By 1985, Bandai were changing the focus of their Machine Robo series, moving away from the '600 Series' of small figures initiated in 1982. However, Tonka were about to release the third series of their Gobots line, and the small figures still formed the backbone of their line. Bandai had designed a handful of figures to beef up the second series and continued to provide their American partner with new moulds, making available some aborted Machine Robo toys, with the rest of the final series of regular Gobots being padded out with a few outstanding Machine Robo Series moulds.

Among the former was Hornet, a Renegade issued in the final year of the line (and most likely designed as a Devil Invader). The American release was pale blue and purple, while the European version came out in grey and black. The character was too late to appear in any episodes of the cartoon, but did manage to appear in the film Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords - here he had a darker version of his American colours, which also featured on some European cards (probably a prototype scheme).


ALTERNATE MODE

As an unreleased Devil Invader, Hornet is designed to supplement the monster Renegades. His alternate mode follows the same sort of design philosophy, a futuristic vehicle with some rather gothic details. The vehicle in question appears to be a sort of flying tank. It's a very boxy design, with the robot arms and legs plain to see - much like Bugsie, this mode is very much a folded-up robot.

There are a couple of stabs at detail here and there, and the chrome missiles looks good, but this one is a bit of a mess to be honest. The European colour scheme is much more austere, at least, with grey and black working much better than purple and blue. Mind, the toy's so ugly maybe it deserves to be as much of an eyesore as possible. The more I look at the American scheme, actually, the more I like it - he isn't shaped normally, so he might as well get to stand out a bit.


ROBOT MODE

Transforming Hornet is mindlessly simple. You flip out the legs from underneath and stand him up, and you're all but there. The resulting robot is at least a little better looking. Well, not better, but you can certainly tell what it's meant to be. He's not a bad shape, really. The lizard-like head and hunched shoulders are actually a change for the better compared to the other final year monsters, and he's got an impressive stature.

Hornet is lacking in the hand department, though, and his forearms can pop off. The stickers work nicely, though, and the head cast is surprisingly good. I like the wings on the shoulders, too. Articulation is minimal, sadly, limited to the shoulders, but at least he's boxy and looks like an actual robot. It's a shame that giving him a more boxy, conventional appearance results in sacrificing the articulation Bugsie and Klaws have.


SUMMARY

Overall, Hornet's the best of the Series 3 monsters. Admittedly he's up against pretty weak opposition, but both of the modes are respectable. While Hornet's still not a patch on Creepy or Vamp, but if you can find him cheap is a worthy if unspectacular addition to the Renegades. The European version is more common, but the mad colours of the US version are worth keeping an eye out for.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1986, Gobots Series 3 - 61: Hornet
1986, Robo Machine - RM-52: Hornet (grey recolour)

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None