|Hobby Japan's Black Beast Convoy Review Capsule
|Black Beast Convoy is a very expensive and very limited repaint of the regular Robot Masters Starscream, which was sold throughout Japan in an interesting color scheme combining the TV show model's features with that of the toy. This new release is a kind of powered-up version of the character, which means he has a shiny new mace and costs four times as much. Highly recommended to hard core fans, black repaint lovers, and Robot Masters freaks. Of which we are all.
The Japanese love black repaints. Or maybe the Japanese toy companies do, we're not sure which. Either way, for some reason some collectors adore these and have a full shelf of black repaints in their bedrooms. (But not us. It's two shelves.)
Named merely Beast Convoy, this exclusive repaint was sold only to people that sent in a form to Japan's Hobby Japan magazine. The cost was somewhere around $30, we're told, and importers typically charge $40+. You get newly colored accessories and a most unique deco, but despite it being called "Black Beast Convoy" in most circles, it's really more dark grey-- the first release was pretty black as it was.
As there were no alternate decos used in the USA for the character until the dark red Universe repaint recently, there's not a lot of give in making this toy a unique character. (There was a Burning Beast Convoy in the Beast Wars II movie, though-- and this mold has been repainted as such.) The storyline for Robot Masters says it's a powered-up version of the guy, and that's probably going to have to be good enough.
In America, the character is referred to as Optimus Primal.
While the bulk of Robot Masters are repaints, there were four brand new molds when the line was announced in 2004. Near the end of 2004, fans were sent their black repaints of these molds, if they coughed up enough dough for them. And lived in Japan and read Japanese toy magazines.
Much like the original release, this has the typical Convoy head adapted to how it looked for Beast Convoy in his first release-- just devoid of blue. He still has the Cybertron/Autobot logo on his shoulder, which is absent from the "Burning" version.
The figure is not a straight repaint of any earlier release and a lot of brand new paint ops seem to have been deployed for this issue. The shoulders have black paint fading to the dark grey plastic, for example. The wrist guns, chest, and the pistons on the feet are now done in vac metal and really look slick.
The rocket pack under the beast kibble butt backpack looks pretty neat, and like before you can attach the swords here if you're so inclined.
In beast mode, you get a gorilla that's in much darker colors. The face looks pretty great-- actually, the beast mode face is probably more true to the cartoon model than the regular release of the toy.
Neat, eh? It still has some red but overall this version looks a little more like a gorilla due to the darker paint job. The same great fur pattern remains, as does the furry expression. There's a lot to like here, as we've said probably six times by now.
Accessories & Gimmicks
No sound, no spring-loaded anything. What you do get, though, are the same great accessories as the normal release plus a bonus item.
The gold mace, recolored from Wrecker Hook, is a great bonus item that is a throwback to the original, larger toy which had a big skull mace. The swords are still pretty cool, and the newly colored rocket launch looks a heck of a lot better than the original release.
No longer transparent blue, the rocket launcher is now a dark metallic grey with blue highlights-- and it looks a heck of a lot better as a result. There's nothing wrong with being opaque, and the entire line of black repaints each got a unique repaint of this weapon. And for this, we are happy.
Packaging & Tech Specs
This toy came packaged in a black specially designed Robot Masters box with the Hobby Japan logo and a whole lot of black. This is not a black-and-white photo-- the box simply has no color.
The sides have no interesting graphics, and the top hasn't got anything of note-- it's just flat black. We aren't cheaping out on box shots here, there's just nothing to show. For an exclusive, odds are this was done to make it distinctive and keep the price down. It also lets you remove the figure from the package without the box looking like a second-rate display piece, it still looks nice on a shelf after you've opened it.
Other Notes & Images
Four black repaints showed up all around the same time. Here's the class photo of the Black Robot Masters Repaints of 2004.
I can tell, you're quite excited. The group is both nifty and bland-- there's a lot of black and grey here, but on the other hand, it's quite cool. After all, there's a lot of black and grey here.
Of the four black repaints, this is probably the least interesting-- it isn't bad, it just isn't as cool. It doesn't look like a vicious monster like Beast Megatron, it doesn't look like dead Optimus Prime, and it doesn't look like it could be an all-new Destron/Decepticon jet. It just looks like they repainted Beast Convoy-- but it's a really cool repaint! We love the beast face this time around, and the new rocket launcher is really something. We're also glad they didn't drop the little black rectangular piece that lets you combine the swords into a larger weapon like they did on the Burning version. You can do a lot worse than this repaint, so if you have the cash, we think you'd dig it.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample received from Fan2Fan in January 2005 for about $42
Reviewed on March 6, 2005.