I’m often amused by the reaction online to some of the more unusual Masterpiece reveals. Stuff like the Diaclone-styled decos often causes a lot of questions, not to mention some of the more weird and wonderful examples, such as the current line of Atmos Convoys. Then you have MP-38+ Burning Convoy, which I think I can safely say has beaten all of that to be the most unanimously WTF response I’ve ever witnessed.
And you know what? Fair enough! I mean, it is kind of a weird toy, right? A translucent red repaint of a gorilla? With gold hands and feet? And gold lips in robot mode? It’s not the first Burning Convoy attempt ever but I’ll admit I wasn’t sure that TakaraTomy would ever follow through on a Masterpiece version. Now that they have I honestly couldn’t be more intrigued to check it out.
If you haven’t seen it yet then a good place to begin is my unboxing video of this guy, particularly as it provides all the required background on the character should you still be scratching your head as to just who Burning Convoy is meant to be. TL;DR it is Optimus Primal (sort of), and not a new character, although it’s him as he’s seen in the Japanese Beast Wars II series where he briefly powers up to this blazing red form to fight a supreme enemy.
So what of the toy itself? Well I’m already a huge fan of the mould itself, having ranked it very highly on my list of new toys from the year it came out, but I have to say I wasn’t quite prepared for how well it was going to present in shining red form. It’s bloody gorgeous!
Straight out of the box, the clear red plastic is incredibly striking and really makes the design of this toy sing. The uniform main colour is a huge advantage here too, smoothing over the kibbly bits on the rear of the beast mode to give a more pleasing result than even the two previous iterations of the toy. The mould itself is entirely unchanged, however, and you’ll note still features that small pop-up peg on his back which can be used to attach Generations Rattrap.
In fact it’s quite something how much difference the new deco makes overall here, which I suppose is heightened by the previous versions both being mostly dark grey or black. Burning Convoy is loud and proud and simply demands to be taken notice of. I find that I cannot simply leave him on a desk or shelf without my eyes constantly wandering in his direction, such is the intense appeal of the colour scheme on offer.
It feels good quality in hand too, which I guess is a very pertinent thing to note as inevitably someone will have a panic about the nature of the clear plastic otherwise. I’ve handled this toy in exactly the same manner as I have the MP-32 and regular MP-38 versions and I haven’t noted any potential problems on the horizon.
My only minor grumble has been that the top chest section on the gorilla mode doesn’t quite sit 100% flush (as noted above), but honestly you’d have to go looking for it to spot it.
I’m also a big fan of the finish on offer, with nicely-applied paint and crisp moulding making for a very attractive figure overall. I love the way that the paint on the chest melds into the bare translucent plastic surrounding it, for example.
Elsewhere the clear plastic makes the most of showing off the interior workings, but it’s hardly done so conspicuously that it becomes this toy’s entire gimmick. In fact I think the look is quite subtle overall, meaning that you only really notice the moulding when you look up close.
You will see all manner of joints and screws should you go looking, but really the whole thing comes together beautifully to make an extraordinarily well-presented toy.
So look, it may all be a bit weird but there’s little doubt that Burning Convoy looks nothing shy of magnificent once you get him in hand. In fact I think this might be the most I’ve admired and enjoyed a repainted toy like this in some time, and that’s definitely not the reaction I was expecting!
As with previous versions, the stock face is a sort-of stoic gorilla expression with a couple of piercing blue eyes and some lovely detailing to really bring out the features. It’s spot-on to the computer-generated animation from the original Mainframe Beast Wars show, even if not quite to how the more traditional animation of Beast Wars II looks.
Of course you can also swap it out for an angry, growling face instead, using a simple peg mechanism. The angry face is great and shines with character (not to mention nicely-painted teeth!). The smiling face from the original release is nowhere to be found, but given the animation reference this toy represents, that makes sense to me.
Otherwise there’s plenty of articulation on offer to keep you interested here, with Burning Convoy putting in a surprisingly poseable gorilla mode overall. The arms are the main source of that, of course, even boasting shoulders that hinge forward slightly to give a more animalistic posture should you wish.
I will say that the appearance of the elbow joints continues to be the significant weak spot of this toy, in my estimation. The wide range of motion they offer is quite necessary in order to have the ape mode able to beat its own chest, but the elbows themselves appear quite awkward as a result, sadly. I did find that the shoulder pads from the robot mode sit properly in place a lot more securely than on my MP-32 original, mind.
Still, it’s a minor grumble on an otherwise incredibly attractive toy, and definitely the kind of thing that looks worse in photos than it ever does in hand. Besides, it’s not hard to pose him in any number of ways that have him looking suitably impressive!
As well as an upright stance, the toy also features a hinge in the pelvis which allows the beast mode to lunge forward and stand on all fours. It works really well and allows this form to look and feel quite surprisingly natural (and again, even more cohesive, thanks to the singularly-coloured paint scheme).
So all-in-all there’s really a lot to like about this third outing for the Optimus Primal mould, and it’s certainly different enough to the two previous versions that you don’t feel like you’re just getting more of the same!
I’d guess that anyone who is likely to pick this toy up has probably gone in on at least one of the previous versions, but honestly I can’t help but say that if you’re on the fence about the see-through simian then you’re unlikely to be disappointed, based on the evidence thus far. The beast mode presents as being its own unique affair, to say the least!
Of course the other obvious comparison to be made here is to the also recently-released MP-48 Lio Convoy, who perhaps inevitably looks like he was made to work alongside this toy.
Seeing these two together, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before TakaraTomy sees fit to also give us a Flash Lio Convoy repaint. Surely it’s inevitable, right? I certainly hope so, as if it looks half as decent as Burning Convoy then it’s going to make for one hell of a double act.
It is possible to have Burning Convoy riding on Lio Convoy’s back (just like in the cartoon), although it’s hardly the most stable affair. Still, it makes for a lot of fun, even if it is a bit bizarre!
Overall, I really find myself quite enamoured with Burning Convoy’s beast mode so far – way more than I thought I would, in fact. I thought this would be a fun if fairly unremarkable repaint, but instead it turned out to be quite astonishingly eye-catching in hand!
Check out part two, where we’ll be looking at the transformation and robot mode!