Review by netkid
KB Toys. Yes, you're reading this right now wondering why we've opened this review with that name. Well my friend, that name, that place, was magical. Love it or hate it, KB Toys was the type of store where no matter what time, what place, or what retail version of it you came across(standard, outlet, or some gutted husk of a long-dead mall store commandeered for the approaching holidays and filled with their clearanced overstock) you'd walk in and find something you didn't think you would ever find...for whatever reason.
“Oh this Street Sharks toy was supposed to be canceled, oh this Road Wars toy was only sold in South America, oh this Mighty Max toy was from 1994 why is it here in the year 2000? (In the year 2000....) Why does it say Irwin Toy as the manufacturer and not Mattel? Trendmasters made a Megalon figure? And Baragon and Varan too!?!? The hell? “Godzilla Doom Island?!?!” Why? “Why” was a question I asked myself many a times as a child when it came to visits there. “Why 3 for $5?” “Why buy one, get two free?” “Why am I finally finding this toy on shelves 7 years from when it was supposed to come out?” “It's 2002 and these Gen.2 Laser Cycles are STILL here!” “What, that exists?!?!” “Why were there 2 KB stores in Emerald Square mall, a floor level from each other?” It was enough to make your over-excited childhood mind explode like that guy from Scanners.
Yep, KB was weird and surprising like that in it's own glorious way. It was where old toys went to die, only to live again through the reanimation and imagination brought on by the hands of a child. Without those stores, a damn good chunk of my childhood toy finds would not be here, and I'm sure most of you reading this could say the same. Today we will look at one of those very toys.
I can't say how far back but, maybe 1999-2000? one day I walked into the local KB down the road from my house with my dad. It was situated in a small shopping plaza, the last place I'd ever expect to find one. I loved that store. I still remember the day it opened, buying a Playmates Primal Rage saber toothed tiger beast & a rotting skeletal dragon monster, and the day it closed, leaving with some Transformers Universe Micromaster combiners. So many good memories.
They were having a sale that day(like every other day), tables set up near the registers, full of just about every Capcom Playstation game you could imagine. Marvel vs. Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha, Dino Crisis, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, Megaman legends 1 & 2, Megaman Anniversary, X4, 5, & 6! Oh if I had only known! But the toy-loving child in me was lured away from those games, almost hypnotically, by the sight of a large square-shaped white metal clearance basket full of little plastic robots called.....Z-BOTS! Yes, Z-BOTS. Galoob's attempt at micro-sized action-figures for their popular Micro Machines toy line, done in the form of little poseable plastic robots.
For more information, check out the Wikipedia article on Z-Bots.
It was there in that white metal bin that I found the beast we will soon see, nestled atop a pile of many others as if placed their by the toy hunting gods, calling out to me. I picked it up and marveled at it's presence. This being before online Micro Machines fan sites, my mind raced with questions. I had never seen this late a wave of combining Z-Bots before, 1994? what's it doing here in this bin over 5 years later? Fueled with excitement, my eyes raced over the toys behind the bubble, absorbing their undiscovered features into my mind. I quickly flipped over the card, I had to see what else they made! I stood there entranced, all these new older toys I never knew of, my eyes carefully studied each team's combination process and appearance. Many of them turned out to be repaints of past combiners in garish color schemes, but of those few new molds, they were amazing. And then my eyes spied the Revbots. Those darn Revbots.
The Revbots hold a special place of “darn” in my toy collecting heart as they were one of those toys you would always see on the cardbacks, but never find all of them in stores. I remember as a child, going back to one particular KB store in Lincoln mall because it always had Prvt. Squid w/ Z-Ammo and, that being before we had home internet, was the only way my young eyes could witness the images of Revbots D-Fender w/ Cyklaw and Shel Shok w/ Tank-U again and again. I never remembered their names during that time, to me they were always “motorcycle guy” and “manta ray dude.” I hoped that one day I would find them in a store, but alas, that would not be. Eventually they would pop up on eBay from sellers with asking prices far greater than that of which my meager childhood spending allowance would meet.
