Review: TFCC Lio Convoy

Just to get it out of the way, I’m not a huge fan of the Transformers Collector’s Club. I find the majority of their exclusives toys dull and uninspired (their fiction even moreso) and their business practices and general interactions with the fandom are less than impressive. Despite this, I still gave them my money to become a member this year, but only because I thought that Botcon 2015 might be my first Transformers convention (in part due to how FunPub has mishandled the event, this is no longer a possibility). No Botcon for me, but I did end up with the membership “freebie” figure of 2015: Lio Convoy

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Vehicle Mode

Lio Convoy is a repaint of Generations Orion Pax, and thus is obviously no longer a lion but a semi-futuristic truck. I don’t follow the TFCC fiction, so I can only assume that this is a pre-BWII Cybertronian version of Lio, and I guess it works. I liked this truck mode as Orion Pax, and I like it okay as Lio Convoy (though I think Pax pulls it off better). It rolls well, looks pretty cool, and the paint apps are overall pretty sharp. You can mount his weapons in holes on each side, but it looks dumb so why would you do that? 

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Though I don’t think it turned out as well as envisioned, I have to give special mention to the effort put into the vehicle mode paint apps to make the truck resemble the head of a lion: the black paint on the front looks like the nose (with the grille somewhat ingeniously resembling whiskers), the cab is essentially the eyes, and the gold paint apps towards the back evoke a lion’s mane. It’s not perfect, and you kind of have to really look for it to get the full effect, but definitely an A for effort.

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Transformation

I like the Orion Pax toy a lot, partially because it’s pretty fun to transform. Like most modern mainline figures, he’s a good blend of intuitive cleverness and easy simplicity. Being the same toy, Lio Convoy is just as enjoyable to transform- but I do worry about some of the paint apps scraping or scratching over time.

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Robot Mode

This is where I feel the redeco starts to fall apart a bit. Lio Convoy’s key design trait is his asymmetry, namely the giant lion head on his right shoulder. Due to the mold itself, this trait is absent on TFCC Lio, which takes away a lot of the character identity that this toy is trying to capture. The torso and arms are as spot-on as can be thanks to the effective paint apps, but then we get down to the legs and it falls apart again. Lio Convoy has a bit of grey on his legs, but only a bit. Here, it’s pretty much all grey. I can see why this was done for the sake of the vehicle mode, and while it doesn’t look bad on the toy itself, it really hinders the homage. It’s a shame, since a lot of subtle paint apps on his feet and legs are straight from the BWII design, but get lost in, well, the rest.

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Arguably the biggest selling point (and the biggest point of contention) for the toy is its new head. Now, first off, this head isn’t particularly based on Lio Convoy. This isn’t necessariliy a bad thing, as Lio Convoy’s head is basically Optimus Prime’s head with some silver “ears.” What it is very much based on is Nova Prime’s head, specifically the prominent “chin” in the mouthplate and the shape of his “crown.” This makes sense, as the TFCC exclusive figure is a repaint of this toy as Nova Prime. However, the original design for this headsculpt included even more Nova-esque horns, and in a recurring theme for TFCC, it didn’t work and had to be hastily modified. So the head is essentially a neutered Nova Prime in Optimus Prime colors, and… I guess it works for Lio Convoy? Sure. What is a bummer is that the head feels… odd. The plastic looks soft and a bit grainy, and the semi-poor paint apps don’t help. It doesn’t hurt Lio as much as it will Nova, but it’s not terribly impressive.

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The Orion Pax toy boasted some pretty rad articulation, all of which is present for Lio. Universal shoulders, ball jointed head, hips, and ankles, soft-ratchet elbows, single joint knees, bicep/thigh/wrist/waist swivel, and an additional hinge in the ankles. Bonus points to Lio for having all his joints nice and tight, too. Lio also gets Orion’s weapons: a rifle and an axe. They’re almost completely identical in color to Orion’s, but Lio’s axe has a matte finish on the handle and the clear plastic is much redder. I think the gun is a darker grey, but I honestly can’t tell.

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Compared to Orion Pax, I still think the original toy wears the mold better. I really can’t fathom why this mold was chosen for Lio Convoy, much less Nova Prime. Ever since the toy came out, fans have come up with much more popular redeco ideas like Kup or Minimus Ambus, both of which work well and utilize a mold that is essentially Optimus Prime in a way that is decidedly un-Optimus Prime. Instead, the toy gets repainted into two very Prime-y characters, neither of which have scarcely any resemblence to the Orion Pax toy. I just don’t see the inspiration there, unless someone just really liked the idea of making the vehicle mode look like a lion’s head. I feel like both this toy and Nova (and about 50% of all TFCC figures) are just wasted opportunities.

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Overall

All that being said, this isn’t a bad toy, and it isn’t a bad homage. The mold itself is fantastic with a fun transformation, nice accessories, and a great robot mode, and the amount of paint apps on this guy is pretty impressive. It’s just a shame that they all try so hard to make this toy look like BWII Lio Convoy, but for the most part fall flat. TFCC Lio isn’t a bad-looking toy (except for the head), but as a Lio Convoy homage he’s rather mediocre. You could argue that he’s just the “free” toy so you can’t complain too much, but we’ve had some pretty good freebies like Dion, Side Burn, and even Rampage in the last few years. All in all, Lio Convoy is fine, but disappointing.

Where to Buy

I… honestly have no idea. I assumed he’d be on the TFCC Club Store, but I can’t seem to find him. Last year’s free subscription figure is up there, so I assume Lio Convoy will be added at some point in the future. 

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