Rambling interlude about driving. Fit the first. [/HHGTTG]

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2004-08-08My review: Takara RM-01 "Robot Masters" G1 Convoy

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Quote: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."

Tech Specs: Rank 10, Power 8, Defense 10, Stamina 10, Speed 8.

Since this is intended for more than one site, I should probably point out that 'Convoy' is, of course, the Japanese equivalent of Optimus Prime. Robot Masters is a brand new toy line conceived by Takara (the company from which Hasbro licenses a lot of its Transformers designs) which mixes moulds from previous lines with some entirely original re-imaginings of long-standing fan favourites. RM-01 is one such new design.

Truck mode:

You know, this doesn't look as bad when it's in front of you as it may do/have in photos. A lot has been made about the gap between the cab and the base, but when it doesn't have camera flash highlighting it, it really is less noticeable. So is the kibble on top of the cab such as the back of the head and shoulder ball joints. Even so, the truck alt-mode definitely isn't the selling point of this piece. And, at this scale in a plastic medium, compromises have to be made.

The transformation to robot mode is fairly ingenious considering it's been worked into such a small space. The front bumper reverses to the back of the figure, and the lower chest folds up into the cab (which doesn't open and is therefore never likely to be reissued with a matrix without some infeasible retooling.) The fists are part of the transformation, folding inwards to become the headlights. I'd say the most wear is likely to be to the shoulders and arms, which notch up eight points of articulation possessing variable vulnerability to stress fractures. The other ball joints feel much more robust, though only time would really tell. Robot Masters Convoy

Robot mode:

Seriously schweet. Seventeen points of articulation (wrists, elbows, upper arms, shoulders, neck, back, waist, hips, knees, feet) and a very balanced figure. The chest and upper body aren't as oversized as on some other Prime incarnations and many other TFs.

The only real improvement I think could usefully be squeezed into the compact design would be rotating wrists. It's a feature which has appeared pretty inconsistently on Transformers over the years, and it's been omitted here in favour of the removable fists. Which, unfortunately, aren't very removable. I've spent ten minutes so far trying to loosen the left one and given up because I'm sure something will snap if I continue. This theme is continued in the ball-socket shoulder joints, one of which has slightly whitened plastic where it's been quickly pressed on in production. A smoke-stack isn't entirely straight, and so on. Contrary to what others have said, I'd expect some breakage if you transformed RM-01 a lot and switched accessories too many times.

Ow. Right, I've got the fist switched. The reason there are two sets of fists is because there are two guns provided—a close replica of Prime's gun from the original show/comic design (with a square handle) and a transluscent energon missile launcher (with a circular handle) --- there's also an orange translucent energy axe, should you wish to recreate the infamous Sherman Dam issue/episode (it happened in both the US series and the UK comics.)

Overall the design is very close to the model presented in Marvel's original Transformers Universe, but my absolute favourite detail is the head. It's G2 Prime to a tee—dark eyes and lots of square angles in all the right places. The effect is quite menacing and I like it a lot. With the obvious poseability, I'm also reminded of the scene in Transformers: The Movie in which Optimus drives through the 'Con ranks and two-handedly guns down those not wise or quick enough to flee. Okay, so he isn't that poseable, but it says a lot about the accuracy and flexibility of the design that it evokes that connection.

The colours aren't as garish as they seemed in photos I saw before ordering. If you prefer metallic paint, RM-10 is just such a repaint and also comes with a promotional DVD. Personally, I'm very happy with the comic-style scheme.

Transformation: 6/10. Not a flip-up-and-extend-limbs job, not too complicated.

Durability: 7/10. I can see a lot of these getting broken, to be quite honest. The ball joints should ensure that a few repairs can be made, though.

Fun: 9/10. I don't expect a great deal out of toys these days; they just have to stand there and pose, look characterful and engage when I get bored and reach 'em down to transform. The accessories are a very nice touch.

Price: 8/10. £15.24 including insured carriage from Hong Kong, and a lot of that was the postage. Japanese kids are going to be getting these at a very reasonable price, and I'm sure they'll enjoy.

Overall: 10/10. The perfect finishing touch would be a G2 "green tank" Megatron to the same scale. Prime himself is pretty much perfect --- it's easy to capture the details in a two-foot high rendition such as Masterpiece Prime, but squeezing in so much character to a five-inch toy is a much more impressive achievement. You can't fault this for what it is: a high-detailed, very flexible pocket-money toy for the older kid or adult collector.


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