Knightdramon's review of: Kiss Convoy
Let me start by saying that unlike Binaltechs, the Kiss line doesn't have any die-cast metal parts on the outer shell of the car. Instead, the figures come in painted plastic, which replicates the look of Binaltechs very well.
The fall of the Binaltech line occurred sometime between Laserwave's release and Prowl's. Whilst the line is definitely the favourite of most of the fandom, it appears that fans, no matter how many, cannot compare to general public. Most of the people I know continued importing Binaltechs after their first purchase, mostly because of the quality in most of the releases in the line. However, that was not the case with Japanese fans. Many felt that the die-cast material of the figures toned down playability, durability and in some cases, poseability. The line may have been cancelled after Skids in November, but Hirofumi Ichikawa (the guy that wrote all the bios) revealed that it would end anyway after they released Convoy and Rodimus.
So, what's Takara/Tomy's response to the fall of the line? Release those two figures in plastic and package them with a CD-Rom of the newest radio show, along with a female figure that's depicted in saucy poses all around the box. This *could* have worked if it wasn't for one fact: those females do not look any older than 13 years of age.
I can live with that, as we have the freedom to display what we want and what not. It's the price that really bugged me. The entire order (item+shipping) cost me approximately 20 extra euros than a Binaltech. That's a bit expensive for one plastic figure.
Kiss Convoy Packaging
Admittedly, the box looks better in person than in pictures. The main colour is white, with pink and red thrown in the mix at some parts. The cardboard flap with the picture of Melissa opens up to reveal another picture of Melissa (which shows no nudity as I once thought) and an illustration of a pose the figure can achieve with Convoy. On the sides you've got the ever-classic picture of Melissa kissing Convoy (with an autobot symbol window above them) and pictures of Convoy in the classic Binaltech frame style. The back of the box shows more pictures of Convoy and Melissa, and has a picture of the cd-rom included.
The box isn't your classic Cybertron\Galaxy Force\Binaltech shape. It takes cues from the recent Alternators packaging and gives off something unique-polygonal box. Two of the sides are symmetrical, but the third angles inward and the last one is shorter in order to connect. Upon opening the cardboard flap, a full (and very nice) display of the toys is presented. The cd-rom takes more space than the rest in the packaging, forcing the dimensions of the box to be like that. The box is more than twice the size of a Binaltech box in height, but about 0.5 bigger in width.
The cd is pink and has the photo of Melissa kissing Convoy on it. It features seven audio tracks, of which 5 are parts of the radio show and two are messages from the director-voice actors. I can't comment on it any more because I can't understand what they're saying.
The booklet included is different than the ones in the Binaltech line. It's square in shape and has the same images of Convoy and Melissa on the cover and first two pages. On the third page is a collection of four Melissa sketches and a pretty bad ass design artwork of Convoy (from the style and everything, I'm guessing it's recycled from the would-be Binaltech). The entire transformation process depicts Melissa with various expressions and comments, which is quite fun. The last page has a picture of all three voice actors included in the show and their statistics.
Wow. This thing is huge. Up to now, Grimlock was the biggest car figure I had, but he loses face in front of Convoy. Convoy measures twenty-two centimetres from front to back and eight centimetres from the bottom to the roof of the cab. He's really huge and bulky, easily the biggest vehicle in the entire line so far. The main colour is gloss red (a tiny bit darker than the one found on Lambor) with chrome and black for hubcaps, wheels, mirrors and the like. Though made completely of plastic, the gloss paintjob makes you think he's another die-cast metal figure. Moulded on the tailgate are the words Dodge and SRT-10. "Viper Powered" appears in miniscule letters on the sides of the bonnet, once again moulded in. Lastly, the words RAM SRT-10 are on both doors. All afforementionned inscriptions are in silver, excepted for the POWERED logo, which is in black. True to its Binaltech predecessors, the license plate features an autobot symbol and the name Convoy.
Playability-wise, the bonnet opens (but does not close as tight as you'd like), exposing the engine and a monstrous gap. Both mirrors are reflective and all the light projectors are cast in translucent plastic\red plastic. The front wheels turn in unison, but the new system used for them does not work well at all. The front bumper has its rough surface painted black, while the part between the front light projectors is painted in chrome silver. The tailgate opens and closes. The trunk is definitely the most entertaining feature. Convoy is the first Alternator mould to have a built-in storage compartment. Melissa can easily fit in there (as the other girls from Alert, Sunstreaker and Broadblast) and bring her surfboard along. The interior is very nicely detailed, with silver paint used for the frame of the cd-player and the speed metres.
My only gripe for this mode is the damn doors. The joint pops off with the slightest provocation, and the sliding feature of the inwards of the door is too stiff to slide accordingly. Following my experience with Alternator Hound, I'm afraid to meddle with the doors too much.
