Tomcat Robo was one of the last figures issued in the Machine Robo Series in 1985. It is currently one of the rarest figures from the line, having not been reissued at a later point (unlike most of the later figures from the range, it didn't come out in connection to Revenge of Cronos). Renamed Sky-Jack, the toy was one of the few third series Gobots to have seen a Japanese release. The Western version used darker plastic and a different sticker sheet.

One oddity is that a character based on the figure and named Spike appeared in "The Gobotron Saga" mini-series, and would later return under the name Sky-Jack. By my estimation all of these appearances were transmitted well in advance of the toy's release in either America or Japan - presumably the animation model was based on the work-in-progress toy (which seems to have been the case for all the 1986/87 toys that show up in the cartoon).


ALTERNATE MODE

Sky-Jack's alternate mode is modelled on the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, in around 1/144 scale (roughly consistent with Mach-3 a/o). While this model has been used on a few transforming robots over the years, this is about the only one to go for a realistic look. The downside to this is Sky-Jack is rather dull grey plastic for the most part. To be fair what stickers and paint apps there are work well. The swing-wing design is present and correct, as is a retractable nose wheel, while the proportions are good.

On the negative side, the plastic (diecast for all but the most functional parts had been dropped by this stage) is a little brittle (several examples I've seen suffer from stress marks on the wings), while the moulding is unusually poor - there are massive cracks all over the place, while the tail section just won't go flush. It feels a lot cheaper than most Gobots.


ROBOT MODE

Bandai plumped for the trusty 'Macross Valkyrie' transformation sequence, albeit simplified a little (with the arms coming out of the sides of the fuselage and a simpler leg arrangement). While there's nothing wrong with this per se, it seems a little ordinary once you've owned Jetfire and a score of Cyberjets (not Bandai's fault I'm reviewing this figure two decades after its' release, but probably something to bear in mind if you're thinking of buying him).

The robot mode itself looks a little plain, with not much thought going into the detailing. The legs make no attempt to disguise that they're the bottom part of a jet, while the underside of the wings are covered in various stampings. Those big metal studs for the wings don't help either. Sky-Jack has passable articulation in the arms, though these are a bit flat. The use of the fins as stabilisers in robot mode means he tilts back a bit while the head is one of Bandai's poorer efforts, looking too much like a bald bloke. Indeed, the face is pretty much a dead ringer for the cartoon version of Leader-1 - this isn't a good thing. It's all a bit disappointing and half-finished.


SUMMARY

Sky-Jack is an average figure let down by an overall feeling of cheapness. Going the extra yard in a few places, with better quality plastic, better robot mode detailing and a few tweaks to proportion would have helped. He's more of completist piece, falling just short in every area. Add onto this that he's both scarce and relatively expensive and it means Sky-Jack certainly isn't a good place to start getting Gobots. Best bought if you already have the other jets.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1985, Machine Robo Series - MR-52: Tomcat Robo
1986, Gobots Series 3 - 70: Sky-Jack (darker colours)
1986, Robo Machine - RM-59: Sky-Jack

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Wings