Of all the first series Gobots, Pumper is the one no-one really remembers, the one who didn't really do anything. His short story began in early 1983, when the Fire Robo was added to the Machine Robo Series. Later that year, the figure was assigned the Pumper name and released as part of the first batch of Gobots in America. After that, he basically disappeared in the West.

Pumper didn't appear in the Challenge of the Gobots series, and his toy was stopped after the first series (which is probably why he never made the show). His closest thing to fame was turning up as Dumper's brother (and as a detective to boot) in the storybook "Escape to Earth" . Not much to write home about. He didn't come out in Robo Machine at all, being one of the casualties when Bandai funnelled the early figures into the smaller European market. The figure was also released as part of Glasslite's Mutante series in Brazil, given new stickers and renamed Flâmor.

Fire Robo got slightly better treatment in Japan, however, with a yellow recolour being added to the first of four Best of Machine Robo Giftsets, and the original version was reissued in 1986 as one of the Battle Tribe figures. Fire Robo even wangled a few scenes in the Revenge of Cronos anime.


ALTERNATE MODE

Pumper's fire engine mode is probably modelled on a contemporary Japanese machine, though I haven't a clue which one. Whichever it is, in isn't very nice to look at - a block with wheels and a ladder on top. Shame Diaclone had already nabbed the Mitsubishi Fuso, which was quite pretty as fire engines go. Still, that's realism for you.

The colour scheme is pretty uninspiring, with the silver and gold only serving to accentuate the sea of red. Again, realism can be a pain sometimes. The detail isn't brilliant, unusually. The clear plastic window doesn't work for once, the cab just being full of bits of metal and plastic, while the wheels are dreadful (and on my example, bought MOSC, not very well assembled - requiring gentle nervous work with a toffee hammer). The worst bit is the arms - these are very badly hidden as two whacking great big plastic panels down the side of the cab, something that could easily be avoided. There are a couple of nice touches, like paint apps for the headlights, and the ladder can move and extend, but it's a pretty unimpressive vehicle mode.


ROBOT MODE

On paper, transforming Pumper into robot mode is simple - the back half comes down and splits to form legs, the arms come out of the sides, and the head pops out of the front grille. However, the legs can be frustrating to pull out in the right way, and the arms are even worse - if you don't have nails, it's a very frustrating process. The resulting thin robot once again lack distinction - there's not a massive amount wrong, there's just not a lot that stands out. He is very thin, but not particularly out of proportion. The head sculpt is nice as well. Pumper also has two accessories in this mode. Firstly, there's his ladder. Now, according to the card this can be held on his arm the right way up - it can't, it can just about balance on there upside down. Neither looks terrific, mind - this ladder doesn't look like a gun or anything, and Pumper doesn't have the dexterity to use it Jackie Chan-style on Renegades.

The other accessory is his handgun - which is the smallest accessory I've ever seen with a vintage toy. Yes, smaller than the smallest Lego parts (the only thing I've got on a toy that surpasses it are some of the tiniest modern G.I. Joe accessories, and not many of them are smaller). Not only does this mean it's designed to get lost (your chances of finding a loose, complete Pumper are basically non-existent), it looks hilariously tiny - it's just about longer than his fist, but there's not a lot in it. It's a Robo-Derrenger. The robot mode isn't bad, just bland, as once again the details fail to break up the red blocks, despite a nice head design.


SUMMARY

Pumper suffers a lot from anonymity. The alt mode is ugly and lacks flourish, even if it's functional, and the robot mode is short on character. Both suffer from the bland red colour scheme, an unusual lack of refinement and being too ordinary. He's sturdy, but not particularly well-engineered or interesting. Pumper is one of the rarer original Gobots, especially if you want one complete, and is really a figure just for people trying to complete the set.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-10: Fire Robo
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-10: Fire Robo (yellow recolour)
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 10: Pumper
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-15: Fire Robo

PARTS:
1 x gun
1 x ladder

WEAK POINTS:
Wheels