Released in 1988, the Truck Winner was one of the final toys to come out in the 1980s incarnation of Machine Robo. As part of the new (but short-lived) Winner Robo range the figure retailed at ¥800. The small figures had two main design features - button-activated automatic transformations, and the ability to be 'fired' by the Roboshooter Gaiden playset.

Beyond that, there's not too much to report - with Gobots long gone and Robo Machine floundering, Truck Winner didn't get released beyond Japan.


ALTERNATE MODE

So, a racing truck. That's pretty neat and unusual (sure, Bandai had issued ProTruck Racer two years previous, but I don't have him). I mean, truck cabs can be pretty boring (obvious exception aside; wait a minute - blue? flames? Long nose cab? Is it too late for Bandai to sue?) so it's nice to see something a bit different. Okay, so the logic was probably that a road-going truck cab would look stupid being fired from Gaiden, but then they did do a fire engine later and we should be grateful Truck Winner escaped this breakdown in sanity.

The colour scheme is pretty sharp, a nice deep blue - my photography's rather harsh on the old paint matching, and in reality the painted diecast and plastic mesh nicely. The stickers are right on the mark - you can't go wrong with flames really, and together with the cute little STP logos and the branded spoiler (which I guess is meant to indicate the whole wing is white - bit of a shame it wasn't rendered in white plastic) the toy's interesting to look at. There are some nice touches too, especially the chrome engine, though at the end of the day it's a simple vehicle mode with adequate rather than superb detail work. However, like Buggy Winner, the slightly bizarre choice means he carries off the Hot Wheels gimmick better than some others.


ROBOT MODE

Once again the transformation mechanism is good, simple fun. The rear/leg segment is basically the same as that of Buggy Winner, the release causing the section to pop out and spin around in one swift movement. The arms pop out of the sides at the same time, meaning the whole truck-to-robot sequence takes about half a second. It does need minor refining - on my example at least the arms have a default position of just hanging limply by his sides, though thankfully the notches inside his arm rest at about the right position inside the wheel arches to allow his arms to display nicely. I'm really not sure if this is intentional and the pictures on the box are lying, but the upshot is even if the arms are loose, there's a palatable Plan B.

The proportions of the figure are the best of the four Winner Robo I currently own - he's not too lanky (unlike Testarossa Winner) or too squat (unlike Buggy Winner). Articulation is limited - his legs are a solid block below the knee, but the waist spring does mean he can deliver a two-handed bitch-slap to anyone standing right in his kinesphere. It's not the greatest attack of all time but it provides a momentary diversion. The potentially poseable arms are rather lost by the loose shoulder connections - I'm really not sure whether this is a design thing or not. My only reservation about the robot mode (considering that it's obviously simplified because of the size and the Winner Robo mechanism) is that it's a shame the face is the same colour as the rest of him - it's lost in the mix somewhat, and black or white would have stood out nicely. That said, it's the best robot mode from the subset that I've yet owned.


SUMMARY

Overall though the Winner Robo gimmick is a little too gimmicky for me to wholeheartedly recommend the figure. It looks nice in both modes, and if you're interested in the spring action, he's probably the best one to go for. But then if you can't find one cheaply and easily he's not really worth it, and stacks up poorly against most of the conventional Machine Robo series figures. A fun curiosity for sure, but a curiosity nevertheless.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1988, Machine Robo Winner Robo - W-02: Truck Winner

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None