Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Beast Wars II Lio Convoy

Strange how things change... When I first saw this thing, I thought it looked pretty daft. Then again, I thought most if not all of Beast Wars looked daft. Once I'd warmed to the idea, and started collecting Beast Wars toys (mainly through eBay or the re-releases), I really wanted Lio Convoy... That same lion's head on one shoulder that I'd ridiculed a few years before suddenly looked awesome. The first version I managed to find, however, was the downsized Robot Masters version and its black repaint... Though it wasn't long till I found the original...

Beast Mode:
There's no denying that this lion looks a little awkward. Up to about halfway down its length, it looks fine - the golden mane and the lion's face are particularly well sculpted. After the halfway point, though, it all falls apart. The back legs just don't line up correctly with the body, they're at an awkward angle, and there are robot parts visible.

Still, it's far from being the worst beast mode ever offered by the line, and the button-activated roar action is a cute addition to an animal that's otherwise lacking in articulation. Also, at the touch if the topmost part of his mane, two spring-loaded missile launchers will pop out. Not sure they're supposed to be accessible in beast mode... but there's certainly no way to stop them...

Other than waggling the tail, there's not a whole lot more poseability offered by beast mode... the legs do move, but he can't do any kind of 'on the prowl' type poses.

Robot Mode:
I can still see why I was dubious of this model the first time I saw it: that lion's head does look rather unweildy, sticks out a hell of a way, and... well, it's a giant lion's head on the robot's shoulder.

Still, it's not without features - not only does it have those two concealed missile launchers with a spring-loaded release mechanism, but four segments of the mane can flip out to become some kind of spinning saw-blade thing. Not sure how much use it'd be on his shoulder, particularly that close to his own arm.

Further to all that, each wrist has another missile launcher, again with a spring-loaded release mechanism... and the beast mode forelegs conceal long golden claws which can also be flipped out for use as robot mode weapons.

And, as became common with Convoy/Optimus Prime figures at some point, there's a panel on his chest that opens out to reveal the Matrix Annex and his Maximal rubsign. There's something odd about all the Beast Wars rubsigns I've encountered, in that they're not half as sensitive as the G1 or Classics rubsigns... but they're also substantially smaller and thinner.

The head sculpt on this model is unmistakably Convoy/Optimus Prime, though it does seem rather square overall. It keeps the yellow eyes of the G1 character, rather than the red eyes of the original Beast Wars Optimus Primal or the blue of most other iterations, and it almost looks as if some of the later Convoy/Prime heads were based on this - Classics and Galaxy Force in particular.

Transformation is mainly quite easy, though the way the arms hinge into place, with the shoulders locking them into position, can be a little tricky. I have the black version of this mold also, and the shoulders don't always lock the way they're supposed to. There's some debate as to whether the robot's feet are the beast's claws with a robotic heel piece, or if the robotic part is actually meant to become the front of the foot... all the artwork I've seen shows claws, though, so that's how I tend to display him.

Lio Convoy is a reasonably poseable robot - perhaps making up for the almost static beast mode - but the feet do present something of a problem. While the Robot Masters version has the feet on ball joints, the full-size model has them on fixed hinges, so you end up balancing him on the edges of his feet or the tips of his toes. Naturally the bulky shoulder pieces impede the movement of his arms, but to too badly... and the head doesn't tilt like the Robot Masters version - only rotates.

Aside from a few loose ball joints this is a pretty excellent model, but some of the plastic does feel cheap and insubstantial, particularly the struts on which the arms are mounted - whenever I transform this thing, I expect them to break. Lio Convoy is easily one of my favourite Beast Wars models... quite a dramatic reversal on the opinion I held when I first saw him...

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