I've been meaning to create a serious Diaclone Powered Convoy post on either TF-1, TFSource Blog or the forums for years, and it was only when I sold my vintage Diaclone Powered Convoy this year that I took some representative photographs. It's funny how you never take the super-detailed pictures until something's for sale, right? I guess I thought I'd keep this one forever. Here, finally, is my post on the Takara Diaclone Car Robot Powered Convoy from August 1984.
|Diaclone Powered Convoy|
|Japanese Powered Convoy, Italian Buggy box|
Sometimes referred to as "Diaclone Ultra Magnus" or "Diaclone Movie Magnus" as a result of the mould being used for Transformers Ultra Magnus in 1986 and the Diaclone colours being used in 1986's TF: The Movie preview trailer animation respectively. Powered Convoy is the best name possible for it, in my opinion, because it best represents the original purpose, function and aesthetic of the first use of this mould by Takara for Diaclone.
|Very common flap/bottom corner rip|
|Quite ornate and detailed packaging, every inch used|
There are quite a number of Powered Convoy releases, so it can be a real trick to assemble one piece by piece and ensure integrity of all the many parts included. The very first release of the toy was in Japan with the blue cab, grey trailer and grey missiles amongst all the other bits and pieces. The cellophane window on the box front also had little semi-circular cut-aways to fully display the cab wheels when the toy was in-package. The second version of that same first release just had a straight bottom edge to the cellophane window, no semi-circular cut-aways on the box front for the tyres. You can see this latter version in my photographs above.
|Powered Convoy alternate modes, try them with your Ultra Magnus!|
|Just a few accessories...|
See those white missiles? They shouldn't come with this version. They came first of all with the later 1984 chrome-trailered version of the Powered Convoy in Japan, and later with the staggeringly rare 1985 Powered Convoy DX set where the chrome-trailered (or 'Mekki') Powered Convoy came together with a black/blue pre-Sideswipe and the red pre-Mirage. I used to own a 'Mekki' Powered Convoy but when I sold it I kept two of the white missiles because I liked them so much, and placed them with this regular Powered Convoy. Of course, there's nothing regular about Powered Convoy. Simply put, it's utterly brilliant.
|Colours make a very big difference|
The difference between Powered Convoy and Transformers Ultra Magnus cannot be put into words, the fundamental difference is colour but goodness me, I have never known a colour scheme to have such a profound effect on a toy. And this from someone who actually really likes G1 Ultra Magnus. The trailer is slightly different in colour to the reissue exclusive Movie Trailer Magnus, for a start the vertical panels at the front and the back of the trailer are dark sparkly blue, not light blue like the reissue. Speaking of colour, the shade of red used everywhere on the grey-trailered Powered Convoy (including the big robot head and Powered Buggy) is different to that used on the chrome trailered one. Side by side it's clear, I believe the chrome trailered one has darker red plastic. The sparkly blue plastic is lighter, almost greenish on the 'Mekki' as well.
|The real beauty of Powered Convoy|
Powered Buggy? What? It's true, Diaclone Powered Convoy comes with a parts-forming red buggy that transforms into a robot, and it doubles up as an armoured vehicle for the all-yellow Diaclone driver. Strange that Battle Convoy came with three drivers but the more elaborate Powered Convoy comes with the one. It doesn't stop there either, the chest piece that was nothing but a chest piece for the later Transformers Magnus is also a vehicle for the Diaclone driver. The large robot head attaches to it, and Powered Convoy even comes with a set of small sprued black plastic wheels that clip onto the bottom of the chest piece to allow it to roll.
|GiG Powered Buggy box|
The Powered Buggy comes with its parts sprued in its own box wedged in the trailer when all is packaged (my Japanese one was missing the Buggy box so I added a GiG Italian one, bite me). When perfectly unused, the Powered Convoy also has a clear plastic sheet taped over the cab and driver, you can see all of this on my old unused case fresh GiG red-cabbed Powered Convoy from 6 years ago:
|GiG red-cabbed Powered Convoy|
|Plastic sheet covers the cab|
Back up back up, let's talk about other Powered Convoy releases for a second. After the Japanese variants, Italy - courtesy of Takara-licensed GiG releases - got a range of Powered Convoys too. First off there were the blue-cabbed versions, then the red cab versions. The red cab versions come with Diaclone/pre-rub mould cabs (square smoke stack connectors etc) and then later mould cabs too. The earlier red cabs come with 'bloated' black little robot fists like Powered Convoys should, but later red cabs come with blue fists a la Optimus Prime/Battle Convoy. There are trailer differences too, moulding details etc. Some GiG Powered Convoys also come with the grey missiles instead of the orange and black safety boppers. There are also double-circle black waist pieces with some later Italian Powered Convoys, a sign of moulding changes in preparation for Transformers Ultra Magnus?
|Powered Convoy driver. Magnetic personalities.|
You can see also that the GiG Powered Convoys come with the yellow driver like the Japanese releases, they weren't removed. This could well be because of that clear plastic sheet that covers that section of the styro. Factory staff would have had to tear that off before getting to the driver. It would also explain why the third main Powered Convoy packaging variant - the Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Camion Porte Voitures" from mainland Europe in 1985 - also comes with the driver when no other Ceji Joustra Diaclone toy ever did. That Ceji Joustra Diaclone Powered Convoy is the rarest of all the iterations of this toy, even the PCDX, and it's at the very top of my wants list. I once offered a collector a boxed Japanese Diaclone Yellow Trailbreaker, boxed Japanese Diaclone Red Hoist, boxed Japanese Diaclone blackhood Bluestreak, boxed Japanese Diaclone Black Skids and the boxed Japanese Diaclone Powered Convoy you see in this post all together for it, and he declined. All of these toys have since been sold.
