REVIEW: TakaraTomy Masterpiece MP-38+ Burning Convoy (part two)

Welcome to the second part of our Masterpiece Burning Convoy review! If you missed part one then be sure to check that out first (as well as our recent unboxing video on the toy) before joining us as we take a look at the figure’s transformation and robot mode below. Maximize!

I’ve already been suitably enamoured with the beast mode on this fella so I’m more than ready to get cracking with the transformation and give that robot mode the full once over. Despite knowing the mould well from the two previous versions, I always find that there’s some fun to be had with experiencing repainted versions of previous toys for the first time. Little differences in tolerances and the like can make all the difference, not to mention how much a new colour scheme can allow your eyes to notice things that you’d never noticed before.

In that regard I wouldn’t necessarily say that Burning Convoy was a revelation, although it definitely is interesting to see how the various joints twist and turn when cast in a bright red, as opposed to the dark grey and black we’ve already had. The clear plastic on offer here makes a bit of a difference too, I suspect.

Overall though, it’s still the same familiar transformation scheme which remains as enjoyable as ever. Despite other Masterpiece Beast Wars toys starting to err on the complex side of things (Dinobot, Megatron, Lio Convoy), the Optimus Primal mould has always been one that can be done back and forth in next to no time, and remains all the better for it.

In particular I still chuckle at that waist swivel moment towards the end, if only for how much it apes (sorry!) the transformation scheme as shown in the Mainframe cartoon, where the character basically walks his legs round the right way. In Burning Convoy’s case we go from red gorilla to red robot, but the results are still rather marvellous!

Of all the many Masterpiece toys I own, I think this design may still be one of the most impressive robot forms I know, in all honesty. It’s just spot on to how the character was originally depicted, with every inch of the thing being a flawless recreation of the CGI model we all know so well.

It’s also extraordinarily tidy, with very little kibble to be found anywhere (except maybe the bits that are intentional) and a surprising amount of great gimmicks packed away under the bonnet, as we’ll see. Being redone in a singular colour definitely helps to hide away any minor elements of visual debris, but it’s still a stunner either way.

So look, about that colour scheme… yes, it’s a bit odd, isn’t it? It’s definitely one of those that’s going to take some people a bit of getting used to, but for my money I think it works exceptionally well. Better than I expected actually, as it’s startlingly striking in hand.

As with the beast mode, the clear plastic on offer here looks nothing short of marvellous, catching the light in all the right ways to really give this design an extra ounce of oomph. It shines both literally and figuratively, in my estimation.

I’ve seen a couple of comments from people saying that they wish the head wasn’t blue and had been done in the same red colour as the rest of the body, and whilst I can see what they’re going for with that suggestion I have to say that the rich, deep shade of the helmet really adds something quite interesting to this colour scheme, in my book. It may be odd, but I wouldn’t change it one bit.

Even the gold lips, surely the feature on this particular toy that have caused the most questions and comments online, look quite at home here and bring something truly worthwhile to the table. Overall it’s one of the boldest but most visually striking toys I’ve seen in recent memory.

In fact the whole headsculpt itself remains a highlight for me. I remember in my younger years when I first saw the Optimus Primal cartoon design with the mouth and I thought it was truly awful, but somehow I quickly got used to it and now it makes the character feel all the more distinct. Like the rest of the design, it’s been superbly recreated here.

I will add that whilst I’m not normally much of a fan of light-up features on toys like this (and in particular light-up eyes, if only because it often leaves the figure looking “dead” when they’re turned off), this one works pretty well for me. The glowing red eyes fit the design well.

Oh and should the gold lips prove too much for your tastes then no problem – just swap out the stock face for the alternate one that comes included, and give him his very dandy-looking battle mask instead! Either look works well to my eye.

Taking pictures of Burning Convoy, posing him up and clicking away, I think I finally realised what it is that works so well about this colour scheme, especially when remembering how the character is portrayed in his brief animation stint. He’s looks like a robo-superhero! Seriously, who else could wear such a ridiculous outfit and still pull off such preposterous power poses? Just give him a cape and he’s away!

Look he can even do the landing!

Seriously though, it’s hard to put into words just what a pleasure it is to play around with and pose this toy. It’s not even that there’s an abundance of joints or extra points of articulation (he’s actually missing stuff like an ab crunch), but somehow it just feels wonderfully fluid and gives you everything you need to have Burning Convoy looking exceptionally dynamic however you display him.

I know, I know – I probably sound a bit like I’m gushing far too much about this toy, right? Well I truthfully didn’t expect to get as excited about it as I have. I mean, I loved the mould anyway, but I genuinely haven’t put down this new version since it arrived.

But wait, there’s more! For this guy is positively loaded with amazing gimmicks! Really, I don’t think many toys can claim to pack in as much fun. Let’s start with the fold-out shoulder cannons, eh?

It’s a very simple but effective solution, with the cannons storing away nicely on his back when not in use. I always appreciate how the Masterpiece line handles these kind of features, not feeling the need for springs and the like. You can also see the little flip-out blaster on the bottom of his backpack here, which is an effort to recreate how the character can fly in the original Beast Wars cartoon.

Next up – swords! Two gold-coated curvy blades of loveliness. They tab fairly securely into his hands and look really rather swish (pun intended).

Frankly I’m a sucker for any robot that can dual-wield a pair of blades in such a manner, so Burning Convoy pulling this off on top of the pop-out shoulder cannons? Pure catnip.

The swords can even be stowed away on his backpack when not in use, via a simple peg solution. I’ve always thought they look surprisingly tidy back there.

And finally we have the pièce de résistance, the absolute crème de la crème of wonderful robo-gimmicks… can I hear you say “pop-up arm guns”?

The solution for this is really quite something, in that all is required is a simple fingernail in a small slot on the underside of the arm before the rest of the gun is unfolded manually. The result is a pair of cracking cannons that never fail to look awesome however you choose to pose the toy. Why do more Transformers not have these?

Ultimately all of this good gimmickry harkens back to the feature-laden original Optimus Primal toy from 1996, which boasted an extraordinary amount of play value even by today’s standards. However the way in which this Masterpiece version brings all of these elements up-to-date is faultless.

If I was feeling ever-so-slightly nitpicky I might wonder where the mace and the two-sided blade accessories from the MP-38 Legendary Leader version have gone, as they were worthwhile additions on top of what we got with MP-32 Optimus Primal, but really there’s not a lot to sniff at considering everything that is actually in the box here.

What you get is a toy that is lovingly loaded with play value, now re-released in a rather stunning (and certainly unique) translucent plastic. I mean, what else could you really want?

If anything then, giving Burning Convoy the once over has made me appreciate this design all the more, and that’s saying something as I already held it in very high esteem.

I mentioned in part one that I felt it was unlikely that many people would be looking to pick this up as their first foray with this mould, but if indeed it is then you’re onto a winner. Really though, they all have their own individual charm.

Dare I say I think MP-38 Legendary Leader might still be my favourite version overall, but there’s little doubt that Burning Convoy adds something entirely fresh and unexpected to the mix.

Once again, I’m left wondering just how long it will be before TakaraTomy now choose to bring us the surely-inevitable Flash Lio Convoy repaint. Hopefully it won’t take too long as it will be an extraordinary experience seeing it alongside MP-38+.

As it is the toy works nicely with the regular Lio Convoy, even if their comparative design differences are even more obvious in hand. Whilst I do enjoy the result of the more complex and intricate nature of that toy, I can’t help but feel that Burning Convoy is more fun overall.

At the end of the day it remains an incredible time to be a Beast Wars Masterpiece enthusiast, as the line continues to pump out awesome new moulds and repaints at the same time. Long may it continue.

WHAT’S HOT? Great fun in both modes with a pleasingly repeatable transformation. Some amazing gimmicks and a fantastic design overall.

WHAT’S NOT? The elbows are weird. That’s the end of my complaints.

SHOP FOR THIS TOY AT TFSOURCE

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers photographer & blogger from the UK with quite a well-known carpet. Collects both vintage G1/G2 and Masterpiece/3P.

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