The 2003 revival Machine Robo Rescue line included seven combining robots. These were split up among three MRR teams - two each for Red Wings, Blue Sirens and Yellow Gears with the seventh being the adversary Stealth Robo. Submarine Robo was the last of these to be released, and was also a late arrival in the TV series. The craft was piloted by Sho Ashigawa in the cartoon (which used CGI animation for the robots, and cel animation for the human characters).

The Submarine Robo was heavily based on the Police Robo from the same range. I'm not sure what the exact term is as retool seems an understatement for the radical resculpting given to each unit. All the transformations and mechanics are identical, but the vehicles have been radically remoulded, resulting in the figure looking totally different. The only other figure I can think of offhand that's undergone such a massive change is the Transformers Minibot Pipes, who was drastically retooled from the Huffer mould. Beyond the name and loose alternate mode, the figure shares no similarities with the original 1984 Submarine Robo. Unlike most of the MRR Combiners, the figure doesn't seem to have been bootlegged in large numbers.


SUBMARINE ROBO

While Submarine Robo is closely related to Police Robo it's actually not particularly obvious. Submarine Robo's vehicle mode stands up nicely as a small exploratory submarine, with the wheel arches convincingly recast as bulkheads. The back end has also been separated to form a powerful-looking pair of turbines, and while Plex's design budget for the figure was obviously tight, they haven't cut any particularly abhorrent corners. The only real drawback to the mode is the white shoulder connectors for the Hyper Mode - these should have been painted orange.

The origins of the figure are given away by the transformation, which as outlined above is identical to that of Police Robo. The colour scheme is more sympathetic though, with the simple white with orange highlights working really nicely. The bulky limbs somehow work even better despite the shoulder connections and thighs still being thin. The head cast is the best of the line's 'originals' (i.e. not having a character previously attached as Jet Robo and Drill Robo do - I should add here that I've never seen any of the Machine Robo Rescue TV show) and overall he's quite a charming little figure.


AQUA ROBO

In line with the modified nature of the figure the Support Robo are once again heavily resculpted from the Police Robo set, with the Bike Robo becoming the Aqua Robo. I think they're meant to be jet-skis - there's a seat on the back, and I believe they're meant to be in scale with the Submarine Robo. The cockpit-cum-helmet did make me think mini-submarines, but then the Leader Robo is a one-man submarine so these would be too small.

As with the Leader Robo, the remould is generally a good thing. While the figures still have a single solid leg, the grey parts (the hands for the Hyper Mode) at least break up the section visually. The arms are thickened slightly - just enough to solve the fragility that caused problems with the Bike Robo -while the colour scheme is also an improvement. The only downside is the front of the jet ski making them look humpbacked. To describe them as good figures would be a gross overstatement, but they're harmless enough as Support Robo go and less frustrating than the Bike Robo.


HYPER MODE

The Hyper form continues the general theme of the set being a mild - if not drastic - improvement over Police Robo. A lot of the problems with that figure are still present - the legs are too close together, the head a fraction too small to carry the look off and so on.

However, there are improvements in some areas. The feet support the figure considerably better with the relatively flat jet ski undersides (as opposed to motorcycle wheels) while the boxier construction actually works better, giving him believably thick forearms. And while I've never been a massive fan of clawed robots the large digits are a massive improvement over the tiny moulded hands of the original. The only downside is that the figure now has massive shoulders - it's actually wider than it is tall, something which looks slightly odd.


SUMMARY

Submarine Robo is far from perfect. However, it's probably the best all-round MRR combining Robo with a respectable Leader Robo, Support Robo that are about as good as the bloody things get and a charming (if flawed) Hyper Mode. If you decide to get one MRR Robo to try the concept, he's probably the best bet for a winner.