Robot Masters 01 - G1 Convoy
A review with downscaled high quality images with repetitive term usage by someone who knows nothing about the art of toys
(but the toy's pretty sweet regardless of absence of arty language)
One of the things I hate about Optimus Prime
is that he's always a truck.
Such a sentence is sacrilege, as it's what makes him Optimus Prime, the most well-known Transformers character of all, but it's just a bit of a drag, y'know? Megatron has been a pistol, a cannon, a dinosaur, a dragon, a jet, a tank, an alligator, a robotic hand and a giant head. The most diverse Optimus has got over the years was being an ape and a shoe. Then again, considering Starscream has always been a jet, I suppose it's a matter of not changing something that isn't broken.
My main nag with Prime's forever-truck-ness is how when you're getting a toy of him, it really just boils down to what one you think looks best or has the best features. 20th Anniversary Prime looks amazing, but he'd kind of tower over every other Transformer I have. Smallest Transforming Transformer Optimus looks pretty good as well, especially with the regular G1 Prime going for too much for my tightarse to spend, but he's like 3 inches tall and still costs a packet. And there's a huge, huge number of toys for the guy, not including those from alternate continuities! What's a guy to do?
Japan-only Robot Masters Optimus Prime (or Convoy as the fellas over there call him) is, quite simply, a shrunk-down version of 20th Anniversary Prime. The aesthetics are more or less identical, though naturally scaled down in detail due to the smaller sculpt, and the construct isn't hidden away quite as well; the screws in his shoulders, elbows and so on are all fairly obvious, but I suppose they can make him look more robotic, depending on what your stance is on that subject.
The accessories included are more or less
identical; Robot Masters Prime comes with his energy axe, his iconic
blaster, and a
blue missile launcher, as well as an extra pair of hands. The energy axe is
translucent orange and looks a lot prettier
than that of Mega SCF Optimus, and just like that version needs his hand
removed for it to be inserted, though this one's hand holes are very touchy.
The pegs that keep them in place are very, very tiny, combined with a cramped space in the arm for them, so expect a bit of tension and struggle in taking them out. Once in, though, there's no chance of them coming out accidentally, so it's very secure, unlike that of the Mega SCFs.
The reason for the extra pair of hands are because the two guns have differently sized handles, one set small enough for the blaster and another for the missile launcher. I personally don't see the point, as it would have been easier for the handles to have been identical on both weapons, but the spare hands come in an adorable plastic baggy so all is forgiven.
Sadly, Prime's chest can't be opened to reveal the Matrix, nor does he have the flip-up communication screens on his arms, though not that they would've been recognisable at this size.
Optimus has got a fair amount of articulation, all with nice, tight joints. His shoulders are on a ball joint and a hinge, the latter being used for transformation, allowing the shoulders to be raised, rotated and recoiled. Just below the shoulders you can rotate the arm, followed by an elbow and then the hands, which can turn 90 degrees inwards. My maths is downright balls, but that's about five points, right?
Prime's head can be rotated and swung back into his body, and also has translucent plastic at the back, allowing for light piping in his eyes if held up to a light source. His torso is on a kind of crane, allowing it to be tilted backward and upward, as well as rotated if his legs aren't in the way, a step in his transformation.
Finally, the legs can go backwards, forwards and outwards slightly (though that last one is hindered by the wheels and the chest), the knees can bend and the feet can curl outward. Going by guessing estimate, I'd say he's got, what, fifteen, sixteen points of articulation, kind of? It's a fair amount and I have no qualms with it.
The legs are rather stiff, however, and positioning of the wheels on his hips can be a mild obstruction, though it keeps them in place very well and means you can pose him, reposition him elsewhere and he'll still be intact, which is certainly going to please somebody. And his torso can reel back quite a surprising amount, though it looks kind of silly as all it leaves is the lever between his chest and his waist, so it's best leaving it to transformation rather than real badass posing.
I've mentioned it enough now; what's his transformation like?
Well, you begin by turning his head backward and pushing it into the convenient hole behind it (you can have his stick up, but it looks creepy so just make it face down).
Right after that, you've got a problem. The shoulders revolve to his back and his hands are meant to slot inside his chest, thanks to parts of them being easily moveable, but the grill leaves little room for his hands to go. An indent in the grill is meant to keep his hands in place while inside, but the part that sticks out prevents them from getting in, due to them naturally not being parallel with the arc of his body. It is possible with some awkward fiddling with his shoulders and below-shoulder points, but in the end it ultimately comes down to getting it "okay" at best and then no longer touching the arms.
The rest is easy. Rotate his body backwards, connect the legs together, let the feet shoot out and bend his legs down. Tada! He's a truck!
