Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Choro-Q Robo Convoy (TV Version)

Choro-Q, as a toy range, has been going longer than TransFormers, starting two years earlier even than Diaclone, from which TransFormers Generation 1 was derived. Outside of Japan, it was marketed as Penny Racers - a cutesified (similar to 'Super Deform' or 'Chibi' in anime) form of car which, with the insertion of a small coin into a slot in the back, will perform wheelies by use of a pull-back clockwork motor. Just to make things more weird, a couple of G1 Mini Autobots (Cliffjumper and Bumblebee from the first wave) are quite clearly homages to Choro-Q - their vehicle modes are the same style, and their heads are concealed within what would be the penny slot!

Over the years, Choro-Q seems to have widened its scope, so it's no surprise that there was eventually a series of TransFormers. Only three were released - Convoy, Rodimus Convoy and Megatron - but each came in two versions - TV and Metallic for the Autobots, TV and Black for Megatron.

Vehicle Mode:
Very much in keeping with the Choro-Q aesthetic, this is one cute looking truck... and you have to give Takara props for including Optimus Prime's ubiquitous trailer, rather than just focussing on the truck, which would probably have been easier. The pull-back motor is housed in the truck, and has no trouble dragging the trailer along.

One should not expect detail from a Choro-Q vehicle but, surprisingly, there's actually a fair bit - mainly in the chromed parts, but the trailer is lined in a similar style to the full-sized version. Where it falls down is that there's no detail at all on the sides of the truck - no windows, basically - and it's quite obvious that there's no back end to the truck.

Nevertheless, there's one clever little feature of the trailer, in that the clips in front of the rear wheels kind of look like the flip-out supports for Optimus Prime's battlestation/repair bay. Whether this is intentional or not, I have no idea... but it almost makes up for lack of wheels on the truck.

The visible robot feet at the back of the trailer probably shouldn't be a surprise, but part of me can't help thinking there should have been a way to conceal them.
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Robot Mode:
Aww... innee cute? Really, what else is there to say? It's recognisably Optimus Prime - the head sculpt isn't even particularly cutesy. Obviously not much by way of articulation - shoulders only - and robot mode seems far less detailed than truck mode. It also doesn't look great from any angle except dead ahead, largely because of the folded up trailer on the back.

He does come with an appropriately stubby version of Prime's iconic gun, more accurate to the cartoon than the original toy, but it can fit into a hole in the trailer in vehicle mode as well as in either fist.
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All things considered, the transformation is clever, albeit simplistic. The most impressive part is the way the trailer collapses flat onto the robot's back. Sure, it's obvious and ugly, but it's cleverly designed.

Naturally, the lack of poseability is a huge negative as a toy, but this is more of a novelty than a true toy... Either a TransFormers homage to Choro-Q or a Choro-Q homage to TransFormers, it's a cute little figure, and I'll certainly try to find a Megatron, to accompany him, if I can.

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