The original Lio Convoy is not one of my favorite toys. In fact, he ranks somewhere at the bottom. It's okay. I have a replacement now.
The years of Beast Wars were a crazy time. Transformers was finally picking back up after the lackluster performance of Generation 2, so much that Japan thought, hey, maybe we should also make some Beast Wars. And so, for the first time since what felt like forever, there were Japanese-exclusive Transformers toys. And what caught the fandom's eye even more was that Lio Convoy was a guy who looked more like Optimus Prime than your usual Optimus Primal toy. He had a red chest with blue windows and a more traditional Optimus-y head. And so everyone's all yeah, sweet, woo!
He sold online and at BotCon for about $80. This was 1998. I got mine when Hasbro sold some in their prototypical online store for about $25. Sweet deal. Sort of. (He's the robot on the right.)
'Cuz he's not that great of a toy! Due to his mane and his back-flap perched up on his shoulders, you can't even see his friggin' face from most angles. (Do you have any idea how hard it was to get light shining somewhere on his face in that first photograph? Very hard!) And his transformation was awkward and it left you with a mostly immobile lion mode. The back legs were not a pretty sight, either. It just wasn't terribly good. But it looked like Optimus Prime during an age in which we thought we'd never get an Optimus Prime toy ever again. (Oh, little did we know.) Lio Convoy was a popular toy, even at $80.
Well, he's back, he's $20, he's a Target exclusive, and he's Leo Prime now! (Because, you know, this is America, where we call our Primes Primes and not Convoys.) Earlier this year, they took Cybertron Leobreaker, gave him a new Prime head, colored him in blues and reds, and called him Leo Prime. These weren't exactly Lio Convoy's colors, but they were Optimus-y, so it was understandable. Anyway, I passed on it. I was sort of interested in him because he had the new head, but I didn't really see him in stores much and I had bigger fish to fry and/or purchase. The new-headed Leo Prime returned this winter, though, now in Lio Convoy's original colors. And I snatched him up. Why?
Weird, nerdy, fannish reasons. See, after Beast Machines, Optimus Primal returned in a multiversal conflict against Unicron, where battles were fought in countless dimensions. Once Primal is even reported to have traveled to the Unicron Trilogy, where he picked up on how to summon Cyber Keys to unlock battle features. See, my idea is, since Leo Prime's toy is also a Cyber-Key-using toy, that Optimus Primal took Leo Prime with him to the Unicron Trilogy. I have decided, that for my personal canon, that this is a body for Lio Convoy/Leo Prime in that multiversal conflict. And I like that idea, and so I bought him. (I figure that the blue/red Leo Prime from earlier this year is what Leo Prime looked like before Optimus Primal used the Matrix of Purification to rid Leo Prime of the Unicron virus.) That's my story, anyway.
The toy itself, if you have Leo Breaker, Nemesis Breaker, Razorclaw, or the other Leo Prime, is what you expect. He's big and blocky! He's not a well-liked toy. But I like him, because I'm a rebel. I've never had a huge problem with him. He has more articulation than he's given credit for, and I enjoy both his robot mode and his lion (well, liger, really) mode. His arm mode, the one that was designed to combine with Cybertron Optimus Prime, is something you can certainly forget he has. It was always terrible. It's no big loss. And you're left with two reasonably good modes.
Unfortunately, he still lacks the original Leo Breaker's electronics. Voyager Class toys can't budget in electronics anymore, so those have been left out of this mold for a while. It's too bad, because I loved making him roar. See, if you press the button on Leo Prime's lion forehead, his jaw opens. In the original, this would also turn on his electronics. Oh well. Hey, he still has the talky gimmick, though, even if it doesn't make noises! I love talky gimmicks. They're among my favorite gimmicks.
Leo Prime's also kinda pretty, but that's something that most white-plus-accents decoes easily manage. I also dig the cartoonish eyeliner. They really sell the "I am Lio Convoy" thing.