemon the first AutoM8 is an armoured, solid-tired Hummer that is Immune to Bullets. Later versions use normal cars as a base and are thus less survivable.
- Mack Maloney's Wingman series makes liberal use of this trope, particularly in the case of Hawk Hunter, the titular Wingman. His main aircraft is arguably both a super prototype and an Ace Custom, as he usually flies an F-16XLnote which he has further modified with More Dakka and advanced avionics. When circumstances force the Wingman to use a different type of aircraft for more than a chapter, he will generally take the time to similarly customize his new plane, often even transplanting the avionics from his F-16 into the aircraft.
- Justified Trope in Raising Steam. Dick Simnel, the inventor of the steam engine on the Discworld, feels very proud of his prototype, Iron Girder. So every time he has a new idea for improving the engines it gets added to Iron Girder before the others, for testing purposes and because Dick can't stand the thought of her not being the best engine on the railway.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Compare how good Adam's performance is to Forrest's—though he purposely made Forrest "nearly as bad" as him.
- The Cool Starship equivalent is the USS Defiant in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In its debut, it took a dozen Jem'hadar attack ships (just three of which had shown themselves capable of easily destroying the previous most powerful ship in Starfleet) to disable the Defiant, and that was after it was heavily damaged in an ambush. Not to mention, they hadn't even worked all the bugs out of the design yet; in later appearances it was even more formidable. The specs indicated that it was about 1/10 the mass of the Enterprise-D yet carried armament equal to it. Starfleet eventually does make others which are apparently just as powerful (including a replacement for the original when the Dominion finally manages to destroy it), but it takes a while to get them into production.
- Star Trek actually kept a pretty good eye on its tech level as various ships are introduced. The registry for the prototype ships usually have an NX prefix. The Excelsior was originally NX-2000 and was more of a testbed for the (ultimately failed) "Transwarp" engine more than anything else. Once the testing phase was over, she was given a proper NCC prefix. Otherwise, it didn't appear to completely outclass other starships like the Enterprise in terms of combat performance. In later series it seemed that the Excelsior design was actually one of the most versatile in terms of longevity, the design showed up as modern starships as late as Deep Space Nine's fourth season, more than 80 years after it was introduced.
- The titular ship of Star Trek: Enterprise, the NX-01 Enterprise, also subverted the super prototype as her successor, the NX-02 Columbia, left drydock with capabilities that surpassed and were later retrofitted into Enterprise. Production designs for the unproduced fifth season of Enterprise and Word of God statements from Doug Drexler recently revealed that the entire NX class was one big work-in-progress and that every ship was its own prototype, as evidenced by these sketches showing off the engineering hull that was to be added to the "NX-01.5".
- Western subversion: Knight Rider: In "Trust Doesn't Rust", KARR takes KITT for an "inferior production-line model" and assumes himself to be a super prototype. He turns out not to have any apparent technological advantage over KITT (of course, KITT is hardly "production-line"), aside from a slightly improved speech module (In the next episode, KITT's is replaced by one similar to KARR's), though when KARR reappears in the third season, while still not more advanced than KITT, he does possess a number of features which KITT had only gained during the second season.
- In the 2008 series, KARR is a Transforming Mecha, specifically designed for front-line combat. However, it was a failure, and a number of people died. KITT was designed as a car that could transform into other cars (e.g. a Mustang transforming into a pickup truck) and mainly designed for policing duties. However, the episode where KITT is shut down reveals that the military has always planned for KITT to be a temporary project. The goal was to have KITT develop as a fully-functional AI and then port that AI into KARR. The kicker? Both KARR and KITT have the same driver, the son of the original Michael Knight.
- Power Rangers
- Power Rangers RPM has the Paleozords, abandoned mecha from the early days of Project Ranger. The reason they were abandoned is because the zord tech hinges on bio-energy fields of living beings, and the Paleozords (based on dinosaurs, as you might have guessed from the name) were trying to connect to creatures that no longer existed, which made them powerful but uncontrollable. By the time the Rangers rediscovered them, the technology had advanced enough to bring them under control. Another example with the morphers. The morphers used by Gem and Genma are prototypes and thus do not carry the same energy limitations that the later versions used by the rest of the team.
- In Power Rangers Time Force, the Quantum Ranger and his Quantasaurus Rex Zord were created during the early days of Time Force, and lost in an early time travel experiment until being rediscovered. However, they're quite stronger than the main five Rangers and any of their tech. However, there's a drawback: the main five have a DNA lock, so only you or your Identical Grandson can use it (hence Wes). The Quantum powers have a voice lock, making it easier for, say, the Monster of the Week to sic your Zord on the Rangers with just a voice imitation device.
- In Denji Sentai Megaranger, the Megasilver suit is a lot stronger than the others... until we find out that its power only lasts two and a half minutes. (In Power Rangers in Space, the 2.5 minute problem existed for different reasons and the suit wasn't a prototype.)
- In Kamen Rider Faiz, the mass-produced Riot Trooper gears are nowhere near as good as the unique Faiz gear (The fact that the Faiz gear has two alternate forms and a bike that can transform into backup in a pinch not withstanding.)
- Also, the prototype Kamen Rider Birth suit in Kamen Rider OOO has fewer weapons than the main Birth suit.
- Kamen Rider Wizard has Kamen Rider Beast, who uses an ancient belt while Wizard uses a modern one. Despite this, Beast's default form is as strong as Wizard's Mid-Season Upgrade form.
- The Kamen Rider G3/G3-X armor from Kamen Rider Agito boils down to being this, especially after the introduction (and later mothballing) of the Kamen Rider G3 Mild armor.
- The eponymous "super-sub" in Gerry Anderson's series Stingray (1964). All the other W.A.S.P. ships that we see are more-or-less conventional-looking (for the 1960s) submarines, and there is no indication that there is more than one of the class. Expanded Universe material in the TV Century 21 comic and official novels imply either that a second Stingray-class sub has been built (and enters service just in time to be stolen by the Mysterons) or that Stingray is an ungraded version of a standard W.A.S.P. patrol vessel with superior capabilities to its sister craft.
- The robot Imperiser/Imperialiser from Ultraman Mebius is insanely hard to destroy with thick armor capable of self-regeneration and can evolve right in the middle of battle. The mass production version lacking said qualities, they are still deadly nonetheless. And since they retain teleportation ability, their strength in numbers does made up with it.
- The Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica features a super prototype, the first U87 Cylon equipped with a metacognitive processor displays the potential for near human autonomy. The problem with this is this level of intelligence is only achieved in a single prototype, if the MCP is placed in a different cylon it does not display sentience.
- The Original Battlestar Galactica series had the C.O.R.A. Viper. Very fast, full A.I. computer piloting system, equipped for long range patrols, double the thrusting power of any other Viper — at the expense of the guns!
- On Chuck, Chuck is the first successful Intersect and remains the only prototype due to repeated sabotage of the project. However, when they finally decide to create more Intersect agents, they turn out to be way too inflexible in their thinking and tend to overreact in combat situations.
- The Brickspider Bot v1.0 of Dino Attack RPG is the original prototype of the Brickster-Bot Spiders that would later be mass-produced by OGEL Robotics, Inc. In comparison with the later models, the v1.0 is far more intelligent and cunning with its own distinct personality. This was deliberately toned down for the later models by its creators when they realized that something so intelligent would not want to act as a mere Mook.
- Largely averted in BattleTech; while it is true that during the still-popular late Succession Wars era such older "lostech" designs as still existed in half-decent shape could be superior to anything of more modern manufacture, those were generally leftover ancient production models. Actual prototypes and first-generation designs using newly recovered or developed technologies tend to play another trope rather more straight (one very common fandom term for this is "new toy syndrome").
- Since they're one of the only factions in Warhammer 40,000 whose technology is actually improving, the Tau exhibit this trope when it comes to their battlesuits. Ace battlesuit jockeys are given the chance to field-test advanced prototypes, and if a Tau commander does really well they may end up with their own Ace Custom suit. Unfortunately these shiny new features tend to come with a drawback or two, something notably absent in normal Tau technology.
- This kinda applies to any sort of technology used by the Humans (of any faction). The most powerful weapons are inevitably some super-ancient prototype relic. Kind of hand-waved due to a.) the Adeptus Mechanicus's fear of inventing, b.) the relics themselves being of Alien origin and/or a sacred relic and c.) sometimes the owners flat out refuse to let anyone tinker around with their one-of-a-kind toy.
- The Thunder Warriors are specifically stated to be cruder, more poorly armored versions of the process that creates modern Space Marines, but at the same time, a single Thunder Warrior is to a squad of marines what marines themselves are to a squad of regular guardsmen. Unfortunately they are nowhere near as stable, mentally or physically. The Emperor had them all (mostly) wiped out after conquering Earth in favor of the more reliable Space Marines.
- The Adeptus Custodes may qualify, as superior warriors rumored to be forged from the Emperor's gene-code, rather than a Primarch's. It's not clear whether the Custodes or the Space Marines came first. Unfortunately, as the comatose Emperor's Praetorian Guard, they have been essentially confined to the role of the guarding the Imperial Palace since the Heresy.
- Played straight with the Primarchs, who are superior to any other soldier the Imperium has and are the templates for almost all of the Space Marines in existence today. However, the process which created them were extremely intensive and the Emperor only managed to create 20 of them, which he later deemed to be used as the templates for the Space Marine Legions and commanders for said legions. They were, however, basically Designer Babies (from the Emperor's DNA himself) where Space Marines are people born normally with genetic engineering applied later.
- Jovian Chronicles, Dream Pod 9's Gundam inspired setting, is naturally filled with them. A couple of the prototypes do get mass produced versions, but they pale in comparison to their predecessors.
- Magic: The Gathering manages to avert it in one respect; the Myr Prototype is way overpriced for what it actually does.
- This trope is prevalent in Magic on a more "meta" level: The designers are constantly trying to make more balanced versions of older, overpowered cards. Black Lotus, the original Moxen, and the original dual lands are among the game's many Super Prototypes.
- Shadowrun introduced a trio of uber-powerful, almost godlike AIs. Once the Crash 2.0 hit and the three of them are (apparently) gone, AIs are now roughly as powerful as human hackers in the Matrix (to the point where they are options for player characters).
- Appears in Heavy Gear, specifically as the background to the South's Gold Mamba design. The Gold Mamba was basically a prototype built at the same time as the common Black Mamba, but contrary to typical design theory (build something up until it works at the level you want), its designers approached it from the other side of the spectrum (put the most expensive equipment you can find on it and scale down until it doesn't work). This means that the Gold Mamba is an extremely powerful combat machine that is head and shoulders above the Black Mamba's performance, but ultimately it is extremely expensive and rare.
- The proxies of Trinity were the first humans to become psions, and their psychic powers are noted to be significantly more powerful than later psions, as the process that created the proxies differed in important respects from the one used for other psions.
- Proto Man of the Mega Man (Classic) series is usually depicted as being much more capable than the later model, Mega Man, and due to a bug in his design, a flawed nuclear core, is the first robot in history to have full free will. On the flip-side, that same unstable core makes him far more vulnerable to damage and means his power reactor will catastrophically fail at some point (Implied to be quite soon in Mega Man 10). On the plus side, being built with an energy source far more raw and unrestrained generally makes his buster output more powerful than his brother or Bass, enabling the extremely potent Proto/Blues Strike.
- Mega Man X is himself a Super Prototype to all of the Reploids that were created afterwards. He was built with the ability to make his own decisions like Proto Man above, but was built with a "suffering circuit" that would allow him to weigh the consequences of his actions. This, plus over a century of self-checks made X a perfect machine. The Reploids that were built from his blueprints, however, lacked the same power of his suffering circuit and the checks, which caused them to become Mavericks/Irregulars. In general, the whole of the Mega Man franchise typically provides some viable explanation as to why a first draft might be superior to the later models.
- The Original Generation mecha of Super Robot Wars is overloaded with super prototypes (and Ace Customs), there's far too many to mention. Averted in Super Robot Wars 3. When you begin the game, the Getter Robo team is piloting the Proto-Getter Robo. instead of normal Getter Robo. When Proto-Getter attacks and doesn't kill an enemy, Ryouma gripes that the Proto-Getter is just weaker than the normal Getter and is actually happy when the original Getter is dropped in a few stages later.
- In the Metal Gear series, the prototype Metal Gear RAY is of far superior quality to the mass-produced models later encountered by Raiden as a boss battle; then again, it may have been actually designed for its supposed purpose (to defeat REX derivatives) whereas the mass-produced versions were actually tactical defense units for Arsenal Gear. In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Bladewolf, a prototype unmanned gear, is self-aware and pretty durable, while the mass-produced Fenrirs go down much faster and have less intelligence than a real dog.
- The Delphinus from Skies of Arcadia is a possible example, but it's not entirely clear whether the weaker mass-produced equivalent (the Spectre-class battleships) are scaled-back mass production versions or the immediate predecessors of the Delphinus.
- The Delphinus was a proof-of-concept model, but doesn't necessarily fit the trope, and THE Flagship for the entire Armada- it was overkill for the reason of it being an Ace Custom essentially.
- The trope is directly subverted in the terms of the Moonstone Cannon. When you encounter the prototype, it's terrifyingly powerful. The Delphinus has the PRODUCTION Model of the weapon. It's easily several times as powerful as the "Test Cannon".
- The fictional planes of Ace Combat occasionally fall under this trope, particularly the X-49 Night Raven of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere and the ADFX-01 "Morgan" of Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War.
- The real planes also have a bit of this. 5 in particular both subverts it (the F-15 S/MTD is better than the stock F-15 it was modified from) and plays it straight (the S-32 is better than the later Su-47)
- Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception brought us the Fenrir. The original models had optical camouflage, ungodly maneuverability and a microwave weapon. The production models don't have any of that aside from the ungodly maneuverability at the cost of ammo. In the same vein, the Varcolac from Joint Assault is shown to have a rear mounted machine gun that shoots down any and all missiles that approach it. In game, it doesn't have that but it's still the best plane in the game if you give it the right mods.
- The Smithy Gang in Super Mario RPG (Mack, Bowyer, Yaridovich and the Axem Rangers) are the super prototype models for their production lines. When you reach the last area, you discover that Smithy is creating an entire army of the bosses, though the Machine-Made versions are less powerful than the actual bosses.
- The Edelweiss in Valkyria Chronicles, made by Isara's father for Welkin's father for the previous war. It was found to be an incredible tank, but it was too expensive for any kind of mass production.
- Subject Delta BioShock 2 isn't just a Big Daddy — he's the first Big Daddy; unlike the production models, he's nimble and has plasmid powers. Yahtzee pokes fun at this trope in his review of the game. It's justified in-universe as his creators realized that Daddies like Delta are not only too costly to make but would potentially become too powerful to properly control. As such, the later ones were nerfed.
- Specifically, the later models are stronger and more durable, and lack free will - which better suits the one task they are built for. Alpha Series are also permanently bonded to a single Little Sister and doomed to death or violent insanity once she's gone.
- Vivi, like all Black Mages in Final Fantasy IX, is an animated doll. However, as the prototype model, his power is greater than that of his "brothers", and his lifespan is much longer, as well.Also in a far darker sense Kuja is a Prototype of the real Angel of Death Zidane, though it is arguable who is more powerful/competent
- A Continuity Nod in the Thunder Force series. The mass production model of Styx in III appear as NPC in IV; The Rynex in IV has its production model appear in VI and also serve as prototype of Gauntlet in V. It take Mid-Season Upgrade the Gauntlet into Ace Custom Vambrace and Mecha Expansion Pack Brigandine module that Earth's fighter can fight the Rynex. It's justified since Gauntlet is Earthling's replica, built with alien technology they aren't fully understand.
- Final Fantasy VI's Kefka was the very first Magitek Knight (a normal human given magical powers by way of an infusion from an Esper). He consistently has much stronger magic then Celes, a later-generation Magitek Knight that joins your party.note Unfortunately, as a prototype, he was exposed to an imperfect version of the infusion process, which resulted in him going just a teensy bit insane.
- In the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is a super prototype who is much stronger and more powerful than regular SOLDIERs and much more physically stable than the competing Project G prototypes Angeal and Genesis, who are subject to degradation. Unfortunately, Sephiroth could not be duplicated and he cannot replicate his genetic traits in monsters (like Angeal) or in humans (like Genesis).
- An interesting version of this is in Fate/stay night. Gilgamesh has all the prototypes of every Servant's Noble Phantasm, and goes on to explain exactly why his prototypes are that much more powerful. However, this is subverted in Unlimited Blade Works when Shiro "traces" or copies all of Gilgamesh's super prototypes with his Reality Marble, essentially creating a water-downed mass production type version of each one; right after explaining although his versions are weaker imitations, there is no rule about the imitations losing to the originals, he states that he will prove his imitations are superior by destroying all of Gilgamesh's weapons and Gilgamesh himself. Cue Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Doubly Subverted, as every prototype of Gilgamesh's Gate of Babylon is in fact one rank higher than the actual Noble Phantasm (due to Nasuverse's Older Is Better rule), while the traced weapons are by default one rank lower, being copies. Shiro's advantage was in speed and quantity, not quality.
- Triply subverted however, since Shiro/Archer could also overload their traced Noble Phantasms, making them Broken Phantasms, which would destroy them when they were used, but also raise them by a rank, effectively giving them the power of the original Noble Phantasm. Shiro's ability to use all of them as well as their original owners did, also gave him an advantage over Gilgamesh, who only knew how to use some, and just fired the rest as projectiles.
- Front Mission 3 has a couple interesting examples. In the start of the game your character is a test pilot for Kirishima Heavy Industries and your first mission is actually a final test run of a new prototype Wanzer for the Japanese Military. The Shunyo Mk. 111 is far more powerful than the test Wanzers you fight against. The true Super Prototype of the game, though, is the Hoshun. This is a Wanzer that is somehow sent to you through the Internet and not only has more HP than any other pilotable Wanzer, but also has one of the only beam rifles in existence.
- Interestingly, the starting wanzer Kazuki pilots, the Zenith RV (misromanized as Zenislev), is the super prototype of the next game, Front Mission 4, obtainable in Elsa's scenario. Since 4 canonically happens before 3, this indicates how much Wanzer development has progressed.
- Prometheus, the last boss in Starsiege human campaign is the first Cybrid. For the Cybrid campaign, you become one once you reach the highest rank.
- Phantasy Star Zero makes fun of this trope to a degree. Occasionally you will find messages with tips in them. A message talking about a particular robotic enemy in that area says, "Production model & Prototype. Do we need to spell out which one is more powerful?"
- The backstory of Virtual-ON provides both aversions and straight examples. Some prototypes like Viper Alpha and Proto Temjin have inferior armaments to their production model. Original Fei Yen is much more powerful than the production model but is sentient and eventually runs away from lab.
- Near the end of the first planet in Knights of the Old Republic, you get to win a swoop bike race on a bike modified with a prototype accelerator. The adversary tries to deny your prize on the grounds that it was an unfair advantage, but the prize, being a Jedi, takes matters into her own hands by breaking out and killing most of the bad guys.
- In Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, any prototype starts out one experience level ahead of a normal unit. This means that, with a Command Center and Bioenhancement Center, a prototype is Elite right off the rack. However, this is justified in the background material: Factions entrust their newest tech to their most experienced and effective troops and crews; the actual equipment is not significantly different from that given to subsequent units. Furthermore, prototypes take longer to build (unless the base has a Skunkworks), indicating the extra resources needed to work out the kinks. The actual equipment is probably not a prototype at all, but first-generation production.
- Fallout 3 has some really powerful prototype stuff. Example: MPLX Novasurge, a unique plasma pistol which greatly increases damage and the critical multiplier at the cost of doubled power usage and weight. It was developed by a "Section: A61" shortly before the Great War broke out. The prototype survived the war by being beamed aboard Mothership Zeta approx. 200 years before the Lone Wanderer found it in the ship's cargo hold.. Or the MP-47/A power armor prototype with a built-in medical dispenser and an onboard AI. And the Capital Wasteland's sole set of T-51b power armor(not counting the indestructible Winterized version from Operation: Anchorage). Finally, there's Liberty Prime, a Humongous Mecha built for the Anchorage Reclamation, but kept out of battle due to problems with its power supply.
- Fallout: New Vegas shows that at least one prototype model of eyebots had a TV-screen, and not just a built-in radio. ED-E, however, is not quite this trope, despite being a prototype and much more powerful than its mass-produced cousins: it was the prototype to a series of combat-adapted eyebots that were scrapped in favor of Hellfire power armor, with the common eyebot being its predecessor rather than its successor.
- There's also the Tesla-Beaton Prototype, a unique Tesla cannon, and the AER-14, a prototype Laser Rifle with a green laser. The Q-35 Matter Modulator is an example and also has some backstory to retcon why the FO3 plasma rifle is so different from the original plasma rifle (dubbed the "Plasma Caster" in NV): The plasma caster was too expensive, had an awkward form factor, and required too much training to be proficient in, so a military project was started to adapt it to a more familiar pistol grip rifle form factor, and lower the cost.
