Bandai devised several varying playsets and vehicles to fit the Machine Robo Series figures, ranging from the battery-powered Jet Garry car-carrier to the transforming Battle Base flying fortress. One of the more innovative was the Battle Suit system - this consisted of a large transforming module and four static suits that could house a single figure each, which could combine to form a single giant robot. Initially Bandai devised two types - Battle Armor 5, which had a jet-inspired central module, and Land Commander 5, which had a tank-inspired central module. The sets were promoted with a lavish, beautifully animated commercial-cum-short.

Bandai released the Battle Armor 5 set in Europe as the Robo Machine Battle Suit in 1984, while later that year the sets would begin to appear in the Gobots line. Tonka released two recolours of Battle Armor 5 - one recoloured in blue/white/red and sold as the Guardian Power Warrior Courageous, the other black/grey/white and sold as the Renegade counterpart Grungy. These were available either as a boxed set, or as five separate units. While Courageous would appear in several episodes of Challenge of the Gobots, Grungy wasn't so lucky, failing to appear - I guess the logic was that the Renegades got Puzzler instead.


SPACESHIP

The central command module nominally turns into a jet, but it's unconvincing to look at. The thin plastic wings just don't give the impression of being able to lift the bulky aircraft, while looking at it from anything other than a high angle makes Grungy's face very obvious. The colours are rather dull, though in fairness, mine is missing the crazy stickers that should adorn the top. Even then it's still not much to look at - a third colour (red, maybe, or even black) would have brightened it up no end.

There are still some very neat touches, though. Metal undercarriage always makes a toy seem classier than it is, but the accessory storage for Grungy's parts is rather impressive - the robot's fists fit inside the feet, which themselves slot under the wings like cargo pods. The large storage area can also fit the vast majority of Gobots figures (obviously not more than one at a time, though).


POWER SUITS

All four Power Suits have significantly different castings, which leads to a nice bit of variety. Considering Bandai only originally intended to sell the system as a boxed set, they could perhaps have been forgiven for just duplicating a single design for each limb and just varying it slightly for the arms and legs. The downside is that the different designs accommodate different figures. I've painstakingly compiled an all-new tried and tested compatibility list, which can be found here. The short version, though, is that fewer figures than you'd think actually fit the suits (for example, the cartoon's Leader-1/Turbo/Scooter/Small Foot limb line-up can't be done).

A general rule of thumb is that most figures fit in Suit 4, fewer in Suit 3, fewer still in Suit 2 and hardly any in Suit 1. From the way Tonka distributed the Gobots to factions, it works out that the Renegades actually have a pretty good mix of options to go in each suit, and you can actually pick and choose ones which look good. I've fitted these out to my own personal favourite of Screw Head in P1, Spoiler in P2, Tux in P3 and Water Walk in P4, a good mix of decent fits and complimentary colours. That said, the play value of individual suits is very limited. Beyond the weapons, there's little obvious enhancement going on, and they only really serve to rob figures of mobility.


POWER WARRIOR

Combining the Spaceship and Power Suits to form Grungy is a simple, straightforward process, mainly involving slotting on the Suits and accessories. However, the post significant moving part - the thighs, which unfold from the belly of the Spaceship - can become very stiff. Be careful, because the housings aren't particularly solid.

Grungy is an imposing figure - the tallest thing released in the Gobots line, towering over Puzzler or Monsterous. The only related thing I've yet found that's taller is the Robot Winch Truck. The robot design is very impressive with some nice attention to detail, passable articulation (shoulders and hips), and the colour scheme works nicely. The way the whole set hangs together is very well done, while the opening fists are a nice feature. Filled with the right Gobots, the toy's a knockout. Without them, Grungy lacks any particular solidarity but then you wouldn't be buying this without having something to fill out the limbs.


SUMMARY

Indeed, Grungy is more an accessory that a figure in his own right. He's recommended, but only on the proviso you have five Renegades that fit nicely and all the parts. There's some neat engineering with the accessory storage, and he functions well as a display piece - though it's undeniable that it's very good fun placing Gobots in the Suits and then combining him. While the original Machine Robo scheme is just about nicer (and also fairly common in Europe), Grungy easily shades Courageous as the best Gobots version, and is a cheap, fun add-on for anyone with a few Gobots.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Gobots - Grungy (also released as individually boxed Spaceship and separately carded Power Suits)
1984, Robo Machine - Battle Suit

PARTS:
1 x Spaceship
1 x Power Suit GB-P1
1 x Power Suit GB-P2
1 x Power Suit GB-P3
1 x Power Suit GB-P4
1 x left fist
1 x right fist
1 x left foot
1 x right foot
1 x gun barrel
1 x gun body

WEAK POINTS:
Hips