Disney Label Transformers Toy Review: Mickey Robo (Color)

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Disney Label, Generation One

Disney Label

General Information:
Release Date: March 2009
Price Point: $45 (purchased at Image Anime
Retailer: Japanese exclusive
Accessories: None

Images:

Packaging Translations*:

Front & Back: "Mickey Robo transforms into a trailer truck!" (with assorted safety warnings, company contact info etc.)

Left side:
ACTION GIMMICK
Push down on the robot's upper body, and its arms flap!

MOVING VISOR
You can manually raise and lower the visor!

Right side:
UNIFORM CHANGE
When you transform it from truck mode to robot mode, the driver Mickey disappears...

*All translations by Doug Dlin.

It's funny to think back to Transformers ten years ago and realize at that time we were just coming into the strange era of Beast Machines. Around that time frame in Transformers history, Hasbro tried something relatively daring at the time. They attempted to cross pollinate two brands, crossing over "Animorphs", a children's book line about a group of kids who could turn into animals and the "Transformers" brand. It was made clear that this series was in no way connected to the Transformers universe proper, but rather was an attempt at expanding the Transformers brand.

The Animorphs Transformers failed to become a success (for a variety of reasons), but it properly "shocked" the fan base enough that when later crossover attempts were made, it was not as much of a surprise. Recent successes such as "Star Wars Transformers" and "Marvel Crossovers" show that the Transformers brand name can be successfully marketed with other brands and sell figures, riding the wave of recognition those brands offer. Seemingly taking a cue from such crossovers, a curious little one has appeared in Japan: Disney Label Transformers. The idea is to create mecha like representations of Disney characters, and of course the natural one to start with is the Mouse himself: Mickey.

Robot Mode:
Mickey Mouse is a character whose appearance has been modified over the years, but in that time he has retained many crucial elements. Among them are his long snout, prominant nose, big circular ears, rounded feet and at times, what appears to be a belly (but I think is more a result of his pelvis being thrust forward in various poses. Yes, that sounds wrong). Depending on his outfits and what story he's in, his other details are mostly open to interpretation. So, if you're going to cross the most popular Disney character of all time with a Transformer, who would you choose? The most popular Transformer of all time of course! Merging design aspects of Optimus Prime and Mickey Mouse, the unique mecha known as Mickey Robo is born!

Standing only a bit over 4.5 inches tall, Mickey Robo is not particularly large. This makes him slightly shorter than most deluxe sized figures. This is important to note since he's hardly a cheap figure. He does have some bulk to him since Mickey Mouse's cartoonish proportions are used here including a
large head, waist and feet. Also, the vehicle mode's trailer is incorporated into the robot mode on the back, adding a bit of bulk.

Almost every section of this figure represents a merging of elements from Mickey Mouse and Optimus Prime. The only parts which are exceptions to this are the arm designs, which are rather generic circles connected by tubes, though they do have a very cartoony appearance. His legs are also rather generic tube shapes and much thicker than Mickey Mouse's legs are generally shown in animation. Going back to the parts which represent a synthesis, we have:

Head:
The head design uses Mickey Mouse's head for its overall shape. Mickey Robo has the big round ears on top, vertical eyes (as opposed to the traditional horizontal Transformers eyes) and a long snout and a small chin piece on the bottom of the head. The largest "Optimus Prime" feature on his head is the crest normally found on the center of Optimus Prime's head. Here the crest is huge and has its familiar five sided shape. In an extension of that detail, a vent like rectangle is used for the nose piece at the end of the snout. At the sides there are circles which lead to short, half-crescent shapes that resemlble the antennae often seen on the sides of Optimus Prime heads. The visor over Mickey Robo's eyes appear to be a design embelishment unique to this figure.

Torso:
Mickey Robo's torso is trapezoid in shape, an exaggeration of Optimus Prime's typically rectangular chest. In the center are two small "windows" sculpted into the chest, details borrowed from Optimus Prime. His waist section is a nice merging of features from Optimus and Mickey. It looks a lot like a front bumper/grille section of a truck with two large circular headlights. However, these large "headlight" circles are analgous to buttons often shown on Mickey's various outfits including his traditional red pants. I love this combination of elements from both characters as it fits both perfectly.

Feet:
The design of Mickey Robo's feet are mostly based on Mickey Mouse's feet, which are curved in the front and oversized a bit in proportion to his legs. Optimus Prime features come into play with the wheel on each heel section and headlights on the ends of each foot. In keeping the feet (and some other features) curved, it is clear the designers wanted to maintain the integrity of the Mickey character and resisted making everything blocky and angular. This type of combination requires a good balance of blocky and curved, and the designers pulled that off very well here.

Mickey Robo is primarily cast in metallic silver, metallic red and blue colors with some translucent blue plastic used for the eyes. Silver, black, yellow and light blue paint are used to color various parts. His color scheme largely follows the G1 Optimus Prime template. The top of his head (the "helmet" or in this case, mouse hat) is blue, with the lower part of the head silver. His chest windows are painted light blue and silver is used on parts such as his fists and the headlights on his feet. Black is used for smaller details such as his nose/vent and the tires on his robot feet. The yellow paint is used for the headlights on his waist, a nice touch since G1 Optimus Prime had yellow stickers in a similar place. On the center of the chest is a tampographed Mickey Mouse modification on the traditional Autobot symbol. Here it is a smiling Mickey Mouse face in red with white outlines, very cute! I love the use of metallic colors on this figure as it gives it a nice shine. That said, I wouldn't rule out a redeco in the future in softer, flat or pastel colors for more of a "cartoony" appearance.

Mickey Robo has very limited articulation, which I found rather unusual. His arms can move up and down, you can move his visor up and down and well, that's it. To be fair, his waist and swing forward and his feet can swing on the ankle joint, but those are more part of the transformation and not really super meaningful articulation points, so in this department the figure sadly disappoints.

I've called Mickey Robo a "mecha" a couple times in this review, and that's largely because he is a mecha being piloted by Mickey Mouse himself! Push the top of his head in and a panel rotates out with a small Mickey Mouse figure on it. Mickey is crouched on top of the robot head pointing forward as if giving commands with a serious look on his face. He is wearing a mostly white outfit with an orange backpack, which I find interesting as both of these colors were primary colors on the third season Transformers EDC uniforms. Could Mickey be a member of EDC in his "universe"?! Another nice touch is a three pronged device Mickey Mouse is wearing on his head, which suggests (to me at least) that part of his control on the mecha is mind based, a nice scifi touch to a fairly cutesy toy.

If you push down on Mickey Robo's head, his arms wind out flapping to the sides. It actually sort of looks like the robot is flexing muscles since his arms are permanently set at a slight curve. It's a funky little feature that wouldn't fly with a regular Transformer, but somehow seems silly and appropriate to this figure.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing each robot foot down.
  2. Rotate the front halves of the feet so the wheels line up on the sides.
  3. Swing the waist piece and legs up.
  4. Swing the front grille/headlight section of the truck down and snap it against the main body. This will cause the Mickey Mouse driver figure to appear inside the cab.
  5. Attach the pegs on Mickey Robo's hands to the holes on his hips.
  6. Swing the trailer section up, unfolding it and then down.
  7. Connect the clips on the sides of the trailer to the corresponding holes on the robot feet.
  8. Close the rear doors.

Vehicle Mode:
Mickey Robo's vehicle mode is clearly based on Optimus Prime's G1 truck form. It has all the requisite design details including:

  • A boxy cab section complete with a row of horns and lights on top, grille in the center and twin headlights on either side.
  • Dual, rectangular windows.
  • Smokestacks on either side.
  • A silver trailer with the familiar line design on the side that goes in a horizontal line, angling upwards, then horizontal again.
  • Lines running horizontally along the side of the trailer.
  • A symbol (in this case the "Mickey Robo" symbol) on top of the aforementioned line design.
  • Mickey Robo's leg designs make more sense here, as they look just like the fuel tanks traditionally seen on G1 Optimus Prime's legs.

What I was pleased to see was how full of sculpted detail this form has. The windows have small windshield wipers, the headlights and grille are all raised details instead of just flat bits carved into the sculpt. Even his sideview mirrors are detailed, showing small, raised horizontal bits that the mirror rests on. On the trailer section, all the aforementined details such as the lines and Mickey Robo symbol are sculpted into the figure, not just tampographs or paint. On the back doors there are sculpted handles. I even noticed he has raised circles representing bolts running along the edge of the trailer, albeit vertically instead of horizontally. I really appreciate detail like this and it looks great.

The overall aesthetic of this vehicle is a squat one with some exaggerated proportions such as the thick smokestacks coming to a slight, angular top section and the tube connecting the smokestack sections to the front tires. It gives the mecha a cartoony look that is appropriate to the figure.

The same colors from the robot mode carry over here. A lot more silver paint comes into play in the front where the smokestacks, horns, lights and front grille section are all painted silver. His windows are clear in this form, allowing you to get a good look at Mickey inside. The Mickey figure is black, flesh colored in the face and has an orange cap on, looking ever like the typical truck driver (in Disney's universe anyhow). The metallic red used on the cab is striking and the silver looks fantastic. The line on the trailer is painted light blue on the outside and white on the inside, with the Mickey Robo symbol painted red. The color combination is simple, classic and looks awesome in metallic colors.

Functionally speaking Mickey Robo rolls on four wheels here, while sculpted detail provides two more in the middle.

Final Thoughts:
I really love the concept of Transformers crossovers, and even back in the "Animorphs" days I saw a lot of potential for just this sort of product. To be honest, most of the appeal in this figure lays in its cross marketing and its very nicely done sculpt. While I do recommend this figure, it is really only

for a very small segment of the collecting population. It is not that great in terms of being a mainline Transformers figure, but as a curiosity that shows how powerful the Transformers concept is, it wins hands down. Recommended for hardcore collectors and super Disney fans (I know you're out there).