Knightdramon's review of: Masterpiece Convoy
1984. The year Transformers were released in the states. The heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime battling the evil Decepticons, led by none other than Megatron. I bet that a lot of people back then didn't know that the entire toyline was repainted imports of Diaclone and Micro Man toys.
Out of all the characters introduced, only a selected few would shine out from the entire cast. Names like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave and Starscream became legends. In Japan, transformers were released a year later. While some bots kept their American names, a small number kept their Diaclone names. Among these was Optimus Prime, or rather, Convoy. It seems that Convoy was already a fairly well known name due to the Diaclone toy and also, Optimus Prime -- the latin wouldn't work well. Optimuso Puraimu?
Optimus Prime was deemed by many as the legendary transformer. Comic and cartoon combined, the guy must have died over 5 times and then came back for more. He got upgraded to a Powermaster [American\British continuity only, comic] and made it till the very end of the comic and cartoon series. In the comics he ended up going through almost all his toy forms. From G1 Prime to Powermaster Prime, then to Actionmaster Prime. In the G2 comics he re-appeared as his G2 toy [almost identical to his first incarnation] and towards the end, after being consumed by the Swarm, was rebuilt as G2 Hero Prime.
In Japan, the name Convoy carried the same degree of success. They took the character to a whole new direction after killing him for good in Headmasters, only to revive him much later in Battlestars [comic story] as the enormous and powerful Star Convoy. In the Japanese G2, he appeared as G2 Hero Convoy and after a battle with Megatron, in which he was destroyed, emerged as Battle Convoy [laser rod prime].
His fame didn't go unnoticed. Many more Primes\Convoys followed. It became established that every toyline will have it's own red truck called Optimus Prime. Throughout the years, the name was given to a fire truck, a futuristic truck, a fat truck, cybertron fire truck, oil supply truck, a gorilla, a lion, a mammoth and so on. It's essential to say that Powermaster Optimus Prime was a completely different character in the Japanese mythos: in the Masterforce series, he was a non-sentient carrier that would serve as the newest body for Convoy [before battlestars]. Following the events of the anime, a human called Ginrai gained the ability to merge with the mecha, thus naming it Ginrai. Power up modes were called Super Ginrai and God Ginrai.
Without a doubt, in one form or another, Convoy was the most popular transformers ever. So, for the Transformers' 20th anniversary, Takara produced an amazing toy: Masterpiece Convoy. The toy debuted with the Masterpiece line, which up to this year, only features two toys.
Enough with the introduction, let's get on with the actual figure.
In a phrase that sums it all: almost perfect. The box is large enough, 35.0 x 20.4 x 10.5 cm and weights over 1600 gs. However, it's smaller than Galaxy Convoy's box, and definitely smaller than a box of a supreme figure, all for one reason; it's a collector's item.
No flashy artwork or ELECTRONIC SOUNDS all over the box, neither advertisements for other figures. An all black box features a shot of Convoy in robot mode holding his rifle at the front. A subtle Transformers logo rests on the upper left corner, with the words Master Piece printed in chrome, braile-like letters. On the upper right corner is the 20th anniversary symbol, crafted in silver. That symbol was featured on Binaltechs 02-10 and all the Superlink toys.
Like the Binaltech series, the front prominently shows a rectangle divided in 4 pieces. A red square with the autobot symbol is the first piece to the left, followed by the MP-01 designation number, Cybertron Commander rank and Convoy's name in a yellow frame.
Both sides feature a Transformers logo in bright silver, with the masterpiece inscription and the rectangular mentionned earlier. On the back of the box there's the same rectangular box but in japanese, coupled with a paragraph about Convoy [in Japanese]. Shots of the toy in all modes and showing all its gimmicks are present, some in small windows. Overall, the design is similiar to a binaltech and very, very subtle.
Why is it almost perfect? Japanese English syndrome. 70% of the boxes or booklets have a spelling error. This one has a glaring one. In some "more than meets the eye" logos, the is spelled teh. Stupid.
