As the Machine Robo Series moved towards its' conclusion, Bandai began to move back into more unusual alt-modes (having been partially responsible for the move towards everyday vehicles when they took the series over from Popy in 1983).

One of these more unusual later figures was Hot Rod Robo. This was originally produced in blue and black, but the toy got a red coat of paint for American release as the Gobots figure Street Heat in 1985. The European release would, however, retained the superior Japanese scheme. Street Heat managed a couple of appearances in the cartoon series, most notably being tricked by Cy-Kill in "Escape from Elba".


While the customised Camaro Z28 alt mode is impressive, it really is a damn shame the Machine Robo colour scheme wasn't retained. Not only does it have that bit of flair to tally with the alt mode, it would have meant we didn't have another red Gobot car. There were 14 small Gobots with car alt modes, seven of which were issued with primarily red schemes. Nothing wrong with red, but it makes the things a little monotonous (and thus makes the reviews pretty monotonous too, I suspect).

On Street Heat especially it looks a bit flat - why would anyone get a Hot Rod car and then just paint it plain red? Flames should be a given, at least. The actual car isn't too bad, with the chromed engine and exhausts being nice details. However, the stickers on the spoiler look a little tacky, as do the massive sockets on either wing. Street Heat is also heavy on plastic, with only the roof (in this mode) being rendered in diecast. At least Tonka have managed to equal Bandai's fine work at matching plastic to paint, the end result being close to seamless.


The transformation sequence is a little different, with the lower-rear of the car forming the legs, and the front the arms, with the roof becoming the chest. It's sort-of upside down from a lot of transforming cars (though it's not completely unique, I'll grant you). It's a bit more complex than your average small Gobot, though nothing particularly impressive in the grand scheme of things.

Despite this, there's something that I'm just not that keen on about this guy. He looks alright, despite the red making him look a little plain, and the articulation is no worse than anything else in the same bracket (rotating shoulders and that's it) but there's just something underwhelming about him. Street Heat isn't particularly impressive, and yet is just that bit too large and poorly proportioned to match the admirable simplicity of a lot of Gobots. The arms are a bit too short, while the legs are big and chunky. The figure also feels a bit brittle, especially the hollow legs, all the diecast being concentrated in the chest. The end result is much like the vehicle mode - he just looks a bit bland, even with the circuitry stickers on the shins and the added silver.


I can't bring myself to particularly praise or damn Street Heat. As I say, I was rather unimpressed by him (maybe high expectations due to wanting the guy and being on a run of good purchases?), but I really can't put my finger on why exactly I'm not that keen on him. I think it's largely a case of falling just short in every area adding up.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-43: Hot Rod Robo (blue version)
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 36: Street Heat (red recolour)
1984, Robo Machine - RM-43: Street Heat (blue version)