Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Galaxy Force Flame Convoy

Leader of the Beast Planet, Animatros, Flame Convoy is initially cast as a Decepticon though, in common with many of the characters in Galaxy Force - as opposed to Hasbro's localisation, Cybertron - he has no real allegiance, as such. He is simply the leader of his own planet... and got to that position by being the most powerful TransFormer on the planet.

Beast Mode:
Well, you can't really call it a vehicle, can you... It is, quite obviously, a dragon. Not the winged kind, but a dragon nonetheless. As alternate modes go, it's pretty impressive. Aside from having a fixed neck, Flame Convoy's alternate mode is almost more poseable than this robot mode - the limbs are designed with this mode in mind, and so his feet can be placed in many positions, and still leave him perfectly stable.

The fixed neck is rather disappointing, but more so is the tail, which has one point of articulation. Sure, the tail can be made to move up or down, left or right, but it's essentially two fixed pieces, and so never quite convinces as a tail. Considering it was only a couple of years later that Classics Grimlock came along, with a far more fully articulated tail (that also functioned as a whip for his robot mode, allegedly), it's rather a shame that a similar jointing system wasn't used here. That said, it's easy to see why not: The tail detaches and becomes a huge battle axe/hammer in robot mode - more joints would only have made it flimsier.

The colour scheme suits the character perfectly - the name fits the idea of a fire-breathing dragon, and the sculpt is brilliant. There's plenty of molded detail, and the choice of good, solid colours really brings it out. The painted highlights work reasonably well and, overall, in terms of appropriate use of colour, this is only bettered by the Hasbro repaint, Cryo Scourge.

The Planet Key gimmick serves exactly the same function in either mode - two silver-highlighted flame-orange heads spring out of his back to appear either side of his head - dragon or robot. While the mouth on the main head is articulated so that it can open (revealing a flashing LED when the sounds and lights are triggered) the mouths of the two minor heads are spring loaded - push them closed, and the eyes change. Release them, and the mouths spring open.

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Robot Mode:
While it looks impressive in some static shots, Flame Convoy's robot mode is not particularly poseable, largely because all the joints were made with Dragon mode in mind. The hip joints are rather too loose and, while the knee and ankle joints offer plenty of movement, the shape of the feet, and the lack of tilt means they're never quite stable unless the legs are dead straight.

The arms fare even worse - since they flip outward at the shoulder, the elbows face the wrong way in robot mode. While the forearms can be turned around, the fists cannot, so getting the arms laid out in a pleasing pose is nigh on impossible. He's great for standing around and looking imposing, but not much else... And the elbow joints on mine are just that little bit too lose for him to hold his huge axe/hammer thing in any truly dramatic way.

Even more disappointing, while there's a transformation sound to accompany the deployment of the two minor heads in either mode, the only other sound effect is the strange screeching roar that sounds whenever the button on his back is pushed. It might have been better if there was some other effect for robot mode... but then, in an ideal world, there'd be another sound effect that only played if the two heads were deployed (and, preferably, a different one for each mode).

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Transformation is ridiculously easy for something of this size, again suggesting that more attention was lavished on the alternate mode than any other aspect of the design. Some of it actually feels quite primitive compared to other Galaxy Force figures. I suppose you could rationalise it by saying that he is a primitive form - a robotic beast - but that just fells like a cop-out.

Considering that much of Galaxy Force seemed to intentionally homage G1, it's a little odd that the Animal Planet had no real Beast Wars references.
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