- Old World Blues has the Stealth Suit Mark II, which like the Medic Power Armor, has an onboard AI that automatically dispenses Med-X and Stimpaks.
- A similar effect occurs with the Supreme Commander Experimental units. Any player will realize that these 'experiments' are always a great success, and utterly trounce dozens if not hundreds of the 'tested' units. And although you can build more than one of them, the too-expensive-justification is in full effect, as you need a very solid economy before you can start building one.
- Happens in StarCraft II where a prototype superweapon called Odin is stolen from the Dominion. It doesn't just have more hit points than any other unit in the game and do more damage than anything short of hero units — it's also got several luxury amenities, including a restroom for the driver and an onboard nuke launcher. Rory Swann, the engineer of Hyperion, says it's too impractical to mass-produce, at least with the facilities available to Raynor's Raiders, so a scaled-down machine called a Thor is slated for mass production. (Oddly, the Dominion seems to have agreed with Swann, as the Odin is one of a kind and the Dominion only ever fields Thors aside from it.) There's also the Loki, a prototype for a new class of battleship, which boasts ridiculous firepower and toughness, completed at the same research station. The Loki at least is destroyed, which may be why that never went anywhere.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the King Oni is a hulking behemoth capable of bull-charging enemy tanks and shoot Eye Beams for the glory of the Empire of the Rising Sun. Apparently, the original King Oni is a super prototype, given to Emperor Yoshiro as a gift, which he uses when the enemy approaches his palace. It notably includes a set of Rocket Launchers for dealing with aerial threats, something the standard King Oni lacks. It's implied that this King Oni takes much more maintenance to take care of than the standard King Oni, but given that it's the emperor's personal machine, no expense was spared.
- Played with by Prototype Jack in Tekken. While it's unknown what happened between him and Jack (both survived the original tournament), P. Jack was soundly scrapped by Jack-2 in Tekken 2. However, P. Jack's ability to fly was implemented in all subsequent playable Jack models.
- In Vanquish, the ARS armor that Sam Gideon is wearing is a prototype of a new weapons system being developed by DARPA, and he is taking it along on the assault on Providence for two reasons: to test out its capabilities in live fire combat, and because the military is desperate for any weapon they can use to stop the colony's microwave array from being fired. In-game, it is indicated that the ARS has several limitations, primarily among them being that the suit will explode if it overheats too much.
- The Excavated ATACs in Vanguard Bandits are super prototypes from which all basic ATACs were reverse-engineered.
- Custom Robo is all about "ace customs" but your "super prototype" has a drawback for each advantage it has against mass produced robos of the same class.
- The Unholy War has a regular unit called Razorfane, a robot that attacks with circular saw blades. One of the secret unlockable characters is called Betarazor, which is basically just an upgraded version of Razorfane, with more health and more powerful attacks.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Invoked (but not in any meaningful manner) in Sonic Heroes. One of E-123 Omega's combo-score quips is "Worthless consumer models!" Additionally, when he earns an E-Rank at the end of a stage, he laments that he couldn't even beat Gamma or Beta.
- Averted and then invoked in Sonic Adventure by Omega's predecessor E-102 Gamma. During his story, he faces off against his older brother E-101 Beta for a spot on Robotnik's E-100 series of enforcer mechs and soundly defeats him in battle. Later on, after revolting against Robotnik, Gamma goes on a mission to destroy his brothers to save the animals trapped inside. After handily defeating all of his brothers, E-101 shows up again, having gotten a dramatic overhaul with abilities far surpassing Gamma's. Gamma is still able to defeat him without too much trouble, though Beta sees to it that Gamma doesn't leave the battlefield.
- Sonic Adventure 2 has the Biolizard, the prototype ultimate life form which was enormous compared to its successor Shadow the Hedgehog. It was locked in suspended animation by GUN until Dr. Eggman reactivated it in the process of inserting the Chaos Emeralds into the Eclipse Cannon and sent the ARK hurtling towards Earth, after which it was defeated by Shadow but recovered and merged with the Eclipse Cannon in order to ensure that the colony would fall, only to be defeated again by the combined efforts of Super Sonic and Super Shadow. It is subverted in that the Biolizard seems to suffer from severe asthma, and even with a huge life support system attached to it, it can't sustain combat for half a minute without getting tired.
- Demonbane has this trope play on two examples. First is the Destroyer Robot, while the prototypes are still far inferior to Magitek-based Deus Machina, at least it can withstand some beating. The mass production model can be destroyed by Demonbane's head vulcan guns and one of them even got disabled by Winfield, who punched through its sensor camera, on foot. The second examples are various grimoire, their original appear as little girls with magic power, the copies are just books.
- The eponymous armor from Vay has been copied and mass-produced by the Danek Empire to create their massive robotic army. However, once the five magic orbs are retrieved and the Vay Armor's power is fully realized, it can stand toe-to-toe with almost anything Danek can throw at it.
- Subverted and played straight in Homeworld: Cataclysm: the player ship Kuun Lan subverts it as, while the second of the two Explorer-class ships built by the Soomtaw, has superior armour, engines and module capacity than the prototype due correction of design flaws discovered during construction, while the Soomtaw Acolyte-class fighter plays it straight, as it's based on a Bentusi design that is slightly faster, has about five times its number of hit points and sports guns about twice as powerful.
