Alternity Transformers Toy Review: Convoy (Vibrant Red)

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Alternity, Autobot, Generation One

Transformers Alternity

General Information:
Release Date: March 2009
Price Point: $55.00 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive (Purchased at Image Anime)
Accessories: None
Gallery of images

Package translations (by Doug Dlin)

Takara/Tomy web site information screen:
Complete Supervision by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
A dream collaboration between the Nissan GT-R, the leading authority in domestic sports cars, and Transformers, the most famous robot characters in the world!
This product aims for a greater feel of realism than ever before, faithfully reproducing details such as the disc brakes and company emblems, and of course, reproducing the interior and the opening doors and hood.

A New Transformation System: Synchrotech
"Synchrotech" is a unique new system of linked conversion. As the transformation unfolds, not only do other parts also change automatically, you can also understand intuitively the next part to be converted.

Collectible 1/32 Scale
Aims for a greater feel of realism than ever before, even though it was developed as a 1/32 scale model.

Back of packaging
NISSAN GT-R/CONVOY Vibrant Red
Nissan Motor Co.'s G-TR, has been created as a "super car" like nothing anyone in the world has experienced. Its vivid Vibrant Red coloration, as its name implies, strongly stimulates the senses of those who see it.

This is the birth of "Transformers: Alternity", a new series of Transformers, the transforming/combining robot toys known worldwide. Though developed as a line of 1/32 scale models, it aims for a greater feel of realism than ever before.

FACE
The face is a realistic reworking of previous Convoys' features.

REAR
Boasts of a highly satisfying degree of perfection as a realistic car model.

ENGINE
Realism from various die-cast metal parts and rubber tires.

TRANSFORM
This is "Synchrotech", a unique new system of linked conversion. As the transformation progresses, not only do other parts also change automatically, the user can also understand intuitively the next part to be converted.

Tomy and Hasbro have both had plenty of experience with creating vehicles that are accurate to the real life vehicle, and that shows through very clearly here. The Nissan GT-R is a very sleek yet aggressive looking vehicle. It was built to be fast, not "nice" and its sweeping lines convey this perfectly. The entire front end seems to stretch back all the way to the rear lights. Its headlights look more like slits than conventional round or rectangular lights. The front end has a trapezoid-like shape with a bar set in the center, looking almost like the hungry mouth of an animal. On the hood are two triangular vents that match up to the curve of the hood going towards the windshield. This section leads to lines that run on the sides and top of the car that lead all the way back to the rear section. The spoiler is curved outward but is very low on the vehicle and keeps close to the main body. All of these features are taken from the real life car and look fantastic.

Another strength of the Tomy and Hasbro designers are implementing small details that help the vehicle match up to its real life counterpart. In this case, there are a lot of small touches that exist on the real life vehicle that make their way into this mode. Aside from the aforementioned headlights and vents, there is a small GT-R symbol in the center of the grille. On the sides of the vehicle are parts such as side mirrors (compete with vacuum metallized "mirrors"), vents behind the front wheels, a door handle on each side and the gas tank cover on the right. Each wheel has the distinct seven spokes that converge and dip into the wheel in the center. At the rear are four circular rear lights and the Nissan symbol right on the center of the hood. Fantastic detailing!

In terms of deco, the figure shows off three primary plastic colors in this form: red, black, and translucent plastic (orange, smoke colored and clear). The color is based upon Nissan's "Solid Red" color. Additional deco is done in silver, black, orange and gunmetal grey. The gunmetal can be found on the lower edge of the vehicle from front to back and in the grille and hood. Silver is used for the sides of the wheels as well as smaller details such as the door handles, Nissan symbol in the back and the GT-R symbol on the trunk cover. The rear lights are cast in translucent orange plastic, which is a nice touch since the real life ones are also translucent orange. The only deco I would have enjoyed seeing would have been something painted in the license plate area, which is sculpted but left red. Of course, the debate becomes just what do you put? An Autobot symbol that detracts from the realism of the vehicle form or a "fake" license plate? Personally I would have gone with a fake license plate, but one small detail such of this hardly keeps the vehicle mode from looking absolutely gorgeous.

External detail is not all this figure is about. The inside of the cabin is also nicely detailed. Since this was a Japanese model, the steering wheel is on the right. The left side has two circles representing the air vents found on the real life GT-R dashboard. The center panel has its distinct three sections. A rectangular piece on top, a longer piece under it and a sightly smaller section leading to the stick shift. Behind the stick is a parking brake as well! The seats are sculpted with several rounded off shapes indicating cushions and they can be folded forward, allowing passengers to climb into the back seats, which feature similar styling. Overall the sculpting job of the interior is up to the high standards established by the Binaltech and Alternators toy lines.

