After the 1983 boom, 1984 was a consolidating year for Machine Robo with fourteen new figures joining the series. Among these was Hot Rod Robo, based on a street-modified 1970s Chevrolet Camaro Z28. The figure was recoloured for its' American release as the Gobots toy Street Heat, but retained the blue/black scheme for the European issue. The Robo Machine version did however use the American name, despite some of the stickers still reading 'HOTRODROBO'.

Beyond that, the Hot Rod Robo didn't have too much of a history - like several of the later Machine Robo Series toys it wasn't reissued in 1986, and was thus only available for a year or so before being deleted from Bandai's catalogue.


ALTERNATE MODE

It's been a while since I wrote the review for Street Heat so I thought I might have some new observations to throw in for this one. First impressions are that Hot Rod Robo simply looks a lot better than his Western counterpart. Firstly, it's nice for him to not be red - the Gobots line suffered from a surfeit of red cars, and quite why Tonka felt the need to recolour some figures (another example is the Fairlady Robo, though that one in fairness came off quite nicely) to further swell the ranks. Of course, it helps that the deep blue/black scheme works in itself - the contrast is great and it just looks cooler, more like something that'd be tearing down a city street at night.

The final touch that really makes the thing look great, though, are the stickers. Often the Gobots releases cutting a portion of the Machine Robo stickers aren't that noticeable - it's a loss, but rarely chronic. However, I'm firmly of the opinion that if you're going to have an alt mode that's a bit out there, you should go all the way. The American version of this figure falls down a bit because it tries to look a little like a bog standard road car, and as such looks a bit silly. The Bandai version, topped off with flame stickers and adorned with the legend 'HOTRODROBO' in three places, looks so silly it comes through the other side to 'awesome'. It's also worth noting that the stickers on the front wings cover the ugly shoulder connections. The actual car mode itself isn't bad, nicely sculpted if not particularly highly detailed. It's a nice shape, with some big chunky rear tyres and lovely chromed details. Hot stuff.


ROBOT MODE

After the initial disappointment with Street Heat the whole mould's become a sort of sleeper hit with me. I've grown to really like the transformation sequence - after the early simple stuff like Turbo, Spoiler and Hans-Cuff, the Machine Robo Series (and the Western exclusive Gobots moulds) began to play around with interesting transformations for cars. Some were more successful than others, and Hot Rod Robo is one of the better ones for me.

I like the way the sides kick out to form the legs and the neat folding bonnet. The robot mode looks better in blue as well, even after most of the decals have folded away behind. It just suits the figure more, giving it a bit of character - it's easy to imagine this fellow as a slick urban night-fighter. Hot Rod Robo is a neat looking robot despite middling articulation, with a neat head cast and generally good proportions (though the arms are maybe a little short).


SUMMARY

It's amazing what a difference a new coat of paint can make. That and a fresh look at a figure, anyway. It's pretty dumbfounding that Tonka felt the need to recolour such a great-looking figure and damning that they did such a poor job of it. The mould is decent, and the colour scheme is superb. Hot Rod Robo is well worth checking out instead of the Gobots version.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-43: Hot Rod Robo (blue version)
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 36: Street Heat (red recolour)
1984, Robo Machine - RM-43: Street Heat (blue version)

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None