Five years after the original line ended, Bandai decided to launch a modernised Machine Robo series in 1993. Designed by in-house studio PLEX, the CG Robo range was based on contemporary vehicles, using larger toys than the old Machine Robo Series figures - also incorporating electronic lights and sirens. This gimmick made emergency vehicles an obvious choice for the range, and thus Ambulance CG was among the first five figures released, modelled on the front-line Toyota HIMED vehicle.

The toy was later released in Europe later that year as part of the Robo Machines line, receiving the name SOS in the UK - other European markets received figures with more of a description than a name. The sticker sheet was modified for the Robo Machines version, with all text translated to English.


ALTERNATE MODE

Ambulance CG's alt mode really is very nice, both sleek and functional. It looks oddly futuristic for something that is at the time of writing nearly 20 years old. The blacked-out windows are an acceptable compromise (and much preferred to the mixed layout deployed on the old Ambulance Robo), and contribute to the exceptional feel of solidity coming from the vehicle.

There's a comprehensive sticker sheet adding some nice details - though the thing looks very bland without them, making a top-condition example a must (especially when you consider that this much white plastic acts as a lightning rod for yellowing). However, the thing is over-reliant on them. It's a shame, if perhaps unavoidable, that only the front lightbar works. However, it's just about preferable to only having one lightbar full-stop, though. All in all it's a nice solid alternate mode, even if it is lacking in flourishes compared to other lines.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation is simple, but satisfying. I especially like the rotating chest - they could have not bothered and just had the head flip around on the front of the ambulance, but it looks much better that way and I appreciate that the shortcut hasn't been used. The robot mode itself is terrific, arguably the best of the CG Robo line and in amongst the best from all of Machine Robo. There's just something very pleasing about the layout of the thing.

The proportions are good - the arms and thighs are thin, but the look works for the figure. The detail touches like the stickers and lightbars help break up the white even in this mode, and allied with the thoughtful sculpt make Ambulance CG interesting to look at. As with the rest of the line the head is nicely done, giving the figure a bit of a personality. Articulation is limited to the shoulders, but the hinges used in these do at least give him a moderate degree of movement. It's a great robot mode in all, stylish and functional with a nice retro charm to it.


SUMMARY

Ambulance CG is a great figure. Yes, it's a shame there isn't a bit more articulation to him - much like the first batch of Transformers Generation 2 figures, the CG Robo were just ahead of the advances in ball-joint technology that would enrich figures this size. Nevertheless the toy is well-designed and diverting. Both modes display really well, and the figure has a satisfying solidarity to it. Well worth hunting down.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1993, CG Robo - CG-03: Ambulance CG
1993, Robo Machines Light and Sound - RM-03: SOS

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None