Review: Transformers Legends Black Convoy (Scourge)

There are few inevitable laws that govern any given Optimus Prime: he will, at one point and in some way, die, and his toy will at some point be given a black repaint. These black redecoes are usually called Nemesis Prime (or Black Convoy), tend to be black and teal, and rarely show up in any mainline fiction. While these black repaints have been around for a very long time, if you ask any fan who the original, best black repaint is, the most likely answer you’ll get is Scourge from Robots in Disguise (2001), or Black Convoy from Car Robots. Scourge is undoubtedly the granddaddy of all modern Nemesis Primes, with his original toy (a redeco of G2 Laser Optimus Prime) still making its way into many fans’ lists of favorite Transformers toys ever, and his legacy living on in nearly every evil Optimus Prime redeco from the past decade. Laser Optimus Prime got a modern update back in 2010’s Reveal the Shield toyline, and it was only a matter of time before Prime’s evil clone got his due. While the TFCC released their Scourge as part of their Subscription Service, Takara offered their version of Black Convoy as a Tokyo Toy Show exclusive, which was fortunately not as difficult to get a hold of as I feared. With that lengthy introduction out of the way, here’s LG-EX Black Convoy.

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Vehicle Mode

True to form, Black Convoy is a long-nosed semi truck that looks like it’s better suited for racing than hauling tanker trailers. It’s definitely quite a bit sleeker than the original toy (which I sadly do not yet own), but I think it’s a rad altmode, especially in these kickass colors. The metallic teal lines really pop against the flat black plastic, and the silver details look great as well. There’s a lot of painted detail that I really didn’t expect to see, such as the extra teal on the side steps and the sides of the, uh, things right in front of rear wheels (I’m not a truck expert). As always, painted wheel rims are very much appreciated, as well.

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Being a black repaint, Black Convoy really stands out among his mold-mates. The RTS Laser Prime mold has seen many, many uses in the last five years, so I’m missing some of the more popular ones. As far as truck modes go, I think Black Convoy beats his G2-homage predecessors just for having a consistent color scheme (though if I still had the United version, he’d face some competition). That teal just goes a long way. (I was going to put him alongside some other black Optimus Prime repaints, but after a long bout of collection searching, I’ve realized that I don’t actually have any. I feel that, in some small way, I have failed as a Transformers fan.)

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If I had to give this vehicle mode one flaw, it’s that it isn’t entirely stable. A lot of this is due to some strange joint tolerances with this figure that I’ll get more into later, but this mold has a habit of being oddly finicky. The transformation itself is not too complex, but pieces need to be in just the right position in order for everything to stick together properly, and it’s not entirely clear what these positions exactly are. One major issue is that his hands need to be rotated palm-inward in order for the tank-ish pieces to fold over them, which allows the rear panel to fold in properly and tab into the legs, which locks the entire rear of the truck in place. Having the arms in the proper place is a bit easier, but if they’re misaligned to any degree, the entire cab section will not come together properly. It’s not as bad on Black Convoy as some other copies of this mold that I’ve handled (looking at you, United Prime), but just keep these things in mind.

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Robot Mode

If you thought he looked great in vehicle mode, Black Convoy’s robot mode is drop-dead gorgeous. The mold itself already looked pretty cool as a sleeker, more modern rendition of the G2 Laser Prime toy, but the black, metallic grey, silver, and teal make this toy look awesome. It’s clear that Takara has done everything they can to match this figure up with the original Black Convoy toy, with all the silver and teal details painted in wherever possible. The overall effect, particularly on the head, is just magnificent. Also, check out those wacky “Anti-Autobot” insignias on his shoulders. I kind of wish they were a bit bigger, but I’m just glad they’re there.

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The G2 Laser Prime toy is known for being one of the most articulate toys of its time, so it was hard for the new mold to really improve upon the original in that area. Nevertheless, it managed, and Black Convoy has a fairly impressive range of articulation: ball-jointed head, wrists, hips, and ankles, semi-limited hinged elbows and knees, universal shoulders, and swivel biceps, thighs, and waist. Finally and most notably, he has additional hinges on his wrists (and ankles, mostly for transformation) to allow for better posing with his sword. This is one of the few toys with articulation specifically designed to accommodate the use of a sword, and it’s a really fantastic and thoughtful addition to the toy that made it one of my favorite back in 2010.

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Speaking of the sword, Black Convoy comes equipped with his trailer hitch, which detaches and converts into his iconic Black Sword (or Sword of Fury, if you prefer). It’s an oddly-shaped blade and is a bit smaller than the one wielded by the original toy, but it looks deadly enough and fits the toy very well.

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Thanks to Black Convoy’s stellar wrist articulation, he can wield his Black Sword two-handed, though it may take some work to keep everything from bumping into itself, particularly with his giant block-shoulders that like to crash into his back-mounted smokestacks.

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One thing that’s worth mentioning, though I’m not sure how well it’s coming across in pictures, is that the translucent pink used in Black Convoy’s sword, head, chest, and shoulders is incredibly fluorescent. It’s the kind of plastic that seems to absorb light and practically glow if you get the parts exposed the right way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pipe exceptionally well into his eyes, but the Black Sword and the lines on his head have a tendency to really pop. 

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Another thing to note is that this mold has been used six times by now (RTS Prime, Giftset Prime, United Prime, SG Prime, SG Magnus, TFCC Scourge), so mold degradation is to be expected by now. Surprisingly, Black Convoy isn’t really showing too much of it. The only real areas of issue are his thigh swivels being exceptionally loose, though they’re easy enough to tighten. On the other hand, most of his joints, particularly the ball joints, are a bit too tight. In addition, I had to shave down the hilt of his sword to get it to fit into his hand without feeling like something was about to break, but I’d say that could just be the extra paint apps on his hands. Most of the issues just seem like tolerance issues that could vary from toy to toy.

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When you put him with the two mainline releases of the G2 Prime mold, Black Convoy stands out even more in robot mode. RTS Prime always looked a bit bland just by being very run-of-the-mill Optimus Prime colors, and the Generations Giftset Prime gets points for homaging the unreleased Combat Hero Prime, but it gets the colors a bit wrong. Black Convoy is without a doubt the cleanest-looking and most effect homage that this mold has seen, and the sinister nature of the headsculpt just feels right on Prime’s evil clone.

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That being said, without any Shattered Glass moldmates to have his back, Black Convoy seems to be a bit outnumbered here. He may not be able to best both of his noble counterparts…

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Overall

Legends Black Convoy is a truly fantastic repaint, taking a flawed but fun mold and really demonstrating its full potential. The mold got rather lukewarm reception as Optimus Prime, but from the beginning fans were clamoring for a proper RID Scourge deco. TFCC did a fine job with their Subscription Service exclusive Scourge, but Takara went above and beyond with Black Convoy, with every conceivable detail form the original toy replicated near-perfectly on this figure. The extensive paint apps and surprising build quality really give this toy a premium feel, and the nicely affordable price of $40 (for a Japanese show exclusive, anyway) make Black Convoy a must-have figure for any evil Optimus Prime fans, and I’d consider him one of the best Transformers releases of 2015.

Where to Buy

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