Black Convoy Pen
Review by VF5SS
We are seeing an interesting shift for the Transformers brand. While it is no stranger to ancillary items produced by companies other than Hasbro or TakaraTomy, more and more established makers of high quality toys are producing licensed figures that tap into niches not covered by the main line. Even the humble idea of a transformable writing implement has been reinvented as a top class action figure thanks to Sen-Ti-Nel.
Enter: the Convoy Pen.
This small, stylized rendition of the world famous Optimus Prime is available in three colorways: Convoy, Black, and Ultra Magnus. Black Convoy in particular has been a popular variant for many years and pops up with almost every Optimus toy released. Sen-Ti-Nel's take on the evil Over Commander follows the same scheme as the Masterpiece MP-10 Black Convoy with matte black taking over for the heroic blues and reds and the chest windows colored in a striking orange red. He also sports the appropriate symbol for a Decepticon doppelganger.
The sculpt on this figure is fantastic with the clean blocky limbs sporting some tasteful surface detailing that invokes the old Studio Ox artwork.
And as a nod to the other Optimus toys, the pen version still has tiny wheels molded onto his legs even though he cannot transform into a truck.
Black Convoy's paint apps are crisply applied and the plastic quality is excellent so he both looks and feels great. All of these factors work together splendidly and make this diminutive Optimus seem much larger than he actually is.
I must admit that even I was a bit surprised by the tininess of the Black Convoy Pen. No matter how many promo pics I saw of him in someone's hand, it just didn't register that this guy would be barely four and a half inches tall. Even my six-inch Scale Eckhart is bigger!
Size aside, Black Convoy is still a top class action figure that is loaded with articulation. All this coupled with great build quality makes the Sen-Ti-Nel toy pure hand candy.
He's very well balanced and can easily stand on one leg.
All of the Convoy Pens come with the signature ion blaster. It fits snugly into either hand and completes the overall Optimus look.
The tip of the blaster can be removed to reveal the actual pen part of the toy. You can store the cap on the peg behind Black Convoy's head.
And now for a flurry of cool poses.
Here I will walk you through the transformation to pen mode in a way that is hopefully a bit more clear than the instructions. The overall conversion process is quite involved and may feel daunting at first but after doing it once or twice becomes quite intuitive. It helps that there are many obvious tabs and slots to guide you along the way. The manual starts with his legs but I prefer to go from the top to the bottom as it makes no difference either way.
First, start by pushing Convoy's head into his chest cavity.
Next you move the double hinge on his back upward to both cover the head completely and create a gap in his abdomen.
Before we continue I want to highlight this tricky bit you will encounter when going back to robot mode. When the head is recessed it is very easy to flip his chest all the way back to expose the inner moving platform. Getting the head back out from within the body can be difficult as the sliding mechanism is fairly tight. You may have to open up his chest and adjust the height of the head so that it sticks out just enough so you can grab the head crest and pull the whole thing back out again. The trick is to position Black Convoy's noggin so that the chest can still flip down around it without catching the tips of his "horns." I accidentally put a stress mark on one of them the first time changing back to robot mode so exercise caution. Again the plastic quality is terrific but there is no getting around just how small some things are on this figure.
His front skirt armor flips up and fills in the gap in his grill structure in order to make the figure more rigid.
After that you can fold his arms up and tab them together. You also need to rotate Black Convoy's fists so that the backs of the hands are pointing outward in pen mode.
The side skits rotate 180 degrees while a small flap folds out.
These then slot over tabs on his body which keeps everything locked tight.
The next part requires some dexterity as you flip out this T-shaped block from his pelvis. It is clicked in place for robot mode so you have to disengage the piece by pulling it downward before rotating it around.
Leave the block with the tabs resting on the bottom of his groin for now.
Now flip out these ball-jointed flaps on his legs so that they point upward. There are four flaps in total on the inner and outer part of the lower legs.
Then you split the shins apart and fold the outer edge all the way back.
Black Convoy's feet get pulled downward and then rotated so that the open cavity in the soles align with the insides of the legs. From there you can place the ion blaster inside.
Lastly, the thighs undergo a similar process and get tabbed into the T-shaped block. Make sure the block is pulled all the way down when you plug the thigh parts into it.
Here is the finished pen mode. As you can see, this is essentially the robot mode restructured a bit to make a rectangular writing implement. The pen is quite solid thanks to the way everything locks together during the transformation.
The front view doesn't reveal anything you haven't seen in the robot mode.
The same is true of the back. Still, it is cool to see how the shin vents are mirrored on both sides due to how the lower leg unfolds.
Now the side view is where things get a bit interesting as Sen-Ti-Nel added a lot of sculpted detail inside the legs' hollow interiors. It's a little touch that helps round out the pen mode.
The Black Convoy Pen is reasonably comfortable to hold, which is impressive given how it is essentially an uneven block in this form.
Appropriately, this Convoy writes in black ink with a tip that is a bit finer than most regular ballpoint pens. Since the actual working guts of this mode are contained wholly within the small blaster, I don't think it would last long before running dry. There is a screw on the back of the gun that can be removed to reveal what I believe is a metal inkwell so you can refill it with the proper tools.
In pen mode, Black Convoy is fully compatible with most storage units.
Overall the Black Convoy Pen is a terrific action figure that doubles as a functional office item. While on the surface he is a roughly $40 novelty pen, Sen-Ti-Nel put a lot of effort into crafting the kind of toy that is just plain fun even if you never use the other mode. The transformation is neat and involving but has a few areas that disrupt the process so you'll probably only do it once in a while. However, I find that the robot mode has so much coolness and playability that it's easy to forgive the minor shortcomings of the toy's titular gimmick. If you are into some of the more esoteric Transformers toys or just need a little Optimus to spruce up your desk, I definitely recommend this guy in either of his three versions.
|Posted 2 January, 2015 - 13:58 by VF5SS|