So with my viewing of the card back sufficient, I then tore into the bin of bots like a mole through dirt, shifting through and sliding away any unwanted sets. But to my luck, the majority of the bin consisted of the old repainted sets that I had no desire to own. The few new molds featured on that card back were nowhere to be found, except for this one lone specimen. Luckily for me it was the one set I wanted the most, and that toy's name was...R-MORJAWZ. You can't get more 90's of a toy name than that.
Depending on what year or series of Z-Bots toys you were buying, they featured different packaging. For R-MORJAWZ, it came on a standard cardback with a vacuum-formed bubble to hold the figures. The packaging featured many gradients using bright neons and vibrant colors. The line's logo, style of toy, and artwork took up most of the real estate. The art was layered over a stylized explosion that beamed down to the card's bottom, with a space scape filling the background areas. For this type of toy, a small rectangular box appeared at the bottom, showing the combining gimmick of all 3 figures. The backside featured images and names of all the other 1994 Linkbots, as well as the new-for-that-year Revbots.
Other than counting the card back, they have no paperwork.
Of the trio, R-M has my favorite sculpt. It's a crazy mix of H.R.Geiger's Alien meets a robot space dog...thing. I love it enough that it's what made me buy this set. Even if the other two bots turned out to be crappy, I at least wanted it for this nasty little bugger. Just look at him with his big grinny teeth, little pugish tail, squatty pose and those ridiculous pincer hands. This is the type of guy I could see gnawing through a spaceship's wiring because the electricity tasted good, sporting a language vocabulary of nothing but grunts, burps, and “gnnnnnargggghssss!” R-M is the star here.
Orj looks like a sinister cross between a tank-treaded terminator drone and an 80's toy robot that brought you refreshments. With treads as big as his body, he can roll through anything. His facial details and slanted eyes give a sense of “hmph” and his spiky points show he mean business. Fitting for the leader of the group.
Awz comes off like a cross between classic 50's tin-toy robots, Robby the robot, and a rock'em sock'em robot. Sporting spikes on his head and fists, he looks like the muscle of the group, one to dole out a beating at Orj's command. Wires at his elbows evoke a sense of hydraulic power for those spiky punching fists and his big stompy feet look ready to pound the ground. Looking like a three-eyed purple Shockwave, his face is fittingly emotionless, mechanical, and cold.
R-M's torso is made of hard blue plastic with hard yellow plastic teeth inside. His limbs are what I think is purple colored PVC. He features pink that runs from his mouth, down his back, and to his tail as well as pink on his knees and on blades behind his legs. He has yellow paint on his front tooth, hands, feet, and two dots of silver paint on his underbelly.
Orj has a hard blue plastic torso, hard yellow plastic legs/treads, and soft purple PVC arms. Purple paint details the treads on his legs while pink paint details his front arms/treads as well as his chest and eyes. Black paint is used on his back and pelvis. Silver paint appears on his face and tank windshield. Yellow paint covers his two shoulder spikes.
Awz has a hard blue plastic torso and purple PVC limbs. There is pink paint on his chest and feet,yellow paint on his head and hands, silver paint on his chest, eyes, and arm tubes, as well as black paint on his neck and chest.
R-M features arms and legs that swing forward and back at the shoulders and hips. Orj features arms and tank-tread legs that swing forward and back, as well as a wheel to roll around on. Awz features arms and legs that swing forward and back at the shoulders and hips, as well as a neck that turns 360 degrees. R-Morjawz has treads that can be positioned independently and the side robots can be posed as big arms. There is also a wheel in the back of Orj for the combined tank to roll on.
The gimmick of the “Linkbots” is that the 3 bots combine into one big vehicle. R-M, Orj, and Awz all connect to make the giant murder tank known as R-Morjawz. Orj is laid flat on the ground with his arms out, acting a front treads and his legs becoming the rear treads. From this point, R-M is attached on Orj's left rear tread and Awz on the right. However, due to the design on the connections, the placement of R-M and Awz can be swapped if desired. Once completed, we are left with a menacing tank-like vehicle covered in spikes and tubes. R-M becomes a spiked triple crab claw looking arm, his claws and jaw filling that role. Awz becomes some wacky three-pronged meat tenderizer from hell. Orj acts as the center, his back becoming the cockpit of the vehicle and his shoulder spikes now facing forward. Overall the combination makes what I think is one of the best, if not the best vehicle in the Z-Bots Linkbots series.
