Come 1986, Tonka were in trouble with the Gobots line. Despite expanding the range with myriad other assortments, the regular figures with their $3 price point were still the backbone of the line. However, Bandai were winding down the Machine Robo '600 Series' which had provided the vast majority of regular Gobot moulds. Tonka either had no facilities or no inclination to make new figures themselves, which diminished the life of the line.

One solution they did experiment with was the idea of recolouring extant moulds, with new versions of Leader-1 and Cy-Kill added to the range in 1985. These were soon joined by BuggyMan - considering the character's somewhat unremarkable past it seems like the plan was initially to just move through the deleted moulds from the first series. This presumably wasn't a success, as no further recolours would follow, the final series of figures being made up of a mix of Machine Robo stragglers and previously-unusued prototypes. The recoloured version of BuggyMan would end up being exclusive to North America.


Quite why BuggyMan was chosen is a pretty good question. New schemes for the leaders made sense (a good way of getting new toys out of them without roping in new leaders, a step which Transformers was then showing to be foolhardy) but BuggyMan? My only real guess is that, with the toy out of production for two years, he could well seem like a new figure to a lot of kids who'd never seen the original.

Anyway, he gets a nice bright orange paint job. It's actually not as lurid as photographs make it look, being a rather sensible deep orange. I mean, BuggyMan turns into a beach buggy, and orange fits the thing nicely - very summery. It's not subtle, but it is just about creditable. Sadly, Tonka didn't make use of the intervening couple of years to strengthen the flimsy windscreen, but to their credit he retains not only the diecast torso section and rubber tyres, but the plastic quality's as good as on the original too. Unfortunately, the paint matching isn't quite there - the diecast is noticeably lighter than the orange plastic next to it.


The mechanics of BuggyMan obviously remain unchanged - he's still very simple, but retains a fair bit of charm for exactly the same reason. The sculpting and proportions are actually rather good, coupled with a clear, sensible layout. Sadly, the colours just don't work quite as well - the orange isn't bad, and neither is the black, but the lime green just clashes really badly. Something more austere like silver or grey would have worked so much better.

He does look pretty nasty, but he also looks pretty awful. The recolour does manage to strip some of the cuteness of the original away, but the neat, crisp look is lost. It's still a fun little figure, just a little bit hard to take seriously. I'm guessing whichever lunatic designed this scheme landed a job working on Transformers Generation 2 after Tonka got bought out.


BuggyMan is a decent figure, and while this new scheme isn't a complete winner it's not without its' fun aspects - despite the unfortunate green paint apps. However, it's not a patch on the original and like the concurrent Leader-1 recolour, it's not really worth getting when the original version is so easy to find. Not the best of Tonka's polychromatic creations, but not the worst either.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1982, Machine Robo Series - MR-08: Buggy Robo
1983, Machine Men - Buggy-Man (offered mailaway; gold recolour)
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-08: Buggy Robo (red recolour)
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-08: Buggy Robo (blue recolour)
1983, Robo Machine - RM-08: Buggy
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 08: BuggyMan
1985, Machine Men Staks Transport - Buggy-Man (red recolour)
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 39: BuggyMan (US-exclusive; orange recolour)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-6: Buggy Robo


Windscreen connection