Grand Prix racing has long held a considerable amount of interest in Japan even in the barren spell between 1977 and 1987 when the country had no Grand Prix of its' own, so a F1 car was a logical addition to the Machine Robo range. F-1 Robo was modelled on the Renault RE20 Turbocharged car, one of the front-runners of the 1980 season in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Rene Arnoux (who drove the #16 car used). It might seem a bit of a random choice but then Takara chose the Ligier JS11 for their Diaclone range, so maybe before Honda the Japanese sympathies lay with the French. Or maybe Ferrari would be more likely to sue. Who knows? Who cares, actually.

In 1984 the figure was revamped for Tonka's Gobots range as Slicks, getting a new set of stickers (concentrating mainly on announcing the Renegade's name) and a new colour scheme, adding black to the scheme in place of much of the yellow plastics. The Japanese colour scheme was retained in Europe for Robo Machine, a release which used the Slicks name, and for the Brazilian Convert range.


ALTERNATE MODE

Considering F-1 Robo's vehicle mode is only 2½ inches long it's a more than respectable replica of the RE20, complete with accurate stickers and a nice chromed engine. The axles are too thick and the sidepods aren't shaped quite right, but it's a great effort.

The RE20 isn't the prettiest F1 car ever, and the all-yellow scheme isn't very good for those after more than realism. It's a shame a Williams FW07 or Brabham BT49 wasn't used in its' place. The American version looks a bit less one-tone, but with 'Slicks' branded all over also looks a lot more childish. Preference depends on whether you want your alternate modes to be realistic or quirky. The mode is very sturdy, though, and Bandai have (unusually) sorted some decent rubber tyres for the guy.


ROBOT MODE

Transforming F-1 Robo is surprisingly complex, especially keeping the arms out of the way throughout. It's inventive but frustrating in places. The worst part is the amount of wear it builds up - I'm sure the front wheels get looser every time he's transformed, while the rear wheels must lose chrome clipping in like that.

The robot itself looks pretty good - the face actually has a little character to it and the proportions are good. The articulation, like most Machine Robo, is disappointing, only extending to the arms. Worse still, moving these higher than 45° from the body makes them look like they're coming from the top of the shoulders.


SUMMARY

Being a Grand Prix fan I'm a bit biased towards F-1 Robo, so the alt mode counts for more than average. Despite his flaws and awkwardness when transforming the toy displays well in both modes. The biggest problem is the wear - his look in either mode depends a lot on chrome and stickers which tend to be the first bits to go, and he works very loose as well. He's recommended, but only with the qualifiers that he's fragile and a little annoying to change.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-32: F-1 Robo
1984, Robo Machine - RM-32: Slicks
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 16: Slicks (black recolour)

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None