Name: Star Convoy
Series: Japanese Generation 1
Function: Supreme Commander
Alternate Mode: Semi Trailer Truck
Note: The above picture is of the original Star Convoy. My review concentrates on the reissue.
SEMI TRAILER MODE
Height: 34.5cm Length: 14cm Width: 8.5cm
A red, silver and blue semi trailer that instantly reminds you of Optimus Prime, which makes sense - they're the same character. The character recognition is instant but the two trucks are quite different - indeed this was the last G1 version of Convoy (Optimus Prime) anywhere in the world. The cab is still red while the front of the trailer is silver, the back half is a mixture of silver and blue. There's some black here and there, and some yellow on the roof. There are eight black wheels at the front and a rubber tread at the back, making Star Convoy a half-track. The grille and lights are silver while the windows mid blue. The distinctive blue stripes are present on the sides with Autobot logos towards the back of the trailer.
The trailer and cab are actually one piece, and the hitch doesn't turn, which is both good and bad. The advantage is that you're not going to misplace half the toy, but this comes at the expense of play value. Of course, Star Convoy has play value in other areas. You can attach his handgun to the roof of the trailer, and behind this a smaller gun can attach. There are two small double barrelled black guns on top of what would I guess be the sleeping berth, just above the cab.
If you've put batteries into this toy (4xAA), you can flick a switch on the left tread to activate that tread. He'll slowly roll forward or backwards (depending which way you throw the switch). The rear gun will slowly rotate at the same time, which is a nice touch. While he rolls fairly slowly and with some noise, this is a decent electronic gimmick. it's certainly far more worthwhile than some of the distorted sound gimmicks included in many Armadaverse toys. The door at the back folds down, revealing two garages for MicroTrailers - and he comes with a single, black, unnumbered, trailer.
While it's far from realistic, this truck still has it's own charm. Star Convoy is really designed as a Micromaster playset, and for that this isn't an awful alternate mode - it's certainly better than some of the others from the same line (such as Grandus). The fact that it's quite clearly Optimus Prime is a positive, it gives this toy some nostalgia value.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Remove the weapons mounted on the trailer, flip up the central section of the roof (where the handgun mounts), rotate the waist, flip up the feet, stand him up. Swing back the larger wheels, which sit on either side of the chest. Split the cab and fold the halves down to the sides to form his arm. Straighten the arms, slide out his fists and rotate the shoulder cannons to face forward. Lastly, open the chest, swing out his head and close the chest again. You can give him his handgun if you like.
Height: 29cm Width: 14.5cm
Again using the character's iconic colours, Star Convoy has a red torso, red arms, a blue head, blue boots and silver thighs. The fists are silver and the feet black. The face is silver with blue eyes, and has the traditional mouthplate and antennae. There's a chrome gold "T" on his chest, which sits between two transparent blue windowpanes - the chest is a faux truck front, complete with headlights and grille. The groin is black and the kneecaps yellow, while there are big Autobot logos on his shoulders. The colour scheme isn't fantastic since it's a little broken up, but this robot is clearly meant to be Convoy, and this being obvious is a success in itself.
The legs are a single block, the only transformation below the waist is in the feet. There _is_ more to come in base mode, but for the moment the legs are just the back of the trailer. Still, they work quite well, with a fake gap between them that's no worse than a lot of other G1 toys. Sure, he's a brick, but the fact that he turns into a basestation gives Star Convoy something of an excuse. The only poseability here is in the arms. The shoulders and elbows swing and that's it. The cannons on his shoulders can turn around, and the treads allow him to roll along if you have batteries installed, but that rounds out the play value. The rolling treads aren't as effective in this mode, but at least the mechanism isn't wasted.
Big and block, this robot mode can't do all that much other than stand on a shelf. Of course, the play value of Star Convoy is elsewhere, and compared to the other Micromaster bases Takara offered at the time this isn't a bad robot mode. The tribute is nice, there's plenty of Optimus Prime here, and the size is impressive. There are better Optimus Prime robots out there however, so if you're not impressed by the Micromaster base mode, you'll probably find this robot mode disappointing.
TRANSFORMATION TO BASE MODE
You more or less unfold everything. Rotate the legs 90°, so that the front is facing right and fold down the feet. Split the legs, fold the front up, fold the back up and detach the treads. Place him flat, flipping the treads upside down, placing them out towards the front and reattaching them via a small post. Open the chest, open the boots to form four repair bays, open the door at his feet. Clip the front and rear ramp attachments to the treads, attach the smaller gun onto the centre of the treads platform, attach the connector to the corner of the treads mechanism.
