Action Toys’ Machine Robo: Gobots Reborn?
One of the great things about being a child of the 80’s and living right now is that the last few years have seen the rebirth of so many of our beloved toy lines. Even though Transformers has been going strong for many years, a lot of the other properties fell by the wayside through the 90s and early 2000’s. It seems fitting that now we would be seeing the resurrection of the main competition for Transformers back in the day. Gobots are famously remembered as the not-Transformers of the original era. Both the toy line and cartoon here in the US never garnered the popularity of the G1 Transformers cartoon or toy line, but they did occupy a place in the hearts of many young fans here and all over the world. Now those fans can rejoice at the release of Action Toys’ Machine Robo line.
While this series is based off of the “Revenge of Cronos” anime that has nothing to do with the American Gobots cartoon from Hanna-Barbera, these figures are familiar enough in design and aesthetic that you will feel the nostalgia the moment you get them in hand. From the heft of the figures due to die-cast parts to the less (American) cartoon looking facial features, this line really brings back the experience of holding an 80’s Gobot while improving upon the designs with added articulation.
I knew the figures were going to be smaller than most Transformers size classes, but it really hit me once I got the packages in hand. The boxes are compact, but the overall design is very reminiscent of Machine Robo packaging from the past. Once you open them up, you will find several plastic trays that take up the majority of the space inside. These trays nicely secure the figures in place and keep them from jostling around during transit. The trays also highlight how thin and small these figures are.
Included with each figure or modular components for a hanger/base. It is a nice accessory, and it can be assembled in a myriad of ways, however I think mine may have come short a part or two. As seen in this gallery, I was only able to put together one of the configurations that is included in the instructions. It’s not a big deal, but it was a little bit disappointed, since if I want to make the larger construction I must cannibalize parts from one of the others, leaving someone without a base.
Each of the figures comes with a weapon. Rod Drill comes with an extended drill piece that can replace his head and includes some arm blades/fist covers that appear to also have blaster components in them. These weapons are interesting because they make Rod Drill out to be the brawler of the group, and he has the articulation to pull it off. Eagle Robo comes with missile pods for jet mode that become some sort of a four-barrel shotgun for his robot mode. Battle Robo’s tank turret is detachable and can connect to his owner in the same way that Megatron wields an arm cannon. Overall, while the accessories are not overly abundant, they do add nice value for display and play.
Rod Drill is mean looking straight out of the box, though he is the smallest of the robots currently released. His articulation is some of the most unhindered and natural, and he can easily be posed in many fighting stances. The diecast in his legs also make him nice and stable, in spite of a little awkwardness in the design of the feet.
Eagle Robo is almost a perfect Leader-1. While his face plate covers up the more humanoid face (which was discovered too exist under the plate), the rest of his design is very clearly our favorite Guardian leader. Though I do like this figure quite a bit, I am a little annoyed by the articulation in the knees and lower legs, as the knees do not want to bend without quite a bit of force, making the joints near the ankles move instead. The jet wings also hinder the bending at the knees a little bit, and have to be moved out of the way to really get him to a fully bended pose. Other minor complaints are the overall fiddly feel to the alarms, and the side guards beside his head. In spite of those issues, this is still a great figure.
Battle Robo is a very solid figure. His articulation is pretty much unhindered by any of his vehicle kibble. His arm cannon and backpack blasters, as well as some of what appeared to be wrist blasters, give him the look of a heavily armed, ready for combat robot. I also like that you can hide his robot face and give him a kind of transitional mode that looks like a tank with legs. While this is not a feature that the original figure had, this is something that several of the Gobots from back in the 80s were designed to do. I think it drives home the nostalgia even more.
The transformation sequences for these figures are not overly complicated, and they can pretty much be transformed without looking at the instructions. I did notice that Action Toys has included a warning on possible complications of transformation for Rod Drill. I did not bother to look at the instructions for the other two figures so I do not know if they also include any warnings. Each figure does have at least one spot where the engineering is a little awkward for transformation. Rod drill does not have enough clearance to easily move his legs into vehicle mode due to the back of his legs getting in the way. Eagle Robo’s difficulty in transformation comes up in the shoulder areas, and forming the front and middle parts of the plane, as his head is want to pop off and the panels do not easily slide into place. Battle Robo is the easiest to transform of the three, but getting the side panels on his legs to snap into the body of the vehicle was nominally difficult.
Once you get the figures transformed, they really shine. It’s amazing how well they compact down into their alt. modes, and the die-cast included in each one of them makes them feel like they were actually worth the purchase in spite of the size. Drill Robo is a futuristic looking drill machine, and though I hate the idea of having to replace parts for transformation, the extended drill bit that can be swapped with his head is a nice touch. Eagle Robo is one of the nicest jets I have ever seen a robot transform into. He certainly outshines the Classics Starscream mold in this department. Having the additional hanger makes it easy to post him in vehicle on your shelf, and that is definitely a welcomed feature. Battle Robo is definitely my favorite science fiction style vehicle. His gun turret and additional blasters look intimidating on top of his vehicle mode, and the solidness of his vehicle design makes him look like an impenetrable mobile fortress.
The new Machine Robo line evokes the Gobots of the past with its design aesthetic, compact vehicle modes, and die-cast parts. While these figures are based off of an anime series that many Gobots fans are less familiar with, you still get the feeling that you are playing with toys from your childhood. They are fun, not overly frustrating to transform, and look phenomenal in both robot in vehicle modes. I look forward to the upcoming Bike Robo (Cy-Kill), and the other figures that we have seen previewed for future release.
In short, these guys are really cool! I am all in for the Gobots/Machine Robo revival!
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