Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prime World Tour Stop 3: Star Convoy

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As I mentioned in the last post, Powermaster Optimus Prime was the body that Optimus was resurrected into in the US/UK comics, but in Japan it was an entirely new character. Star Convoy here is how Optimus was eventually resurrected in the Japanese continuity. At this point that Japanese cartoon line had ended entirely, and interest in the toyline was fading, both in Japan and in western countries. One of the last gimmick lines they created was the Micromaster line. It seems like it was pretty obviously inspired by the success of Galoob's Micro Machines toys. Micromasters were a little bigger than Micro Machines in vehicle mode, and they transformed into robots of a pretty uniform size. They were released with a number of larger transforming vehicles and bases. 

In Japan they had an additional type of figure, which was a large transformer, which in addition to having vehicle and robot modes, also had a micromaster base mode. It would be similar to Trypticon and Metroplex, who both had base modes, but whose toys weren't actually large enough to function as much of a base for the core toys. But, that's what Star Convoy is.


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He certainly has an interesting look, with a cab that's integrated into the "trailer" section, eight wheels on the front, and treads on the rear.

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The truck is significantly smaller than either of the previous Optimus Prime toys, but it's very broad. He's a surprisingly very gimmicky toy. The treads are battery powered, and the motor also spins the rear gun turret.

In addition to that is a small box truck and a Micromaster version of the character Hot Rod.

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Hot Rod's Transformation is pretty basic, as are most of the Micromasters, but his vehicle mode is surprisingly faithful to his original toy.

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Any Micromaster can be loaded into the rear of the truck, and engages a springloaded launching mechanism.


The truck can then be loaded into one of the compartments in the rear of Star Convoy.

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The transformation to robot is pretty simple. 

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Fold a flap down and rotate the torso around.

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Then fold down the arms and flip the head out of his chest, that's it.

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Here he can hold his large gun, which is very similar to the gun of the original Prime. His articulation is also pretty surprising, the legs are of course a solid block, but he's got elbows, shoulders, and a waist, which is pretty impressive for the time.

The treads still function in this mode, giving him a "walking" gimmick.

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As you can see, he's got a pretty good size to him.

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One of the things that I really love about this toy, is that he's the only Optimus Prime since the first one that's included Roller as part of his update. Here the tread unit can be taken off, and it's called Battle Tread, apparently in the bio it says that it's an upgrade of the original Roller unit, and it certainly looks like it.

Of course, the motorized gimmick is housed in him, so he can move pretty good.

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The base mode is... odd, it pretty much just looks like Prime does the splits, and then stuff pops out of his legs. In reality, the front of his legs is all on the left, and the rear, along with Battle Tread, form everything on the right, with a couple of ramps that you attach.
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There's some interesting gimmicks to be had here: A micromaster can stand in his chest, as a "command center"

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As well as man the turret.

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Or vehicles can be loaded up on this platform, and then dumped onto the moving treads to launch them, it's a surprisingly fun gimmick.

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And of course, the mini-truck can still be placed, and vehicles can still be launched by pressing the yellow buttons.

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Now, this is the first Optimus Prime to really integrate with additional toys, sure you could make the argument about Ginrai and God Bomber, but I don't think anyone's going to view God Bomber as anything other than an upgrade. Star Convoy had two compatriots in his entourage. First was Grandus, who turned into a really big cube on treads, which could be towed by Convoy, and then Skygarry (the brave series repaint, Deathgarrygun, is shown above) who was a space ship that could land on top of Grandus. All three had base modes that could be integrated via ramps, and Star Convoy even comes with an adapter that allows the tread motor to power an elevator in Grandus. Unfortunately without Grandus, there's nothing too impressive about Skygarry's introduction except!

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I want to point you attention to the three containers in the middle, which are actually...

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Mini trucks of the same design as Star Convoy's

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Skygarry could carry up to three of them, locked together, and the ship telescopes in or out to accomodate however many you decide to load up. It's an incredibly silly gimmick, but I just love it so much!

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The last pic I want to share is a group shot of all of the Prime's I've covered so far, as you can Star Convoy's just about the same size as the fully upgraded Powermaster Prime, and there's definite progression of cartoony-ness from the first up through the last of the Generation 1 Optimus Primes

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