Height: 16cm Depth: 38cm Width: 836cm
A rather spread out affair that's a mix of silver, blue, red, black and grey with some yellow here and there. Looking at the toy from front on, there are four repairs bays on your left (the opened up shins), a command console in the middle (the chest cavity) and twin launching ramps on the right, which pokes out towards you. There are similarities to Metroplex here, especially on the left side with the repair bays. The red connector on the right side corner allows you to connect Star Convoy to Grandus, if you happen to have that toy (I don't).
There are lots of places to put Micromasters in this mode. He only comes with Hot Rodimus, but Micromasters aren't hard to find. The command console in the middle seems to be the most logical place for Hot Rodimus, but you also have the twin ramps on the right side and between those the smaller gun can be manned by another Micromaster - there's even a post at it's base which will clip into the feet on whoever's manning it. You have two proper repair bays and two quasi-bays on the left side, the outer set are really only covers, but many Micromasters will park in them anyway. The larger repair bays are specifically designed to fit the MicroTrailers, cab first. He comes with one but there's no reason why you can park two in this base, if you have another.
The MicroTrailer is black with blue windows (a wraparound sticker), an orange door at the back and a small orange tab at the front. A Micromaster can fit inside, and if you press the tab at the front, the Micromaster will knock open the door and roll out (similar to Roller on the original Optimus Prime). The trailer's door has a Micromaster Combiner style hole-post, so you can easily join two trailers or attach a Combiner to the back - although this will neuter the firing mechanism. The yellow kneecaps on Star Convoy are actually buttons, if you have the trailers in place, and loaded, the buttons presses down on the tabs at the front of the trailer, firing your Micromasters.
On the other side of the base are the rubberised treads, which now have a third action feature. Turn them on, place a couple of Micromasters into the rear ramp attachment, press the tab on this piece (which will tip it forwards), the Micromasters will roll down onto the treads, head forwards and the down the front ramp. If you have a gunstand will slowly turn while the motor is running, while the red connector transfers the motor's spin to Grandus (though I'm not sure what this does, since I don't have Grandus).
The arms, including handgun and shouldercannons, are still in place, along with the robot head, which is a rather odd centrepiece for this base. Directly below the head we have a sticker resembling a computer console, and there's a post on the floor of the command post, allowing Hot Rodimus (or whoever to anchor).
For the time, this is a fairly good base mode. While the head is rather out of place, the fact that this is designed to work with the Transformers of the day is a plus - some of the early bases scaled to only a few of their contemporaries. The action features are well designed, while the inclusion of the MicroTrailer is quite welcome. If you like Transformer bases, this is a fairly good one.
Name: Hot Rodimus
Function: None specified, but the original version of the character was 'Cavalier'
Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Car
Height: 1.5cm Length: 5cm Width: 2.5cm
A small dark red street rod that bears an uncanny resemblance to Hot Rod - which makes sense since they're the same character (Hot Rodimus is simply his Japanese name). With blue windows, a yellow tailfin and a flaming hood, it's an attractive car mode that would fit in alongside the far more recent Worlds Smallest Transformers line. He has black plastic tyres and a tiny Autobot symbol on the hoot sticker. The piping on his sides and engineblock are present although they're red rather than chromed. Despite this, the colour scheme works well and they've really nailed the car mode,
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Flip over the back of the car to form boots, fold down the hood to form his chestplate and reveal the head. This transformation isn't all that similar to the original's, but it's pretty standard for a Micromaster.
Height: 5.5cm Width: 2.5cm
Again mainly red with the flame sticker now on his chest. The face is silver, thighs yellow and the yellow spoiler is now on his knees. The overall look is again a lot like the original Hot Rod, although the match isn't quite as good as it was in car mode, since the body layout is all Micromaster, from the shoulder pylons to the leg jointing. In terms of poseability, Hot Rodimus is all Micromaster - the shoulders rotate, the hips bend as one and the knees bend independently. he'll happily stand on either post on Star Convoy's base mode, by the way.
This set was originally released by Takara in 1991 and again reissued in 2005 - I have the 2005 reissue. According to FortMax, the gold chrome crest on the chest was yellow on the 1991 version, and the silver plastic was white. Also, all of the painted detail except the eyes were stickers on the original. The 2005 version doesn't really need the red connector, but I'm glad they put it in, since 1) it makes the set complete 2) it means anyone who has Grandus can fully appreciate this set and 3) if Grandus is ever reissued, it'll come in handy.
A big playset, Star Convoy is fun if you like Micromasters, with a rather cool base mode and a nifty little partner in Hot Rodimus. The robot and truck modes aren't all that good, mainly because they're immobile blocks - neither are ugly though. The recent reissue has brought the price of the set down, and made it a lot easier to find. Fans of Hot Rod will find the Micromaster companion appealing, but I don't think that Hot Rodimus alone justifies the price tag (the reissue will be $100+). Lots of play value in a Micromaster base kinda way, so if you like that sort of thing, then this set is worth the price. If not, you can safely skip it - 6.5/10