As we've covered in other Machine Robo Rescue reviews, but I nevertheless feel compelled to reiterate here in case this is the first one you've landed on, the 2003 MRR toyline took several cues from its' 1980s forerunner. Sometimes this was only in terms of the broad names used, sometimes there were only minor similarities (such as the new Gyro Robo sharing a face with the old one).

In the case of Jet Robo and Drill Robo, however, the similarities were more overt. Drill Robo was the lead mecha of the Yellow Gears Team at MRR, piloted by Daichi Hayami. The Leader Robo was modelled very heavily on the Anime model for Rod Drill from the 1987 Revenge of Cronos series, itself modelled on the 1983 Drill Robo, while the Support Robo were loosely based on Bulldozer Robo. More recently, the original figure was bootlegged in oversized form for the British Power Warriors line. This is the version I'll be reviewing, as I've yet to get around to buying the real thing. I'll indicate where the bootleg nature comes into things.


DRILL ROBO

Now, those overt references we were on about. As some of you may be aware, the rather unprepossessing Renegade Screw Head was picked arbitrarily by Bandai and/or Ashii Studios to be Rod Drill, Chief of the Battle Tribe. As the only halfway tolerable lead in the Revenge of Cronos anime series, Rod Drill seems to be well-remembered by Bandai, and thus Plex have basically reused the original design for the central robot of the new Drill Robo. The vehicle mode is a little sleeker, loses something without the chrome drill (this might just be a knockoff thing), and like the new Jet Robo has connection points ruining the thing, but it's a worthy update.

Unlike the Jet, it does keep practically the same transformation sequence, though - the only real difference is sliding the drill tank cockpit back to allow the shoulders to move into place. The orange third colour (rather than the red of the original) does weaken the mix a little, but it's still a great robot mode. There's even a turning head now, although maybe Plex could have come up with something a little more impressive in the 20 years that lapsed since the original Drill Robo came out. The great big wide head is good fun, though, and you could do worse for a figure than this. Get a spare one and paint the red on, and you'd have a decent transforming Rod Drill toy.


BULLDOZER ROBO

Sadly, Plex' design ethic seems to be the better-looking the Leader Robo, the less they have to put into the Support Robo. Drill Robo's drones are... I think they're bulldozers. They're called Bulldozer Robo, so they must be, yeh? Bulldozers that seem to have claws on the front. Hmmm. They're ugly yellow messes whatever they are. I mean, there's a pair of arms just sticking out of the sides.

The robot mode is a little better - the face seems to be a homage to the original Bulldozer Robo. It's functional, and moderately well-proportioned as MRR Support Robo go. While whatever those claws are double up nicely as feet and there's a little articulation, the head's set in the shoulders and it's rather primitive.


HYPER MODE

Of course, the Hyper Mode is what the set should be judged on. Sadly for Drill Robo, it's not particularly good. The colour scheme totally fails to mesh, meaning this looks a bit like Drill Robo's vehicle mode with unconvincing limbs hanging off it.

The whole thing is a rather horrid mess, with the limbs not really convincing at all. Despite Plex - for once - having the sense to offset the leg connections so the legs aren't close together, the balance really isn't good, and the limbs are even more comically overlong than usual. The arms are worst of all, as each has a pair of forearms attached. Not sure if this is some horrid design compromise or intentional - either way it's bloody awful. There is articulation but moving the limbs makes it look even more like he's been through a mangle.


SUMMARY

The Leader Robo is decent enough, but I fail to see how even the real thing would improve on the original (which is one of my favourite Machine Robo Series figures), and considering the '83 version isn't rare there's no need for it as a substitute. The rest of the combiner isn't really worth taking into account as the Support Robo are unimpressive in either mode and the Hyper Mode is abysmal. I'll be keeping half an eye out for the individual releases of the Leader Robo, but aside from that I think buying the knock-off was the most sensible step to take.