y the mid-1980s, Bandai were beginning to move on from their Machine Robo Series. However, Gobots was still doing passable business in America and Europe, and so Bandai continued to design moulds for the line. Among these was Sparky, released in 1985 in America. Sparky was only one of two 'MRT' figures issued in Europe (the other being Stinger), coming out towards the end of the Robo Machine line.

The character was designated as a female, appearing as such in the cartoon. Sparky was never a regular in the series, but she did manage a very good showing in the second mini-series, "The Gobotron Saga". Well, for the middle section - then they predictably sidelined her in favour of bloody Small Foot.


ALTERNATE MODE

Sparky turns into a Pontiac Fiero - an American sportscar, but it's actually not bad looking (had an awful reputation though). A little wedge-shaped and very 1980s, but not ridiculously cutesy or too flash. It's one of the most eighties cars I've ever seen, and I've seen Vauxhall Cavaliers and Ford Capris.

The colour scheme works well too, but something other than red when there's Turbo, Spoiler, Major Mo, Good Knight, Street Heat and Tail Pipe already of that hue might make her stand out a bit more. There are a couple of other problems, too - the arms don't go quite flush against the body, and the sunroof has a sticker on it. I'd guess this is some slavish accuracy and that a Fiero also had a panel on the sunroof, but for once they could have scrapped that, and either had no sunroof, or a sunroof without a giant red sticker on it. The car mode is sturdy, however - basically a solid block.


ROBOT MODE

Turning her into a robot is strangely frustrating, compared to the largely slick transformations of most Gobots. It's all a little hit and miss, and the same way never quite works twice. It's not that the figure is complicated or anything, it's just a bit awkward. And then we get to the robot mode. Sparky has rather stumpy legs, a big square chest, a long neck, a big round shiny head and normal, well-articulated arms (which just look odd stuck on this toy - where were sensible arms when Bent Wing needed them, Mr Bandai Designer Man?). She's got a mad sort of charm to her - you feel that Sparky's probably been teased all her life, so you don't want to add to it.

On the downside, the chrome on the head appears to be gossamer-thin, and Mint-On-Sealed-Card appears to be the best way to get one without any chrome wear. The stickers on the thighs are sensible, though, and don't seem to catch on the underside of the car when transformed.


SUMMARY

In summary, there are worse Gobots out there. Not a huge number, I'll grant, but if you want to go for a cutesy Gobot this is the best one. Probably the only one, because even Scooter looks moderately like he means business in toy form, though. Definitely more of an oddball choice than anything else, however, and unlikely to provide much amusement once you've got past the initial "What the Hell?" factor.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 50: Scratch
1985, Robo Machine - RM-63: Sparky

The figure was stamped MRT-43, though this code was not used on any packaging.

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None