The MR-05 was one of the first figures released in the Machine Robo '600 Series', and was actually initially issued by Popy in 1982 (shortly before they were absorbed into Bandai) as Steam Robo. In 1983, as well as being reissued in Japan by Bandai in fresh packaging, the figure was one of six released in America as Machine Men, with the toy released as Train Man.

The line was a failure, but later that year Tonka took over the American releases, and the Steam Robo was named Loco and issued as a Renegade in the first year of Gobots. Despite being discontinued after the first series of toys, Loco appeared in various episodes of the cartoon series. The character was also in the Robo Machines British comic strip, where his brief existence saw him beaten up twice by Truck before being deactivated. If that wasn't bad enough, his entire stay on Earth was limited to Birmingham. Nasty. The Steam Robo was reissued for a second time by Bandai in 1986, coded as MRB-6 for the Revenge of Cronos line.


ALTERNATE MODE

Loco's train mode is rather small, measuring about 1.5" long. It's quite darling, though, with some nice detailing - I especially like the red metallic highlights. Obviously, these painted bits are often worn, but aside from this there aren't any weak points on the locomotive.

The main body is diecast, and it has a nice weight to it. The chromed parts (and moving wheels) help create a real feeling of There's not really a lot more to say about this mode - if you like old trains, you'll like it; if you don't like old trains, you probably won't. It is a very unusual choice for a mode, however, and enjoyable for it.


ROBOT MODE

Like most of the early Machine Robo, the transformation sequence is staggeringly simple. Well, in theory. In theory, you just swing back and lock the bottom part of the train to form his legs, and pull out the sides to form his arms. The actual practice, while not likely to trigger a world war, is pretty annoying. I've yet to find a system for easily getting the arms out of his side - you just have to force a fingernail in-between the arm and the body and drag the things out. I've owned four or five examples of Loco, and they're all like this, so I doubt it's just a case of a few stiff joints. Interestingly, lots of Locos tend to be missing an arm or two - if you pull too hard they'll just pop off, so finding one with all the limbs can be a bit difficult. After the slightly frustrating conversion (which didn't really warrant the rather wordy paragraph above), the robot mode does look impressive. Due to the configuration, he's about 3" tall, and this makes it look tall and imposing.

The design is lovely, ever so slightly retro. Articulation is limited to the arms, but Loco is sturdy enough, and has some nice flashy details. The robot mode does display nicely, though there are few train parts on show. The usual excellent work on detail breaks up the black nicely - I love the chromed parts, and the red highlights work nicely. Really mean looking face cast, too - this is one of the figures best suited to the factions of the Gobots line.


SUMMARY

While Loco is simple, he works. It's one of the easier Gobots to find, and you should be able to land one for about £2/3. The figure won't give you endless fun and is direct even by Gobot standards, but he looks snappy in both modes. I rather like him - the train mode is a little off-the-wall, and the robot mode has a nice, looming, villainous look to it (which is ironic, as the Japanese design was for a heroic mecha, but there we go).


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1982, Machine Robo Series - MR-05: Steam Robo
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-05: Steam Robo (Bandai reissue)
1983, Machine Men - 05: Train Man
1983, Robo Machine - RM-05: Locomotive
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 05: Loco
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 01: Cy-Kill (reissue with hologram sticker)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-6: Steam Robo

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Shoulders

US PATENT: