The joy I felt from the return (after what felt like a worrying hiatus) of Action Toys' Machine Robo Series was tempered a little by the choice of two characters I wasn't particularly keen on in any real form. The original Shuttle Robo, ported over to Gobots as the Guardian Spay-C, was one of the weaker toys of the series despite the cool alt mode, while the character didn't grab in either of the cartoons. In Revenge of Cronos Shuttle Robo was largely a background character, a member of the arrogant but basically sound Land Commander 5 team; in Challenge of the Gobots Spay-C was a female Guardian who didn't really do much, especially as the faction had a more popular space-going female in Path Finder. But obviously I bought the toy anyway, because Masterpiece Gobots.
The alternate mode is naturally the classic NASA Space Shuttle, though the proportions are considerably stylised; the nose more angular, the swings much smaller. It's a concession partly to the depiction in the anime and possibly also to avoid copyright problems, though the latter is probably a reach. Considering the remit, though, it's something of a disappointment. The mode is absolutely covered in panels, hinges and lines which totally break up the shape, while the back end is such a mess with its' two boosters and folded up robot parts underneath. It's very disappointing compared to the alt modes for Eagle Robo and Blackbird Robo, while the whole thing is rendered in a matt white plastic which doesn't look good and gives the thing a knock-off feel. It doesn't even sit on a flat surface properly as there's no landing gear or anything.
Things don't get any better when it comes to transformation. The sequence is by far the worst the line's offered up yet, almost a parody of overcomplicated unfulfilling third-party figures, with numerous waggling panels. Everything gets in the way of everything else and impedes the flow, with particular fails being swinging the top of the fuselage down to form the arms, the rotating side panels and the booster-feet, all of which are frustrating and counter-intuitive. A massive amount if squashed into two-thirds of the figure to keep the shuttle nose and cabin as a simple big block and I've no idea why; I'm also mystified as to why the thing hinges open as well. Meanwhile - and this might just be my example - both legs have a habit of falling off at the hip/thigh joint.
All of which would perhaps be forgivable if it gave a nice robot mode. The basic layout is based on the original to some extent; this is a personal shame for me (I prefer the Big Machine Robo/Super Gobots version, though as this featured in neither cartoon and might not even be covered by Action Toys' licence as a result) but not unexpected. What is baffling is the total mess the figure makes of the simple design. The shuttle nose 'hood' is set too far back and even allowing to stylisation is simply gigantic. The arms are covered by big panels which respective movement while the hips have similarly awful left-over shuttle bits just floating there - could they seriously not move these onto the back of the robot? More superfluous left-over bits hang on the knees and there are even bits between the legs; the end result is cluttered and downright ugly. There's all sorts of articulation, including actual feet to allow for better balance, but all the kibble blocks most of the hoses, generally through mere sloppiness - what the Hell is the point in moving the shuttle nose cowl back from the head and then putting stuff on both sides of him anyway? Oh, and he has a weird grey rifle (possibly inspired by him occasionally using one in the anime) which just doesn't gel with the concept and is too big for the design really. It can't be stored on the alternate mode or anything and marks another odd choice for an additional accessory, which is at least consistent with the range to date.
In short the figure is an absolute shambles, looking good in neither mode, being absolutely no fun to transform and not even being particularly dynamic. The positives are thin; it's another Guardian to even out the sides a bit if you're a Gobots fan, it might be something Action Toys learn from and the character isn't one of the most dynamic anyway so if they're going to botch one Shuttle Robo is a fair candidate. But very much a figure only for those poor fools like me who are going to buy them all anyway...