One of Popy's original Machine Robo designs, Supercar Robo was released in Japan in 1982. The original prototype, shown in some catalogues, featured moving elbows and enclosed rear wheels but this version was never released (presumably for budgetary reasons), though it did feature on the US patent.

The figure was selected as one of the first batch of Gobots figures when Tonka started the range in 1983 (though Bandai had already released it as Racer Man in America as part of the unsuccessful Machine Men line). The toy was assigned the Gobot number 7, and became the Guardian Turbo. The character would be one of the main stars of Hanna Barbera's Challenge of the Gobots animated series, and would also appear in Fleetway's Robo Machines comic strip.

Turbo had a few different colour schemes around the world - a yellow version came out in one of Bandai's 'Best of Machine Robo' sets; the figure was also issued by Glasslite in Brazil, as part of their Mutante range and named as Zardos and available in blue or black; while a white version was issued in Australia as part of Machine Men, in an exclusive Staks Transport Giftset. In 1986, Supercar Robo was assigned to the Battle Tribe in the Revenge of Cronos support line (with the toy reissued as MRB-11), and he got to be in the anime occasionally too.


ALTERNATE MODE

Turbo's alt mode is very sharp, a thin scarlet futuristic sports car. The slippery shape is spoiled a little by the giant rear wing (the feet in robot mode), which is about as aerodynamically efficient as a brick. Still, aside from that it's rather nice, with some good detail work, and a respectable attempt to match the painted diecast parts to the plastic. It's not quite successful, but it's not miles off.

The translucent cockpit and chrome, as well as some subtle stickers and nice rubber tyres, add significantly to the look. It's not a car mode that'd be to everyone's taste, obviously lacking the realism of a lot of the other Gobot cars, but it's nicely done.


ROBOT MODE

Like the majority of the Popy-designed moulds, transformation is incredibly simple - the rear end of the car extends and separates to form the legs, the sides of the car come out and form the arms, and part of the bonnet flips around to reveal Turbo's face. One thing I've always had an inexplicable prejudice against is figures that transform so the robot mode is facing backwards, and Turbo loses a little because of this.

However, the robot mode itself is as good as stuff from this era gets - nicely proportioned, stocky (though the arms are perhaps a little thin), some nice detail work and no massive faults. Of course, that's a qualified evaluation - articulation is limited to the arms, as moving the head part tends to make him look like he's been decapitated, or drawn by José Delbo. One very good thing, however, is the head cast, which has a little personality for once - and thankfully, doesn't look anything like the white 'bald bloke' cranial cock-up Hanna-Barbera conjured up, and so this personality isn't a crotchety old caveman with a penchant for beating up females. This is more the slightly cocky chap who can keep positive when bits of London fall on him and then intentionally fail to hear Dozer's orders. That is a very big plus.


SUMMARY

To be honest, he's the definitive rank-and-file Gobot. Nothing wrong with him, but very little that really stands out either. If it wasn't for the fact I'd spent so long near-obsessively hunting for his accessories and rather liked him in the comic, I'd probably forget I had him. A nude Dozer can be found fairly cheaply, and can pad out ranks nicely. Be prepared for a frustrating time if you want a complete one, however - in this case, sealed ones are your best bet.


THE FACTS
[Corrections? Let me know!]

RELEASES:
1982, Machine Robo Series - MR-07: Supercar Robo
1983, Machine Robo Series - MR-07: Supercar (Bandai reissue)
1983, Machine Robo Best 5 - MR-07: Supercar Robo (yellow recolour)
1983, Machine Men - 06: Racer Man
1983, Robo Machine - RM-07: Super Car
1983, Gobots Series 1 - 07: Turbo
1984, Gobots Series 1 - 07: Turbo (reissue with sticker)
1985, Gobots Guardian Gift Pack #1 - Turbo (packed with Flip-Top and Leader-1)
1985, Machine Men Staks Transport - Turbo (white recolour)
1986, Machine Robo Revenge of Cronos - MRB-11: Supercar Robo

PARTS:
None

WEAK POINTS:
None

US PATENT: