1983 saw Bandai take over the Machine Robo line and promptly threw everything they could think of at the series, meaning an incredibly wide range of vehicle modes, from exotic sportscars to buses to spaceships. Somewhere in-between, they alighted on the idea of a bin lorry. Thus came Sanitation Robo, typifying the unglamorous ethos that would permeate the line - how many kids would really want a garbage truck action figure over a fighter jet or a sports car?

Along with the rest of the line, the figure was licensed by Tonka for the Gobots line. The figure was one of the first to receive a US-exclusive colour scheme, with an orange cab replacing the white of the Japanese release, and the character name added on the sides of the container. Fly Trap was a poor seller, and was discontinued before the end of the second series (possibly leading to the non-release of another functional Machine Robo design, Doubledecker Bus Robo). In Europe, Bandai opted to skip the figure entirely. Oddly for such a limited release, Fly Trap received a number of appearances in the Challenge of the Gobots TV series, notably in "Lost on Gobotron".


The garbage truck mode is absolutely tiny, I'd say just over 1¼ inches in length, roughly to scale with a Micromaster car. The actual design isn't too bad - well, in relative terms, as bin lorries are basically agriculturally designed flatbeds with boxes on the back. I just still can't think what possessed Tonka to release this one over Mini Cooper Robo or Apollo Robo. A garbage truck as a toy works in something like a Lego town or similar, but as part of a transforming robot line, competing with sports cars and jet planes? I appreciate variety, but this is silly.

Against that, it's quite darling in a way just for the weirdness of it all, but sadly at such a size detail is sacrificed. What little there is (some engraved lines) tends to highlight what hasn't been done - the unpainted headlights and bumper, for instance, while the wheels just look daft (the same nailed-on type as Pumper). It's a novel alternate mode, but it's not brilliant, and the cab tends to slide forwards as well. Having his name written on the side is a bit too silly. Plus being orange and blue just seems a bit too jaunty for a rubbish truck - something more austere might have worked a bit better. Considering the style and craft put into his contemporaries, once you get past the novelty value Fly Trap's vehicle mode is very poor.


Transforming Fly Trap is a little fiddly, partially due to his small size, and partly through a pretty dodgy sequence. Setting the legs up so he doesn't just fall over is tricky, while the chest's a mess. It's difficult to lock everything into place, especially the legs, and the chest just hangs there, flopping around for the most part.

The proportions are terrible, with the long legs and hunched shoulders. The prism-shaped chest and head don't look good either, and he's ludicrously flat. The arms can move at the shoulders and the legs at the knees, but none of these joints can be used without causing the robot, who has small, square feet, to overbalance. He just looks a mess, like he's half-transformed (yes, I've checked the instructions - he's meant to look like that). Urgh. It's a real mess of a robot mode that fails to look good or function, and it lacks the individuality of many figures.


Overall, Fly Trap falls flat in both modes. The refuse-truck just isn't as good as other Gobots - not that it'd be a draw even if rendered better - and the robot mode is just an awkward contraption. He's not even really a lot of fun, and can tend to be pricey due to his limited release. The variety fails to override the design's shortcomings. Very disappointing, and one of the worst Bandai designs from the line.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-26: Sanitation Robo
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 13: Fly Trap