MP 01 Booklet:
How can a high quality toy be produced without a matching, high quality booklet? Really, for collectors editions etc, these things are a must. The cover is white with the Transformers logo and the masterpiece insignia on the top. Another, this time bigger, masterpiece logo runs on the side along with the twentieth anniversary mark.
A very simple drawing of Convoy is featured prominently. It's interesting to note that the riffle is depicted gray, like on the toy and unlike the show. Moving inside, there are high quality shots of the actual toy in 'front, back, side' configurations. All his accessories and gimmicks are advertised with matching images from the show, proving that the toy is super show-accurate.
The next two pages feature the story of Convoy [all in Japanese, which I can't translate] and a small paragraph dedicated to Convoy's role in Beast Wars. Both articles feature the dreamwave art used on the re-issue and a drawing of Beast Convoy, respectively. The next page has four small articles about various aspects of Convoy's story, with episode screencaps and reference to which episode it's taken from. There are pics of Convoy with Elita 1 (episode 40), Convoy in the screen of... some guy (episode 50), Orion Pax with his girlfriend from episode 59 and finally, Convoy seated shortly after his revival, from Season 3 episodes 29-30.
The next pages cover his transformation sequence. Only the last four are 'special', dealing with...the making of the toy [?] and various sketches of production, along with listing of the toys of all Convoys in japan. Another small article on Diaclone is included in the last page, with an image from the toy that started it all.
Finally, a collector's card is included. Surprisingly enough, Convoy gets an 8 in one of his stats [probably speed, can't tell]. It is the same style as the Binaltech cards, manga illustration at the front and toy pictures at the back. The art is the same as in the frontpage of the booklet.
First of all, while Convoy has the looks of a binaltech, he is not one. He is bigger than the cars from that line, but not in scale with them. He doesn't have engine detail nor a detailed cockpit with opening doors. I have to admit that putting all that in this toy would be overkill. Read on to see why.
It should be noted that 50% of the red cab section and the entire blue section is made out of die-cast metal, giving it a very hefty feel. I'll begin by the red cab and move to the back. Do not mistake my comment earlier -- Convoy is fully detailed, he just doesn't have a detailed interior. The front grill is chromed (and takes a hell of a work to chip it), contributing to a very powerful look. All over the red section there are tiny protrusions that were also seen in the G1 toy; trucks of that style have them as well. Props to originality and faithfulness to the original.
The roof of the cab has beautifully crafted headlights. The base is metallic gray and ends in a shiny orange add-on. If you look closely, the inside of the tube is indeed clear plastic. Both front windows open to reveal a horribly disproportionate cockpit. The back of a seat just... sits there with no space under. That's it.
The sides feature some fake windows [positioned too high] moulded in a very dark tone of clear plastic. Takara has even gone as far as to include some fake 'steps' on the bottom, but no door. That's a fantastic small detail that could easily be omitted, but was kept.
A silver line runs from the front to the sides, faithful to the tv show. On the roof are two silver hatches surrounded by details such as moulded insignias. And the further back we go, the further we differenciate this toy from the American release. It features elongated chromed smokestacks. A fantastic detail is that just below them are three silver pistons (that serve as elbow joints in robot mode). I really liked that when I first saw it, and it doesn't change even today. The robot head is cleverly hidden away by a large red 'box' that doesn't seem out of place and looks okay between the smokestacks. It should be noted that there is a large autobot symbol on the left side of the cab, behind the window. Only one insignia all in all.
There is a very small space between the red parts and the blue parts that's actually the waist and part of the legs of the robot mode. They are painted silver and do not create a clashing effect standing between blue and red. The only 'problem' is that Convoy's "fake" headlights of the robot mode, painted yellow, are showing.
The rear blue part is very nicely moulded and deserves praise. Along the right side are small scratches moulded into the piece, perhaps to show some battle damage? Chromed fuel tanks decorate the sides and if you believe it, play a part in the transformation as locking devices for the legs. Lines and patterns are gracefully moulded on each side, providing Convoy with nice 'car detail'. On top of the unified piece are two silver, thick tubes moulded and painted. Flat gray panels [gimmick for robot mode] also rest up there, and right between them is the connecting point for the trailer.
