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RM-03 Rijie Takara, 2004

Rijie Review Capsule
Rijie is one of the most screamingly obvious throwbacks in the line. Based heavily on G1 Mirage, this figure takes a mold from the 1990s and gives it a paint job it so richly deserved. Despite being 10 years old, the mold is still fresh and fun and with its small size and new weapon is one of the finest repaints yet. Recommended.

Overview

Rijie is a Cybertron warrior in the TransFormers Robot Masters line of toys from Takara. Released only in Japan, this toy includes a two-piece blue rifle as well as an exclusive silver weapon.

A repaint of an old mold used for Machine Wars (Prowl and Mirage) as well as Robots in Disguise (Skid-Z) in the USA and in Car Robots (Indy Heat, Super Indy Heat) in Japan. Rijie is slightly different translation of Ligier, and was allegedly renamed due to copyleft reasons.

Several Robot Masters were repainted to look like old Generation One characters, and Rijie was designed to look like Mirage. Rijie is actually about the same height as Mirage and, when compared side-by-side, is arguably the better of the two toys.

Robot

Like most Robot MastersMachine Wars, a Kay-Bee Toys exclusive run, but under different names and in different colors. He was green and called Mirage, and yellow and named Prowl. The same mold was also named Indy Heat or Skid-Z (Japan's Car Robots, USA's Robots in Disguise) and now comes to you in what may be the best ever recolor of an existing mold.

What you see is pretty much what you get. He's well articulated, with joints at the shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, and neck. As most of those are ball joints, he's capable of assuming many poses, although some vehicle bits hang off in certain places hindering some of his mobility. All things considered, though, he's well designed and very nicely painted-- especially compared to the previous releases of this mold.

Appearing mostly in white and blue, he's a pretty obvious homage to the original Mirage toy from 1984. Some of the numbers and graphics are the same, but one of the neater additions is the "Robotmaster" logos, all of which are best viewed in his vehicle mode. Also cool: his big blue gun (see below) splits into two parts and can be stored in his legs for safekeeping in either mode.

Vehicle

In vehicle mode, Rijie is a car, an indy car. Sure, he's painted with an obvious model in mind, but it's a good model and the car looks ultra-spiffy.

The 26 is a reference to the original, too-- the "Robot Masters" signs aren't. The "RM-03" is a reference to this toy's set number, in the Robot Masters line, he's toy number 3. Not many toys reference their designation like this, so it's a cute easter egg and something that makes the toy just a little bit neater. It feels more like an item made for collectors than for kids, but as this is for the Japanese market, it's entirely possible they expect their customers to be savvy about such things and enjoy the nuances as they see them. In the USA, we need to be beaten over the head with them. (Except, of course, when it comes to names [cough, Overdrive].)

It's a solid vehicle mode and can roll freely over a table, down a ramp, or into oncoming traffic. Due to the rarity of the piece in North America, we advise against that last one. There's not much it can do in vehicle mode, and while he can store his blue weapon as a car, his silver one is more or less on its own-- we would have liked to have seen some method to connect it to the existing toy so they can make it a little harder to lose, but again, such is life.

Accessories & Gimmicks

Rijie includes two weapons and a spring-loaded transformation feature.

Compared to G1 Convoy and Beast Megatron, that's not a lot-- the blue gun splits into two pieces and can be stored in the main figure in either mode, invisible to the naked eye. This feature has been retained on this and the other flipchangers from as far back as these molds were used, so it's nothing too special-- but it's neat, and you have to admit it looks a little like Shockwave. Weapon #2 is all new for this set. Because Takara loves you, the repaints from the initial waves of toys all include bonus weapons previously unmade. This one has a big bright silver gun which he can hold and aim fairly well with limited restrictions due to its shape. All in all, it's more armaments than you need and more than you would expect from a domestic toy, so we're quite pleased with them.

This toy is one of four "flipchanger" molds sold since Machine Wars, the others being a tow truck (recently released as Wrecker Hook) and two jets (Wingstun & Airhunter). To transform the toy, you pretty much flick the spoiler-- that's it, everything else springs into place as he turns into a robot. It's very clever and lots of fun despite its simplicity. As these are toys for kids and not puzzles for adults, this is exactly the sort of thing we'd like to see more of. In the old cartoons, you didn't see a car move awkwardly as it converted to a robot-- far from it! In three seconds, it turned into a car big enough to crush you, your dog, and your homework. Some say these simple, virtually automatic transformations ruin the toy. We call those people "filthy liars."

All in all, the toy itself is good, but the accessories really make it.

Packaging

This toy came packaged in regular Robot Masters packaging, which is fairly intricate. Inside a box, there's a three-piece plastic tray to hold the figure in place, which is surprisingly extensive for a small toy. Best of all, there's no twist ties!

Like all Robot Masters, the set includes Generation One-styled TransFormers logos as well as faction symbols similar to that era. It's a very nice box and like this entire line to date, it's packaged in robot mode-- something fairly unusual for these toys, but as the lines are mostly repaints, it's an easy way to make it look different without altering the toy too much.

Fin

Solid. When the line first came out and we had yet to decide to collect and feature it in its entirety, we ordered the two Convoys, Beast Megatron, and this guy. We love the deco so much we couldn't say no, and we never once regretted getting it. Hasbro and Takara have developed some wonderful molds since the demise of the original line that suffered from weak paint, or in some cases, virtually no paint at all. While some fans are getting tired of references like this one, we find it a fine mold with an even finer paint job and can't recommend it enough. If the price is right, you need this figure.

As of this review, Rijie can be had easily for $10 or even less before shipping charges. Sure, it was once a $7-$8 toy, but this new deco and fancy-pants box costs money, as does the new weapon. We classify this under the "don't ask why, just buy buy buy" category of repaints.

We put R-Blade in a similar category as this guy. Just get 'em. Best repaints this side of the Pacific.


Text and photos by Adam Pawlus
Reviewed on March 18, 2005
Sample purchased from a Japanese dealer in July, 2004 for under $10.

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