Superlink Toy Reviews: SL Convoy & Kicker

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Superlink

Transformers Superlink

SL Convoy & Kicker Two Pack Review

General Information:
Release Year: 2004
Retailer: General (exclusive to Japan)
Price: Approximately $50 at US import stores
Accessories: Gun, Energon Saber Replica, Megatron Sword Replica

Grand Convoy

Images:

Grand Convoy Tech Specs Translation (by Doug Dlin):
"I will fight for peace throughout all of space!"
A reliable Cybertron Supreme Commander, he has thrown himself into war to protect the peace of the universe, no matter how many severe battles that may mean. When his hidden Super Link ability is displayed, yet another legendary fight is sure to happen right before your eyes.

Strength: 10 Intelligence: 10 Speed: 10 Endurance: 10
Rank: 10 Courage: 10 Firepower: 10 Skill: 10

While Transformers celebrate their 20th Anniversary, another Takara originated toy line was celebrating its 30th, Microman. Microman has seen a revamp as recently as 2000, and in 2003 it was revamped again in the form of a small group of figures with hyper posability and neat weapons, bringing Microman back to basics. As part of this initiative, the base figure for Microman has been used as the basis for other humanoid heroes. In 2003, the body of the Microman
toy was used for a "Battle of the Planets" (a.k.a. G-Force) figure. At the time of this review, the Microman figure body is being used for Batman figures
in Japan. This provided a unique opportunity for Takara to bring two of its classic toy lines (Transformers and Microman) together again.

Energon features Kicker, a human character who can don a suit of armor developed by his father to fight the Decepticons. This made him the perfect character
to be turned into a toy with a Microman base body. The result? A special two pack featuring a Transformers figure and a pseudo-Microman figure.

It would have been easy to just take Hot Shot or someone, redeco him and toss him into the pack, but instead Takara went ahead with the creation of a new figure. Sorta. Like Armada, Convoy (a.k.a. Optimus Prime) now has a smaller sized counterpart to the large toy currently on toy store shelves. This deluxe version was made to act like the other deluxes in the line, complete with the ability to Powerlink with other deluxe Cybertrons/Autobots.

It should be noted that each of these figures is available in single packs. Grand Convoy is boxed like other deluxe sized Super-Link toys while Kicker is in a special, small box.

SL Grand Convoy

Robot Mode:
The goal of creating a deluxe sized Grand Convoy was not to create Convoy in a new form, but replicate the larger sized toy in a smaller form, and give it different functionality, and slightly more posability. In both respects, Takara succeeded, with varying degrees of success.

In terms of appearance, Takara managed to stay 95% faithful to Grand Convoy's larger self. His basic body shape is the same, complete with his rather
"pudgy" top body. Even minor details are replicated such as the small vents on the hands, the "buttons" on the sides of the chest (on Energon Optimus Prime, the left button activated his firing sound), the grill design on his upper body and even the small circles representing "bolts" on his shoulders.

Somehow in this size scale, he does not look as "chubby" as the larger version of the toy. The upper body is still rather large however, so I wouldn't describe this as a "thin" version of the larger Grand Convoy.

Other than size, there are some changes made to the design:

  • On each wrist there is now a Mini-Con Powerlinx port.
  • The hands can flip around to reveal gun barrels, this is primarily for use in his Powerlinx modes.
  • The fuel tanks on his legs now have holes in them sized to accomodate Energon weapons.
  • Instead of having the feet be two pieces (a front foot and heel piece), the feet here are all one solid piece.
  • The chest pieces cannot flip open, they are one solid piece.
  • The design of the gun is different than the missile launcher Grand Convoy comes with. It more closely resembles the Energon Blaster role playing toy due out in the US
    Summer of 2004.
  • While he still has his "Super Mode" helmet, the piece is now just one sculpted piece instead of having the antennae on the side able to move.

Grand Convoy's posability factor goes up slightly as well. This Grand Convoy has fifteen points of articulation as opposed to the eleven that the larger one does. The additional articulation comes in the form of the feet being able to angle forward, the legs being able to rotate and the wrists being able to
move side to side. Granted, most of this comes from the transformation scheme, but it's still nice to see they were added on at all.

The color scheme used here is very much the one used on the larger Grand Convoy. The grill and bumper section at the front of the vehicle has a bit more color variants however. Instead of being just vacuum metallized silver, the headlights are vacuum metallized blue, and two section on the bumper are dark blue. It seems silly, but these two small color changes actually add up to a lot of visual appeal. Translucent blue plastic is now used for several parts including his upper arms, windshields and gun. That looks particularly nice as translucent plastic is basically akin to parts forged with Energon in this storyline, and the implication is that these are enhanced parts. Or you can just look at it as a very nice deco choice, either way it works for me.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the gun from Convoy's hand.
  2. Turn the robot head around.
  3. Straighten out the robot feet.
  4. Swing the robot helmet section up, then fold that entire piece (robot head and all) back.
  5. Straighten out the arms, swing them out to the sides, and then swing them back.
  6. Pull the section with the rear wheels down, then swing them up, with the rectangular, angled covers going over the robot fists.
  7. Swing the legs up and connect them to the rear wheels section using the pegs and holes.
  8. Attach the gun to the rear of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Grand Convoy is very much a shrunken down version of the larger one in appearance. However, there are some differences worth noting.

  • The helmet for the Super mode is swung a lot farther back here, and the robot head is visible (but you turn it around so it blends in somewhat).
  • From the robot wrists, there are Powerlinx Mini-Con pegs on the truck, but without some good rearranging of parts, they really don't do much for this mode.
  • On either side of the vehicle, towards the middle, are holes to fit Energon weapons into.

A nice touch the designers kept intact was the ability for the cab to connect to the trailer that comes with the larger Grand Convoy. The hitch is rather large looking for the toy, but when you see it connects to the trailer, it makes perfect sense size-wise. What I wasn't crazy about (and don't really understand), is why the weapon holes on the fuel tanks are angled. They make it difficult to attach any weapon to point forward. You can have weapons angling back, which certainly can look cool, but still, it would be nice to have them point forward too.

I really like how the designers kept the basic shape and design accurate to the larger version. Even the robot arms angling back look just right. And
having the weapon still be able to mount onto the rear of the cab is a welcome sight.

Transformation to Powerlinx Mode (Upper Body - starting in robot
mode):

  1. Detach the gun from the robot fist.
  2. Flip the fists into the lower arms to reveal the "gun hands"
  3. Fold the helmet onto the robot head.
  4. Striaghten out the robot feet.
  5. Swing each half of the upper body out to the side and down. Angle them out a bit.
  6. Rotate the robot legs so the fuel drums face front, and then swing them out so the feet can be positioned to match the angle of the side pieces.
  7. Rotate the back portion around so the robot head winds up where the robot legs are.
  8. Rotate the back piece with the rear wheels on it, and flip it up.
  9. Position the arms so they face forward.

Powerlinx (Upper Body Mode):
Grand Convoy's upper body mode is nice, but it feels like it could have been given one more night of thought before being sent off to the production
line. Aside from being able to Powerlink, one of the nice things about virtually every deluxe sized "combining" Energon toy is that they can have extra weaponry attached to them. This holds true for Grand Convoy, but not to the degree that they could have achieved.

First, he has no fists. Now, you can flip the guns around in the lower arms to reveal fists, but it's obvious they're not meant to be used there since they invariably wind up upside down or backwards etc. Still, you can have him hold weapons like that, but it still would have been nice if the arms had been designed to work with hand held weapons in this form. One saving grace however is that the Mini-Con Powerlinx ports are easily accessible here, so you can attach Mini-Cons.

On the top of this section, you can rotate the robot legs around so the holes on the fuel drums face up (and therefore, allowing you to mount weapons onto them), but because they are angled, the weapons will be slanted as well. However, one nice design touch here (if you do this) is the pattern on the bottom of Convoy's feet. They look like missile ports, so perhaps this "alterna-mode" was intentional.

The helmet-on-head design here looks very cool. Sure, you can tell the mouthplate is a bit small in proportion to the helmet, but it's not so much so that the toy looks bad. I love the look of the grill from the vehicle mode being the chest piece, and having the sides of the cab be huge shoulder armor is a
cool touch.