Alternity Convoy is designed to allow his hood, trunk and doors to open. However, the panels that form the figure are very close together. To lift the trunk is easy, you just pull on the spoiler. However, to open the doors my perferred method is gently pushing on the sideview mirrors. I prefer this over gouging at the seam in the door. For the hood, you really have no choice but to work your nail (or other thin instrument) into the groove on the front and lift. Despite how much you have to work to get them open, having these panels open at all really adds to the realism of this figure overall.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing each door open.
  2. Swing the hood up.
  3. Separate the windshield/top piece and swing it forward.
  4. Split the rear section of the vehicle.
  5. Swing out each half of the rear windows/trunk cover out to the sides.
  6. Swing the top half of the back seats out. The rear lights/license plate section will swing out with them. They form the robot feet.
  7. Swing each half of the trunk cover against the inside of the rear window halves.
  8. Swing the red panel next to each rear wheel out.
  9. Swivel the panel you've been working with so the wheels end up behind the section with the rear lights.
  10. Swing the trunk cover/back window pieces in to fill in the rear of each leg.
  11. Pull the two front wheels and headlight sections forward. This brings them together over the grille and flips up the robot head.
  12. Swing the hood/robot chest piece down. This automatically moves the mid-body section panel down.
  13. Swing the upper body forward and connect it to the waist/pelvis section.
  14. Turn the robot head around.
  15. On each robot arm, fold the seat backs down and then slide them up.
  16. Rotate the panels with the doors on them around so the doors can fold back.
  17. Swing each arm forward and swing out the weapon barrels from the back of each seat.
  18. As you pose each arm, the door panels can be shifted to accomodate poses.

Robot Mode:
Whenever I begin a review of a Transformer in either mode, one of the first things I do is step back and ask myself "Okay, what was the designer thinking?". Is the figure a homage? Is it an attempt at an unconventional form (a la Beast Machines' Vehicons)? Or was the designer simply trying to produce something that transformed on a tight budget? What struck me as I look at Alternity Convoy is that his design is very much a combination of aesthetics of classic Transformers fused with a shade of those from the 2007 movie. I speculate that this was more of a subconscious decision on the part of the designers. Whether or not you liked the aesthetic of the 2007 movie robots, they were very complicated looking machines. For the most part they had many traditional Transformers elements such as car hoods on their chest and panels from alternate modes showing in robot mode, but they also featured very complex looking panels and machinery all over their bodies. Their designs were not "neat" looking with mostly armor panels showing such as the robots from lines like Energon or Armada. Alternity Convoy shares that design aesthetic in many ways:

  • The robot head has a very layered design. It is heavily based on the classic G1 Optimus Prime head, complete with mouthplate, central crest, circles on the sides and antennae like points raising up on the sides. However, they are layered and there are bevels that give it a much more complex look than the typical Optimus Prime head.
  • Right under the head are bits of the parts from under the car hood showing, including a piece of the engine block. The front panels of the car wrapping around this section are slightly reminscent of the way movie Bumblebee's chest was made up of the panels but had mechanical elements showing slightly right under those panels.
  • The waist piece is segmented very much like the abdominal area on a human being. This tendency to mirror organic like elements in Transformers design has become more prevelant in Transformers design over the years, and was seen quite a bit in the live action movie.
  • The robot legs have three distinct layers. If you look at the joint to the hip, that's one layer of mechanics, that is covered by another layer which itself is covered by a third layer of angled panels. Coupled with the comples design of the knees and the heavy use of angles, this is the area that gives me the biggest "Movie design" vibe.
  • The lower legs of the robot are very much reminscent of the way panels and parts from the vehicle modes almost mysteriously would fold and collapse in the movie robots. You would see hints of the parts, but they all look compressed, and it's beautiful how they achieved that effect here.

Alternity Convoy has nineteen points of articulation. This includes four points of articulation on each arm and five on each leg. The designers were very wise to use ratchet joints on the legs. A majority of the weight (including the die cast metal in this figure) are on the upper body, and the legs need to support that weight and they do it well. His primary weapons are two blasters built into the car seats (which wind up on his arms). You can have the dual barreled cannons deployed or swung back. However, I prefer them deployed since it looks like he's ready for action and you get to see the really nice, complex tech detail on the back of the car seats!

Convoy is about 6.5 inches tall. I believe people had built up expectations on size due to the Alternators, so some were disappointed when it was revealed these were not in scale with them. However, I think this is an understandable choice however. It's sad to say, but we live in rough economic times, and while the collector community is often ready to shell out money at a premium for figures such as this, they do have their limits. Engineering a new figure is a task that requires a huge financial investment, and this one has licensing a property tied to it as well. I believe the smaller size was the best way to make the price manageable while still providing a high quality Transformers figure.

The colors used on this figure represent elements from the classic Convoy color scheme involving red, blue and silver. The red comes from all the car panels, including the chest, lower legs and the hood piece on his back. Dark metallic grey is found on the arms, chest and parts of his legs. It's also used for trim on parts such as the chest. A bright, metallic silver is used on his mouthplate, waist, hips and upper legs. Blue is worked into the figure on his head, fists and knee armor. On his waist is a raised section in the shape of the Autobot symbol and there you'll find a symbol tampographed. I really love how well the colors work together in this form. I think unlike the days of Generation 2, people are more able to warm to the idea of Convoy becoming a car now instead of a truck, so long as some level of integrity to the character is held, and these colors do the job nicely.

I've only had one slight issue with Convoy, and it involves the way the abdominal armor section connects to the waist section. The tab does not completely fit into the slot, so instead of being flush against the waist piece a sliver of the connecting piece still shows. This isn't a huge deal to me, but it is worth noting.

Final Thoughts:
Alternity Convoy is an updated take on a now classic Transformers concept. Taking the spirit of G1 and the Binaltech/Alternators lines and fusing them into something new is a fantastic idea to try on a limited rather than risking the financial stakes of launching an entire line based on them. I think with this tempered approach, these may have a better chance to be successful in the long run. As long as the figure quality is as good as this figure, I look forward to more releases. Convoy has fantastic detail, a true-to-real life vehicle mode and he looks awesome in both forms while paying proper homage to the original character. Highly recommended!