Cliffbee.com: CD-ROM Convo-Bat Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Convo-Bat (Optimus Primal)
Series: Beast Wars Japan
Allegiance: Maximal
Alternate Mode: Bat



BAT MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 10.5cm Width: 11.5cm (flat on table)

   A red bat with orange eyes, white fangs and red painted inside his mouth like the original version. The red paint in his mouth is bizarre, and I suspect they simply didn't bother changing the paint mask for that piece. Convo-Bat is covered in fur patterning on top and crammed with red and white robot kibble underneath. You're not really meant to look underneath, so this mode is essentially just red, although the white is a lot lighter than the red so it stands out.

   This version was released in Japan as a CD-ROM pack exclusive, with a purple Megatoron (I have only Convo-Bat, which I got through a trade), and has a silver Maximal symbol with the word "C-ROM" stamped on his right wing to remind you why you got him. Sure, it detracts from the realism of the beast mode, but this is a deliberate variant, and how many bright red bats are there?

   The underside kibble is basically his robot arms and legs, which unfortunately don't clip onto anything, and rely on tight joints to keep them from flopping around. The limbs are fairly well behaved, but it'd be nice if he had some bat feet to hang from. As it is he has the robot feet and hands stowed under his tail, but they're not bat feet and won't hook on anything.

   The play value is laughable - his lower jaw opens, and stays open, since the hinge is too loose. OK, so I don't want all that much from a bat, but it's at the lower end for Beast Wars basics. The CD-ROM has some activities, but I don't have it, and can't read Japanese anyway, so I suppose I'll have to be content with him sitting there, being a red bat.

   One of the strong points of the Beast Wars line was attention to small details. Convo-Bat has some nice details, although his fur patterning is washed out by the bright red plastic. His wings have fingers and the "thumb" (which is a spur on the front of the wings on bats), nostrils, while inside his ears he has pink paint. Oddly, he has some blood vessels moulded on the undersides of his wings - which is weird considering how much kibble's under there.

   This was the first thing released in Beast Wars, and was the beginning of a learning curve that culminated in some excellent toys. While there was some promise in this bat mode, it's not really all that good. The red doesn't work from a realism point of view, but does make for a pretty nifty variant.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   A feature of the original Beast Wars basics was the auto-transform, In theory you pull the tail up, a series of gears and springs get working and Convo-Bat transforms himself into a robot. In practice you'll have to flip his feet up and position his arms. It's not perfect, but it's pretty close, and better than the Machine Wars flipchangers that required you to dig the weapon bits out and assemble them - Convo-Bat's swords are easy to unclip from underneath his wings. You can leave the swords stowed if you like, by the way.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10cm Width: 12cm

   Wider than he is tall thanks to the wings forming a pretty sweet cape, Convo-Bat is now red and white with blue highlights, and the primary colours have a G1 feel about them. If not for the fact that Megatoron is purple, I'd say his colours were pinched from Optimus Prime. The bat head is his chest, his groin, thighs and shoulders are white, which brings out the details of the mould on these parts than the blue on the standard version. His forearms, knees and robot head are painted blue, while his mouth is red and eyes orange. It's not as elegant as the colours of the original, but as with the bat mode, these are cool colours for a somewhat limited variant.

   As mentioned, the wings form a cape, and sit far enough behind his arms they don't get in the way. The cape is fixed, and the wings curve downwards. You can see the bones of his fingers as well as the blood vessels already mentioned, giving the wings a semi-organic feel. The bat head on his chest works well. The bat ears sticking out are a little unusual, but looking strangely good.

   A feature of Beast Wars robot modes was excellent poseability, and Convo-Bat has pretty good articulation. His shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are all ball joints, which are nice and tight. The hips and shoulders have tendencies to pop out, but they'll fit straight back. His head is also on a ball joint, but all it can really do is wiggle a little. The ankles are hinged, for his transformation, and this helps balance the heavy backpack that is his cape.

   The swords stick up out of his fists at 90, so he can only slash, which works fine for his curved sabres anyway. Lots of cool poses are possible. One good thing about these sabres is that they don't form vital parts of his alt mode, so losing one (or both) isn't the end of the Transformer - mine came with only one sword and it's not a major issue. As mentioned, his limbs can pop off fairly easily, and losing one of those _is_ the end of the toy, I'm afraid.

   Easily his better mode, this is a good looking robot mode, with most of the heroic elements of the standard version retained. The colours work in their own way, even if they don't fit the mood of Beast Wars. The articulation is pretty good, his ball joints and swords give Primal some really nice poses.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, this toy _is_ a variant. It was fairly limited in production, sold only in Japan - and wasn't all that common there. He was sold with the Megatoron and a CD-ROM featuring Japanese language content. No actual variations of this version that I know of.

OVERALL

   An interesting variant on a flawed toy. The colours work in their own way, and they're markedly different to those of the standard version. Being fairly limited, I'm not sure if the pack he was sold in would be worthwhile at the prices it'd go for. If, like me, you can get a loose, second hand one at a fair price, it's a nifty variant that feels like it's really it's own character - 6/10

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