By 1986, Tonka had caught up with Bandai. I've read somewhere than the Machine Robo Series figures were released one a month in Japan, and this worked for the market there, with a loyal patient fan base. However, the West works a bit differently - you get a toy you want, you generally want a dozen more to go with it. Within six months of the Gobots line, most of the backlog of Machine Robo figures had been issued. By the second series of Gobots, figures were issued in the West almost simultaneously with the Japanese releases. By the third series of Gobots, Bandai had stopped making the toys.

However, they did hand over a group of unused prototypes. Some of these had been on the drawing board when the line was shelved by Bandai while others just hadn't cut the mustard at the time. Among these were a trio of figures who can only have been intended for the parallel Devil Invaders subgroup, which all came out in the final series of Gobots. One such toy was (and here comes the point) Bugsie. Tonka issued the figure, obviously as a Renegade, in a scarlet colour scheme. Bandai decided their cast-off was good enough for Europe, but didn't agree with Tonka's aesthetics, and a maroon version of the figure was issued as part of Robo Machine. The European catalogue and card featured a version with black arms - this may have been the planned Devil Invader scheme. Bugsie also managed to blag his way into the cinematic feature Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords, though he had to be coloured green and grey (probably an early Tonka scheme), with a character model that looked basically nothing like the figure.


All of which, hard as it may be to believe, is a lot more interesting than Bugsie's vehicle mode. Like Bladez, it's a real case of "What the Hell is that?" It's not quite as weird, but then there's a lot of scope between 'completely bloody weird' and 'Bladez weird', and Bugsie is towards the top end of that. Nominally it seems to be some sort of monster car or tank - it's got wheels and stuff, and you can just about imagine the front as a cockpit.

However, much like Bladez this monstrosity also lacks cohesion. Ignoring the fact it's not really modelled on anything, the credibility is damaged by the obvious folded-up-robot status of the mode. The triangular feet, complete with spiky toes, are clearly visible on the back half, while the robot waist is obvious in the middle. So, yeh, bit of a mess this one.


Clearly with an alt mode like that the transformation is pretty simple stuff. The robot mode, to give credit where it's due, is respectably sculpted. He really does look like a right bastard, with the bat-head a nice touch. However, Bugsie looks very wrong. Besides the wheels, there are no alt mode features - possibly because there isn't an alt mode really. He doesn't look much like a Gobot, or even really that much like a robot.

The colours aren't brilliant, either - the bright scarlet has a certain cheap and cheerful vibe to it (though the plastic quality and diecast are still very good), but the paint apps aren't brilliant - the blue doesn't go too well, and they're far too tiny to break up the mass of red. They just don't complement each other well - the European maroon/gold version looks a bit better. Shame they didn't go with the green/grey movie scheme, though. What Bugsie does have is some decent articulation - two points in each leg, two in each arm, and at the neck. Not bad - bit of a shame then that his arms are long, stiff sticks with whisks on the end.


Poor Bugsie. Beyond the initial reaction of him being different even by Gobot standards, he's not really that good. The articulation is outweighed by how silly he looks, and he doesn't have anything remotely approaching a decent alt mode. A bit of a mess, though he might appeal to some who like their figures to be pretty outlandish. Get the European one, if you must.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1986, Gobots Series 3 - 58: Bugsie
1986, Robo Machine - RM-50: Bugsie (maroon recolour)