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        TOY REVIEW

Name: Convoy
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Supreme Commander
Vehicle Mode: Tractor trailer truck
Price: 4980 JPY

PACKAGING

Convoy was the first of Takara's "Transformers Generation One" line up of re-releases and consequently set a precedent which other Generation One toys have followed, including traditional "old school" type packaging but with tech specs printed on separate cards inside (an innovation Takara came up during Beast Wars), removable plastic trays (instead of a styrofoam tray or internal blister pack) and several minor mould changes to assist collectors.

Convoy hit stores on June 29, 2000. As with all Transformers released in Japan that year (Car Robot and Generation One), the package came with a black and gold silhouette of the Autobot insignia, marking the Transformers' 15th anniversary in Japan.

The styling of the box is almost identical to the original package, including the box art which is the original Japanese Convoy box art, not the original Optimus Prime box art (Convoy and Optimus Prime had different box/tech specs illustrations). The back of the box has the old battle scene between the first wave of Autobots and Decepticons, however, since the tech specs now comes on a 63mm x 89mm card, it is no longer printed on the back. Instead, there is a large white box with all the usual legal blurb, but enlarged to intentionally mask the poorly drawn Megatron. The next Generation One toy featuring this same battle scene was Megatron, and even that box disposed with the image of Megatron in the picture by enlarging it to the point where only part of Megatron's right arm and fusion cannon is visible from one corner.

There are several photos around the box, showing Convoy in both robot and truck modes, as well as mid transformation (on the bottom of the box). There are also pictures of Convoy in his various other modes on the back, which will be covered in more detail in this review.

VEHICLE MODE

Cab Height: 6cm (7.1cm including smoke stacks)
Cab Length: 12cm
Trailer height: 9.6cm
Trailer Length: 24cm
Combined Length: 31.5cm
The primary colour of the cab is red with silver stripes running along the sides and front of the truck. The front grill, headlights, fender, exhaust pipes, fuel tanks and hubcaps are all chrome silver. The seats and rear portion which connects to the trailer are dark blue. The windows are transparent with a light brown tint. The sculpting shows an incredible amount of detail including wipers, lights, horns, steps (for the driver/passenger) and even bolts, makes Convoy a pretty realistic looking scale replica of a tractor trailer truck. The cab connects and pulls along a 24cm trailer. The trailer is mostly light gray with a factory applied decal running along side, adding stripes of silver and blue, as well as a huge honkin' Autobot insignia on either side. The hubcaps are also silver and all rubber tyres are black. The tyres are also treaded with the words "Formula" and "Desert Dog" printed on them. Like the cab, the trailer is also moulded with an incredible amount of detail, with even more bolts and grooves as well as a door handle on the back.

Toy trucks have long been a popular toy, and as such a faithful replica, it's also a great display piece too. However, there's more to this truck than meets the eye. ;-)

Formation One: MOBILE BASE MODE

This is the first of four intermediate "Formation" modes detailled in the instructions and pictured on the back of the box. From truck mode, simply open the trailer door and open the halves of the trailer. Extend the battle tower and rotate turret 180 degrees so that it's facing in the same direction as the cab. Extend claw arm and radar dish. T'is a silly looking mode.

Formation Two: MOBILE ATTACK MODE

From Formation One mode, simply close the trailer halves and close the ramp/door, leaving the attack tower protruding from the square shaped hole on the top of the trailer.

 

Formation Three: SUPER DASH MODE

Disconnect the cab, open the trailer and turn the turret around. This is effectively the more orthodox "Combat Deck" that we saw with the original Optimus Prime. Press the button behind the turret and Buggy (aka Roller) shoots out.

The combat deck is 31cm long, 20cm wide and 20.3cm tall (to the top of the radar dish). It also comes with two dark blue deck level control seats and one inside the dark blue turret (with a light brown tinted window). These are all vestigial features of Convoy's Diaclone heritage. The decals add a host of colours - black, yellow, green, red, blue , pink, silver, gray etc - making the deck look very "high-tech." The deck can also be used with other smaller Transformers.

Formation Four: MAINTENANCE DOCK MODE

Remove Buggy. Fold up the ramp and stand the deck up so that the turret is on top. Transform cab to robot mode and place inside

BUGGY


Known as "Roller" in the West, Buggy is Convoy's third and smallest component. Buggy has six plastic tyres that roll freely and six pilot seats (another leftover feature from Diaclone). A fuel pump or Convoy's rifle may be attached to the hole on the back.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

Fold down back section of cab, forming robot legs. Flip up robot feet. Fold headlight sections out to the sides, pull back and fold out robot arms. Insert robot fists into holes in headlights. Flip up robot head.

