This is the one practically everyone who was a kid in 1985 owned. The Trailer Robo was released in Machine Robo in late 1983 (almost simultaneous with its' appearance in a 'Best of Machine Robo' set, in silver/dark grey colours). Soon afterwards the original came out in Europe (initially designated "Artic Lorry"), and then in America in the last wave of the first series of Gobots, now named Road Ranger.

The character appeared in the Eagle Robo Machines comic series, named as Truck - it seems this was due to someone confusing him with Dumper (who used that designation in the UK). In the comic, Truck had a sizeable role in closing down Stron-Domez' Birmingham factory, but was seemingly destroyed battling Casmodon. This was more than Road Ranger got in the TV series, where the character only made scant appearances - most notably in "Wolf in the Fold", though he didn't do much even then. He did get into a few story books, though, notably starring in World's "The Wagner Sirens" (probably the best of the Mini World books, though that's not saying much) and audio/annual adventure "The Rescue of Road Ranger". Ample consolation, I'm sure.

Mimo issued the figure as part of the Convert line in Brazil, and was also reissued in 1993 as Trailer for the European Robo Machines line. Oh, and Road Ranger was also arbitrarily selected to be part of eHobby's pathetic "G1 Gobots" premium set in 2004, but as he was represented by a black-and-orange recolour of Huffer this is only worth mentioning for the opportunity to put the boot in on the Japanese cash-grabbers.


ALTERNATE MODE

The first thing that hits you about Road Ranger is the colour scheme - red and blue. A red and blue articulated truck. now, which transforming robot line had one of those? To be fair, the Trailer Robo predated Optimus Prime, if not the Diaclone Battle Convoy. I wonder if wanting to avoid too much of a confrontation with Hasbro was the reason Road Ranger was largely kept out of the TV show?

Anyway, most important thing is the scheme does look pretty good on first glance. However, the blue bumper and panels from the arm joints spoil the look a little, and paint apps are kept to a minimum - no headlights, no coloured smokestacks or drums on the sides, a bit of a cheap one. The trailer connection, however, is nice - it takes advantage of the robot mode configuration to have the connecting screw very loose, without any risk of the trailer detaching, meaning the trailer is properly articulated, instead of just resting there. The trailer is nicely sized, too - most of the smaller Gobots (exceptions being some of the monsters and World War II planes) can sit nicely on the back, meaning he's actually a bit practical as well.


ROBOT MODE

Aside from the simple trailer and extending articulated truck junction, the transformation strongly resembles Dumper, with the head coming out of the grille, the arms coming from the sides of the cab and the back end forming the legs. Despite a few positive revisions (the head is mounted on a moving part which runs down the length of the cab, rather than a separate piece, and thus doesn't have a habit of slumping forwards as on Dumper), the overall look is pretty unimpressive. The colours don't quite mesh, while the robot mode is largely boring - for some reason, the detail seems a lot lower than on most figures of the size.

He really does look a bit like a pathetic Optimus Prime knockoff. The head isn't one of the line's finest, either - the gold visor just looks tacky, while the engraving above this just looks like he's got cartoon angry eyebrows. He's boxy and durable (the arms can pop out of the sockets relatively easily, but go back in just as quickly), but lacks any sort of standout features.


SUMMARY

Road Ranger is probably the most common Gobot, and unless you're after a sealed one, can be found for less than he cost in 1985. Actually, if you start collecting Gobots, this chap's so ubiquitous you'll just end up with one without really knowing where you got it from. I certainly have no idea where mine came from. There's not a massive amount wrong with Road Ranger beyond his low-tech blockiness and a general lack of finesse, there's just not a lot that's right with him either.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-18: Truck Robo
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-18: Truck Robo (grey recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-18: Articulated Truck
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 18: Road Ranger
1984, Gobots Series 1 - 18: Road Ranger (reissue with sticker)
1985, Robo Machine - RM-18: Road Ranger (reissue)
1993, Robo Machines - Trailer

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None