Mr. Moto was based on another aborted Machine Robo prototype - considering in late 1984 Bandai released 3-Wheel Buggy Robo, this may have been a competing design, or just a later one skipped for being too similar. Tonka, however, chose to go with this one instead and it joined the third series with that wonderfully left-field name.

An earlier working name was Moto-San - this stayed in place for his only cartoon appearance in "Et Tu, Cy-Kill"). Sadly he was a non-speaking background character, and thus didn't sound like Peter Lorre. Bah. Mr. Moto also turned up on the cover of the penultimate issue of The Official Gobots Magazine - lucky boy.


ALTERNATE MODE

Mr. Moto's ATC mode is - I think - modelled on a Honda 200X, the same model used for the Secret Rider Tri-Trak. It's actually a very cute alt mode - what can be wrong with a yellow and black trike? The diecast engine looks great, and even though the tyres are plastic instead of rubber, they're nicely done. The level of detail involved is great too.

With the exception of the forearms, semi-visible under the seat, everything's nicely hidden. On the sides, the rear wheels and arches work loose pretty easily. However, the overall look of the vehicle is very nice, happily thumping 3-Wheel Buggy Robo into touch.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation is a bit of an odd one. No-one else transforms anything like this. Sadly, Bandai are still grappling a bit with the motorcycle-to-robot thing, and the resulting robot looks very bizarre. Granted, it's not quite as weird as Scorp or Bugsie, but then they turned into freaky monster things - you don't expect an oddball like this to be hiding in a cute little trike.

In fact, Mr. Moto fends off not inconsiderable competition for the title of gawkiest Gobot of them all. Everything about him is strange - the head's too small, to far above his chest and too far back; either that or his shoulders are coming out of his ribcage. His legs are a single solid block (something that's surprisingly rare for a Gobot - only Road Ranger, Spoons and Treds suffer from this ailment), and this helps the feet look particularly odd, sprouting from the sides of this monopod. Even the arms are too long. The transformation results in them moving slightly just below the shoulder, though there's genuine articulation at the elbows - this at least allows you to put his hands at 90° to the body, and distract from that problem (while highlighting everything else that's wrong with him). Plus those rear wheels really do work loose pretty easily, meaning he can be frustrating to stand as they have to be at just the right angle to support his malformed body. Round 2 goes to 3-Wheel Buggy Robo, then.


SUMMARY

And yet, it's very, very hard to dislike Mr. Moto. Maybe I just love the alt mode so much I'm prepared to forgive his arcane robot mode. Maybe it's just that I feel the poor chap gets mocked every day at Guardian HQ for his tiny face being about a foot from the front of his chest, and don't feel like adding to his problems. Maybe it's that I didn't spend much on him (for God's sake, try and find a cheap one instead of forking out the usual going rate of around £10 - this is one of the later figures that is a bit scarcer, if not on a Tail Pipe level of rarity). But there's a certain awkward charm to Mr. Moto. Largely ones for fans of the bizarre, but if you're forewarned of his sheer randomness he's worth a small punt. And he probably sounds like Peter Lorre, too.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1986, Gobots Series 3 - 64: Mr. Moto
1986, Robo Machine - RM-64: Mr. Moto

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None