This here is Roboto, one of He-Man’s allies and an official Master of the Universe. The original Roboto figure was released in 1985 as the MOTU action figure line was winding down. I never owned a Roboto myself but a lot of my friends must have as the original toy feels very familiar to me. In the original cartoon series he only appeared in one episode in which he crash landed on Eternia and Man-at-Arms had to repair him. Roboto never really had a chance to shine until the 2002 relaunch of MOTU. In that series Roboto was built from scratch by Man-at-Arms and his primary purpose was to be a chess opponent to Prince Adam. His initial design was much meeker. Roboto wants to help the other Masters defend Castle Grayskull but they were initially dismissive of him. Roboto took matters into his own hands and rebuilt his body into a big bulky war machine so that he can do his part. The Roboto origin episode is one of my favorites from the series. Roboto appeared in several more episodes after that as well.
While the original toy is a classic and very representative of the vintage line with its unique design and play features something about it just never worked for me. First off the mishmash of colors is not very flattering. The silver head, blue arms, red legs and purple shorts is just strange and made more apparent by the clear torso which prevents the colors from blending together. The clear torso is cool though. It has visible gears inside that spin when you turn the figures waist. The only thing is that by revealing his inner workings the designers set Roboto up to look less complicated then a wrist watch. 3 gears keep this whole guy running? Seems kinda weird. And then there’s the face. I believe the blue visor is meant to be his eyes and the red chin strap is like the shield piece on the front of a knight’s helmet. But there’s this strange black void separating them. Is his head hollow? For whatever reason when I look at it I can’t help but think of the blue visor as more of a headband and that the black void is actually his mysterious face.
This figure here is a prime example of why I loved the 2002 era line so much. The Four Horsemen have corrected every problem previously afflicting Roboto. The sculpt is dynamically posed as opposed to being stuck in the frumpy squat of the vintage line. Instead of using the same old parts as every other muscleman in the line Roboto is made up completely of uniquely sculpted pieces. Having legs and arms unique to the character allowed the sculptors to infuse many more mechanical details into the molds like wires and buttons. The arms look awesome. He has a wicked red fist on the left and an interchangeable rocket launcher or claw hand on the right. His legs are even better. Just look at this guy’s feet! I love big ol’ feet on my action figures and this guy delivers. The angular torso looks much better yet the simple gears remain but this time around I find them charming. The inclusion of the shoulder armor is a good move too, they look great.
Then there’s his head. This head sculpt clears up all of the confusion of the first one. His visor is clearly defined and sits properly on his face. The mouth guard no longer looks like medieval scrap metal but a functioning jaw. And the weird black face void is gone. I love it.
The paint scheme is much easier on the eyes here as well. the colors are allowed to blend together sensibly and they’ve done away with the purple all together. If I could change anything about this figure it would only be to add more articulation. I have yet to purchase the MOTU Classics version of Roboto that was released in 2010 but it’s on my short list. I’ve really grown to love the Classics figures even though I was initially skeptical about them. I like them so much that my Classics collection has grown to an unwieldy size forcing me to soon box up my 2002 era figures. It will be a true shame to box away this Roboto as I feel this version remains the best interpretation of the character to date.