Machine Robo was a success by 1983, and Bandai began casting their net wider in the search for real-life vehicles, having chosen this direction over the initial science fiction designs by Popy. One of the vehicles chosen was Porsche's 956 Group C sports car (showing some ambition for the line, as the car was still very much in its' prime). Porsche Robo was based on a works Rothmans Porsche version (complete with unaltered tobacco advertising; unusual, because at around the same time Takara were adding altered decals such as 'Citanes' and 'Marlboor' to their figures - maybe it was optional, rather than law?). For the third of Bandai's 'Best of Machine Robo' packs, the toy was recoloured in red (a scheme that was bootlegged for some knock-offs). Also gold and silver Lucky Draw prize versions were made, albeitin very limited numbers.

Late in the year the line was purchased by Tonka and issued in America as Gobots, and the MR-20 was one of the figures chosen for the initial line. Famously, the character became the female Renegade Crasher, who would remain a key character throughout the series - appearing in nearly every episode, and memorably voiced by Marilyn Lightstone. The early releases retained the Rothmans branding, but a new colour scheme was used in the animated Challenge of the Gobots series. By 1985, this black and red scheme had been copied across to the toyline.

To tie in with the line's raised profile when the Revenge of Cronos anime began airing, the original version was reissued under the code MRB-8, while Bandai also made a plastic model kit marketed as Combat Racer. In 1993, the figure (renamed simply "Sports Car") was reissued as part of Bandai's European Robo Machines line. This release used the original white base scheme, but substituted a set of stickers without the Rothmans branding (as well as replacing the good quality plastic with brittle crap).


ALTERNATE MODE

Crasher looks superb in car mode. The 956 is a truly iconic vehicle, and thankfully is very beautiful too. The Rothmans scheme looks great, the only concession to fiction being 'MR-20' in tiny print across the globe on the nose. As a segue, this is car #1, as driven usually by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass, rather than the Bell/Bellof machine, which is a slight disappointment. But it's about as close as I'm ever going to get to a Stefan Bellof-themed transforming robot, so I'll settle. The Japanese and European versions came with an even more thorough sticker sheet covering the back of the car and the spoiler.

Some of the car mode isn't quite as flush as it could be, and that additional dorsal hump going up to the rear wing is a bit unfortunate - why not just the support struts directly underneath the wing? Aside from this, the only real problems are yellowing to the white plastic and sticker wear. There are some really nice touches like the translucent cockpit and lights, or the metal air intakes, and it all adds up to a damn sexy vehicle mode.


ROBOT MODE

Turning Crasher into a robot is fairly simple, but works quite nicely. The toy is quite small, so there's no need to make it more complicated than it needs to be, I suppose. It is a little different from the bog standard car transformation, and as with Turbo results in a nice, flat bottom for the car mode.

Now, not being much of a fan, I tend not to mention the cartoon series in relation to the toy reviews, but nostalgia fans had better beware - this toy is about as feminine as Bruce Willis. The android face means even kitbashing this into the mad Rocky Horror escapee seen on the show would be a difficult task. I'm not complaining, because it makes for a better figure, but you should probably be warned. The robot mode is well-proportioned and impressive looking, with the torso avoiding looking too sparse due to some clever design work. The detail isn't brilliant and articulation is limited to the arms (at the shoulder), but Crasher still looks impressive, if a little plain with most of the stickers out of the way. As the figure ages, it develops a habit of slumping as the legs slide down, but aside from this is sturdy.


SUMMARY

Crasher is very good for an early Gobot, marrying a nice realistic alt mode with a decent robot mode. Because the character is one of the best remembered from the series, the figure is relatively pricey (despite the lack of resemblance) for a small Gobot. The black/red 'anime' version is marginally more collectable and expensive, though this is balanced out a bit by the difficulty in finding the 'Rothmans' version in good condition. Crasher isn't worth getting for much more than £5, but is a decent addition if found at the right price.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-20: Porsche Robo (Bandai reissue)
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-20: Porsche Robo (red recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-20: Porsche
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 19: Crasher
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 19: Crasher (black recolour)
1985, Robo Machine - RM-20: Porsche (reissue using black recolour)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-8: Porsche Robo
1993, Robo Machines - Sports Car

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Knees