There are a few mecha designs that are deeply evocative for large swathes of the global populace; the mighty Optimus Prime from the original Transformers is definitely one of them. In Japan, Optimus Prime is known by a different name though: Convoy, and it’s this that Takara Tomy has decided to do a re-release of in its Masterpiece toy range.
The reason for the name change is that Transformers actually started out as two separate Takara toy lines: Microman and Diaclone. The latter was where Convoy, or Battle Convoy as it was then known, came from. A two-piece set, it allowed other transforming cars in the Diaclone range to be stored within its large trailer. The adverts at the time in Japan were quite fun, too.
The other big aspect in terms of Convoy’s genesis was that one of the main mecha designers on the Takara Diaclone team was none other than Shoji Kawamori, who would later go on to create the likes of Macross and become a major mecha designer in his own right.
Eventually Hasbro stepped in and merged the toy lines into Transformers and brought them all westward. In addition, they created a cartoon TV series to effectively sell the toys. This this coalesced into the mighty 1986 movie, which is still something that fills me with a great deal of joy to watch even today.
So Optimus Prime is a character that resonates with a lot of people across the world and the Masterpiece toys clearly have this in mind in terms of the overall production quality as well as the faithfulness to the host work.
This toy is in fact a re-release of one from around 2010 and that in turn was a re-design of a pre-existing Masterpiece Convoy that was released back in 2003. So if you missed out on those releases then you have a chance to correct that oversight.
The full review will go up soon, so keep an eye out for that!