ROBOT MODE

Standing at 16cm, Convoy is a very nice looking robot. It does exhibit a lot of truck mode parts, but these have become a famous feature of Convoy. The head which set a standard for several subsequent Autobot and Maximal leaders (such as Star Sabre, Optimus Primal, Lio Convoy, Big Convoy and Fire Convoy) features a dark blue helmet, a silver crest on the forehead, a silver faceplate and yellow eyes. The fists are also dark blue. The stickers provide additional silver, black, yellow, red and light blue accents throughout the toy, as well as two Autobot insignias on either shoulder. Convoy has 12 points of articulation, all of which, except for the knees, are a result of the way it transforms, rather than being intentional joints for movement.

VARIATIONS

This review will cover the differences between the 2000 Generation One Convoy and 1985 Convoy (1984 Optimus Prime). For more information on other earlier variants, please refer to the original Optimus Prime review.
1984 Optimus Prime 2000 Convoy
Back of head has four small circles imprinted. Back of head has two large circles imprinted.
Each arm has a total of 20 bumps ("bolts") Each arm has a total of 15 bumps ("bolts)
No slot on bum. Bum has a narrow rectangular slot.
Axles do not protrude beyond hubcaps on cab Axles protrude a few millimetres from hubcap
Narrow rectangular slot outer sides of upper legs No slots on legs.
Fists have an inverted "4" printed on the palms. No numerals printed on fists but do have a plastic 
"lip" protruding a few mm and surrounding fist hole
Springs weakened and only designed to hold 
missiles in place. 
Springs in launchers strengthened and can launch 
missiles well over 3 metres!
Missile launcher holes are smaller, designed to 
hold thinner missiles.
Missile launcher holes are wider. Missiles are
thicker.
Spring on deck launcher pushes Roller to the 
edge of the ramp.
Spring on deck launcher shoots Buggy over one 
metre away! Buggy can literally punch through 
the trailer door when it's closed too!
On the bottom of the trailer, copyright stamp 
reads, "(C) HASBRO 1980. 1982. Sousaku  
Chosakubutsu (C) TAKARA 1980. 1982.  
JAPAN". There is also a numeral "6" printed on 
the inside of the circle that conects to the cab.
On the bottom of the trailer, copyright stamp 
reads, "(C) 1992 HASBRO INC ALL RIGHTS 
RESERVED MADE IN CHINA." There is no 
numeral printed on the cab connector.
Cab connector is wide, fits onto cab loosely. Cab connector has a smaller diameter, creating
a tighter fit onto cab.
Roller comes in either blue or gray. Buggy is always silver.
Roller has a thin fuel nozzle and the numeral "4"
and the letter "A" printed on one side of the 
piece that connects the pipe to the vehicle.
Buggy has a thicker fuel nozzle and no numerals or
letters printed on the connection piece.
On the underside of Roller's rear seat, there is a 
numeral "3" printed.
On the underside of Buggy's rear seat, there is a
letter "C" printed.
These differences were intentional and help collectors to discriminate between which release is which, and also discourages unscrupulous dealers from trying to pass off one version as the other. 

There are also two colour variations of Generation One Convoy released at Japanese toy conventions. One is known as "Convoy Black Version" (where almost the entire toy is black) and the other is known as "Convoy Gold Version" (where the chrome silver parts are all chrome gold). Here are some images of Convoy Black Version:

1. Convoy Black Version in box
2. Back of the box (note the black Autobot insignia)
3. Convoy Black Version in truck mode
4. Convoy Black Version in robot mode

OVERALL

The mould details makes the toy very visually appealing, and the variety of gimmicks makes it a fun toy to play with. The toy is also fairly well articulated for an older design of Transformer, especially the arms. Although the sheer lack of other points of articulation makes the toy pale in comparison with most other Transformers today. A superb toy and highly recommended for any collector, particularly fans of the original Convoy/Optimus Prime toy!

Supplementary: BATTLE CONVOY

As mentioned in the review, Convoy was derived from Takara's Diaclone line as part of the Car Robot sub group. Unlike Transformers, Diaclone robots were piloted mecha and also came with small human Diaclone pilots that had magnetic feet (which is why Convoy has driver compartments).
Above: Battle Convoy in box.
Below: Battle Convoy transformed.

Convoy images courtesy of Autobase Aichi and bwtf.com
Diaclone images courtesy of Diaclone Net.

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