While most of the Series 3 Super Gobots were designed by Bandai for the West, I'd hazard a guess that this one was an unused prototype. Like the first two Big Machine Robo, it's an exactly scaled-up version of a smaller figure (in this case, the first Devil Invader Casmodon) and while Vamp was a moderately big name in America (relatively speaking, of course) as a semi-regular in the cartoon, there are about a dozen characters who would be ahead of her in the queue for an upgrade. I'm guessing there was a plan to do a range of Big Devil Invaders, but a combination of Machine Robo's failing fortunes around 1985/86 (where the line took a kicking from Takara's decision to replace Diaclone with Transformers - well, between that and the other three thousand transforming robot lines in the Japanese market, anyway) and the fact that villain figures are notoriously poor sellers led to this being shelved.

The figure was also issued in Europe as part of Robo Machine - Bandai were by no, bringing the line into synch with Gobots, and thus the figure retained the name of Vamp even though the smaller version had been issued as Casmodon. The box art showed the tail part of the robot in red, but this was never featured on a released version of the toy.


ALTERNATE MODE

Vamp's alternate mode is of course the same 'Evil Batmobile on Steroids' deal as the regular version, but bigger. The scaling up actually suits the vehicle nicely - it's pretty imposing at this size. Of all the 'monster' alt modes it's my favourite, probably because it isn't quite as out there as some of the others. The points at the front, outlying engines and batwing tail fin all look great.

While there isn't much extra detail for the size, this actually works - chunky wheels and a more distinct cockpit are good moves, and the increased smooth areas make sense on what's a fairly aerodynamic design. The slightly lighter colour works better as well, while the thing's very nicely made, with a lot of diecast in the mix. The whole thing is a lot tighter as well because of this too - the metal parts and stronger plastic means the joints don't wear out. It's as good a scaling-up as was done for Leader-1 with the added factor of not having a real-life vehicle to use as an easy basis.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation is very simple, being the exact same sequence as the smaller version (Vamp is the only scaled-up version to have literally the same layout as his smaller predecessor). The scale means there are some minor refinements though - the thicker plastic means the tail and feet feel a lot stiffer and less like they're going to just bend or come off the main figure.

The general strengthening bought on by the Super-sizing runs through the toy - the antennae are much sturdier and the arms are also a lot more rigid. The robot itself just looks terrific overall - the increased space has led to moulded plastic red-chromed eyes (as opposed to the paint apps of the small figure), while a number of pale green and light purple paint apps have been added to the torso. He's certainly more interesting to look at. The distinctiveness of the robot mode remains, but the size gives him a lot more menace. The arm layout is still a bit of a mess, with the hollow engines positioned facing forward taking the shine off the thing a little, and of course he still looks like his arms sprout from above his shoulders. A bit of a shame this couldn't be addressed (even just putting a panel around the wheels on each side would be a start).


SUMMARY

Overall, though, the toy is a bit of a triumph. Both modes look good scaled-up, Bandai having picked a distinctive figure to work with. The superb construction and thoughtful paint-apps make for a high-quality figure and if they were going to do one Devil Invader in this size, I'm glad it's this one - the thing's really good for recreating the second story of the Robo Machines comic. The Super version of Vamp is much more accomplished than the small figure and comes highly recommended.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1986, Gobots Super Gobots Series 3 - 033: Vamp
1986, Robo Machine - Super Gobots: Vamp

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Antennae