Before the Revenge of Cronos anime rebooted the backstory, Machine Robo had a simple plotline. Machine Robo were refugees of a planet called Romulos, defending Earth from the Devil Invaders, creatures from the Casmozone. The enemy forces were made up of large numbers of (initially) three Devil Invaders - Casmodon, Falgos and Zarios. In 1983, figures of these were added to the Machine Robo line at the usual ¥600 price bracket, with Casmodon the first of the series, allotted the number MRD-101.

The toys were released as the Enemy Invaders in Europe the same year, retaining their Japanese names. When Tonka revised the mythos for the Gobots line, the enemy side was largely made up of figures drawn from the main Machine Robo Series, but the Devil Invaders were added to the Renegade faction for the second series of toys. Casmodon became Vamp, portrayed in the cartoon as a female character created by the Master Renegade and debuting in the five-part "Gobotron Saga" mini-series. In Europe, the figure continued to be sold as Casmodon, and had a memorable role as a villain in the Eagle's Robo Machines comic.

In 1986, Tonka issued a Super Gobot version of Vamp - basically the figure scaled up (roughly) 350%. It seems likely this was an aborted Bandai release. The same year saw the original Casmodon figure reissued in Japan, with the new code GD-1 (Gylandar Devil), Casmodon also appearing in an episode of the cartoon.


ALTERNATE MODE

Vamp's alternate mode is actually rather striking. It looks more than a little similar to the late 1980s reinvention of the Batmobile, thanks to the large fins and futuristic styling. I'm not really sure whether it's meant to be a car or a jet or both, but it looks pretty cool. Bandai haven't used the lack of a real inspiration to skimp on the detail, though the painted cockpit is a little incongruous.

Apart from the wings, tail and robot feet, the toy is all-diecast, and Bandai have done a terrific job of marrying the paint and plastic colours - you have to work out which is which by feel rather than look. The large connection between the moveable 'spoiler' and the main body looks a bit awkward, and the plastic wheels look cheap (though I'm not sure rubber wheels would have looked any better on such an arcane vehicle).


ROBOT MODE

Transformation is very simple - the engines under the wing unfold to produce the arms, while the legs fold out from under the vehicle, and that's the most of it. The robot mode itself is quite impressive, looking suitably alien with the head set into the body, webbed feet and claws for hands, while the red chromed eyes stand out nicely.

However, the one-tone green doesn't work so well - it's a shame the paint apps which were added to the Super Gobot version aren't on this version. The arms are a bit of a mess too thanks to their gangly construction - you can flip them around so the engines are on the underside of the arms, but this leaves the claws facing the wrong way, which is a shame. Articulation isn't bad, though - four points on each arm, and the moveable feet means you can even rearrange the legs to a small degree.


SUMMARY

Overall Vamp's a distinctive little figure, looking suitably garish in either mode. The construction is of high quality, though it's a shame about the lack of paint apps and the muddled arm configuration. However, Vamp is common and cheap, and is worth sampling for the right price. I always meant to build an army of them personally. The best of the initial regular-sized Devil Invader figures and a worthy toy.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Devil Invaders Series - MRD-101: Casmodon
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 46: Vamp
1984, Robo Machine - RM-102: Casmodon
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 46: Vamp (reissue with sticker)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRGD-1: Casmodon

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Rear wing