Before Bandai took over the Machine Robo series, Popy designed and released the first batch of figures for the range, retailing at ¥600. Jet Robo, was released in Japan in 1982 (coming originally with a crazy oversized USAF sticker - no idea why). Like several early releases (see also Cy-Kill and Tank), the figure wasn't based on a specific vehicle, instead taking a more futuristic style. When Bandai took over the line in 1983, the toy was released again in new-style packaging, and later that year they had the bright idea of replacing all the red on him with yellow for a rather lurid recolour in one of the Machine Robo 'Best 5' Giftsets. Urgh. An all-white version was also offered as a Lucky Draw prize.

The main Machine Robo line was a success, and in 1983 US toy corporation Tonka arranged to repackage the series as the Gobots, hoping for a pre-emptive strike against Hasbro's forthcoming Transformers line (after an early attempt by Bandai to market the figures, including Jet Robo as Aero Man, under the name Machine Men in America failed). Jet Robo was chosen for the first wave of toys, released in late 1983, and renamed Fitor, later being reissued with a hologram sticker in later series. The character would have a fairly prominent role in Challenge of the Gobots cartoon episodes, usually acting as one of Cy-Kill's senior lieutenants, voiced by Kelly Ward. Fitor also appeared in the Robo Machines comic strip in the UK and the figure was also issued in the second (and final) series of Glasslite's Brazilian line Mutante, renamed Zumor but otherwise unchanged.

In Japan, the toy featured prominently in the 1986 anime Machine Robo - Revenge of Cronos, named as Blue Jet (despite still being red and black) and given portentous samurai characterisation. This saw the original figure reissued as the leader of the Jet Tribe, coded MRJ-1, while a non-transforming version was made for the Chara Collection (and also issued, with a firing BB gun backpack, in the Chara DX series). The character was still popular enough that the Jet Robo featured in the 2003 Machine Robo Rescue line was clearly based on the original design.


ALTERNATE MODE

Fitor's jet mode isn't bad, as these things go. The design is compact and has pleasing lines. The dart shape is pretty nice, as is the smooth nose. Much like Psycho, it's very retro - this is what people thought the future would look like in 1982, and it's rather quaint, like something out of Thunderbirds or Dan Dare. The colour scheme is very nice, topped off by the lovely chrome wings.

On the downside, the underbelly of the plane isn't exactly a triumph. The arms simply sitting under the fuselage would be clumsy at the best of times; in this case, it's not helped by them being a little loose, and that the insides of Fitor's fists are clearly displayed even when they do stay in place. That, and his face is plainly visible under the nosecone. Oh dear. The detail level isn't brilliant - this might be an attempt to add scale (cf. Dumper), with the vehicle intended to be more of a transport vehicle than a fighter type. There is some nice work, like the engraving on the wings and the jet boosters, however. The construction isn't brilliant, sadly - he's very high on plastic, and unusually this seems to be quite brittle. Plus the wings are thin chromed plastic - that's going to wear very easily.


ROBOT MODE

Transformation is very straightforward, with the rear section pulling back to become the legs, while the arms fold up from their secret hiding place under the fuselage. The result is a decent, if generic robot about 2" long, with the hollow legs causing a moderately impressive increase in height. The design does mean that Fitor's another potential victim of the common Gobots wear issue of legs that won't lock in place - on poor condition examples the weight of his body can force one or both of his legs to compact down.

Fitor is well proportioned, but aside from the wheels on his elbows and toes, and the head shape there are sadly few alt mode details on display, which is a bit of a shame. However, the transformation means at least there's some articulation in the arms. Aside from being a bit generic, Fitor doesn't actually look bad - the colour scheme meshes nicely, and there's some respectable detail on his chest. Shame they couldn't get his hands so they're in a more natural position than palms-down at all times, though.


SUMMARY

Fitor's an average figure. Everything is adequate for something this old and this sort of size, but there's nothing memorable to him (discounting his media appearances - quite why Bandai picked this chap as one of the stars of the line I don't know). His only real fault is simplicity, though he does feel lower on quality than most Gobots. However, there is a certain lack of imagination to Fitor. Even though both modes are passable, he's not really worth hunting down, except at a cheap price. Thankfully, he is cheap - a respectable condition example shouldn't set you back more than a couple of pounds.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1982, Machine Robo Series - MR-03: Jet Robo
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-03: Jet Robo (Bandai reissue)
1983, Machine Men - 03: Aero Man
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-03: Jet Robo (yellow recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-03: Jet
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 03: Fitor
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 03: Fitor (reissue with hologram sticker)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRJ-1: Jet Robo

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Thighs, wing tips

MACHINE ROBO INSTRUCTIONS:

US PATENT: