Issued towards the end of 1984, Kaman Robo had been refined from a prototype that originally featured more complex arms and a few other unused colour ideas. The figure was added to the Gobots range in early 1985, becoming Flip Top. Like several US releases, this version featured considerably fewer stickers than either the Japanese of European releases, and all present were factory-applied. Flip Top went on to make a few appearances in the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon, notably entering an almighty ruckus with Cop-Tur in "Crime Wave", and having an ongoing series of scuffles with Water Walk in "Depth Charge".

Along with several figures, it was reissued in Europe in 1993 under the Robo Machines banner by Bandai instead of Tonka. By then, Tonka had by then been absorbed into Hasbro, taking the Gobot name and characters with it. Flip Top, therefore, became catchily renamed 'Helicopter II' - Wrong Way had already been 'Helicopter'. The US Navy markings were changed to 'RM Navy'.


ALTERNATE MODE

Flip Top is modelled on the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, which is fortunate, as it's one of the few military helicopters that isn't incredibly ugly. The shape is nice, and looks knockout in dark blue, while there are plenty of stickers. The silver windows and trim top off the look nicely. And for some reason I really like those torpedo racks, even if they're moulded solid.

The only real drawback is the split-line across the front (less noticeable on 1980s versions, it has to be said; the 1993 reissues seem to have suffered from relatively cheap materials). That and the removable - and therefore easy to lose - rotor blade. The latter is a little mystifying - it stays in the same place in both modes, and doesn't need to be removed during transformation, so why not permanently fix it in place?


ROBOT MODE

The transformation sequence is unique and interesting, varying nicely from other Gobot helicopters. The arms and legs probably do get a little loose over time, I'd guess. Articulation in the limbs is respectable, with good use of the diecast ball-joints in both the arms and the legs. Thanks to the fairly stiff tail halves, the feet can be moved around a fair bit as well, and for a small Gobot (articulation was rarely much cop on the regular figures) he's rather dynamic.

The colour scheme and general look of the robot is superb, the blue just works and the moulding keeps it from becoming dull. Even the flat forearms don't look too bad, and he can hold a small gun in his hands (again, no bloody handgun for a figure that could use one; in a pitched battle, did they all just pile on Geeper Creeper or Dozer, and first one to get the gun won? Yeh, I know, laser fists, I was joking). It's an excellent robot mode - a little unconventional, perhaps, but still downright stylish.


SUMMARY

All in all, Flip Top's a classic. The simple-but-effective colour scheme helps a lot, as does the thought that's gone into both modes. Helicopters are difficult to do well in terms of transforming robots, so it's nice to have a bit of a variation from the cockpit = chest sequence that actually comes off. Poseable and durable, the only real problem will be finding one with the rotor blade - this can drive his price up a fair bit. Still, the figure is one of the very best in the line, and well worth investing in.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-40: Kaman Robo
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 33: Flip Top
1985, Robo Machine - RM-40: Flip Top
1993, Robo Machines - Helicopter II

PARTS:
1 x four-blade rotor

WEAK POINTS:
Tail fins