Under Bandai, the Machine Robo Series ran the gamut from the mundane to the exotic, and fighter jets were part of the line's backbone for the latter bracket. The first real model to be chosen was used for Harrier Robo, issued towards the end of 1983, Bandai's first year of producing the series. Soon after, the figure was roped into one of the 'Best of Machine Robo' sets, where the green on the colour scheme was replaced with by pale blue for no apparent reason, while a white version was issued as a Lucky Draw prize.

The figure was added to the nascent Robo Machine and Gobots series too. It was the distributors of the latter, Tonka, who named the character Royal-T, in reference to his RAF markings. The character did feature in a couple of episodes the cartoon, although an early appearance did have him on the side of the Renegades (he changed back to being a Guardian later on, but this confused the piss out of the idiots at World Distributors, who tended to feature him on either faction in their annuals). More memorably, Royal-T also had a short, rather tragic appearance in the British Robo Machines comic, basically dying of the robot equivalent of blood loss in a railway tunnel =(

A reissue from Bandai came in 1993 as part of the Robo Machines European line (as 'Harrier', due to Hasbro now owning the Royal-T trademark at the time, if not now - they haven't used it for a horrid recolour of Wheelie yet, though), but the figure was only available briefly before being replaced by 'P-51' (i.e. Ace).


ALTERNATE MODE

For the jet mode, Bandai have chosen the best Harrier - the UK-designed GR3/Sea Harrier type, which was probably a pretty famous aircraft at the time following its' service in the Falklands conflict. Of course, the Harrier may be a tool of death, but it's also damn cute, which is really captured by Royal-T. There's something ever so slightly dainty about the jet mode. It looks marvellous, especially with the quasi-realistic colour scheme. Camouflage may have been nicer, but I like the two-tone look, it complements the lines of the aircraft nicely.

The undercarriage is lovely too, though the faithful recreation of the Harrier's main layout apart from the outrigger wheels (which would have been incredibly fragile), means he can wobble a bit. The tail fins can be quite fragile, as the tiny connections snap pretty easily, but aside from that it's a solid little thing. Everything fits together rather well, and it's the first in a line of impressive jet modes from the line.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation is nice - on the face of it, the same old Valkyrie "nose becomes chest, tail becomes legs, wings hide away somewhere" thing, but with a couple of nice twists, like the rear wings forming the tops of his feet. And the rear undercarriage doesn't look quite so much like a scrotum on the figure as the photos would suggest. You can fiddle with his legs a little bit, and he has those great Gobots metal ball-joints in his shoulders, meaning he has a fair degree of articulation in the arms. The head mould is pretty good, especially for a small Gobot, and for some unfathomable reason I love the circuit sticker underneath the cockpit - it's a nice detail, and not too intrusive on the jet mode. The layout and proportions are great too, he's one of the line's first out-and-out triumphs.

There are two different options for setting up his wings in this mode - either inverted towards his body, or just resting loose on his back. I'm leaning towards the latter due to the Fleetway character model, but both look pretty good - the former can cause stress marks if you're not careful. The colour scheme continues to work nicely, and he has a fair bit of personality.


SUMMARY

Overall, Royal-T manages to look excellent in both modes, which is no mean feat for such a small figure. Not only is Royal-T the best Gobot jet, he's the best of the small Gobots, and possibly the best figure from the whole range. A fantastic little toy, and that they chose Leader-1 as the Guardian leader when this beauty was available was a big mistake. He's also fairly cheap and low on fragile parts - what are you waiting for?


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-19: Harrier Robo
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-19: Harrier Robo (blue recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-19: Harrier
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 19: Royal-T
1984, Gobots Series 1 - 19: Royal-T (reissue with sticker)
1985, Robo Machine - RM-19: Royal-T (reissue)
1993, Robo Machines - Harrier

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Wing missiles