By 1985, the original Machine Robo Series was winding down a little, suffering at the hands of the more complex cartoon-supported Transformers figures. New moulds had declined from twenty-one new figures in 1983, to fourteen in 1984, and then to just six in 1985. One of these was the Vertol Robo, the fiftieth figure in the range. Due to its' late release the toy is one of the hardest to find boxed, and like some other later Machine Robo (e.g. the Tomcat Robo) it wasn't reissued to tie in with Revenge of Cronos.

In the West the figure was recoloured. Tonka devised a tan and pale blue version, issued as the Renegade Twin Spin (as seen in Challenge of the Gobots). In Europe, the toy was given a green colour scheme and released as the Friendly Robot Carry-All (as seen in the Robo Machines comic). Typically, Australia's Machine Men line had to be difficult, and issued both Western versions as Twin Spin.


ALTERNATE MODE

Vertol Robo turns in a KV-107II twin-rotor helicopter. Despite the change in designation it is exactly the same thing as the Western versions, the KV-107II being a license-built Japanese version of the CH-46 Sea Knight. Technically, the Japanese designation is the correct one, but I've blatantly abused my position as the site's sole editor to fudge the other reviews. I'm choosing to admit this only because that's an amazingly interesting fact. Yes it is.

The alternate mode is most likely modelled on a contemporary JSDF Air/Sea Rescue Vertol. This means it's bright yellow - high visibility, see. The yellow is only broken by the chrome blades and minor detailing. Only the cockpit windows and glazed underside are painted. The side windows, with a nice thoughtful silver frame, are factory stickers. The blue lines, with kanji above on the fore section and Japanese flags on the back half, are from the sheet. I can tell you, those blue lines are a bastard to line up. Aside from that, the toy's all yellow - shame at least the landing wheels weren't done in black. Vertol Robo doesn't even get the one-tone colour right, as there's an atypically bad bit of paint matching on the diecast cockpit segment. The majority of the toy is plastic, but sturdy. I've seen a few loose Carry-Alls with landing gear snapped off and while the material on Vertol Robo doesn't seem any stronger, I've be interested to know how some clot managed that. The only real durability problem is for some reason the front rotor is incredibly loose, only really resting in the hole.


ROBOT MODE

Transforming Vertol Robo is a simple enough process, if a little by the book - the tail splits to form the legs, the forward fuselage splits to make the arms and the cockpit flips down to make the chest. There's not much wrong with it and for a small figure it's nicely done with some clever variations, but not much thinking outside the box. I do like the resulting robot layout though. Vertol Robo is surprisingly slender and dynamic to look at, with some handy arm articulation to boot (though everything else is solid).

However the all-yellow scheme is a little dazzling. Regardless of its' accuracy on the alternate mode, it really doesn't look good at all - both Tonka and Bandai Europe took the right route here, giving the figure a less realistic but easier on the eye scheme. The problem stems from most of the figure being visible in both modes, so there's no chance of a dark secondary colour to break the look up in the robot form. Once again the robot is generally quite solid - however, the feet connections seem even weaker on the Japanese version, and the screws loosen themselves every couple of transformations. They're easy enough to tighten again but it's still a problem worth mentioning.


SUMMARY

In absolute terms Vertol Robo is a decent mould, but the slavish realism of the paint job really scuppers the thing. If this was the only version of the figure available I'd probably recommend him more enthusiastically, but as it is both Carry-All (my personal choice) and Twin Spin look a lot better. They're also a lot cheaper; while Vertol Robo is generally cheaper than the Japanese exclusive moulds, the figure is still very expensive as 600 series toys go. One for only the most ardent collectors.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1985, Machine Robo Series - MR-50: Vertol Robo
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 42: Twin Spin (brown recolour)
1985, Robo Machine - RM-50: Carry-All (green recolour)
1993, Robo Machines - Helicopter I (green recolour)

PARTS:
2 x three-blade rotors

WEAK POINTS:
Nose wheel