Popy launched their Machine Robo range in 1982 with a few more sci-fi orientated vehicles than would be the norm after the company was absorbed by Bandai. The first of these was Bike Robo, a futuristic motorcycle, devised by one Katsushi Murakami, a designer at Popy Planning. The figure was popular enough for Bandai to launch the 1985 Big Machine Robo range with a scaled-up version - a recoloured version, with a dark grey chest section, had already appeared in the first Best of Machine Robo 5-pack.

In the meantime, Tonka had launched Gobots (after Bandai's own Machine Men, an attempt to market the figures in America which had included Bike Robo as 'Cycle Man', had flopped), with the figure chosen to represent the Renegade leader Cy-Kill. It was issued as Gobot #1 in late 1983, the scaled-up version following suit in the second series of Super Gobots. The figure was also included in the first Renegades Giftpack. For the second series of Gobots in 1985 Cy-Kill was reissued in a lurid black and lime green colour scheme. Purportedly this was because Tonka thought he didn't look villainous enough (like all of Tonka's recoloured figures, this version wasn't released in Japan). The red/white/blue colours remained for the (already made) Challenge of the Gobots cartoon series, where Cy-Kill was the main aggressor.

The character also appeared throughout the Robo Machines comic strip. He's now arguably the most iconic character from the Gobots line (we're talking relative here), and has turned up in cameo form in a couple of Transformers comics (most recently, in IDW's recent Megatron: Origin mini-series), where he always dies - how hilarious. Before that, however, he made a bizarre appearance in Eagle's showpiece Dan Dare comic strip. Weird. Bike Robo wasn't quite as famous in Japan, ironically enough, but did get to appear among the Battle Tribe in the Revenge of Cronos anime, tying in with the toy's reissue in Japan (under the code MRB-12).


ALTERNATE MODE

As futuristic stuff goes, Cy-Kill's alternate mode is very smart. The design looks nice, though imagining a rider on the thing is a little hard - is the head meant to fit behind that windshield, or what? The colour scheme works nicely, and there's a large amount of chrome, doing a good job of picking out the details of the motorcycle. Contrary to what the cartoon may have you believing, the robot features are well hidden, notably the face being basically invisible in the narrow gap between the nose and the front wheel.

The only real faults are in terms of wear and tear - chrome, obviously, disappears easily, while the rear exhaust pipes and handlebars tend to be snapped off on a lot of examples due to the thin, fragile material. Make sure you get the engine if you want the thing to transform properly too - the shape won't hold without this on all but the tightest examples. Overall, the mode is a success, with careful detail work (such as the way the details on the sides of the legs mesh perfectly with those on the outside of the blue legs, obscuring that the mode is a robot lying down holding a couple of wheels.


ROBOT MODE

Switching to robot is very simple, but also nerve-wracking - every time I prise the legs apart to hook out the rear wheel it feels like the legs are just going to snap, while jimmying out the arms also feels too delicate. Still, Cy-Kill looks sharp when you get him there - the whole look is less comical and more rigid compared to the cartoon model, though he looks close enough to it to satisfy childhood memories. The head sculpt is excellent, while the engraved robot mode details work nicely (though the two holes for the engine block spoil the look a little). I love the wheels on the shoulders too - much better than the way the larger version just has them fold away.

However, what Popy giveth with one hand, they taketh away with the other, and there's nowhere to stow the engine block. Only the arms really move, though he can sit down (the thighs can only move in unison, being moulded out of the same U-shaped piece). Chrome wear, especially in the shoulders, is the biggest worry, and all these parts are quite brittle.


SUMMARY

As much thought seems to have gone into the robot mode as the motorcycle, which is a nice change from "how do we get a robot out of this thing?" ethos you sometimes get, and thus Cy-Kill impresses in both modes. The figure is neat and economic, though realism fans won't like the alt mode. The robot mode makes up for any misgivings, though. The only downside is that he can be pricey - on top of finding one with all three removable parts and with decent chrome (a must to get the best out of the figure), Cy-Kill is probably the most popular Gobot, and his iconic status can push the price of a good example up. The larger version is generally cheaper, but it isn't as much fun.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1982, Machine Robo Series - MR-01: Bike Robo
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-01: Bike Robo (Bandai reissue)
1983, Machine Men - 01: Cycle Man
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-01: Bike Robo (grey recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-01: Bike
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 01: Cy-Kill
1985, Gobots Gobots Gift Pack - Cy-Kill (packed with Cop-Tur and Stinger)
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 45: Cy-Kill (black recolour)
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 01: Cy-Kill (reissue with hologram sticker)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-12: Bike Robo

PARTS:
1 x engine
2 x wheels

WEAK POINTS:
Arms, handle bars, hips, exhaust pipes

US PATENT: