Roton - the Evil Assault Vehicle - was Mattel's surprise finale of 2016. It had been announced (like the single-carded Horde Trooper) but then everything went quiet, and it was assumed that the company had decided to drop the product as the line was coming to an end. And then, with a few days' notice, Roton appeared on the Matty Collector website.
However great it was to see Roton, the sudden sale of such an expensive piece at the end of the year wasn't an entirely nice surprise. Mattel's communication with MOTUC fans and customers had diminished to nothing, and Roton's appearance almost felt like a spiteful dig at the fans. It probably wasn't meant that way, but it was obvious Mattel had given up on the line months before that.
Okay, grumbles over, let's look at the last vehicle under Mattel's management of the Classics. After the absurd over-sizing of the Talon Fighter, would Roton be any good? Well, Roton's a big vehicle, but this time the size is just right. Roton is, in my opinion, the best vehicle in the line. It came with a figure - the Skelcon - which is ordinary but nonetheless better than Point Dread Teela by far. (More on the Skelcon below.)
The fact that an evil vehicle made it into the Classics is great (not counting Night Stalker); the fact that it was the best of the vintage line's evil vehicles is to be celebrated. The new version of Roton is a great piece of work, and it even has a mechanism which makes the blade section rotate when the vehicle is pushed along a flat surface. Roton has far more character than the other vehicles - it looks alive.
A stand allows the vehicle to be posed in flying positions. The stand is the same design as the one which came with Wind Raider. It's certainly sturdy enough for Roton and a pilot. The cabin is sized just right to accommodate most standard male Classics figures. I'd probably avoid letting figures grip the control levers though - they're a bit flimsy, which is something Roton has in common with Wind Raider.
Let's take a look at some photographs and find out what makes Roton the best of Mattel's Classics vehicles.
This Roton is far more detailed than the original, but it's so obviously Roton that I can't help but love how the sculpt pays tribute to the toy from the 1980s. The menace in the face is brilliant.
The rear part reinforces the idea of a machine-animal hybrid. The creepy spine is a neat touch and comes straight from the Icon Heroes model of Castle Grayskull. And that's a moulded control panel - another fine part.
The laser guns can be removed and repositioned in the holes a little further back. They're also suitable as weapons for figures. The mechanical details embedded in the animal scales are very good.
Here's Roton with the Skelcon pilot. Figures with open hands aren't going to cause any damage to the vehicle, but you can see in this photo how delicate the levers are, so gripping hands probably shouldn't hold the handles.
An aerial shot - kind of - shows the symmetry of the vehicle - at least in all the places which need it. (However much I love the Four Horsemen's work, the lack of symmetry in this line has been a bugbear for me.)
The cabin shell is a tribute to the kit version of Roton from the 80s. It slots neatly into the vehicle's body, but it's not a piece I'd ever use because it detracts substantially from Roton's fierceness.
This close-up of the interior shows the console in more detail, plus the cool little pedals. There isn't any sort of seat, but that actually isn't a problem for this vehicle.
The sculpting is really nice on Roton, and the animal panels work because of the bright green and yellow paintwork that is in stark contrast to the unpainted black. It all comes together to give Roton its character.
And here's the view that you'd see on the battlefield if you were unlucky enough to be in the path of this evil vehicle. Those eyes look like they're about to blink. Roton is a great vehicle and likely to be a fan favourite.
The Skelcon figure was packed with Roton, which was an odd choice bearing in mind he's meant to be an army-builder figure. That said, I don't like him enough to think I'm missing out by not having a load of Skelcons - there are far better skeleton figures in the Mythic Legions line which serve that purpose. There are some nice details on the figure - especially the weapons - but he's not perfect. The jaw is wonky. On the figure in the photos the right hand doesn't line up with the forearm. There's also a problem with the armour - the left side isn't sculpted to fit together properly under the arm.
The Skelcon wasn't part of the original toyline but did feature in a Ladybird book at the time. As such, several fans have waited for this figure for a long time. The Classics line has included a few obscure characters, and while the Skelcon isn't the most impressive, it does show how deeply the designers have delved into MOTU history to find characters for inclusion. I'll use a better character to pilot my Roton, but the Skelcon still deserves a place in the collection.