By 1984, Machine Robo was in full swing, the focus now firmly on present-day vehicles. One such vehicle was the Toyota Hilux MR5 (having a version of the Hilux in the line was mandatory under Japanese law at the time, true story), rendered in MR form as the Offroad Robo. The Japanese prototype had a red chest piece, but this was changed before the toy was mass-produced.

The figure appeared at the start of the second series of Gobots, and was available until the line was cancelled in 1986. Small Foot wasn't released at all in Europe (at least, my research hasn't turned up a Robo Machine release yet), which is a little surprising - the cartoon version of Small Foot was a female Guardian who would often feature heavily in a large number of episodes. Maybe Bandai felt the character's weak standing would lead to poor sales, maybe she just got lost in the squeeze, maybe she came out and I just don't know it. It's a world of possibilities.

In recent times Takara made a botched attempt to remake Small Foot as a Transformer, corroborating with trash-merchants e-Hobby to concoct a hideous yellow-and-orange recolour of Gears. Oddly, considering all that the figure shared with the Gobot was the name (now owned by Takara's partners, Hasbro), Takara decided to release the toy without it, afraid that Bandai (who own nothing nowadays beyond the original action figure, and would surely have no legal challenge to the proposed monstrosity) would take offence and finish them off. This was shortly before they started using Transformers to push lolicon hentai, so we're probably lucky there wasn't a manga about her getting raped by Ravage or something.


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

I'm not a fan of pickup trucks, or 'big foot' cars, so Small Foot's vehicle mode always faced an uphill struggle in my eyes. It doesn't help that it's not very good. Once again, it's red. Someone at either Bandai or Tonka must have been getting a good deal on job vats of red plastic or something. Sadly, plastic is what makes up most of Small Foot - pins and tyres aside, the vehicle mode is diecast-free. It's a surprising thing for such an early figure, and means Small Foot's vehicle mode compares badly with most of her contemporaries.

The well-done stickers (grille and headlights, plus some nifty stripes down the sides - though the latter are spoilt a little by the rear wheel arches disturbing them) and chunky tyres look good, but the painted windows and huge grooves between parts largely undermine the more delicate touches. The hollow area behind the cab doesn't help either, while the removable roll bars serve no real purpose beyond providing a pair of flimsy, easily-lost plastic attachments - at least the front bumper has the excuse it's used on the robot mode. Small Foot doesn't really fit together too well, and the rather agricultural vehicle mode is a poor combination when the lack of quality in construction is taken into account.


SUMMARY

Small Foot is a cheaply made toy, and lacks the usual brio of the small Gobots. Neither mode really has much going for it, and the toy has a tacky air to it. It might find a bit more love from someone who likes the 4x4 alt mode, but overall it's something of a regression to the mechanics of the earlier figures, only without the high quality of materials. To compound this, a mixture of the character's fame from the cartoon and the plastic accessories (often missing from loose examples) means Small Foot isn't as cheap to buy as she was to make (well, obviously, but you know what I mean).


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-35: Offroad Robo
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 14: Small Foot
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 14: Small Foot (reissue with sticker)

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

PARTS:
1 x bumper
2 x roll bar

WEAK POINTS:
None