The UFO Robo was the last of the Machine Robo Series' dabbles with science fiction influenced vehicles, coming out early in 1984 in Japan. A few months later, the toy would appear in America, granted the name Path Finder. Tonka made the decision that the character would be female, and Path Finder appeared as such in the Challenge of the Gobots series. She actually weighed in with a nice secondary role, frequently appearing as the "guest" Guardian joining Leader-1, Turbo and Scooter on Earth and generally being respected with it (unlike the more stereotypical Small Foot). Path Finder was one of the line's best selling figures, remaining in the range right up until the final series.

More recently, in 2004 Takara cronies and professional money-for-nothing merchants eHobby decided they'd take advantage of Hasbro owning the Gobots trademarks. They planned a set of Minibot recolours for a limited release in Japan, complete with fanboy-bullshit backstory about Gobots crossing dimensions or something. As Cosmos was one of the Minibots, that figure was chosen to be Path Finder, despite the short, fat, blue-and-yellow eyesore bearing no resemblance to the Gobot at all. However, at the last moment Takara lost their balls, not fancying even the tiniest chance of Bandai delivering a fatal blow to their dwindling operation, and the toys came out unnamed.


ALTERNATE MODE

Path Finder's vehicle mode is an odd one. If those three painted silver indents on the front are meant to be windows (the silver visor on the robot head might be a more obvious candidate, but doesn't have the clearance to see past everything else) this thing would be huge. It's more of a spaceship with a circular wing than a bona fide flying saucer.

The colour scheme works nicely enough, and there are a lot of random details moulded on, but it really does look like a folded up robot. There are some good attempts at disguise used; the feet and head are both adorned by moulded boosters, while the hands are very subtle, but it's still pretty hard to escape that there's a robot in there due to the shape of these parts. All the moulding and paint apps for the robot's chest doesn't help - it's pretty difficult to imagine what they could be on a spaceship, ditto for all the indented areas. Looseness is a big potential problem on this figure, too - finding one with a neck that holds the head in the right place, and a visor that doesn't slip back can be tricky, and either of these defects can totally blow whatever disguise there is in the alt mode.


ROBOT MODE

The transformation into robot mode is neat - simple but unusual, with the arms flipping around, moving down to give enough space for the legs to swing away and then back, the arms then moving up into position and finally the face then being revealed in a satisfying crowning movement.

Path Finder is, quite simply, the most cartoon-accurate toy in the range, looking and transforming exactly like her Challenge representation (only the lack of elbows differentiates them). This would normally be where I mock Tonka for their seemingly arbitrary gender assigning, but for some reason it's impossible for me to think of the figure as anything other than female. Odd. The robot mode actually looks very sharp - the colour scheme meshes in a much more satisfactory fashion, and all that detail work that blighted the vehicle form comes nicely into play here. Perhaps because of cartoon association, the face holds a bit of character (I love the helmet), and the robot is very well proportioned.


SUMMARY

In summation, Path Finder is a neat, well-made figure with a cracking robot mode. The saucer mode isn't really my cup of tea - in all honesty, the basic concept wouldn't go down with me that well regardless of how well sculpted the mode was. Nevertheless, in robot mode she's good fun, and one of the most common cheap Gobots. She blows Transformers equivalent Cosmos to pieces on all fronts, and is well worth a look for those wishing to sample the line.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-29: UFO Robo
1983, Robo Machine - RM-29: UFO
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 29: Path Finder
1984, Gobots Series 2 - 29: Path Finder (reissue with sticker)

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
Shoulders, helmet, wing guns