|Finding these unbroken is very difficult|
|I have to look at my savings to remind me why I sold this. Regularly.|
I can't really say Powered Convoy is rare, there always seems to be one on auction somewhere, be it Italian or Japanese. Finding one in Japanese packaging unbroken and complete with paperwork though, is a real trick, and even mine didn't come with paperwork. It was however completely undamaged, in stellar condition and sadly spent most of its life in storage. I did own it for a third of my life though, but through fear of causing damage, I never photographed it properly until it was time to sell, and even then I didn't capture it in any of the advertised alternate modes like aircraft launch pad, repair bay or attack base.
|Stickersheet for grey-trailered Powered Convoys|
|Stickersheet for 'Mekki' Powered Convoys - by Ben Munn|
|JPN Powered Convoy booklet - Pic by Ben Munn|
Speaking of paperwork, the Japanese Powered Convoys come with instruction sheets and a gorgeous booklet that has the Diaclone story and many product images in it. The normal Powered Convoy has a matte white paper-base stickersheet, but the chrome-trailered versions have a foil shiny stickersheet so you can tell which trailer a cab belongs to as long as it has the "Diaclone" bumper sticker applied. I suppose I should also mention the red-cabbed chrome-trailered Japanese Powered Convoys that showed up recently, they appear to be the very last version released (or not actually released) in Japan. They were unheard of until late 2011.
Before we get to the good stuff, the robot mode shots, here's a quick look at some of the features of the Powered Convoy up close:
|Bumper sticker, white backed|
|Square smokestack connectors + stack-side vertical raised blue line|
|Sparkly grey plastic, this tab can break easily|
|Sparkly blue plastic, these tabs are commonly broken too|
|Another common damage hot spot - notice no large factory stickers on ramps|
There are differences in the level of sparkly flakes in the blue and grey plastic in different versions of Powered Convoy, and that's not just between the chrome and non chrome versions, but even regular versions between GiG and Takara releases. It seems Italian versions have more sparkles in the blue plastic on the trailers. The regular Powered Convoys have no large Magnus-like factory stickers on the black ramps, but the chrome-trailered 'Mekki' versions do, they also have different factory stickers on the chest piece that you can see here:
|Doesn't deserve a better pic!|
A quick aside, 'Mekki' Powered Convoys are rubbish. Look at them funny and the super-sparkly plastic sections will snap and shatter, evaporate, explode, melt, disintegrate, atomise or just vanish. No wonder they're rare, goodness only knows how many ended up in the bin. It's awful to say it, but if you buy one, do NOT transform it. You can see the unique ramp and chest-piece factory stickers in the picture above that the regular Powered Convoys don't have. Spectacular-looking variant, but that's all you should do with it, look at it. Preferably someone else's because there are more productive things you can do with a four figure amount.
|Blue cab, yellow driver, red Buggy|
There we go, back to the positives. "Optimus in blue" is a wonderful sight, as are all colour variants of this mould to be honest, it's no surprise I fell in love with the yellow translucent reissue exclusive Shining Magnus. The blue cab is easily one of the most striking and desirable features of Powered Convoy.
|Antennae nipples - and reminiscent of MTMTE #19 incentive cover!|
And we're back to the negatives, look at that sloppy paint application on the yellow eyes for the cab robot. You can see that same 'care' on Diaclone Blue Bluestreaks, once again challenging the perception that older means better, and that Diaclone toys were of superior quality to Transformers. They most certainly were not.
The large robot head for the earlier Japanese Powered Convoys had small nipples on top of the antennae, but you can find later GiG versions with flat-top antennae, like Transformers Ultra Magnus.
|Majestic, Magnificent, Magical.|
That's why we turned up today, the combined Diaclone Powered Convoy robot. Folks have on occasion commented on how Ultra Magnus's cab and trailer seemed to jar and not be of the same aesthetic, but when you consider that the original Diaclone Powered Convoy was meant to be a piloted mecha that acted as a base, aircraft launcher, repair bay and armoured central robot, it all makes perfect sense. In these colours, this design works in perfect harmony with all the accessories and is a wonder to behold.
|Wrong missiles, I know I know...|
When I photographed this specimen for sale and combined it for the first time properly, clicking all the pieces and tabbing all the sections properly, I realised that in over a decade of ownership I had not appreciated or enjoyed it properly. It deserved to tower over all of my other robots, it deserved to be shown off outside its beautiful box. It's huge for its era of Car Robots/Real & Robo toys, it has awesome bulk and it took my breath away all over again.
This toy was without a doubt the last hurrah for Takara's Diaclone line before they were committed to Transformers. It was like the last leader-class figure of a series and early Transformers imagery shows Diaclone Powered Convoy facing off against a Micro Change Series Walther P38 (pre-Megatron), so the hopes were very high for it, and the evidence suggests that it sold very well in all the countries it saw release. There's a good reason I chose this as my ambassador for pre-Transformers. Its interactivity, colours, features and presentation do the mould more justice than Ultra Magnus and the Transformers ever did.
|*Goes to look at savings account*|
|A sold toy in a collection of sold toys|
All the best