Monday, August 6, 2012

Transformers Superlink: Grand Convoy SC-01

I was excited about Transformers Energon coming out.  I know a lot of collector's would never utter those words, but I had high hopes for the series for a couple of reasons.

1) I instantly fell in love with Mini-Cons that were first introduced during the Armada period.  I had just about everyone one of them and I wanted more so I was thrilled when I heard early on there would be a more released under the Energon banner.

2) I heard a lot about robots combining and the return of 5 team member combiners.  Well we know how that went so my enthusiasm was short lived!

3) Most importantly Hasbro owed us collector's a new and better Optimus Prime toy after releasing that horrendous "super pants" Prime in Armada.  Did Hasbro deliver?  Not really.

My beef with Optimus Prime during the Energon series was that he didn't "feel" like Optimus Prime.  First off he lived up to his new nickname of "Fatimus Prime".  Need I say more?  Optimus combined w/ his trailer during Armada so they decided to mix things up a bit and give this Optimus a different gimmick.  Instead of combining with his trailer he now controlled 4 scout vehicles / drones.  In addition to having them hit a ride in his trailer he could also merge with them.  This toy screamed Voltron and or Power Rangers...not a good thing in my book.

Before we get too much into the toy itself let's look at the beautiful CGI packaging of the Superlink version of Optimus, called Grand Convoy in Japan.  One side of the box depicts Grand Convoy in CGI and I admit looks halfway decent.  Remember those this is a Transformer and there is more than meets the eye here.

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The other side of the box is displayed in the normal horizontal orientation and features images of the toy.  They did add a transformation sequence of sorts of Convoy combining w/ his scouts.  I like the double sided box and the bright colors as the box makes for a good display piece...better than the actual toy if you ask me!

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Fatimus...er, um Grand Convoy comes packaged inside the box in vehicle form.  Other than the odd shape trailer (which we'll look at in more detail in a bit) he doesn't look to bad in vehicle form.  The truck cab is large and has some heft and it pulls the trailer just fine.  It's not my favorite look for Optimus/Convoy, but I can appreciate what the folks at Hasbro and Takara were trying to do here.

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Grand Convoy sports a few differences when compared to his Energon brother.  As you can see here Convoy has a chromed grill which actually looks quite good...much better than the gun metal silver Hasbro used.  The blue is also a much deeper shade which I think matches his show CGI model better.

There are two things about this Cybertronian truck mode that I don't care for...and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  First are the robot arms that are just there.  Sure there are notches on the back for the arms to fit into, but it doesn't hide the fact that the arms are still pretty noticeable.  The other aspect that bugs me is the helmet thing.  I don't care for the way it looks on top of Convoy's head and I don't care for how it just is there while in vehicle mode.

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If you didn't know how this Convoy/Optimus got his nickname all one must do is look at the picture above.  Horrible.  Convoy/Optimus always had a fairly easy and simple transformation and this version is no exception.  Fold down the legs, flip out the feet, pull out the arms and fold forward and flip up the head.  Done.

The chest is entirely too big and so are the shoulders.  The legs look super tiny and his arms are too short.  The only thing they got right is the head sculpt...it's a dead ringer for that classic Convoy/Prime look.

He has a spring loaded missile launcher he can wield in robot mode.  When not using it can be stored via a 5mm peg on his back.

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From L to R:  Fire-1, Copter-2, Digger-3 & Submarine-4
I'm not sure what possessed Hasbro and Takara to go this route.  The main purpose of these small drones is to form the limbs of Grand Convoy, but they do retain some play value on their own.  Some.  Not much.

Fire-1 has a gray ladder extends every so slightly, but that's about it.  Copter-2 has a free spinning rotor blades and some sort of extension on the back...not sure what purpose it serves.  Digger-3 has a darker color yellow plastic than Hasbro's and from the pictures I've seen looks better.  When rolled the drill does turn a full 360 degrees.  Submarine-4, well, just rolls.  All 4 actually have small free rolling wheels on the bottom.

Each limb has an official arm or foot mode, but they all are interchangeable and can be either an arm or a leg.  Depending on how you "transform" the drone you can see the molded fist or foot.

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Convoy's trailer can bit tilted forward to form a base for the drones.  The top of the trailer has 3 sections that open up to reveal and "launch" 3 of the 4 drones.  On the side are small tabs that ever so slightly extend a ramp inside each compartment.  For Copter-2 the side flap folds down to form a helicopter pad.  Each of these doors are marked for each corresponding drone.  There is also a radar dish that folds up from the rear of the trailer.

