Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting re: Beast Wars 2 Galvatron and LioConvoy 7/30/99 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 annoying. 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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