Late in 1985, Bandai added the Phantom Robo to their Machine Robo Series, based on a JASDF F-4J Phantom. It was one of the final figures in the original line.

The following year, Tonka picked up the mould for use in the Gobots line and recoloured it dark grey, it became the Guardian Mach-3, appearing in a couple of later TV episodes, notably "Mission Gobotron", as a fairly generic eager, brave Guardian. In the series, he was primarily white. The American version carried USAF markings, while the Robo Machine release carried RAF markings.


The F4 Phantom is a nifty aircraft truth be told, and considering the small scale (got to be about 1/144 at the most) it carries across quite well to this guy. The recognisable raised outer wings and tail layout are well rendered, but the figure does suffer from being in one flat colour. While alien killer robots disguised as planes are fun, Royal-T and Spy Eye both do the job better, and a nice bit of camouflage would have livened him up no end.

The join lines are also especially pronounced on Mach-3, notably the whacking great big one for the legs. Indeed, he's a bit sloppy all over, from the chunky undercarriage to the painted cockpit, and the sparse details don't really break up the dark grey. While he's not quite a plastic-y horror-show along the lines of Bullseye or Heat Seeker he somehow doesn't have the same refinement as most of the small jets.


The transformation is very simple. It's a bit different, making less effort than usual to hide the fact this turns into a plane - stand him with his legs together and arms by his side, rather than in the dynamic action pose seen to the left, and he's worryingly close to being a jet sitting on its' end. Even the arms don't move much.

There's not a lot of robot mode detail, with most of his body being a top-view of an F-4, and even his head looks tiny and absurd tucked away in that cavernous nose section. Mach-3 is a bit of a disappointment really, and it's not hard to see why this one only really sneaked out towards the end of the line.


Overall, Mach-3's a bit of a mess. Of the Gobots I had as a child that I've tracked down, this is the only one that's really let me down. Really he's the sort of dull, unimaginative, clunky rubbish most people tend to associate unfairly with the line. Neither mode is quite there, which is a shame as there's the basis for a passable figure in there. I wanted to like him, but he's just a bit too terrible and ordinary. As is the form for the 1986 toys, the European version seems much more common.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1985, Machine Robo Series - MR-51: Phantom Robo (white version)
1986, Gobots Series 3 - 65: Mach-3 (grey recolour)
1986, Robo Machine - RM-63: Mach-3 (RAF markings)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRJ-5: Phantom Robo (white version)