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Grand Convoy doesn't look like any other Convoy or Prime that I've ever seen.  It's a good sized figure and has a decent weight to him despite his limbs being mostly hollow plastic.  For several reasons though he just doesn't have that classic Autobot leader feel to him.

The truck's windshield opens up in the combining sequence in the cartoon to reveal a Matrix like item.  Hasbro's version added LED lights and sound, but like with other releases Takara gutted those features for release in Japan.  I guess little Japanese kids didn't need those fancy electronics to have fun playing w/ their toys.

Remember that helmet I mentioned I didn't like while in truck mode?  Well it simply folds up from behind and over Convoy's head to form a larger head for this combined mode.  From a distance this helmet looks like a larger head, but once up close you can tell that it just sits over the smaller head.

For a series of toys all about combining this toy is a big brick.  There really isn't much articulation to talk about on Grand Convoy.  Fire-1 and Copter-2 do feature a ratcheting elbow joint to allow the arms a little range of motion, but overall there ain't much posing you'll be doing with this toy.

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I've been pretty hard on this toy and you may be wondering why did I even buy this?  Well for starters I was buying just about every TF released during 2003/2004, but I held off from buying Optimus.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this was the first Convoy/Optimus to feature a mouth instead of his classic mouth plate.  I hated that.  I had heard that Hasbro corrected this with a later production run and replaced the mouth place with the more familiar solid mouth plate, but I never could find the toy at local retail with the correct production stamp on the box.  I later learned that Takara went with the solid mouth plate from the get go so I tracked down the Japanese version.

During the Energon series I was so wrapped up in the Unicron Trilogy story that I could look past some shoddy toys (like Energon Ironhide, Cliffjumper/Beachcomber, Grimlock & Swoop...heck, just about the whole line!).  While writing this post and thinking back I can't believe I wasted so much money buying these toys.  After my recent purge I'm left with one non Mini-Con Energon/Superlink toy - the deluxe version of this toy.  I only kept him as a small representation of the character.

According to my Shmax.com entry I only paid $35.  I didn't realize until a week or so ago when I decided to purge a few more TFs from my collection that this guy ain't the easiest to find on the secondary market.  That has made finding a reasonable asking price for this toy kind of hard.  If I had bought the Energon version I may have decided to keep it and just tuck him behind some other Primes on my shelves, but right now I'd rather have the $$ I hope I can sell him for.

picture courtesy of TFWiki
If you aren't familiar with this toy and wonder why he is so fat it's because of some later combination options introduced later in the series.  On the left you can see Convoy/Prime combined with the character Wing Saber giving him a flight mode.  I used to own Wing Saber and one day I may track him down again...especially if I'm unable to move Grand Convoy.  Wing Saber had a nice homage to G1 Star Saber and really deserves his own post, but for now I'll just mention that the toy could be disassembled and be added onto Convoy/Prime in one of two ways.  The flight mode (pictured in the bottom left corner) looked pretty great.

Convoy/Prime could also be combined with Omega Supreme or Omega Sentinel.  The transformation for this combination reminded me a lot of how Godmaster Ginrai / Powermaster Optimus Prime combined with his trailer.  The figure is basically folded up into a cube and placed inside the larger figure - in this case Omega Supreme/Sentinel.  I didn't realize at the time that the drones could also be attached to Omega via Powerlinx ports.

The whole Superlink / Energon series was all about the Spark of Combination and the toys really suffered because of it.  Had Takara just focused on Convoy and left out all of the silly gimmicks (minus his combination w/ Wing Saber) I feel that the toy could have been much better.  Unless you are a die hard Convoy or Optimus Prime collector it's really hard to recommend this toy.  If you aren't turned off by his girth or my little review I believe the Energon version can be had for a decent price on the secondary market.

3 comments:

  1. I somehow ended up for 4 full sets of these figures from yard sales, that we picked up for like 5-10 dollars each so must have been easier to find in PA. We still have one set but beat up shape now. This was my sons favorite optimus Prime until Cyberton came out.

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  2. you forgot to open his chrome chest. :p

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    1. I realized that after the fact. Just got Energon Wing Saber so I'll need to do a follow up post soon!

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