With the Machine Robo series going great guns Popy decided to expand the range with the DX Scale Robo series of larger figures, roughly competing with Diaclone's Car Robo series. Some of the initial toys had already been designed by Popy, while Bandai rounded out the seven-figure series with their own designs. The sixth to be issued was based on a British Alvis Saladin Mk. II armoured car. This was available either in a regular camouflaged version or a black "night ops" variant.

The six other DX Scale Robo were released by Tonka as Super Gobots in 1984 but the Saladin figure was held over until 1985, when it was issued in the second Super Gobot assortment (otherwise made up of Bandai's later range of Big Machine Robo). The figure was named as Defendor, and assigned to the Guardian faction, appearing in the animated series as well. He didn't get to do much, though. The Japanese version had a turret which included a long-barrelled gun, opening crew hatches, a machine gun and an aerial array - on this version, the turret was non-removable. Some US versions were the same, minus the aerials and machine gun, but Tonka also produced a modified version with moulded hatches, a shortened gun and a turret which came off, saving materials and making the transformation easier.


ALTERNATE MODE

Defendor's armoured car mode is one of the smallest of the Super Gobots, measuring ~4". It's a compact little thing, quite hefty due to the tight packing of parts. The upper armour is diecast - this often causes trouble, but the paint apps on this are well done and match up nicely with the plastic parts. The car is very detailed,and makes a more than respectable scale model (1/60 would be my guess), and for once there's some decent rubber on the tyres - a nice change from the plasticky, crack-prone stuff on most of the other Super Gobots (Psycho being an honourable exception).

The overall feel is similar to that of a Car Robo without the corner-cutting that damages a lot of other Scale Robo DX designs. The turret can also turn, and the gun raise a little - the only problem is it tends to pop out fairly easily on the short-barrelled version. Still, I like armoured cars and transforming robot lines either go straight for the tank or make up some horrid futuristic thing, so it's nice to have a realistic one. The opening hatches and a pair of ammo cases with opening lids further sweetens the deal. The toy really does look fantastic.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation is pretty inventive, doing the regular Gobot trick of turning a small vehicle into a comparatively large robot (see also Dumper, Scooter and Loco, a/o). A couple of bits are a little fiddly - the removal of the turret on the short-barrelled version while a bit of a cheat is easier than poking something through the hatches on the long barrelled variant, while the little ridges on the feet that allow them to be hooked out can be frustrating if you don't have long nails.

However, he's worth getting into robot mode. The figure just looks excellent, and unlike the 1984 Supers, he's got a normal head and everything (I'm tempted to posit that this is why he was held over to 1985 and released with the more conventional looking BMR figures, but then there's Staks with his useless ugliness screwing things up). He can't move much though his arms can go all over the place, and his legs move a little at the hips - enough that he can do impressive lunging/running poses, anyway. Sadly, a little of this is lost when you realise that not only can his head not move, but it also needs to be finely balanced so as not to fall into his chest. That said, he's got a really, really big handgun to top him off nicely. Definitely more than the sum of his parts.


SUMMARY

Despite a few minor niggles Defendor displays really well in both modes. He's got the crafted feel to him, with real effort having gone into the detail work. A genuinely good figure, not quite as idiosyncratic as many of the Super Gobots and one that'll keep you entertained beyond curiosity value. Defendor is one of the pricier early Gobots (a sign of his quality, it would be fair to say), but he's worth forking out for.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Scalerobo Series - MRDX-06: Saladin Mk. II (camo version)
1983, Machine Robo Scalerobo Series - MRDX-06: Saladin Mk. II (black version)

1985, Gobots Super Gobots Series 1 - 025: Defendor (camo version)

I am currently unsure as to whether Defendor came out in Europe.

PARTS:
1 x Gun
1 x Turret (Tonka long-turret version only)

WEAK POINTS:
Upper torso