Convoy also features headlings painted green, red and yellow on the back.The wheels [all six of them] feature black rubber tires with chromed hubcaps. The hubcaps are different for every set of wheels. All six wheels rest next to mechanical detail seen in real life trucks. We're talking about silver tubes, mechanisms and lines here. Furthermore, all six wheels feature working suspension.
All six wheels have the words "Desert Dog Formula" printed on them. On a final note, the red and blue paint used here are glossy and look fantastic. Overall, this is a very nice and enormous representation of everybody's favourite character. This mode is fun to play with and displays nicely along with Binaltechs, but it's out of scale. Only weak point is that both diecast structures are connected via plastic. If you pick him up from either side, the other one flops due to the leg joints not being strong enough to maintain the weight. Better be careful with that.
This is what almost every fan has been waiting for. After going through a dozen or so twist ties, you get to take out one of the best Convoys ever. Let me say one thing: the figure's huge. It's in cartoon scale with the Binaltechs, meaning that they reach up to his waist. If you don't own any Binaltech, or Alternator, then it'll suffice to say that he's as tall as a PS2.
I'll start by commenting on the show accuracy and then move to the actual figure capabilities. First of all, MP Convoy is dead-on the cartoon version of G1 Optimus Prime. Even the insignia is on his left shoulder as in the movie. Only 4 of the vehicle mode's wheels are shown [again, cartoon accurate] while the remaining two are stacked away in the main torso. The torso itself is made of parts from the red cab, but not everything you saw on the truck is present here.
For one, the silver stripes are now replaced by other, bigger silver pieces formed by the front wheels. The grill is not the same one as in vehicle mode. The 'front lights' are now solid yellow paint over the silver waist. All these are 'fake' pieces that substitute the actual vehicle parts due to the tranformation scheme and if anything, make the toy more accurate. Both arms have two yellow stripes with a yellow triangle near the wrists. I've done a small research and these are not present neither on the tv show nor in the movie, so it must be a ringer for the toy.
The entire head sculpt is more sleek than the one we're so used to seeing. Instead of four bolts on the back, there are four small triangular shapes connecting to a main rectangle that goes up. This was definitely not in the cartoon, but it's a nice change. There's not much detail on the two antennaes\receivers, but considering their nature, it's acceptable. The helmet is nicely sculpted with the traditional three chrests adorning it, the middle one being the thicker and equiped with silver outlines. The face [what's seen of it] is gray with two blue, glossy eyes staring. The skeletal mouth is covered by a silver mouthplate with a few lines for detail.
The torso is bulky in the chest area and slimmer as you go down to the waist. It's made of five layers; the die cast top area, the silver plastic area which is supported by a red area [part of the wheels], which is in turn stabilised on one solidly connected red plastic piece. The chromed grill is the fifth layer. The back resembles a backpack [and is accurate to the tv show]. A very boxy red plastic piece sort of 'sits' on top of two panels that lock together. There's a gray piece on each panel, furnished with silver mechanical details resembling tubes and...Xs.
Each arm is a fantastic piece of work. Attached to the main body by a double joint, they can get into some awesome poses. Each arm is divided in four pieces; the red tube on which the smokestack is attached on, the elbow joint [silver and red], the forearm and the hand. The most catchy detail is without a doubt the elbow joints. Instead of being lazy and not including them at all, they went and used four pistons (three at the back, one at the front) to emulate the look of a powerful machine. Each smokestack is designed that way to move upwards if the elbow turns, so there's no problem in hindering the motion. The hands have some 'fake' pistons as a base, plugging into the forearm joint for the traditional wrist movement. Each hand [on it's own, unplugged] has five points of articulation, one for each finger. All articulation points are gathered at the base. The thumb is connected using a ball joint.