It's actually a fairly nice truck. The back of the head sticks out like a sore thumb from above, and the awkwardness of the arms can leave the front rather unconvincing, but if done rightly then it looks very nice. The back end is kind of long, though, and just like 20th Anniversary Prime, no trailer is included, nor is there anything to slot in as consolation, like a gun on G1 Classics Prime. There is a hole available, albeit a very narrow one which I can find nothing to fit in aside from a very finely sharpened pencil. If you had the patience and skills, you could make a trailer for him, but the hole is 4 millimetres wide, if that, so it'd have to be pretty damn specific.
Regardless, the truck mode is nice. You can quite clearly tell where his arms and head are, as well as the back end just being his legs, but it's a dinky little truck despite it's flaws. Plus, the back is the perfect size for Brawn or one of the Mini Vehicles to hitch a ride on, or even a MyClone or two. The wheels also roll very nicely, which totally improves the play value by a million.
For £10 brand new and with an incomprehensible mini-comic that's more artwork with Japanese text on it, I'm chuffed to have this little 5 inch figure. It transforms, it's show-accurate, comes with a good variety of accessories, and is still at a fair enough size for scraps with Megatron and Starscream to look mildly realistic. Admittedly Classics G1-style Optimus is more or less the same, sans the energy axe and plus a tank-mode Megatron, but I personally prefer the aesthetics of Robot Masters Prime over that one. Bias prevails!
But I also have another toy of the same figure. A knock-off one. Let's see how it fares!
Well, the first thing you notice is that this Prime is huge. A good 7 1/2 inches, to be precise, or 8 inches with his torso raised. The paint isn't quite as metallic, the Autobot insignia is absent from the shoulder, and even brand new the plastic shows signs of wear and tear, quite blatantly showing that cheaper materials were used. It's only slightly heavier than the real smaller deal, which is mildly surprising.
The same accessories are included; an (cyan) energy axe, a (blue) ion blaster and a (not translucent) missile launcher, plus two extra (correctly coloured) hands. Having Optimus' ion blaster in the same blue as his boots is a little awkward, and the missile launcher coming in baby blue is more than a little uncomfortable, plus the fact that the spring will fall out if you tilt it certainly shows the great production methods Cybertronian warfare uses, but it shoots farther than the real one so that downfall is forgiven.
Minus the lack of metallic paint and odd choices for accessories, the only real flub is on Prime's face, where the sides and crest of his head are unpainted, leaving them with light piping capabilities instead of just his eyes. His mouth plate also looks like it has smudges of blue on it, though it's really just light reflecting off it.
The articulation is all the same, though some joints are tighter or looser. The arms are a lot more flexible, the revolving joint not needing much pressure for it to be used, which actually increases poseability, especially with the hands being nicer to move and extract. The head, however, is a lot more loose and can spin about freely if you're not careful, while the legs feel incredible stiff when moving to the extremes. Could be worse, really.
Amusingly, his windows aren't tinted at all, so you can see quite clearly how he works inside. The real version has them tinted so it's not quite as obvious, though not exactly obscured completely.
In the opposite of the real transformation, getting the arms in is ludicrously easy! The legs, on the other hand, are a pain due to their stiffness, their inability to rotate well and how they frequently get stuck, and revolving the torso is a hassle due to frequently colliding with the hip tires or the leg simply getting in the way. Additionally, the pegs and holes for the legs to connect are a bit too snug, prompting some serious force for them to fit. Even then they'll barely fit.
What you end up with is a more-wonky-than-it-should-be truck. The legs can barely reach their limits, meaning the front of the truck faces down more than the rest of it, thus preventing it from being very road safe. The wheels, additionally, roll much better in robot mode than vehicle mode, and since one of the smokestacks has a tendency of popping out of it's hole, it's hard to be positive about this toy's alternate mode.
It is, however, the perfect place for the regular sized version to chill out, and the grooves are the perfect place for a Mini Vehicle to stay without invading his personal space.
As nice as it is to have a bigger Optimus, the inconsistent quality of it and general awkwardness of it's poseability hinder it from being superior, which I suppose is natural of a knockoff. It cost £1 less, which I suppose is understandable, but I still say stick with the real deal. That one rocks and kicks a variety of ass. The bootleg couldn't lift it's legs in time to do that.
More images that I couldn't work into the cluttered layout.
The back of the real version. Really just to showcase the translucent plastic.
And the back of the big version. Note how much is unpainted and the parts of the chest left translucent.
My attempt to make Prime hold the rocket launcher without using the hands meant for that.
Then when I did use the real hands.
Just bootleg Prime.
Fake Prime and Action Master Blaster.
And the image from the auction I got it from. The cannon is translucent urine yellow, strangely, but it does show that it is apparently possible for the legs to go all the way forward fro the truck mode.