Popy had already made a motorcycle figure for the Machine Robo range in 1982, the Bike Robo (released as Cy-Kill for Gobots), but in 1984 Bandai decided to have a crack at one too, this time using a Harley Davidson Electra Glide as a base. Harley Robo came as a mainly white figure, and retained this colour scheme in Europe.

For the figure's release as Night Ranger in the second series of Gobots, the toy was produced in a blue scheme, which was carried over for his handful of brief appearances in Challenge of the Gobots. In the UK, Night Ranger got to appear in the Robo Machines comic strip, becoming a an impossibly cool stealth operative in the first serial, before being swiftly annihilated by Casmodon in the second.

Clearly, these releases weren't enough for the Night Ranger-buying public, as the white version came out once again in 1993, as part of the Robo Machines line. Actually, that could have been enough for the great unhosed, who ignored that particular line until it went away. Probably just because everyone in the world ever had Night Ranger by this point.


ALTERNATE MODE

Night Ranger's Harley mode (which, incidentally, seems to be exactly the same base as used for the woeful Transformers Protectobot Groove) isn't bad, really. It looks very odd in blue for some reason - white suits the figure much better, but there's a fair bit of detail on it (notably the diecast engine/exhaust parts on either side) in either scheme. However, there are clear join lines all over the place (notably down the middle of the saddle), and the robot's shoulders clearly make up the fuel tank. Sadly, the thing has all the structural rigidity of a paper bag.

This toy was just not built to be transformed more than about twice, and once you've done so everything just fails to stay in place - the sides of the seat pop out of place easily, the wheel tends to slide forward, and the windscreen flops all over the place. It's a shame, as there's some nice detail work - I especially like the big gold windscreen sticker with 'Night Ranger' written on it - not quite as kitsch and superb as the MR 'Harley Robo', but still very funny.


ROBOT MODE

The figure has one of the line's more complex transformations. It's beyond me to put it into a couple of lines of text, so let's just say stuff goes all over the place. I'm in two minds as to whether it's a complicated mess, or effectively neat. There are some nice touches, such as the way his arms form from the seat, or the front wheel clips into the chest, but then some parts are an absolute disaster (most notably the legs). The overall look is a very awkward robot, and once again the figure suffers from lightweight construction - unless the figure's been recently freed from the bubble or left in motorcycle mode since 1984, getting his legs to hold his weight is a struggle. It's a shame, as there are two points of articulation on each arm, and two on each leg, but these have to be used largely to balance him.

The overall look isn't actually too bad, if a bit archaic, but actually being able to do much with it is tricky and largely frustrating. On top of this he's fragile - the forearms pop out with ease, while the feet aren't attached at the knee particularly strongly, with the plastic plugs easily breaking.


SUMMARY

There's a good, or at least interesting, figure struggling to get out of Night Ranger, but he's been built so short-sightedly that he's a lot of work and no fun. On one hand, he's very impressive for his age (small, realistic transforming motorbikes weren't really feasible until ball joints arrived in the mid-1990s), but on the other hand Bandai over-reached themselves and that the figure was approved for a children's toyline is frankly gobsmacking. He's a common Gobot, but hunting for a decent condition Night Ranger is a difficult task (counting all variants, I've owned eleven Night Rangers in a year of collecting; I count just one of these as being in good condition), and it's not really worth the effort.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-37: Harley Robo (white version)
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 30: Night Ranger
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 30: Night Ranger (reissue with sticker)
1985, Robo Machine - RM-37: Night Ranger (white version)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-14: Harley Robo (white version)
1993, Robo Machines - Motorcycle (white version)

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Shoulders, knees