REVIEW: Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto?

Roboto was created to play chess, but gained sentience and decided that fighting the forces of Skeletor was a wonderful idea. This raises tons of questions like:

Why would Man-At-Arms need to make a freakishly muscular robot if it was only created to play chess?

Why does chess even exist on Eternia?

Do Eternians play basketball too?

When a robot gains sentience, shouldn’t it be destroyed before it can turn on you?

The answer to all those questions can be summed up in one statement: The 1980’s Masters of the Universe cartoon was ridiculous.  Really, c’mon, people! Nostalgia is what keeps us waiting patiently for new Classics figures; not because of the well-thought out story. It was a half-hour commercial for toys, and we were all sucked in by its awesome majesty! What other toyline can have a half-naked barbarian teaming up with a futuristic A.I.? Well, there are probably a couple of them… but He-Man was the best at it!

Roboto has caused quite a stir this last week. Actually, Roboto is a fictional character; so, you’ll have to blame the rage about his Masters of the Universe Classics figure on the internet’s knee-jerky, anger-filled forums. You see, he was assembled incorrectly and his shoulders are reversed. Does this really matter? Apparently not, since he still sold out on mattycollector.com in a few hours. However, the prospect of buying an expensive collector figure that has been put together improperly… well, it sucks on principle alone; so, he didn’t even remotely compare to the sellout times of other Masters figures. Before we get into the review, let’s check out the (surprisingly candid) statement from Toy Guru on the mattycollector forums speaking about the Roboto incident:

“Well there is no way around it. Roboto did get assembled with his shoulders swapped.

What can I say? These things happen. I could mention the hundreds of things we do catch and correct before going to production, or all the time we spent making small tweaks based on fan comments such as Skeletor’s purple feet or trying to see if both Roboto’s arms could be detached (which we didn’t have time for but we really tried on!), but none of that changes that in the end a mistake was made.

Luckily in the long run this is not (I hope!) Earth crushing to most. By definition the only change is the pattern of tech on the shoulder. The toy itself functions 100% correctly and is not defective. (that and combined with the fact that the whole production is done means we can’t exchange your Roboto for a corrected version, at this time there are no “corrected” versions.)

It doesn’t mean we won’t try to find a way down the road to correct this. It took almost 4 years but we finally got Sinestro’s height corrected in the DCUC line (check out the 2 pack coming to TRU next month with a ton of yellow and green constructs!).

I’d personally like to find a way to fix this but it will take time. We don’t have a reissue planned right now but it doesn’t mean it is out of the question. I’m sorry for those whom were counting on the tech detail pattern on the shoulder going the other direction. I’ll take the fall on this one and just let you know we continue to be vigilant on getting the best collector product out there. Sometimes we hit a problem. But the important thing is we will try to correct this one day. It just won’t be in the immediate future.”

There you go, folks! To sum it up: It is what it is, but don’t kid yourself by thinking you’ll quit buying these spectacular MOTUC figures — regardless of the hiccups that pop up every now and then. There have been tutorials on how to fix the shoulders, so all is not lost. If you wanna fix it: grab a flathead screwdriver, some superglue, and get schooled on Youtube! On to the review for Roboto!

Roboto’s sculpt is exactly what you’ve come to expect from the Four Horesmen.  While he shares his legs with Optikk and Trap-Jaw, the rest of the figure is completely new. Not only that, but Roboto has arguably the most technically complicated sculpt in the line so far. His head, clear torso, and arms all bring back that nostalgic feeling of the 80’s figure. The gears in his chest are there and in working order. That’s right, “working order”. Roboto is the first figure in the MOTUC line to have a true action feature. While the shoulders have been assembled backwards (the L and R markings are wrong) the sculpt of the tech and wires didn’t get too marred or mismatched. All in all, it’s the same great attention to sculptural detail that keeps us coming back for more, month after month. His head has the visor and the duck-billed faceplate which covers his robotic gaping maw. The original figure’s faceplate moved up and down as the figure was turned from side to side, like some kind of cockamamie ventriloquist act. Thankfully, that’s been left out this time around, especially since the faceplate is made of such soft and rubbery plastic. The chest is sculpted with very sharp lines that add to the glass-like look of the torso and seem to be a good match for the figure. Inside the chest, you can clearly see the heart-shaped emotion chip that Man-At-Arms should have pierced the moment this thing started asking about making axe attachments. Those Masters were just beggin’ for trouble!

Roboto has a hit-and-miss paintjob. While the bright coloring is very crisp and eye-catching, it also tends to make the figure seem more like a toy. What’s that? The previous statement doesn’t make any sense, seeing as how Roboto IS a toy?! Well, fellow toy-collectors know what we’re talkin’ about! There are some definite highlights in the paint work, though. The tech on the arms is brushed with a metallic shade of blue paint that really makes the detailing “pop”. The visor is also painted with a brighter blue than the rest of the figure, which brings attention to his “eyes.” The head and legs are painted in a dull silver with black brushed into the seams to show the details. The figure we reviewed looked good, but we’ve heard of collectors that have seen messier versions show up at their door. The rest of the figure isn’t too much of a problem since a lot of the pieces were molded in the correct colors and didn’t require any paint apps.

*Normally, the MOTUC figures all share the same articulation model. Roboto loses one point of articulation, while gaining another. His torso hinge had to be nixed in order to allow for the rotating gears. However, he gained the hinged faceplate on his big metal head. Not exactly the most even trade-off, but the loss of the “ab crunch” is forgivable in this situation. Here’s the breakdown of his articulation in full: hinged faceplate, ball-joint neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel bicep, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, & swivel/hinged “rocker” ankles. That is still more than enough articulation to sit and play chess, beat the hell outta Beastman, or secretly plot to kill Teela in her sleep during those inevitable malfunctions.

Roboto has an arsenal of weaponry that make up his accessories. His right hand separates from his wrist by a nifty peg. The Master Strategist has 3 arm attachments that can take the place of his hand to give Roboto that extra edge in battle: an ax, a double-barreled blaster, and a claw. They are updates of the vintage weapons, and each look great when hooked to this Eternian Tin-Man. The only drawback (really bitchy review, right?) is that the weapons have been molded in a very soft plastic. The gun barrels and axe blade were warped straight out of the package. Luckily, a few seconds under a hairdryer and they were easily straightened back out. (Hairdryers—is there anything they CAN’T fix?) Roboto should have come with a hairdryer attachment if he wanted to be truly effective in battle!

Even though this review has revealed the faults with Roboto, he is still a pretty damn cool action figure. There’s just something about Masters of the Universe Classics that keeps pulling us back in every 15th of the month. Sure it probably has something to do with the rose-colored glasses we all wear; but, the Four Horsemen and Mattel have really built something special, and, for better or worse, Roboto is a part of that. If you’re a fan of multi-colored gears, Robocop-like visors, badass gun arms, and/or chess, then Roboto might just be right up your alley.

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