It's nice to see that the waist is designed that way to allow for any leg movement. The waist is one solid piece with six panels attached to it, and attached in such a way that they can be lifted. This provides Convoy with full horizontal and vertical leg articulation.
The legs feature some fantastic knee articulation. They are actually double jointed at the knees, allowing Convoy to crouch down. They even went as far as to use four actual pistons on the knee joints, and detail the rest of it with fake gray ones. The same blue pieces that made the back of the vehicle mode serve as the legs from the knees and below. The robotic detailing on the back makes more sense now, admittedly. Both legs have some gray lids right above the ankles, those are used for a gimmick. And yes, Takara insisted on pistons again. The ankles are joined to the leg at two points, one being the actual ankle joint and the other being a piston further up. The piston carriers are held by a ball [yes, ball] joint, and the actual chrome piston is connected to the heel via another ball joint. I don't see any other point in using them other than additional detail, as they do not add at all to the overall articulation. Stability perhaps?
All is fine and dandy, but how about articulation? Are we dealing with a big brick here? If you read the robot mode review up to here, you'd have read words like 'double joint' 'fantastic X articulation'. Yes, it's true. The head rests on a ball joint at the bottom, allowing for a full range of movement. Both arms can move backwards at the shoulder joint, and can be extended outwards to make use of the second, rotating joint. The silver part above the elbows can twist 360 degrees, and the elbows themselves allow the forearm 90 degrees of movement. The wrists are articulated and so are the fingers.
The upper body can rotate 360 degrees on the waist, but cannot move to the back without disconnecting some parts. Each leg alone has three [3!] freaking points of articulation at the point it connects to the waist alone. It can move 90 degrees forward and backwards, 90 degrees to the sides and can fully rotate near the bottom [mind you, I'm talking about the gray piece hidden by the waist panels].
Moving down, it has two joints at the knees and two more at the heel. The actual ball joint that connects the foot to the leg can be pushed upwards.
Overall, Convoy has 39-40 meaningful points of articulation. He's not shy of being put to any pose you can think of. I actually tried a yoga pose and it worked with those legs [not that stable though].
It should be noted that the upper torso and both legs below the knee are made of die-cast metal. I've had this figure for over a year and it surived one nasty fall off a table, and there's only a few tiny paint chips on the chest. There are a few balance problems with the figure as it cannot maintain a pose where one leg is leaned backwards and the other in the default configuration. He can take a stance where one leg is crouched down and the other spread to the side while maintaining perfect balance.
Die cast and plastic parts are painted in the same tone of red, avoiding the problem BT Overdrive has. The legs are a bit brighter than the hands and head, which are painted in a sparkly semi-gloss blue. The red is also semi-gloss.
It wouldn't be a Transformer without some accessories, would it? [You have seen the original Autobot minibots, right? -Ed]
First of all, a trailer is included for the vehicle mode. Unfortunately it's not even plastic. By cutting the inner cardboard box Convoy was in, and putting it together, you can provide your figure with a carton trailer. Unimpressive as it is, it also forces you to ruin the box. I personally haven't tried to built it. Included are two small joint parts in order to combine it with the cab.
For the robot mode, you get three weapons. One of them is the traditional Convoy rifle, partially matching the one in the show. Moulded in high quality, durable plastic and with nice paint apps, it's his weapon of choice. While the rifle is flat gray, there are baby blue as well as silver paint apps for detailing. It's interesting to note that in the muzzle is a transparent green plastic piece. Perhaps it was meant to have a light up feature? Unfortunately, this is the only gun Convoy can't grip very well. With just a little shaking, it'll fall off.
As a second accessory, he has the orange energy axe first seen in episode two of the cartoon series! Moulded entirely in orange soft plastic, it features one point of articulation [can swivel at the base]. The base is decorated by a set of 20 spikes in 4 sets of 5. Convoy can grip this by retracting either hand. Afterwards you can snap the axe in. I would advise caution in using it, as it feels way too soft and may snap if bent all the way.
