An excellent specimen all-around. Some people think of this unit as the 'Diaclone' or movie Magnus (the recolored reissue certainly lends credence to that). There were two versions of Powered Convoy; grey and chrome. Grey is presumed first release, and the chrome version the second one. Powered Convoy saw release in both Japan and Italy in the Pre-TF line. Both versions have the original square-smokestacks cab (see: Grey Prime). The later Japanese-release saw a giftset version, with a red Mirage, and a black Sideswipe(the Japanese reissue black-swipe was made in homage to this piece). A later Italian GiG release saw a red cab in place of the blue one.
It's interesting to note the molding on this piece, as it helps to distinguish which was the first mold used on Ultra Magnus; ie the chest plate with the cannons, tail-lights on the trailer, etc (for example, if we put powered convoy on the grid, he'd be a type 4 trailer, type 2 large fist, type 1 waist plate, and so forth).
A couple of distinguising features on Powered Convoy: the head antenna are different from Magnus. Looks like this was one of the across-the board changes made before he was Hasbro-ised (it has an oval indent, but the nubs on the antenna tips are enlarges, vs planed off on the Hasbro version). Further of interest is the fact that the blue plastic on the trailer can come in a plain, or 'sparkly' version of plastic. Others have noted changes in the red hues between versions.
A final note on changes: Note that between the Japanese and Italian versions of this toy, the regular missles were replaced with 'Bopper' missles (see: Italy).
Powered Convoy DX Giftset:
Himawari adds: "Yep there are other differences. I've noticed a tint change in the red plastic (which I assume to be just a masterbatch issue)...the "mekki" version has some added aluminum flakes in the coloring to give the blue a sparkling effect. Therefore the blue plastics are also different. The mekki version has white missles, and the regular has grey missles to match the base of the trailer. Both cabs are the same IIRC along with copyrights. I don't believe there were any mold changes between the two. The heads are molded the same IIRC (in terms of the antenna)."
Maz replies: "Well, I really wanted to be able to contribute something to this thread but I don't know anything about the toys themselves. I do know that there were box variations. One of them was that the cellophane window had semicircular dips in it so that you could see the wheels of PC when you look at the box front on the first release, but the Mekki release had no dips, the cello window was just straight at the bottom so the wheels were not totally visible. I remember some text was altered/removed between the two releases too. Byron had posted some pics on the Diaclone group about 3 years ago. One thing that surprises me is that the product numbers were not changed between the two releases of Powered Convoy."
Reissues: As I stated earlier, the color of the special-release Magnus was made in-homage either to the diaclone Powered Convoy above, or, as some have suggested, made in homage to the 'movie Magnus' color scheme:
As you can see, the color schemes in the TF Movie clips are close enough that perhaps both are true. :-) Before the final colors were decided on Ultra Magnus, they presumably looked at the Japanese version of the toy. You will note that, even though the colors are made in-homage to the Pre-TF version, the reissue is actually an updated Magnus mold (and was released as-such). No Powered Buggy, no wheels on the chest plate, no Diaclone driver. Sorry. :-) On the upside, you can see the vibrant color differences, so between that and the molding change, no one should be able to swap parts or sell you a reissue as a Pre-TF version.
And speaking of reissues, we've got the black Sideswipe reissued as well. Two pieces out of three for the PCDX giftset. If Mirage sees a re-release, is there any doubt that there will be a red reissue of him from E-Hobby? :-)