The Robo Force Punch-Out Toy Book!
As you probably already know by now, Robo Force was one of my absolute favorite toy lines when I was a kid. While most of my friends had big Transformers collections, I was fascinated with these robots that had suction cups for feet and buttons that made their arms hug their enemies. Sure, it was supposed to look like they were crushing them, but make no mistake about it... these robots hugged all of their deadliest foes.
Over a decade ago, I started up the very first Robo Force fan page in the hopes that some people would remember them. Thankfully, more and more information about them has surfaced over the years, including my own article about the unreleased Robo Force toys we never got to enjoy as kids. One lucky person even scored an unreleased Robo Force prototype not too long ago, so there's always the possibility that the rest are floating around somewhere out there.
That said, since the toy line didn't last more than a few years, finding Robo Force products that people haven't already seen is becoming increasingly difficult. On the plus side, John over at Toyfinity managed to secure the rights to Robo Force, and has been producing some really slick modernized figures and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he releases in the future. I'll always love the original toys though, and today I'm happy to share with you something few Robo Force fans have probably ever seen; even I didn't know it existed until recently. Behold!
Released in 1985 by Random House and designed by James Razzi, the Robo Force Punch-Out Toy Book is easily one of the greatest toy line tie-in products to ever grace store shelves. It's not particularly easy to come by, but fortunately a fan stopped by our booth at Comic-Con and brought it to me in trade for some I-Mockery merch. I wish I caught his name, but if you're reading this, thanks again for thinking of me when you found this book! (update: It was John Barnes who gave me the book. Thanks again, John!)
As you can see, the book allows you to make paper robot models of four Robo Force characters: Maxx Steele, Hun-Dred, Blazer, and Coptor. Now I must admit that Cruel was always my favorite character, probably because you don't see many purple robots named "Cruel" too often, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to making things out of paper.
Now when I first sat down to start building the robots, I figured it would only take a half hour or so to complete all four of them. Instead, it took up almost an entire afternoon.
Each Robo Force character comes with a surprising number of detailed parts illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, and you can't just quickly remove them from the book; you have to take your time to carefully pop-out each section of the pieces or they'll tear very easily. It may have been time consuming, but it was a perfect afternoon activity for the rare rainy day we happened to be having in Los Angeles. Alright, on with the orobogami:
The easiest thing to build in the book is this nice bonus they included, which is a background panel for you to display your Robo Force figures in front of. While it's not wide enough for all the Robo Force robots to stand side by side, it's still an unexpected addition that I was happy to see. All signs would suggest that it's supposed to be the inside of some kind of Robo Force space station, what with the window with a nice view of the galaxy 'n all. Still, every time I look at it, I can't help but think it's a futuristic tape cassette player. If it weren't for the odd mechanical structures protruding on the left and right sides, the shape of the window plus the square controls beneath really do make it look like an old boom box.
Well, whether it's a space station or boom box from the future, it'll do nicely for displaying each of the robots.
The first robot the book has you build is Maxx Steele, the heroic leader of the Robo Force. What really amazed me from the start was how they were able to mimic the look of the classic Robo Force toy arms so well just by having you fold some paper multiple times. The details are fantastic too, right down to Maxx's hand lasers and the swivel gun on his back. All of his pieces fit together really well and I think he was the easiest of the four robots to build.
Next we had Hun-Dred, the leader of the evil robot empire. This was definitely the most problematic robot to build, but also one of the best looking ones. Unlike Maxx, the sockets on the body for the arms to go into are a bit too small, so the arms kept popping out on me for a while. Then his visor wouldn't stay in place, which was annoying since I loved how you could actually raise it up and down to reveal his face guns just like the original Hun-Dred figure allowed you to do. Still, he turned out great, and I can only assume that the trouble it took to build him was all part of Hun-Dred's nefarious plan to waste my time while his evil robot minions kidnapped my Nintendo Entertainment System or something.
The third robot on the list is Coptor, the enforcer. When I saw the shape of his head, I thought it was gonna be tough to get each of the triangular sides to stay in place, but it actually wasn't too tricky at all. The best thing about him is that his head propeller actually spins just like the original figure. The only thing he's missing is the little communicator device that the old toy had attached to his arm. It's a minor detail, of course, but every other figure has been dead-on so far. Then again, it'd probably be tricky to attack anything to those crazy arms without having it fall off, so I can't say I blame the designer for committing that little piece.
Last up, we have Blazer, the Ignitor. This was always a fan favorite robot, because you could hold his head under water and fill it up to squirt out at the other toys - or in my case, at my siblings. Well, they did another fantastic job of replicating the look of Blazer in papercraft form, right down to having a a small nozzle that you fold and attach to the front of his head. He was fairly difficult to get to stay together, because a bunch of the section folds in his back kept coming loose, but I eventually got them all to stay in place. That said, I think somebody should tell Blazer that he's made of paper, so he may want to avoid shooting flames from his hands or water from his head, as neither of those things really interact well with paper. Ah screw it, let's just let him figure that out on his own. Live and learn, Blazer... live and learn.
I can't tell you how impressed I am with the huge amount of work that it must have taken designer James Razzi to plan out these figures. Considering they're made from paper, the build quality is extremely good and the scale is almost identical to the original Robo Force robot toys. I only wish they had been more successful, because then maybe we would've seen a follow-up book for all of the other robots. Still, I had a great time seeing each of these robots take form one piece at a time, so if you're a Robo Force fan or a papercraft / origami hobbyist, I highly recommend tracking this vintage book down and building yourself an army of mighty paper robots to conquer the universe with.
Wait, did I say conquer? I meant hug. An army of mighty paper robots to hug the universe with.
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