The final accessory is, in my opinion, the best one. Included in this set is a scaled Megatron [gun mode, unable to transform]. It's a fantastic replica of the actual toy and can mimmick it right down to the fact that the scope, muzzle and shoulder grip can be removed! Be carefyl with the handle as part of it is supposed to slide down to help Convoy grip it. That part is moulded in soft rubber plastic and may snap off if too much pressure is applied. The shoulder grip is removed by pushing it upwards. Silver, black and purple [for the con logo] are the only colours used. Surprisingly enough, this is the weapon the figure can hold the best. Optimus Prime used this weapon sparingly in seasons 1-2, when he and Megatron had to become allies against the Insecticons\Starscream.
Finally, I should comment on the various gimmicks of the figure. First and foremost, the mouthplate is actually moveable. By pushing a switch at the back of the head [cleverly disguised] it moves up or down, imitating Convoy from the series. Moving down, you notice that the chest panels are able to open. Inside is a gray plate [with mechanical details on], a fairly accurate copy from the movie and BW series. While those were modeled in a T fashion, this one is a somewhat angled vertical shape. It is designed that way because it also serves as the front grill of the vehicle mode.
Opening it, you are presented with the autobot matrix of leadership! Beautifully crafted in silver and gold chrome, it's an exact replica of the one first seen in the movie! A transparent blue crystal is embedded in the circle. The matrix can be removed and loosely held in Convoy's hand, as well as open [performed by pulling the silver handles to the side]. What's more, if you press the blue switch [located near his head] an inner mechanism sheds light from Convoy's chest! If the matrix is in it's holder, then the light goes through the blue plastic and creates a very nice effect. The mechanism comes with batteries and even a year later, they still work. Props to Takara.
The next gimmick is one each of his forearms. A small panel can open up in each arm, revealling a gray console and a communications screen. By the use of stickers [pre-applied], Starscream [right hand] and Bumblebee [left] are depicted. Why they chose Starscream is beyond me, but it's nice nervertheless.
The final gimmick is on the die-cast sections of the legs. Remember when I mentionned earlier that the piece connecting the leg to the foot can be pushed up? By doing so [suspension in robot mode!], the gray panels located just upwards automatically slide open like air vents. Mine has lost the ability to do this on his right leg for some reason...
Overall, there's no question whether you should get this or not if you consider yourself a 'G1' Transformers fan. It features fantastic articulation, ultra-collector's packaging, plenty of gimmicks and accessories and enough die-cast metal to make you happy. The american version came in a windowed box and didn't feature the same booklet. Furthermore, the smokestacks were shortened for safety reasons and lots of blackwash is apparent in numerous places throughout the body. It is [or rather, was] considerably cheaper and still had the die-cast materials. Lastly, it came with a black rifle [first release came with a gray one].
Coming across this figure today is a bit tough. E-bay and BBTS charge twice the amount [retail price: 87 dollars\72 euros, no matter what you see] of money. There are no plans to re-issue this anytime in the future, however you can pick up the Ultra Magnus repaint for the same price. It's the same figure, repainted in white, with the same accessories. That's how far my knowledge on UM goes. Be warned though, I've read many complaints about the quality.
10. Not too complex, but satisfying. Almost all articulation points on the upper torso are used. Getting those legs to fold in could get annoying.
10. I have this figure for a bit over a year and it even fell down from a table once. Nothing is broken, no eye-catching paint chips, and the electronics still work. Only complaint is that the axe can be broken easily and that the right leg's gimmick is gone.
7. Sorry, but besides transforming into an awesome truck and having the matrix, I fail to see how fun he is. Sometimes he can't be put into a pose I want, and has a very basic design.
2. See the last paragraph and you'll see why. I bought mine for 94 dollars with 11 dollars shipping, which raises the score to 8, considering the size and importance of this figure.
8. This isn't a child's figure. It cannot combine with anybody, cannot use minicons and is non-compatible with force chips. It's a fully articulated, high quality figure of Optimus Prime. A must for fans of the original cartoons, but casual fans might want to buy Galaxy Convoy instead. Recommended if you have both the display space and the budget.