Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Beast Wars 2 Galvatron and LioConvoy

 For months and months I'd been pondering whether or not to pick 
up the two BW2 leaders, first off the 'net, then from the Hasbro 
Collectors site when they appeared there.  Back and forth I went, 
back and forth... finally, BotCon '99 came along; on Saturday 
afternoon, casually strolling through the sparse crowd in the dealer 
room, I saw them: both in a two pack, for $70 -- same price as from 
Hasbro, but without the shipping and without the wait.  I ran to the 
ATM for more cash, and strolled away with them in my hands ten 
minutes later.

LIOCONVOY:  For the whole weekend I heard how crappy 
LioConvoy is, how he wasn't worth $10, let alone $35; how 
Galvatron totally blows him away; on and on (mainly from Liquid 
Velcro! and Walky).  But to my surprise, when I got home and 
finally had a chance to play with him, I found he's pretty durn cool, 
and I'm glad I got him.

His beast mode is a magnificent white lion with a gold mane, claws 
and tail, and grey highlights on the paws.  The mane is chopped up 
into many pieces to allow for his numerous gimmicks, but the 
divisions between pieces follow the swept-back hair molding of the 
mane itself, and give him a look like he just climbed out of a river.  
Posability is decent in this form; his front legs are a single piece on 
a ball joint; his hind legs have ball-joint thighs, double-hinged 
knees, and a hinge-and-rotator paw at the end.  The tail is on a 
pivot, and his mouth opens and closes a bit when you push a 
button on top of his head.  For some reason, this simple gimmick is 
my favorite, even though it'd be nicer if the mouth opened a bit 
further, say far enough for him to bite your finger.  The detailing on 
the face and mouth is really beautiful, and includes molded whisker 
holes, teeth actually painted a different shade of white, with a red 
gum line above, and an appropriately unobtrusive tongue inside 
the mouth.  I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but the red plastic 
bleeds a bit through the white of the teeth -- it looks like he's just 
finished feasting on a kill.  Yummy.

Two other gimmicks are available in beast form: two paired claws 
that spring out from his forearms when triggered (I haven't found 
any activating mechanism yet; I guess you just have to push on the 
tips till they come loose), and two missile launchers that flip out of 
his mane, original Optimus Primal-style.  These fire the usual long 
(2.5 inches) missiles; firing distance for one of mine was a little 
under three feet.  The launchers themselves are detachable from 
the parts of the mane that flip over, which is fortunate -- it's hard to 
get the mane to stay in place with the launchers attached.  The 
mechanism is triggered by pushing down on the center back of the 
mane.  Kibble in this mode is modestly heavy.  His whole underside 
consists of his robot chest and waist, and robot detailing continues 
down the inside of his rear legs.  However, it's all the seams that 
keep him from looking as nice as he could... but overall, he still 
looks quite impressive.

 Transforming him starts off simple enough; you stand him up on 
his hind legs, Cheetor-style.  After that, though, it quickly gets 
complicated.  You have to swing several bits of lion body and mane 
out of the way to get at the arms; the arms then unfold from 
alongside his lion head via an elaborate system of hinge joints, 
culminating with his robot chest swinging down to a 90-degree 
angle with his body.  Most of his lion back and all of his lion head 
then swing up and around his lower torso; it helps here if you 
remember his lion head ends up on his right shoulder.  A secret 
hatch opens up to reveal the robot head.  Bring the robot chest 
plate (with the arms attached to it) back up, position the arms so 
their connecting panels are under the lion bits... then push down 
HARD.  SwiftEagle pointed out to me that the robot shoulders DO 
lock into place, but you've gotta push really hard the first time.  
Once you've done it once, it seems to be easier from then on.  
After that, it's a simple matter of positioning lion bits however you 
like so they're most out of the way.

 He is quite the kibble man in robot mode.  The lion head and 
mane is the biggest offender; it sits on his right shoulder and 
prevents him from looking in that direction.  Heck, if you have the 
missile launchers in their stored position, they block his view to the 
*front*!  The other shoulder has a lion panel just kinda sitting there 
on top of it, and the lion tail hanging off of it.  Basically, he looks a 
bit like he's got parts of a lion carcass draped across his shoulders.  
Additionally, the lion forelegs just kinda hang off his wrists, with no 
place to go that's out of the way... though this does allow him to 
make use of those neato paired claws I mentioned before.

