The first of the eight Winner Robo figures that came out in the final days of Machine Robo, Testarossa Winner introduced buyers to the automatic transformation. Through pressing a button on the underside of the car, the figure would then pop into robot mode via a complex mix of springs and magic. The figures had an additional gimmick too - Hot Wheels-style free-rolling wheels that allowed them to be 'fired' by tie-in playset Roboshooter Gaiden.

The latter was packed with a black recolour of Testarossa Winner. Like pretty much all of the Battle Hackers line (the exception being Gattai Saurer, who had come out under the Robo Machine banner in 1987 for no better reason than to make this sentence complicated), the toy only came out in Japan.


For someone who was a kid when the Testarossa was the sports car, I was never quite that hot on the thing, preferring the sleek gorgeous F40 (which sadly hasn't received a transforming toy to the best of my knowledge). Ferraris in general don't often feature in these lines - the company has always had a very good handle on how much its' name and designs are worth, and given their ultra-exclusive manifesto would be quick to pounce on unlicensed merchandise. I'm a bit surprised Bandai ran with this as recently as 1988 to be honest.

Anyway, the years have been kind to the Testarossa, and I found the car to be a lot more pleasing than I expected. It's a decent replica of the thing considering the scale (the same size as the Machine Robo Series figures, or a Transformers Spychanger), with all the correct panels faithfully engraved (especially the iconic side strakes along the doors); there's even a tiny rectangle for the Ferrari badge on the bonnet. The car mode is nearly all diecast, with only the wheels and bumper rendered in plastic. This means Testarossa Winner is painted a deep evocative red all over. Downsides are the join lines - not quite as noticeable as my harshly-lit pictures would have you think, but noticeable nonetheless - and the plastic wheels, which stand out on a classy car more than they would normally. The toy is meant to have a 'Testarossa' sticker over the top of the windscreen, but mine came without. I'm not too upset truth be told, as while something like that is fun on Buggy Winner, it would be out of place on the altogether more austere Testarossa.


Testarossa Winner has a fully automatic transformation with the underside button releasing the legs and arms in one quick movement. Sadly, after this surprisingly addictive process things start to come unwound a little. Testarossa Winner is just uncommonly lanky. The legs are, funnily enough, about the right length compared to the rest of his body, but the robot is just too thin and the awkward placement of the rear wheels makes him look very stretched.

The biggest problem, however, is the arms. These seem to be positioned as if they were coming out of the middle of the torso and combined with the poorly-thought out chest (the black part looks like an ordinary chest, leaving the silver block with the button looking like a bizarre fat long neck) and front wheels they seal the gawky look. Moving them just makes them look worse. The decor of the robot mode is largely unimaginative too, with a passable face cast undone by awkward paint applications and a lack of coherence in the chest design. A bit of a mess to be honest.


Sadly, Testarossa Winner is a prime example of a figure being worked around a gimmick rather than vice-versa. I can't think of a solution to the robot mode's ills without removing the mechanism (though colouring the block around the button black and moving the paint apps up a little might have provided a minor improvement). It's a big shame the Testarossa wasn't picked up for the 600 Series as the car mode is a highlight. The robot mode is a bit of an ugly one and though the gimmick's fun, it doesn't really overcome this. That said, like other Winner Robo it's a cheap figure for someone fancying something a bit exotic and unlike most of the Winner Robo it does at least have an alt mode than won't look out of place alongside toys from the earlier range.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1988, Machine Robo Winner Robo - W-01: Testarossa Winner
1988, Machine Robo Winner Robo: Testarossa Winner (black recolour packed with Roboshooter Gaiden)