Overall, the vehicle mode gets a solid 10/10. Way too fun, nicely detailed, and actually looks like the leader of the puny RX-8's and Bb's.
I normally wouldn't include this, but I like the figure. It's very nicely detailed for it's size and the head rests on a ball joint. Interchangeable arms and a pair of legs are included, as well as the pink surfboard. She can strike quite a number of poses (no pun) with the surfboard and Convoy, making her a fun little figure instead of a boring pvc. I still haven't figured out how to get her in Convoy's cockpit, as her legs and the complexity of the transformer figure do not allow her to sit. Perhaps she can do it with no legs? She can fit nicely inside Grimlock with her legs.
All in all, Melissa is a welcome plus. She has two points of articulation and is nicely sculpted and painted.
-Side note- It's impossible for my figure to remain in robot mode with the doors still attached. The slightest movement causes them to pop off. This is somewhat beneficial, as he gets more movement capabilities for his arms, but loses the otherwise imposing look.
In robot mode, Convoy stands about 22 centimetres tall. He towers over most Binaltechs mainly because his shoulder panels. The main colour of this mode is still gloss red, but there's navy blue, silver, chrome silver and even black tossed into the mix. The legs are very reminiscent of MP Convoy, with silver vents above the ankles and a similar oval hole above them. Silver is used for the vents and two tubes near them, as well as a small "crest" below the knee. The rest of the leg isn't a single, dull piece. Moulded details are apparent everywhere. The hips are painted black and the crotch is silver. The hips apparently lack a silver paint app present in the Alternator version.
The arms are painted navy blue, silver and black. The colour scheme is reminiscent of Masterforce Ginrai. A red autobot symbol is painted on a white surface on the shoulder. The crotch armour is completely different from the Alternator version. Instead of being plain red, it's silver with vague sprays of yellow around some parts, evoking Ginrai's\Prime's original look. The shoulder pants (very reminiscent of Eva 02) also have additional chrome detailing on some parts. Except for the red, all the parts are painted in matt schemes. The head is an exception. Gloss navy blue paint is applied here, with gloss silver for the crest and mouth plate. The eyes are yellow. Unlike Ginrai\Prime, he doesn't have a windshield for a chest. The car mode bonnet (and bonnet alone) serves as his chest armour, similar to Binaltech Prowl. If you remove the doors, this mode has no kibble getting in the way of articulation. The head sculpt is dead on God Ginrai. Two bullet like protrusions adourn the sides of his helmet, which is very angular and well detailed.
Articulation wise, Convoy is exceptional. He has 22 points of articulation all over his body. Most of them are concentrated on his arms, with a double elbow joint to boot. A positive view on a negative aspect of the figure is that there are no connection points for the shoulders. That means that he has two points of articulation on each shoulder, allowing for 90 degrees of forward motion for each arm.
As Clay has mentioned in his review of Alternator Prime, the figure is "function over form". The only complaint about articulation is that the knee joint could be a bit lower. Overall, Convoy's pretty stable and has no stability issues at all.
My only problem with the figure is that it's assembled poorly. The seam lines are evident on the legs and knees and the waist-leg joints are a bit loose.
The gun formed out of the engine is pretty nifty. It's not like Skids' or Swindle's puny guns, nor like Grimlock's and Prowl's wide ones. It's a perfect handgun. Half the gun is painted glossy red (left silver and black on the Alternator version). The surfboard separates to form two blades or a double blade. The bigger blade of the two fits nicely into either hand, but the smaller one doesn't. What's more, I can't get the two blades to combine. It just doesn't lock together. Melissa fits nicely onto one of Convoy's shoulders in her seated position. The duo actually looks pretty nice like that.
Overall, Convoy (much like Alternator Prime) is a hit or miss kind of figure. Many fans complained about the lack of die-cast and poor extra accessories, plus the cd is almost useless for those who don't know Japanese. The original box, booklet and the figure are a fresh new start for this line. I don't think it'll go too far (Rodimus will probably be the last Alternator-styled robot) but for a start, it's not too bad.
10 the first time, 7 for each subsequent. It's not really easy and some areas could require better engineering (arms come to mind). The legs aren't easy to fold inwards either.
8. The doors popping off really annoy me, as well as the poorly assembled legs. Paint chipping is the same as with the Binaltechs.
8. I don't really play with my toys, but this one is pretty articulated, nicely accessorized and comes with a human figure on scale with Binaltechs.
4. Really, around 70 euros (shipping included) for a well-painted Alternator with extra accessories and a useless cd is not my idea of a good deal.
7. A pretty decent figure on it's own, but it's hyped beyond imagination about the human figure and packaging. Not really for Alternator fans that want them as cheap as they can get. For those of you who do not own Alternator Prime and wouldn't mind spending extra money, get this version instead.