Convoy makes a really nice, wide, armored looking upper body, and since he's slightly smaller than the average deluxe sized 'bot, his proportions don't overwhelm most other Autobots with Powerlinking ability.

Transformation to Powerlinx Mode (Lower Body - starting in robot mode):

  1. Detach the gun from the robot fist.
  2. Flip the fists into the lower arms to reveal the guns.
  3. Swing the robot head back into the helmet and off the upper body.
  4. Rotate the back pack around.
  5. Pull the upper thigh armor (where the fuel drums are) down to cover the lower legs.
  6. Rotate the portion of the "back pack" that has the rear wheels and then fold it down.
  7. Swing the chest halves out to the sides (robot arms and all) and point the gun arms forward.

Powerlinx (Lower Body Mode):
Unfortunately, this is the form where we find Convoy's rather chunky proportions seriously work against him. On it's own, this looks like some kind of interesting gun emplacement, and in that context it's pretty neat. However, Powerlink someone to it, and all of a sudden it looks like someone has gained some weight, and it all went to the hips. Since you have the sides of Convoy's upper body making up the sides of this body, they look like huge hips, and what doesn't help is that the legs are not that long, so the illusion made is one of a short, wide hipped Autobot. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that could have been done to help this. The robot chest pieces really have nowhere else to go. The only way to have helped the appearance at all would have been to lengthen the legs a bit, or at least allow them to extend beyond their normal robot mode length.

On many fronts, SL Convoy is a bold move. Not only take "tubby" Convoy and turn him into a smaller form, but give him (essentially) four modes. For the most part, I think Takara succeeded. Pretty much every mode is good except one, and I'll take one out of four. And the novelty of having a Convoy that can
combine with your deluxe sized Energon/Superlink figures is also very cool.

Kicker

Images:

Kicker Tech Specs Translation (by Doug Dlin):
"I'll do things for myself!"
A young man with the mysterious ability to sense the location of Energon. He has chosen to fight as a warrior along with the Transformers, both to regain peace and to find himself.

Strength: 7 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 7 Endurance: 7
Rank: 5 Courage: 10 Firepower: 5 Skill: 8

The Kicker figure included in this two pack is a redeco of the individually packaged Kicker figure. Please read that review for a more detailed look at this toy. This review will cover the changes made to the toy for this release.

Based on the Microman body, the piece was sculpted with new parts to turn it into Energon's primary human character. The head and feet are original sculpted pieces replacing the standard Microman body parts that would normally be there. The best and chest/back pack pieces are original sculpts added onto the basic Microman body.

This new deco primarily consists of making Kicker more metallic looking. The helmet is almost all vacuum metallized silver. The colors used for his decos on the helmet are the same colors as the regular Kicker, but they're all metallic equivalents. For instance, the top of the helmet has a wide band of blue outlined by red, here it is metallic blue outlined by red (a bi-product of being on a vacuum metallized silver surface).

The red bands which connect the back pack to his chest armor is a darker shade of red than the regular Kicker's, and the chest plate is vacuum metallized silver with blue edges and a red Cybertron/Autobot symbol stamped on.

While the above color differences are the most obvious, some of the color changes become apparant only on closer inspection. All the parts that are black on the regular Kicker figure are translucent black plastic. All the parts painted white on the regular Kicker figure are painted a pearl white, which has a bit of a metallic shine to it. Small details such as the red and blue on his knees and feet have also been colored with their metallic equivalents.

Kicker's accessories are replicas of Megatron's Sword and the Energon Saber. The Energon Saber is the same one that the regular Kicker comes with, but it is in gold vacuum metallized plastic instead of silver. The replica of Megatron's sword is vacuum metallized green and shaped like the sword as it appears in the television program. The only thing which was sort of disappointing is just how small the replice of Megatron's Sword is. It's just the right size to be a small sword for Kicker, but I would have preferred another sword the size of the Energon Saber which could then be used by larger
Superlink/Energon figures.

This two pack is a wonderful way to commemorate two toy lines which have crossed paths several times since the early 80's. Highly recommended.