The Tank Transer was one of the three Double Machine Robo issued in Japan. The toys were released in 1985, just as the series was beginning its' move towards supporting the Revenge of Cronos anime. The toy came out again in modified packaging for the latter during 1986 and even managed to appear in the cartoon, with a Tank Transer named Trim Sponsor getting a starring role in an early episode.

By this time, the toy had already been released in Europe and Australia as the Combinator Tank and Transport. Unlike the other two Combinators, the figure was actually recoloured for the release with the red truck given a more realistic makeover. Like the rest of the range it had the Japanese markings replaced, this time with French markings (France was arguably the biggest European market for the Robo Machine line).


ALTERNATE MODES

The alternate mode is a mixed success. The basic idea is sound - of all the Combinators it's the most plausible, a M-107 SPG on the back of a truck. It's easy to imagine something like this a) actually being used and b) actually being capable of operating as a base for its' payload. There's not much wrong with the SPG module, which has some good detail work and is a nice sort of size (it fits nicely on the back of Road Ranger too). Could have done with a few paint apps however - the whole thing is flat dark green with the exception of the French flags on the side. Those just look a bit cartoony - I'm not sure if the French Army had les couleurs painted on the sides of their tanks. If they did, well, the best that can be said is that the thing looks silly for a good reason.

The truck's a bit less impressive. The cream colour isn't bad and is certainly less incongruous than the red Machine Robo version, but the design leaves a bit to desire. The ramp isn't even straight with a large bump in the middle. It's a shame - it'd be nice for the SPG to be able to roll up and down it. There are also a few too many robot mode features showing - the back of the head and the arms. It's a shame as the overall design, including the stylised cab and covered front wheels and some nice practical touches (the moving trailer and clips to hold the SPG in place) is sound. The modes work, but they just lack a certain something.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation sequence is a little bit more straightforward than that for the other Combinators. The two halves don't so much thread together as stack. However, conventionality isn't a drawback in itself and the robot mode is sound. The proportions are decent and the look is great. I especially like the feet and the trailer halves looking a bit like wings on his back.

However, the beige just doesn't work and the dark lower half gives the figure an odd bottom-heavy look. Articulation is limited to the arms, which can rotate at the shoulder and move at the elbow. The elongated head as nice and different too, but it's hard to get over the blandness of the top half despite the well-designed robot mode.


SUMMARY

Overall the toy is a success, with alt modes that work well together and a respectable robot form. It's a shame that the attempt to make the thing look more realistic also sapped some of the sharpness of the Japanese figure but the design is sound. It perhaps lacks the intricate workings of the other two Combinators, but on the other hand this leads to a more solid if less exciting robot. Of course, all of this criticism must be taken with a little context - the Combinators are a very strong range and like the other two, the Tank Transport is highly recommended.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1985, Machine Robo Double Machine Robo - W-MR-03: Tank Transer (red truck version)
1985, Robo Machine Combinators - Tank and Transporter (cream truck recolour)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos Double Machine Robo - MRJW-3: Tank Transer (red truck version)

PARTS:
1 x tank module
1 x truck module

WEAK POINTS:
Gun barrel