When Bandai decided the Machine Robo brand was ripe for revival in 2003, and the new line was assigned to the Plex design studio. They concocted Machine Robo Rescue, and took several cues from the 1980s line. Thus the first figure in the line was a redesigned Jet Robo, drawing on the 1982 Popy Pleasure design, which was subsequently picked up as one of the leads for the 1986 Revenge of Cronos anime.

The figure was part of the Red Wings team – in the Machine Robo Rescue anime the robot was piloted by Taiyo Ozora. As with the rest of the Rescue line, the toy didn't get beyond Asia. The bulk of the robots from Rescue share the same basic layout – a single Leader Robo, about a head taller than a 600 Series figure, plus four 'drone' Support Robo, each identical. As well as each part having robot and vehicle modes all five can combine to form the Hyper Mode robot. The limbs for all of these robots are interchangeable, a process that was actively marketed (unlike the similar feature on the Scramble City Transformers range, which was shown in the eponymous OVA then quietly hushed up). It probably gives the robots a whole new range of crazy powers. Or something.


JET ROBO

The Leader Robo of the Jet team is heavily modelled on the original Jet Robo (released in the West as the Renegade Fitor). The jet mode isn't actually quite as neat – and considering Fitor's jet mode was hardly smooth, it's not a good thing. The legs remain rather obvious as two large lumps behind the cockpit, complete with the old gap down the middle. The arms are slightly less obvious, though the big pegs on the sides (connection points for the Hyper R) stick out like sore thumbs. The face is slightly less obvious, but still visible underneath. Some nice paint apps make him look a little more interesting, especially the neat Red Wings insignia on the wings.

The transformation is slightly more complex (this is a relative term, bearing in mind that the original was an incredibly simple toy) with the legs extending in a different fashion, and the head rotating around. The body actually pans out as facing the other way to the original, with most of the topside of the jet now on the front of the robot. He can be transformed the same as the original, but this results in a rather featureless robot. The other way round is pretty good, though, with a fair few paint apps breaking up the look (though dark blue instead of black does dilute the scheme). Amazingly for a toy from 2003, the toy has an unnecessarily high amount of diecast – the torso and thighs. Articulation isn't bad, but perhaps isn't the quantum leap from the 1980s version it should be – the arms have an extra joint at the shoulder, the head can turn through 360° and there's slight movement in the legs. It's not too bad, but when you look at the difference between a 1984 Transformer like Jazz and one made a decade later like Jolt, you can't help but feel Bandai have slipped behind a little. Still, he's nice to look at, with some interesting anime styling.


SKY ROBO

The Support Robo design is a lot more rudimentary. The alternate mode is a rather boxy jet, a little like a square Space Shuttle. The carried over colour scheme and gull wings are nice touches, but the thing's pretty unattractive, especially with the robot arms clearly visible on the sides, while the front fuselage (as with the 1983 Shuttle Robo) suffers from doubling up as a robot chest. It's not overly impressive, in all. Each one comes with an attachable sled that can clip to the underside, looking like a giant pair of fuel tanks while also adding wheels to the underside.

The robot modes are similarly unimpressive - unconvincing blocks with thin arms. It's a nice touch carrying some of the main robot's head design over to the Support Robo, but this isn't enough to give the drone robots any charm. Considering this is the first figure in the range the lack of effort and dynamism present in these things is most worrying - sure, the Support Robo are never by their nature likely to be fantastic toys (each has to fit in four modes - vehicle, robot, arm and leg) but these ones are really woeful. They do look rather neat lined up alongside the main robot but beyond that they're of very little value in their individual modes.


HYPER MODE

The main function of the Support Robo is to become the limbs for the Hyper Mode. This is pretty easy to assemble and stands at around 6" tall. Due to the individual robots compacting down to form the parts, it's not actually a dramatic increase in size though it deserves some praise for not requiring any additional parts (the sleds from the drones can clip on, giving him more obvious feet, but they're more for decoration).

The proportions are a mixed bunch – the helmet of the central jet is large enough that the Hyper Mode doesn't look like a pinhead but the legs are far too long in relation to the torso. Articulation is minimal – the legs move out slightly to the side so the robot doesn't look knock-kneed while the arms rotate at the shoulder (they can move in towards his body, but it's not very useful).


SUMMARY

Like most of the MRR combiners Jet Robo is a bit frustrating overall. The Leader Robo is good fun as an updated version of the original Jet Robo figure incorporating the more anime stylisation of the 1987 Chara Collection non-transforming figure, but the Support Robo are useless and the Hyper Mode isn't as good as it should be. On the whole the set soon becomes boring, and the design faults become more glaring once the novelty fades.