After Season 2 of the Beast Wars cartoon, Japan was facing a long delay while Season 3 was translated. To fill the gap, they created a few exclusive placeholder series, Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo, complete with exclusive figures. BW Neo is where Big Convoy came from, for instance. The Optimus Prime stand-in for BWII was Lio Convoy.
Lio Convoy is a pure hearted Maximal soldier. He was chosen by the Maximal Elders to pursue a renegade army of Predacons to the planet Gaea and prevent them from obtaining the super-powerful angromois energy that courses through the planet. When his ship crash-landed on the planet he was carried to safety by a white lion. His idento-computer then scanned the heroic lion and gave him his beast mode.
Lio Convoy is a fearless leader and a noble warrior. His army of Maximal soldiers obey his every order and treat him with the utmost respect. He has a fierce rivalry with the Predacon Emperor of Destruction, Galvatron. It is up to Lio Convoy and his army to defend Gaea from Galvatron and vanquish the Predacons permanently.
We'll state this right at the outset: this isn't a review of Lio Convoy. Lio Convoy was released in 1998, and now sells for about $50. This is a "Space Warriors Transformable Beast-Tech Fighter," a knockoff sold at Big Lots for $6. That means there will be some significant differences between this figure and the real thing, but we'll be sure to mention them. The quality of the plastic is kind of low, and a lot of joints are loose, but hopefully the real Lio Convoy would be better in those areas.
Lio Convoy's beast form is a giraffe. Ha! No, that was Longrack. He's a lion, of course! He's 7" long, not counting the tail, and 4½" tall.
The real figure had a button on the top of its head that made the jaw open, but this knockoff doesn't. Well, it's still there, it just doesn't do anything, and the mouth is sculpted to be open.
The official Lio Convoy was available in several different color schemes, because Takara loves repaints even more than Hasbro does. However, this figure's yellow body, silver face and golden mane represent an all new look. The design of the figure really calls to mind Beast Wars' Prowl - which, as you can read in that review, is intentional. Still, Lio Convoy has a much more dynamic pose.
Transformation is mostly simple,
but there are a few bits that are poorly designed - and that's not just a problem with this knockoff. Straighten out the rear legs, twist them around at the thighs and again at the ankles. Fold out the mane panels, pull the arms out to the side, and fold the chest down. Raise the remnants of the lion body, spin it to the side, and open the robot's side to raise the head out. Flip the chest back up, drop the "shoulder pads" down (being sure to carefully align the arms, or else it won't go) and close the mane.
Since this is just sold on a giant blister card with no instructions, we have the TF Racetrack's Instruction Scan Archive to thank for making sure Lio Convoy actually got turned into a robot properly.
Lio Convoy is a surprisingly big robot:
8" at the top of the head, plus a bit more for the mane. The knockoff's colors make for a fairly unimpressive robot mode, just yellow and grey, while the original was sporting red, white and brown. The lion kibble on his shoulders is blatant, but the only thing that's really bad about it is that the mane gets in front of his face, blocking the view. Lio Convoy's head is very similar to Optimus Prime's - moreso than either Optimus Primal or Big Convoy. The real figure's chest opens to reveal the Matrix inside, but that's a bit too complex for this knockoff.
The figure doesn't have a gun, but he does have a few built-in weapons. There are removable missile launchers
under the mane, and flip-out blades hidden in the lion's front legs (which are under the robot's forearms). The real figure has additional launchers behind the panels on the forearms, but they're not here. If you fold open the correct flaps on the mane, you can spin the lion's head like a fan. Originally the figure had a button to make it spin automatically, but that also didn't make the transition. He still has the holes to accommodate the button molded in his mane and neck, though.
Despite the kibble and the problematic transformation, Lio Convoy is a decent figure. He was created entirely by Takara for the Japanese-exclusive Beast Wars II, but actually was available in North America in 2000: Hasbro sold him as an exclusive via their now-defunct Hasbro Collectors site, and dubbed him "Leo Prime" when he showed up as a Classic Legends figure. If you have the money to spend on the real thing, then by all means, go ahead and get one; the figure is pretty cool, and you shouldn't be disappointed. However, if all you can afford is this Space Warriors Transformable Beast-Tech Fighter knockoff, you may not get all the features, but you still get a really good value for your money.
Just consider repainting him.