Bandai went for something a bit more unusual with Zero Robo, based on a World War II plane (the first vehicle which had been out of use for long before it was included in the line). An early prototype featured in catalogues notably featuring a more sophisticated set of arms, but this was never mass-produced.

When Tonka issued the figure in the second year of Gobots in 1985, it was imaginatively renamed Zero. The American release omitted several stickers. The character made a couple of memorable appearances in the Challenge of the Gobots cartoons, with "Et Tu, Cy-Kill" establishing him as being a Renegade long before even Cy-Kill, and later he returned and attempted to take control of Cy-Kill's troops with his own rogue Renegades. In 1993, Bandai reissued the figure as part of their European Robo Machines line.


ALTERNATE MODE

The Zero mode itself is rather nice looking, a pretty good replica in roughly 1/100 scale, I'd guess. It isn't a classic of aircraft design looks-wise, but Bandai have done a good job of capturing it here, and the high quality engineering means it really does look like a model plane. Even the undercarriage is subtle.

There's not a lot else to really report, aside from listing a couple of fragile points. As with Ace, Bent Wing or Bolt you'll have trouble finding one with all the requisite propellor blades (he should have three), or possibly any at all - Zero's blades, and the central drop tank, detach, seemingly just so they can get lost a bit more easily. The cannon on his wings tend to be snapped off on lots of examples too.


ROBOT MODE

Sadly, a couple of easy-to-break parts are the least of Zero's problems. Many small Gobots can go loose pretty easily, probably due to the metal ball-joints and other 'skeleton' pieces wearing away their plastic housings. But n o figure seems to suffer more than Zero. Rule of thumb seems to be if you want a tight example, you have to go for a MOSC one. He just doesn't tend to stand up very well otherwise.

Of the two I have, one can just about stand properly for a minute or so before collapsing, while the other has to squat, resting the drop tanks on the arms on the folded rear wings on his knees. The robot mode itself is hardly impressive - the engine on the chest doesn't look bad, but the rest of the torso layout is a mess and the drop tanks don't make a halfway decent substitute for hands (nor is the flat wing convincing as arms). Zero just looks really odd. Granted he's not exactly boring, but still.


SUMMARY

In short Zero is a pretty poor figure, when you take that a decent alt mode is basically a given with Gobots. Cheap loose examples (which are numerous) are all but worthless, and he's just not good enough to fork out £25 for a carded example. It's a shame the prototype's arms weren't carried over, but then these would only solve one of the myriad problems. One to avoid.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1984, Machine Robo Series - MR-39: Zero Robo
1984, Robo Machine - RM-39: Zero
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 40: Zero
1985, Gobots Series 2 - 40: Zero (reissue with sticker)
1993, Robo Machines - Zero

PARTS:
1 x 3-blade propellor
1 x drop tank

WEAK POINTS:
Knees, rear wings, propellor blades, guns