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Revoltech Convoy

by yo go re

We've said before (and will surely say again) that there's more to being a Transformer than just looking good - if it doesn't transform, it's just a robot toy. But that ignores things like the Action Masters, which were fully official G1 releases that didn't transform into squat, and the Mega SCF figures that were specifically designed to look like the characters' animated counterparts. So yeah, there's a fine tradition of non-transforming Transformers, and the newest entrants in that category are Revoltech figures.

Convoy is the strong, wise, and compassionate leader of the Cybertrons. Dedicated to protecting all life, he fights unceasingly to defeat the Destrons. Firmly believes in the ultimate righteousness of his mission, so he will willingly sacrifice himself to save the lives of others. Carries a blaster rifle as well as the Cybertron matrix of leadership, an honor bestowed millions of years before his awakening on Earth. A seasoned veteran and scholar, Convoy is respected throughout the universe as a champion of peace.

Revoltech isn't a Transformers line - it's made by Kaiyodo, not Takara, and covers many different anime, manga and videogame properties. The point isn't to make transformable toys, or even incarnations that look exactly like any specific version of the Transformers: it's just to create good, highly poseable action figures. Anything else is just gravy.

That said, this figure is specifically based on Pat Lee's artwork from the Dreamwave Comics, for good or ill. Pat (or Michiyamenotehi Funana, as his real fans call him) definitely had a... distinctive style that this figure duplicates: the head is tiny, the legs are too long and everything seems somehow inflated and puffy, despite being metal. It even does its best to duplicate Lee's inability to convey persepective, though it is limited by having to exist in three- dimensional space.

The figure was sculpted by Yamaguchi Katsuhisa, who did a great job. Yamaguchi-san has given Convoy lots of fine, technological detailing, though not quite as much useless niggling as Lee usually drew. In other words, it looks good, not like crap. Still, the appearance if not so much a robot that changes into a truck as a robot with some inexplicable vehicular parts. Like he walked up to a truck, pulled parts off it and clumsily wore them like a coat. In particular, check out the chest: that was never a windshield! Primes and Convoys always have window- boobs, but this is just nuts! It's like a window Wonderbra. A Winderbra.

Convoy stands just over 4½" tall, but he's just loaded with articulation: that's what Revoltech is all about! The Revoltech joints are basically ratched balljoints: you have a central ball with a long rod coming off the top and bottom. The movement of the piece itself acts as a hinge, while the rods inserted into the connecting bodyparts allow both sides to swivel. Convoy has Revoltech joints at the ankles, knees, hips, torso, elbows, and a double-joint at the neck. The shoulders, biceps and wrists are plain swivels, but they fit with the rest really well.

Of particular note are the elbows.Rather than just fitting straight in between the upper and lower arm, the Revoltech joint is at a 90° angle: the upper shaft goes right into the bicep, but the lower shaft sticks out the back of the elbow. A cover fits over the balljoint to make it invisible - if not for the peg poking out the back of the arm, the joint wold be undetectable. A joint molded in red instead of black would have blended in much better. The same can be said of all the joints, really - black just stands out too much. Still, there have been a lot of small tweaks since the time of the Neon Genesis Evangelion glow in the dark Shogouki kicked off the line, adding up to a nicer toy.

Poseability is only part of the deal: to up his playability, Convoy also has a few accessories. You can replace his fists with several different hands, including one designed to hold the included laser rifle. He also has the Matrix of Leadership, though neither it nor his chest opens. You can get him to hold it with a bit of work.

Convoy is sold in a snazzy window box that shows off the figure, lists his number in the series (#19), and has a ton of Japenese text that proabably explains just what the whole thing is about. A paper band is wrapped the box, and the back has pictures of Convoy in all sorts of poses, giving you some ideas of what to do with him. The figure rests in a black tray beneath a clear cover, with his gun beside him. The packaging is much deeper than it really needs to be, but they're aiming for a uniform size, and planning for thicker robots down the line - so what's dead space now will be just perfect for Gigantor's huge butt or something. Future fatass androids.

There's a color variant of Convoy, as well, and it's the one you'd expect: Ultra Magnus, Optimus Prime's freaky albino brother. We've gone on at length in the past about how no one ever thought of the little white robot inside Ultra Magnus' armor as a separate character until Dreamwave introduced the idea in Transformers #6. Now it's more unusual for any given Optimus to not be repainted white - and when that happens, you can count on half a dozen people to be hawking their customs on eBay within a week.

Revoltech Ultra Magnus is more than a question of a single swapped paint app. Since he's white, the stripes are silver so they'll stand out. His groin is a lighter silver, matching the upper legs, and the three small lights or whatever at his waist are green, rather than yellow. In order to keep the head from being dreadfully dull, it's based on the original Magnus - the one with the blue faceplate and red eyes (or in this case, orange). Better that than the solid white, right?

Mags' accessories are a bit different than Convoy's: he has the gun and all the same hands, but he doesn't have the Matrix of Leadership (there's only one, after all); to make up for that, he has a new hand/accessory, which allows he and convoy to clasp hands in a totally hetero and non-romantic way. You know, like Maverick and Iceman in Top Gun. Nothing gay at all about that. Either that or they're arm-wrestling. The set apparently also includes some white Revoltech joints, so you don't have the black ones mucking up Magnus's clean lines, but in that case, why not just ship him with white ones?

So why did this review insist on calling this figure Convoy, when it's clearly Optimus Prime? Because this is a Japanese-only release, and that's the character's name in Japan. When the Diaclone figures were recycled and renamed to become Transformers, Denny O'Neil gave the name "Optimus Prime" to the toy that had previously been known as "Battle Convoy" (バトルコンボイ). However, Takara decided that "Optimus Prime" (オプティマス・プライム) was too difficult for Japanese kids to remember and pronounce, so they named him after the old version, and he's been Convoy (コンボイ) ever since. Whatever you want to call him, this Revoltech figure is good fun.

-- 03/18/08

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