R-M's joints have become very smooth in their movement, while his buddies stay stiff and sturdy. Almost all Z-Bots limbs were connected to black plastic rods that ran through their torsos. Sometimes these rods would snap, causing the limbs to fall off. This hasn't happened with R-M, but I cautiously move him anyways. One of Orj's tank tread legs is very wobbly, but because it is behind a screw, I'm sure I could just tighten the screw and fix that issue. Awz has no issues. While making R-Morjawz, take care by grabbing the tread part with one hand and pushing the other robot's feet into them with the other hand, I think Orj's wobbly tank tread may be from combining the robots together over the years.
I believe I paid $5 or less for this toy at the time of purchase. I'm sure it's probably worth more now given it's rarity.
If you're a fan/collector of Z-Bots toys or this toy just appeals to you then I'd recommend it. Just be gentle with all the joints and since their paint and plastic can collect dust and fibers, try to keep them cleaner than I did. Also don't keep them combined for too long. Keep them separated so their paint doesn’t stick to one another. Other than that, you should be golden. Also, try to get them at a reasonable price, whatever that may be nowadays.
Overall Final Thoughts
Having this set growing up, I adored it among my collection of Z-Bots. That little alien guy R-M, with it's big teethy mouth was my favorite among the three. Though due to it's rarity, I didn't play with it too much because I didn't want it to potentially break and never be able to replace it, this set still somehow managed to age poorly. The paint and plastic is slightly sticky and some joints are wobbly/looser than others. Though despite those issues, I still love it and I'm glad I found it those many years ago. Thank you KB for all the cool toys, but mostly for the memories that came with them. I'll never forget you.
Comments8 comments posted
I have a repaint of Orj. Found it in a bag of mixed loose Z-Bots at New York Comic-Con this year. No idea what the deal is - I can't find any info on it.
That, along with another linkbot set is from an old KFC kids meal promotion:
I forgot to discuss it in my review.
Ah, interesting... I have two or three of that Burger King drill arm guy from childhood.
I just nostalgia'd so hard right now it doesn't make any sense. I had several Z-bots growing up as well as one of the playsets. It was the black and blue jet. Still have all of them too. What I loved most about the Z-bots was that they were small and you could store them almost anywhere. I thought I was the only one who remembered these! You're also right about KB toys. In the early 2000's before the company folded I remember going in there all the time and seeing Primal Rage figures...yes, Primal Rage. The old line from the early-mid 90's. When I saw those I was thinking all the same exact thoughts you were. Oh, KB Toys. How I miss thee :'-(
...maybe one day a store similar to that will pop up...
...this makes me want to go look for a few linkbots or morphbots (is that what they were called?) on ebay. recall the bitebots too!
Wow. Nostalgic name.. KB Toys. I remember when there was one where I lived before it was gutted and closed, turned from one clothing store into another that closed again and eventually forgotten.
I think these were the hot ticket in there before they closed too. Along with WATERWORLD Action Figures!
This thing is really cool! I had the white-pink-and-purple jet linkbot set, and it was not nearly as exciting as this. They combined by just... laying on top of each other. I also had two of the KFC ones that formed the tank on the bottom of the left column, but sadly not the third. Their color scheme was much less garish than the picture, it was black, blue and yellow.
I remember liking the Z-Bots cuz some were kinda goofy and had personality, they weren't all just murdering death machines. I remember from the jet trio, the "bombs and missiles" guy was angry looking, the main "wings" looked pretty... vacant, and the "cockpit" had this expression like he just couldn't believe he was stuck with these idiots. Seriously, his arms were made so that the only action he could perform was "flip table in frustration."
Unfortunately I don't think these are worth all that much.
Granted, that impression might've been given by me looking up the value and determining that for the money I'd get for them, I might as well keep them for nostalgia's sake. I got both of the largest Mini-Z's sets.