 Two more gimmicks appear in this mode (for a total of five).  Two 
more missile launchers spring out from his wrists when a small 
button near his elbow is pressed; again, they're mounted on the 
inside of bits of lion mane, but this looks much cooler than the first 
two launchers since these are popping out of his forearms.  And 
the second most useless (and second most cool) gimmick: when 
the mane bits are deployed properly, the lion mane spins around at 
the push of a button like a big golden spinny thing of destruction.  
It's a bit hard to get the right arm fully out of the way so it doesn't 
interfere with the spinning action; additionally, the launchers must 
be pushed back into their non-deployed position -- meaning 
LioConvoy can't really see what he's doing as he wanders around 
with that spinny thing whirling away.  A final detail that's not really a 
gimmick is a small chest panel that opens up to reveal a tiny, 
molded, almost matrix-like object underneath.  The panel that 
opens also features a raised, silver-chromed Maximal symbol on 
the outside, and inside is the rub symbol (which, as with almost 
every one of my BWs, doesn't work.  Maybe it's 'cause we don't 
have air conditioning in our house? :]

 Aesthetically... I like him a lot.  The robot mode has a lean, well-
muscled, well-proportioned look to it that even all his kibble can't 
hide.  The head is that of Optimus Prime, no bones about it... and if 
the original Optimus had to be incorporated into the Beast Wars, 
this is about as perfect a form for him as I can imagine.  Others 
have complained about the semi-hollow shoulders (he has a big 
gap just left of his robot head, that's surrounded by pieces but has 
nothing in it)... but really, why does a robot need to have anything 
there?  I think it's kinda neat that you can see through him, 
reminding us perhaps that these are robots who don't necessarily 
keep all their vital organs in the same places we do.  And from all 
the angles that count, he looks more or less humanoid, which is 
more than a lot of BWs can say.

  Overall... if you want a TF who's a nice challenge to figure out, has 
a lot of fun gimmicks and sleek, magnificent looks, LioConvoy's 
worth your $35.  But beware if you hate kibble, 'cause he's got 
loads of it.

GALVATRON:  By comparison with LioConvoy, Galvatron had 
been getting hyped all weekend.  I'm not sure I understand why he 
gets all the raves while Lio gets put down... but he does deserve 
praise, 'cause he's a damn fine toy.

The dragon mode is perhaps the weakest of his three forms.  Call 
me picky, but I'm not tremendously impressed with this mode in 
and of itself.  This is primarily for two reasons: one, his legs are 
attached too far forward on his body, and two, the robot leg/tank 
treads just hang off the back of his knees with no explanations 
and no apologies, looking very un-dragon-like -- they're bigger than 
the rest of his dragon legs, and threaten to engulf them when he 
walks.  Their only redeeming feature -- and it's a good one -- is that 
they can pass as firing mechanisms for the guns mounted on his 
knees.  That's right, he's got GUNS on his KNEES.  That is cool.  
That I can respect.  How many other TFs have guns on their 
knees? :]

That aside, he has other flaws as well: the round halves of his 
tank-mode drill, which look like a gold fluted cruise missile that got 
cut in two and hollowed out, just kinda hang off the base of his 
neck and get in the way; his arms that suffer from being hinged at 
the shoulders instead of ball jointed; and the body looks like less of 
a dragon torso than a pile of robot parts with dragon bits stuck to 
it.  To get the overall effect of him being a dragon, you have to 
selectively focus on certain parts and ignore others (kinda like the 
original Airazor's beast mode).  His dragon head is small but nicely 
vicisous looking; it's on the end of a neck that's jointed very much 
like TM Megatron's tail -- but with only four segments, meaning it's 
short and limited in posability.  Presumably this was done so the 
drill halves could totally enclose it in tank mode, but it's still a bit 

Another flaw, or difficulty at least, was attaching the wings/drill 
halves to the base of his neck.  Once you snap them on it's a 
secure fit, but I was worried I was going to break the two bits of 
plastic that form the hinges on each wing.  Having gotten them on, 
I'm too scared of snapping that plastic to risk ever removing them 
again.  At least they add a nice touch of color, gold against all his 
purple and lavender.

 Otherwise, he's nicely posable in this mode.  The tail is a rigid 
block, but the arms have two hinge joints each, the neck is 
segmented as mentioned before, the mouth opens, and the legs 
have ball-joints at the waist and hinges at the knees.  He can strike 
a number of fun, scary-looking poses.

 He comes with a detachable pair of wings connected by a base, 
that features a lever that makes them flap slightly back and forth.  
This I put aside when first playing with him and forgot about; 
having relocated it, I've found it definately ups his appearance.  It 
gives him a second and more plausible set of wings than the gold 
drill halves, and *these* wings look really bad ass, with spiked 
wheel-things at the base and serrated halves that unfold to double 
the wings' length.  The wing piece itself would make a damn cool 
spaceship of some kind... I might have to adopt it next time I need 
a cool space ship in a fanfic story. :]

 Going to robot mode, a pair of panels (carrying the ball joint for his 
legs) unsnap from his sides and meet up beneath him 
(Silverbolt/Inferno style), then a third panel snaps over them to lock 
them together -- a nice innovation considering how many BWs 
suffer from waists that come apart (even neater, this same piece 
also stabilizes the legs when they're folded against his sides for 
the dragon mode -- very well thought out.)  The dragon legs fold up 
rather cleverly into the tank tread blocks, with the dragon feet 
becoming ornate shins.  Swing the wings around and close the 
over the dragon head to get all that stuff out of the way; split the 
tail in half and fold it around on panels to create the arms.  The 
whole dragon head/drill thing has to be swung down along his 
back, to allow this one tiny hinged piece to swing around, which 
allows his robot head to flip around into place.  Overall, he's not too 
tough, but he's sufficiently complicated and well-designed to be 
interesting and pleasing.

 The robot mode... oh man.  His robot mode absolutely and totally 
rules, as anyone who was on #wiigii! the night I first transformed 
him can attest.  He looks stocky, powerful, ornate, colorful, and 
very pissed off.  He can blast you with his machine gun knees, 
before stomping on you with his huge feet and pounding the 
remains with his massive arms then incinerating you with his arm 
launchers and finally if anything's left he can turn into a dragon 
again and eat it!!! That was my initial impression of the robot mode, 
which does indeed have stocky, powerful proportions and a furious 
scowl on the face.  Standing around the same height as Rampage 
and a shade shorter than LioConvoy, he's mostly lavender and 
purple, with red, black, silver, gold, and green highlights.  His 
shoulders and chest are curved and flaring, looking like a crest of 
some sort, making him appear to be of royal lineage.  Reinforcing 
this image is a mysterious orb in the center of his chest, which 
upon disassembly I discovered is a fully circular, translucent glass 
marble.  How cool is that?!  Gods only know what compelled them 
to put it there, but I like it.   

Robot mode has about as much articulation as you could ask for, 
with the usual BW complement of joints: elbows, shoulders, wrists, 
upper legs, knees, and some toe motion.  He sports missile 
launchers on each arm, which become the end of his tail in 
dragon/tank mode.  These must be flipped around to deploy for 
firing -- this doubles the length of the arm, which is a bit annoying; 
he also must raise his arm up pretty high if he doesn't want to blast 
the ground right in front of him, thanks to the curve of the tail.  The 
missiles themselves are vicious-looking spikey things that look like 
a stylized scythe with needles sticking out of the blade.  Scary!  
They also enhance the appearance of the dragon and tank 
modes, by the way, if left in tail.

I haven't quite figured out what to do with the wing backpack... 
consulting the instructions, I see you just attach it behind his head 
(to that little piece I rotated out of the way of his head earlier), and 
it simply hangs there, another big chunk of kibble.  As I said 
before, when I first transformed him I just popped the wing 
backpack off and forgot about it; and he actually looks a bit nicer in 
robot mode without it.  Unless, of course, you're interested in 
deploying the wings like some kind of scary ornament, but that's 
not really my preference; I like kibble neatly folded out of the way 
whenever possible (with the exception of TM Airazor, who -- as 
anyone with the slightest grain of sense knows -- looks better with 
her wings deployed in the more ornamental 'up' position... ;]

For tank mode, the legs fold up yet again; this time the upper thigh 
folds into the tread block.  Then a panel does a 270-degree fold 
that's really nifty, forming a pair of molded treads on the side of his 
legs.  The arms fold back into dragon tail mode, and the head gets 
folded out of the way again as the drill is rotated to the front.  A 
pair of pegs holds the leg/tread pieces nicely in place.  The wings 
get folded back against his side, and he's ready to kick Maximal 
booty.  His other gimmick deploys in this mode; a button on top 
makes the drill spin around.  However, it doesn't seem capable of 
acquiring any momentum; as soon as you stop pressing the 
button, it comes to a halt.

This mode is kinda conceived as the "third" mode, but personally 
I'd give it equal billing with the dragon form.  Even though it doesn't 
remotely resemble a real-life vehicle, it looks quite nice -- 
streamlined, formidable, tough and well-armed.  It looks no more 
like a dragon with treads than the dragon mode looks like a tank 
with legs. :]

 Overall... Galvatron is the better of the two toys, and that's saying 
a lot -- they're both quite nice.  He looks cool as hell and is terrific 
fun to play with, even though he's got a much lower gimmick factor.  
Got $35 to spare?  It'll be well-spent on BW2 Galvatron.

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