Takara-Tomy Transformers Legends Leo Prime Takara-Tomy, 2017
Day #1,670: March 29, 2017
Leo Prime Japanese Exclusive Alpha Trion in Lio Convoy Drag
Transformers Legends LG 41
Item No.: No. 205020 Manufacturer:Takara-Tomy Includes:Swords, Head Master, Claw, Blaster Action Feature:Changes from Ancient Leo to Space Carrier to Robot Retail:5,400 yen (or $55 at importers) Availability: February 2017 Other: Lion Optimus Prime
If you pre-order early and from the right place, you can get Japanese Takara-Tomy releases like Leo Prime at a decent discount. It's still about twice what a similar toy costs in the USA, but I went through HobbyLink Japan (from who I've been ordering for almost 20 years) and got this for about $44 delivered. Considering it's basically just a fancy recolor of the US Alpha Trion toy with a different head and a bonus weapon, a $20 upcharge may seem like a lot. That's because it's a lot. Japanese releases have a standard retail price that's quite a bit higher than what an item costs in the USA, but if you're in Europe or elsewhere in the world the line between American and Japanese prices blur thanks to shipping charges and occasional mark-ups on US toys. I've seen a few toy sites identify this as a toy that was clearly meant to be Lio Convoy before Alpha Trion, and I don't know if I'd agree with that. The original Lio Convoy from the 1990s had hand-held rocket launchers, a lion's head on his shoulder with flip-out weapons, moving eyes and a mouth, and was a fairly different design overall. The colors match, sure, but it's not like the original had a sword or a claw weapon. Or a unicorn lion alt mode.
It's more expensive than the functionally identical US mold. It's an homage to a character from a show you've probably never seen and will never watch, and will likely also never get a localization in English. But it's a Maximal, it looks sort of like Optimus Prime, and who doesn't like a Japanese-exclusive character? I can't justify picking up a more expensive, superior redeco of somebody I can pick up at a big box store, but I can generally accept buying a unique character. And this one ain't bad.
The colors are a lot like the original, with yellow eyes and a slightly paler blue helmet - complete with matching gun (previously sold with Sentinel Prime/Astrotrain). His sword is cast in clear plastic with a gold outer edge and a silver grip, which looks more expensive but not necessarily better than Alpha Trion's orange and purple weapon. The claw weapon is red, and has seating for one Titan Master figure. If you're so inclined, that is.
Leo Prime can carry or store these figures on his various modes. There's a place on the backpack to store the claw, plus 5mm ports on the back of his shoulders for the other weapons. Articulation is higher than some toys, with about 21 meaningful points of articulation. Some of these aren't given a huge range of motion, but the unique transformation does give the ankles a tiny bit more motion than we've seen in other Voyager-class toys recently. I love the red plastic color, and I'm crazy about the Maximal symbol on the red spark crystal outlined in gold. It certainly looks a bit more regal, and/or like Optimus Prime got Buzz Lightyear's armor and gave it a makeover. It's a little bulky and arguably a lot sillier than other toys released recently, but it certainly adds a sense of variety to that Optimus/Convoy shelf you've been filling out these past 33 years.
The original Lio Convoy toy - and most other Lio Convoy toys - had a furry-sculpted lion as an organic beast mode, as opposed to this Leo Prime which has hints at hair but is ultimately a mechanical jungle cat. The toy is cast in mostly white and red plastic with a gold mane and incredibly awkward jaw-as-hands. Seriously, his lower teeth are fists - but the mane is the back of his forearms. The beast mode looks sort of brickly, and that's because there is minimal articulation. It's a beast forged from robot and spaceship pieces, which is sort of clever and sort of wonky. Triple changer toys are always a little strange because generally one - if not two - of the modes require a generous application of your imagination to accept them for what you see. I can get behind a robot space lion in a red mask with a unicorn's horn, but the hind legs don't really feel a heck of a lot like good legs.
If you want a tail, his mostly clear sword will fit that role quite nicely The "Ancient Leo" mode has a little cockpit on his back for the partner Head Master (which I assume has no other name). If you don't dig that, the claw weapon can be mounted on two tabs on the clear part, allowing Head Master to sit out and see the sun or the cold, deadly vacuum of space from the top of the lion. You've got options - both of which are also available on the Space Carrier mode.
I dig the Space Carrier, mostly. It's basically an aircraft carrier, as this mold was previously used for Alpha Trion (which was loosely based on Vector Prime), who had a simlar mode in the IDW comics. It's also going to be reused for Tidal Wave and Broadside, one of many legendary toys cited as one of the less exciting toys in the line. Figures can stand on the deck of this shp, and you can also have them sit in the driver's seat or in the red claw weapon. The sword stows nicely on the side thanks to a 5mm peg, and that's pretty much all this vehicle does. You can park Titan Masters vehicles on the deck, and foot pegs for figures are there too. It's almost a mini playset - if you're a collector, you can do a lot with this mode as far as display and play goes. It just doesn't do anything.
I pre-ordered this from Japan, partially because I dug the idea and the Maximal faction symbol, but also because it was bigger and cheaper than Convo Bat. A dumb reason, you say? You're not wrong. I don't have a good sense on where this particular iteration fits in the fiction beyond a brief write-up on TFWiki, so I basically have to enjoy the toy on its own merits. The design owes a lot to previous toys of Lio Convoy and BotCon Alpha Trions, and I'd be lying if I said it was unquestionably worth the asking price. The American release of Alpha Trion is pretty easy to find and generally quite cheap by comparison - plus it's a new character, if that matters to you. If the price is to your liking, this is a neat toy. I'd argue it's really no more or less fun than a Leader-class toy (which sells in the USA for $45), and the enhanced deco does look pretty sharp. You could also get an original Lio Convoy for a couple of dollars more on eBay, or the smaller Legends Lio Convoy (previously from the Robot Masters line) if you're willing to spend a little more. I'd say do some comparison shopping - I'm a big fan of the tiny Robot Masters toys, but I also got them pretty cheaply.
For the curious, the upcoming schedule for Transformers Legends is pretty dire right now - this came out in late February. Godbomber is coming in May, and Dinosaurier (Trypticon) is due in late August. And, as far as I can see, that's pretty much it as of now.
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