Bandai's Missile Tank Robo figure had already been issued in the first series of Gobots in its' original all-orange colour scheme. While the character had briefly appeared in this form in the "Battle for Gobotron" TV mini-series, by the time the regular Challenge of the Gobots series rolled around, the character had received something of a makeover, with a predominantly green colour scheme and a more humanised face.

Whether Tonka had always planned to release the toy in these colours or not I don't know, but by the second series of figures, they decided a more cartoon-accurate version of the figure was the order of the day. The original version had been discontinued at the end of the first series, and the new Blaster was granted a new Gobot number to go with his modified colour scheme. The recolour was available in North America only, but was once again a disappointment sales-wise, not lasting long before being dropped from the range - it probably didn't help that the cartoon had basically wound down by the time the new figure hit the shops, and that Blaster wasn't a major character anyway.


ALTERNATE MODE

What Tonka have basically done for the figure is orange the yellow plastic with a fetching tone of dark green (including, as a point of trivia, the plastic under the chrome on the missiles - the right-hand side one in the pictures is actually from a first series figure). This does serve to break up the tank mode a bit, and it's a much more likely military colour than orange. However, the diecast robot chest is still painted orange, and thus totally undermines the look.

The toy's design is such that it pretty much has to be one main colour, with only maybe the arms/launchers being possible to recolour without disrupting the look - the robot head at the back stands out a lot more on this one, too. Obviously Tonka did no retooling on the mould, meaning all the faults - the loose, unconvincing launchers and visible chest detail - are all still in there.


ROBOT MODE

And obviously Blaster still looks like a monkey-armed pinhead in robot mode, but once transformed the colour changes work a lot better. That the toy's colours need to be one-tone in one mode but two-tone in the other only serves to illustrate what a misfit of a mould this one is.

Unlike Tonka's other 'anime' recolour, Crasher, the figure is just that little bit too far off in terms of shape to be really convincing, though obviously it looks a lot closer to Blaster as seen on screen than the original. Once again, there's no head remould, though as the cartoon Blaster had a needlessly ugly face this probably isn't a bad thing. Not that the toy's a real looker or anything, however.


SUMMARY

This redeco is a double-edged sword. The tank looks even more ridiculous than the original, but the robot mode is a little more interesting to look at. That said, it's all pretty irrelevant, as the figure's faults and fragility (watch out for the feet) aren't the sort of thing a few dabs of paint can compensate for. It's also pretty difficult to find outside of North America. All this means I've settled for a chipped, worn example that can barely stand up.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-23: Missile Tank Robo
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 23: Blaster
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 35: Blaster (US-exclusive; green/orange recolour)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-4: Missile Tank Robo

I'm currently unsure as to whether Blaster came out in Europe or not.

PARTS:
2 x chrome missiles

WEAK POINTS:
Shoulder joints, ankle joints