- The Spartan-IIs of Halo serve as this to the Spartan-IIIs and IVs. The IIs tend to be larger, stronger, and just more naturally talented overall, due being subject to a much more stringent selection criteria than their successors. On top of all that, their MJOLNIR armor is far better than the III's SPI armor (though not the IV's GEN2 MJOLNIR). On the other hand, the IIs were also much more costly to produce and equip, and the process of augmenting them had a much higher failure rate than with the IIIs and IVs, making them much fewer in numbers and much less expendable. Halo: Reach gives a good example of this trope, where Jorge, The Big Guy of Noble Team and its only Spartan-II, towers above his Spartan-III squadmates and effortlessly carries a giant machine gun that the others would be greatly slowed down by.
- The IVs are superior in both equipment quality and numbers compared to both the IIIs and IVs. However, while the former are highly-skilled volunteers drawn from the best veterans and recruits, the latter were both trained to be the perfect soldiers from childhood; this difference manifests itself most clearly in the somewhat unprofessional demeanor of some of the IVs. Word of God has also stated that the IVs' physical augmentations are inferior to those of their predecessors.
- Averted by the Spartan-I program, which did not have the success that the later programs did; if Sergeant Johnson is any indication, they're just slightly better than the best Badass Normals. In fact, the Spartan program as a whole had to be renamed from "Project Orion" in order to distance the S-IIs from their predecessors (who themselves were retroactively renamed "Spartan-Is" to acknowledge they did provide the necessary data for the success of the later programs).
- There's also the HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark I Powered Armor, which was this to the Mark IX "Mantis" Mini-Mecha. Whereas the Mark I had flight, rockets, chainguns, mines, a bubble shield, and a nuclear self-destruct system, the Mantis only has a chaingun, a rocket launcher, and standard Deflector Shields; the latter's still a force to be reckoned with, though.
- Xenogears normally averts this trope, and hero Gears are usually either Ace Customs or relics of Lost Technology. The one major case of a prototype that's clearly superior to the followup model is Grahf's Alpha Weltall, which is built using 4000-year-old Lost Nanotechnology that can't be replicated in the modern world. Fei's Weltall is essentially a kitbashed knockoff designed by modern engineers, and is itself a Flawed Prototype; several of the compromises in the original design are patched out when Weltall is redesigned by Taura.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has the insanely overpowered Lightning, which is in many ways a fully-retrofitted version of the game's standard dimensional-crossing warship. It's got even Reality Warper tech (too energy-consuming to move or deploy the plasma shield, but still...) even in-game, the difference between the Lightning and the other ships is explicitly compared to a fully-tuned and upgraded car against one fresh from the dealership.
- Zigzagged in the X-Universe series. Prototype vessels tend to fare differently than their production versions, some having quirks that make them better or worse (such as higher weapon energy recharge but lower rudder speed). That said, some ships designated as prototypes fit the trope: The Paranid Hyperion Vanguard is a limited prototype run of Corvettes that far eclipses all other corvette classes (Among its many advantages, its the only one that can carry fighters and is either the top or tied for top in terms of speed, durability, and offensive potential amongst M6 vessels). The Hyperion Vanguard never entered full production run however (Which is why they cannot be bought by the player - only acquired through boarding existing copies). And all prototype ships, once they're acquired, can be reverse-engineered and then produced in the Player Headquarters in practice like the factory-produced versions. The only ship that cannot be reverse-engineered is the Xperimental Shuttle, making it Too Awesome to Use.
- As one might expect from a Gundam game, Gihren’s Greed has its share of Super Prototypes. However, it plays the "production cost" angle brutally straight; building an army of Gundams is prohibitively expensive, but a force of GMs will do the job at a fraction of the cost, so super mobile suits are best used as force multipliers in the hands of your aces.
- This is actually mentioned with the Prototype Gundam Mk-II's backstory: the machine was stupidly powerful and was made with performance over cost in mind; thus, when it was done, it was a machine that couldn't be piloted unless you were extremely skilled (or a Newtype) and it cost as much as a fleet of Pegasus-class warshipsnote
- Another Gundam game, The Blue Destiny, features the three prototype Blue Destiny units, based on The 08th MS Team's RX-79(G) Gundam Ground Type units, extensively modified with a new control system. BD-1 used a GM head and was still ground-based, while BD-2 and BD-3 both sported Gundam heads and were modified for space use. Their control systems were based on a Zeon prototype, the MS-08TX(EXAM) Efreet Custom, whose designer defected from Zeon to the Federation.
- Blue Destiny received a pseudo-sequel called Missing Link, which focuses on an offshoot of the EXAM project known as the HADES system. Only one prototype ever has the system installed: the RX-80PR Pale Rider. It's so powerful that the unit is still effective 10 years later, during the Neo-Zeon Wars, where it is finally taken down in a Mutual Kill with a Queen Mansa (one of the most successful Mobile Armor designs Neo-Zeon ever produced).
- Wipeout 2048 features unlockable prototypes which each has a huge drawback, but can be powerful compared to regular racers.
- The first unlockable Prototype: The Feisar Prototype, can exceed massive speed but it only speeds up when hitting speed pads.
- Second unlockable: The Auricom Prototype. It deals a decent amount of damage and doesn't get slowed down or wipes out when hit by a weapon. It can't pick up defensive weapons though and if you aren't careful, you won't notice when your craft is on low energy.
- Third unlockable: AG-Systems Prototype. Fast, ultra-agile and hard-hitting, but has the weakest shielding in the game.
- Fourth unlockable: Qirex Prototype. Sacrifices normal weapons for a special cannon which is even more powerful than the Plasma Bolt itself.
- Final unlockable: Pir-Hana Prototype. The fastest ship in the game hands down, but cannot steer without airbrakes.
- Star Trek Online reveals that the prototype of the Advanced Escort ships, the U.S.S. Prometheus from Star Trek: Voyager was this, as the mass produced Advanced Escorts removed the Multi-Vector Assault Mode (which allowed it to separate it into three parts) due to parts being easy to damage. Then, they put it back for the special variants.
- For a fun thing, one of the purchasable add-ons is the NX prefix for all Federation ships. As it is cosmetic, there's nothing big about it beyond RP material, but with all the special high-ranking gear, you could pretty much say that you are flying a Super Prototype.
- World of Tanks is rife with this. Many of the more powerful vehicles are prototypes that were never produced in any significant number in Real Life, but any number of them can be used in the game. They also lack the flaws that made them Awesome but Impractical in reality. Many of the tier upgrades are from real tanks to prototype upgrades that never saw service.
- To give you an idea of the extent of it, of the 32 Tier X (the most powerful. Count as of patch 8.10) Tanks/TD's/SPG's, three were ever mass produced, with one having just over 200 built.
- Guilty Gear: Gears are artificially-engineered Humanoid Abomination Super Soldiers. The very first one ever created is leaps and bounds above the later ones in terms of power, cutting a swath through them and emerging unscathed in one encounter, but he seems to be the only one of his type. This Gear is Frederick, the brilliant scientist who created the Gears in the first instance, though he goes by the name Sol Badguy now.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, uberninja Mongo, the result of early ninja gene experimentation, wields chainsaw nunchucks and has "All the speed, agility, martial arts ability [of a ninja], combined with giant like strength and general insane awesomeness." The reason they didn't make more? It's too expensive. The "Inverse Ninja Law" is an actual in-universe force and the maker knows this, so that might also be a factor.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has a room full of them. Most notably, the first robot of the Seraph series, S1, looks much better than the more recent ones. And it has actual hands, rather than the simple claws of the later S models. The explanation given is that, since the original designer died, no one (not even the prototypes themselves) understands the cutting-edge technology underpinning them (for example, these robots have no visible power source, or motor, or means of moving their limbs). The robots were forced to simplify their designs just for future robot generations to survive.
- This trope is actually deconstructed in time. When one of the first generation robots is revived, he's impressed by the design of his descendants, because their simpler parts are more efficient and easier to repair.
- From Girl Genius: The one or two Dingbots that Agatha has actually personally built, referred to as Dingbot Prime, are much better in every way than their successors. This is because most Dingbots are built by other Dingbots, and each generation has diminishing returns in quality, leading inexorably to this trope.
- According to Spinnerette, the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook is indeed a magic book that the Drow-themed Evil Spinnerette uses to turn herself into a Drider.
- Sonic the Comic – Online! has a prototype for an advanced Guardian Robot called the Gizoid.
- There's twenty-six Ilivais prototypes that fit this to a T in Ilivais X (well, twenty-five, as A is anything but "super". They range from having slightly stronger weaponry to controlling six classical elements at once to being powered by a freaking Perpetual Motion Machine, but all of them are way more powerful than the MP units. The Aztecs hardly rely on them — their tactics are built specifically to best make use of a One-Man Army unit.
- Starwalker: Starwalker was built to test a new drive system
- Megas XLR is both a super prototype and an Ace Custom (so customized, in fact, that no one but Coop can pilot it, simply because he changed the controls that much). Megas was originally a Glorft design, stolen by Kiva.
- The eponymous character in Generator Rex. Rex's nanites come from an earlier batch that had already received full programming and testing. The nanites that were spread all over the world in the Mass Empowering Event came from a later batch with incomplete programming.
- Alpha, the Big Bad of the crossover with Ben 10, is a prototype model control nanite from when the creators were still working out a way to control the nanites. Alpha is so powerful he has the potential to destroy the world single-handedly!
- The main character of My Life as a Teenage Robot is notably much smaller than the previous robot in the XJ line. She lampshades this in a late-series episode to which her creator explains that she had to cut down on her size to fit her personality in.
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles has the Cybernetic Humanoid Assault System, or C.H.A.S; when introduced, it's a walking tank with heavy armour, enough strength to tear trooper bugs apart in hand-to-hand combat, a number of armaments, the sensors of a bomb-sniffing robot, and an "adaptive learning AI" — in essence, the ability to mentally grow and develop as a result of its experiences, something that leads it to performing a Heroic Sacrifice. Later versions, seen in a couple of episodes, are pretty much Mecha-Mooks and easily taken down by a single bug each. Justified when one remembers the end of the episode featuring the first C.H.A.S notes that the project was more or less scrapped because they were considered "less cost-effective" than human soldiers.
- On expos showing new cars or military technology, the displayed products will almost always have superior stats or better looks than the finished versions. This however is because said prototypes, while more powerful, may have their stats so highpowered they become self-damaging from simply doing anything. Hence finished versions have to be toned down.
- Performance automobiles enter this arena. It's not unusual for the actual prototypes to a new sports car to begin as non-functional mockups (sometimes even clay sculptures) to test things like aerodynamics and weight distribution. However when the vehicle is shown off at highly prominent car shows, automakers will reveal a pre-production model with body options and engine features that are not street legal, exuberantly expensive to manufacture, inherently dangerous (no safety equipment or pollution control), and even one-of-a-kind. These things can make the show car have performance capabilities above and beyond what the consumer would get from the production version without major aftermarket modifications.
- Bell P-39 Airacobra, whose prototype had powerful armament and turbosupercharger. USAAF wanted the production aircraft without the turbo and heavily armoured, reducing the performance dramatically.
- Subverted with the Lend-Lease Airacobras supplied to the USSR. Because the Soviets used them in a completely different role (as low-altitude frontline fighters, instead of the high-altitude escorts), the lack of turbocharger didn't bother them much, as it mainly affected the high-altitude perfomancenote , but Soviet pilots appreciated the heavy armor and powerful armament very much. In the Soviet Union Airacobra turned out to be the Ace Pilot machine, and most of the Allies best aces flew P-39 during some part of their careers, but the original prototype probably wouldn't shine there so much, as it was geared for the different mission.
- The world's first Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was a one of a kind super prototype of the later Nimitz Class carriers. Equipped with 8(!) nuclear reactors and advanced electronic systems on a unique square island structure the "Big E" was later surpassed in displacement by the Nimitz carriers, but remained the longest military vessel in the world until her retirement in 2013. The excessive cost of the Enterprise and its 8 reactor layout resulted in the Navy shelving the nuclear carrier concept with proposed sister ship USS America being re-ordered as a conventionally powered Kitty Hawk class carrier and the USS John F. Kennedy also being converted to conventional propulsion during construction. The US Navy would not commission another nuclear carrier until 13 years later in 1975.
- Enterprise is the subject of a number of rumors about having an Up to Eleven top speed due to her large number of reactors with 50 knots the figure typically being cited. These are generally untrue with Enterprise achieving a 35 knot maximum speed like most other carriers, however the 8 reactor plant allows Enterprise to generate steam more quickly than her successors allowing for faster acceleration and less competition for steam between the catapults, electrical generators and engines.
- The Pennsylvania Railroad was known to have built more than a few super prototype locomotives which were then never duplicated or scaled back for production. One of these was the class FF1 electric locomotive which was built in 1917 to test concepts related to electrifying steep mountain grades. Equipped with 4 1150hp synchronous AC motors the unit, nicknamed "Big Liz", developed a then astonishing 140,000 pounds of tractive effort. Unfortunately Big Liz turned out to be an example of Tim Taylor Technology. When pulling trains her power would pull out the couplers. When reassigned to pusher service Big Liz pushed with so much force that on one test train cars began to pop out of the middle. Big Liz was simply too much power in one locomotive for 1917 rolling stock.
- Early models of a new-concept product such as a digital camera, being designed by-geeks-for-geeks, can sometimes have advanced features (foldout screens, own programming language) which get dropped in later models as the product goes mass-market. This can lead to howls of dismay from enthusiasts, who were expecting a new model to improve everything, only to find that a choice feature has been removed to save money or dumb-down the product for the average consumer.
- As a general rule of thumb, there are two types of prototypes: concepts that barely work, and just demonstrate what the finished product could be; and stuff that has more buttons and features and flashing lights than you can imagine, and is prohibitively expensive or complicated to make on a wide scale. Super Prototypes are the latter category.
- The Soviet WWII era T-34 tank plays this trope straight, subverts it and generally zigzags it ten ways to Friday. Initial prewar batches of it were more carefully built and better outfitted than the wartime construction, but suffered from design oversights and various teething problems that made them difficult to use, quite unreliable and the maintenance hogs to boot.note A model addressing many of the bugs was actually designed, but once the war started, the Soviets couldn't afford refitting the production lines. Wartime production models were incredibly rushed, crudely finished to the point of sometimes forgoing the paint, but the design itself was polished and improved. And then in the midst of a war the real Super Prototype tanks was designed, the T-43, which was a sort of answer to the Pz.V Panther and addressed all of the T-34 flaws than remained unsolved — but the realities of the war time made sure that it never was mass-produced, because doing so would once again mean stopping the assembly lines for as much as a whole month, meaning some thousands of T-34 wont get to the frontline. Instead all of its features that could be applied to the T-34 without stopping the production (like a new turret and gun, new transmission and new engine) were transferred to the old workhorse model, resulting in the definitive T-34-85 model.
- Frequently happens in wartime with things that are going to be mass produced. A good example would be submachine guns. Both the Sten and MP-40 prototypes were carefully machined and had carved wooden furniture. When it came to the production models the wood gave way to wire and the guns were made by anybody with the ability to bash metal.
- The MBT-70 was the direct precursor to the famous Leopard II and M1 Abrams main battle tanks, and for a while was technically superior to both. The catch? The fact that it required a practical PHD in engineering in order to operate meant that only a select number of people could operate it, and it certainly wasn't reasonable to devote a whole base of logistics for only a dozen tanks.
- The M-26E1 "Super Pershing" (It's even in the name!) fits this to a T. A new model with an upgraded gun the very first pilot model was rushed into battle straight from the factory late in the war amid continuing calls for tanks with still more firepower to battle the very heaviest German vehicles. Only this single unit was ever deployed in combat however and was then further modified by it's mechanics by having scavenged armor welded onto it to improve protection before being assigned to an elite crew.
- The demos for some games can fall in this category, showing graphical effects not present in the final product. One example was WatchDogs, with rain and lighting effects shown in its E3 trailer DummiedOut of the PC version.