After having gone back and watched Animated and Beast Wars/Beast Machines with my wife, I decided it was time to introduce her to the series that made absolutely no effort to take itself seriously, Robots in Disguise. Now with only five episodes left, I am finding myself a little sad to watch it end again. From my personal favourites, the Spy Changers, to Team Bullet Train to the Build Team, there’s so much personality in this show it really is a shame that it was followed up by the AEC pseudo-trilogy. No one in any of the 155 episodes that make up the “Unicron Trilogy” can come even close to Sky Byte in the personality department. Though most of the groupings come and go — and in the case of the sadly under-used Spy Changers, more go than come — one grouping is constant, but luckily it has as much personality as all the rest.
The Autobot Brothers in the English version were originally called the Car Robo 3 Kyōdai or “the 3 Car Robo Brothers” in the original Japanese version.
First up we have the youngest brother, Side Burn the Autobot “Speedy Knight”.
He was originally called Speedbreaker, a much better sounding name in my opinion. For all the unabashed silliness that was the series, the toys were some super serious pieces of engineering. Side Burn receives a good amount of derision for being a mess of pieces hanging of his robot mode.
After the brothers receive their Super Mode upgrades thanks to an infusion of Matrix energy courtesy of Ultra Magnus, Side Burn takes on a very Hot Rod-ish deco that’s really only apparent in alt mode. Speaking of alt modes, his Super Mode toy also adds the Dodge Viper logo on the front for licensing reasons that was curiously missing from his regular mode release.
This Hot Rod homage would come full circle when Side Burn joined the G1 cast as a redeco of Classics Rodimus via Timelines. Released as the 2011 Transformers Collectors Club membership incentive figure, I remember the announcement at BotCon 2010 about him was met with a lukewarm “meh”.
I think they did an ok job of mimicking the asymmetry of the original headsculpt with just with paint applications.
However the alt mode just makes me think “Cryo-Rodimus”.
Like his brothers, Side Burn received a Spy Changer sized release as well.
Along with three other G2 Go-Bot molds, the mold that would eventually become Spy Changer Side Burn was unreleased up to this point. In this case it worked quite well, as the mold has a very Dodge Viper-esque look to its alt mode.
Side Burn, with his borderline creepy obsession with red sportscars, is my least favourite of the brothers, but the only one to receive an update or homage. Of course, he’s not only one to receive an homage from the Robots in Disguise universe altogether, Sky Byte beat him to the punch by a year.
Prowl, or Mach Alert, is the middle brother.
To facilitate his function as the Autobot “High-Speed Chaser”, he gets a sleek Lamborghini Diablo alt mode with traditional Japanese police car colours, complete with “警 視 庁” or Metropolitan Police Office on the doors. Hey, at least it makes more sense than a Lamborghini Countach Fire Chief’s car. Prowl’s Super Mode swaps the traditional Japanese colours for U.S. police car colours. Ironically, he keeps his Takara name, Mach Alert, on the door.
Unfortunately the transparent plastic used throughout Prowl is prone to cracking, on both regular and Super versions. The end result being that one of the door panels hanging off my Super Prowl is barely holding on at all. For this reason, he rarely comes out of the alt mode he is displayed in.
Prowl’s weapons, complete with flame-effect missiles, can be attached to his spoilers to form jet boosters.
This can also be done in robot mode by attaching them to his lightbar.
Prowl’s Spy Changer, released under the name “Prowl 2”, uses another of the unreleased G2 molds.
Much like Side Burn, this works out as one of the unreleased Go-Bot molds is a police car.
The same mold would see release as “Universe Prowl”, as a Red Alert repaint.
Lastly is the oldest brother and my favourite of the three. X-Brawn, or Wildrider (also a much better name in my opinion) is a rough and ready, tailpipe-stompin’ hombre with a southern drawl of G1 Ironhide levels. His position as my favourite was cemented as early as the second episode, when he played Spider-man, swinging through the city to keep a powerful bomb from the hands of the Predacons while in alt mode.
He “is a martial arts master with an especially powerful left arm. His “Southpaw Lariat” is invincible.” His Super Mode bio adds,
“Lots of talking and speeches annoy him – he wants to know just the facts, so that he can get out there and punch out some Decepticons. He’s a martial arts master with a left arm that can do serious damage to anyone in his path.”
His weapons can be placed on his back when not in use, or in a number of configurations.
They also store under and create running rails for his alt mode. You can also remove his front brushguard to use as a bladed weapon.
Speaking of alt mode, the funny thing is that for a southern redneck-sounding ‘bot, he transforms into a respectably classy Mercedes-Benz ML320.
A majority of the differences between X-Brawn and Wildrider were made in order to make his alt mode different enough from a real ML320 to avoid licensing issues. Other than that, he has working doors, and his head is visible inside in alt mode, something that also shows up in the cartoon.
He also has a working hood with engine detail inside.
Here’s where I have to sheepishly admit something. X-Brawn’s Super Mode is something I have seen plenty of times since it first made its way over here in 2001. Despite this fact it was only recently that it clicked enough for me to realize that the Toyota Rally Car deco used makes him effectively — perhaps even unintentionally — an homage of G1 Wheeljack.
Much like Super Side Burn’s Hot Rod homage, the Wheeljack thing doesn’t carry over to his robot mode.
Thanks to the very unique configuration of his robot mode and his SUV alt mode, X-Brawn is the only on of the brothers to receive a completely new mold for his Spy Changer release.
As such, it’s pretty faithful to the full sized version, even including silly fake wheels on his shins where the full-sized version’s wheels fold in.
Yeah, I’m definitely going to be sad to see these guys go again, cartoon-wise, but that’s the joy of having a collection, right? They’re always there on the display shelf.