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Series: Perfect Effect
Allegiance: Maximal
Year: 2015

Prelude: Leonidas is not a figure released by Hasbro or Takara-Tomy and thus not officially a Transformer. He hails from third party company Perfect Effect and is, of course, meant to portray Beast Wars II Lio Convoy, but for legal reasons he can’t be called by that name.

Robot Mode: Let’s get the most important aspect here out of the way first. Perfect Effect Leonidas is most definitely and absolutely not a toy. He is a collector’s piece paying homage to a toy, but it is definitely not for playing with. Looking at him, he is just plain gorgeous. The amount of detail work done on this figure is amazing, it is made partially from Die Cast metal, giving it a good, heavy feel, and you can easily see where the hefty amount of cash you paid for him went. In terms of looks Leonidas is definitely a treat.

Leonidas is not just for looking at, though. He is an incredibly well-articulated robot with just about every kind of joint one could ask for, allowing all sorts of great poses. Even more so if you add the display stand Perfect Effect has included in the package, making it possible for Leonidas to remain standing in a running pose, for example, or make it look like he is jumping through the air. His two big shoulder pieces, the big lion head and the smaller mane part on the other one, can be moved out of the way for more dynamic arm movements, so there is no restrictions there. Well, maybe one: some of Leonidas’ joints, especially the shoulder joints, are very, very tight. I’m doing fine with mine, but apparently some Leonidas owners have managed to get theirs broken just by moving the arms around. A bit of a gentle touch is definitely asked for here.

While Leonidas’ look is of course closely patterned after that of Lio Convoy, there are some differences. Overall Leonidas is clearly fully robotic, while Lio Convoy had organic-looking parts. And most prominently, Leonidas’ chest design more closely resembles the classic Optimus Prime design with the two chest windows. This includes the fact that the two chest windows open up to unveil a non-removable Matrix of Leadership inside his chest, which looks fabulous as well, by the way. Lio Convoy had a Matrix as well, but his was located inside his left pectoral, not in the center of the chest. Doesn’t hurt his look at all, mind you, just wanted to mention it.

Leonidas comes with a massive arsenal of weapons. None of them are integrated into the mane of his lion head or his forearms like with the original Lio Convoy toy, but rather all are designed to be stored on his back. First there are two big rifles in the classic style of Optimus Prime’s weapon of choice. Then he has two Katana-style swords (made from metal) and the accompanying scabbards. Additionally there is a white crossbow-like weapon, which can fold together into a small backpack. And finally there is the lion’s tail, which can function as a whip and its tip separates into twin daggers for Leonidas to wield. When the daggers are removed, the tail ends in a double-barreled weapon. All these weapons, as I mentioned, can be attached to a butt plate (except the crossbow) for storage.

Speaking of the tail, this is Leonidas’ one true weak spot. It’s quite long and made from a number of thin links, each with a joint at the end, so the whip / tail can be put into all sorts of shapes. Sadly these links are rather delicate and break easily. Leonidas actually comes with several replacement links for the whip. Personally I don’t like whip weapons anyway, so I recommend leaving the tail attached to the butt plate (you can more or less roll up most of its length on its underside) and only use the tip daggers, leaving the tail for the lion mode.

To sum up the robot mode: excellent, fantastic, gorgeous. Perfect Effect has truly created a beauty here. Tight joints and fragile tail aside, there is absolutely nothing wrong here. Two thumbs up and a big grin on top.

Beast Mode: Naturally the robot with the big lion head on his right shoulder transforms into a robotic lion. Now the original Lio Convoy toy had a rather complex transformation scheme here, basically converting the width of the robot’s shoulders into the length of the lion’s body and the lower body twisting and folding in underneath. Leonidas foregoes the complexity and basically just goes down on all fours. The two big shoulder pieces come together and disguise the robot’s head, the robot forearms flip around to become forelegs and the robot legs shift their joints to become the lion’s rear legs. The instruction sheet actually makes it look a whole lot more complicated than it really is.

Simplistic transformation aside, this is still a pretty gorgeous lion mode. It’s clearly robotic in nature, foregoing Lio Convoy’s organic-looking beast mode, but still looks pretty dangerous and dynamic. All four legs retain their full range of motion, the body itself can bend and twist a bit, too, and while the head is more or less fixed in place, you can still make the lion look up, down, and sideways, at least a bit. The lion’s mouth can open, revealing steel teeth that are actually pretty pointy.

All of Leonidas’ weapons can come into use here. The two big rifles become cannons on elevating arms. The tail whip is the tail, naturally, and you can shorten or extend it, whichever way looks best to you (I recommend keeping it pretty short, though). Finally the scabbards of the Samurai swords are sculpted to look a bit like gun barrels, too, so you can attach them to the arms of the crossbow sitting on the lion’s back for even more firepower. Finally the figure also comes with a pinkish-red visor you can put over the lion’s eyes, because... no idea, actually. Don’t like how it looks and it doesn’t really stick in place solidly, either, so it moved right back into the box after the photo session. Just wanted to mention it.

Final verdict on the beast mode: not quite as epic as the robot mode, but still pretty good and actually giving us a fully articulated beast mode for Lio Convoy for the first time ever. So while I will probably not transform Leonidas into this mode that often (I prefer to display my Transformers in robot mode), it still looks pretty spiffy. Thumbs up as well.

Remarks: Lio Convoy was the leader of the Cybertrons (Maximals) in the Japanese-exclusive Beast Wars II cartoon series, which had a rather similar premise to the western Beast Wars series with two warring camps of Transformers stranded on an alien world that eventually turned out to be Earth (distant past for Beast Wars, distant future for Beast Wars II). To this day he is – in my opinion – one of the best-looking designs of the Beast era and while the original toy did have a few minor problems, it was nevertheless a great figure, too.

This updated version of Lio Convoy by Perfect Effect is, simply put, the most gorgeous and prettiest Transformer I’ve ever held in hand. To paraphrase my wife: if he were life-sized, he’d look real. The attention to detail is staggering and while the transformation to lion mode is simplified when compared to the original, that doesn’t take anything away from the figure. The only slight downsides, and the only reason I don’t give this figure an A+, are the fragile tail and the very stiff shoulder joints that have given some users headaches, apparently. Otherwise, though: a truly perfect figure. Pricy, but worth it to the Beast Wars fan.

Rating: A

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