Robot Racer from ESSO and Magic Robo (Change Robo) from Maruka

Robot Racer is a friction motor or pull-back windup series of robot toys that can be changed into vehicles.
They were given away free at ESSO gas stations with a required fuel purcahse in the UK, Europe and Canada. While it's likely Robot Racer toys were also released in the United States it's yet to be confirmed.

The figure models were copied from the Japanese toy lines Magic Robo and Change Robo by Maruka Toys; examples below. Change Robo followed Magic Robo and introduced the models not based on a the pickup design. Model numbering for Change Robo followed on from Magic Robo however character numbering was reset to 1; eg. the first model for Change Robo was M06 while the character number is 1.

While unconfirmed, it's likely they were released under valid license as both the cardbacks and figures state they were made in Japan as per the original Maruka Toys figures and not reproduced unofficially elsewhere.

The cardback front art shows differing colour schemes and rear of card photos reflect some versions of the original Japanese selection not released by ESSO. Change Robo, Magic Robo and Robot Racer packaging both bear model numbers, however matching numbers between the lines appears to be coincidental rather than planned.

Robot Racer figures #1 Liftor, #3 Dromo, #5 Commander Van and #8 Pro-Ton are essentially the same model with differing carry tray sections and stickers.

Some cardbacks include circular, punched hanging holes while others are not punched at all.

Region Codes Used: UK United Kindgon / EU Europe / CA CANADA
NOTE: Region codes only shown where items were known to be released. This list is accurate yet likely to be incomplete.

 

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LIFTOR - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #1 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

WRECKER ROBOT

Magic Robo 2 / M02 JP Maruka Toys

Liftor's vehicle mode is based on a Toyota Hilux pickup / utility with a small crane on the tray.

The flywheel powered friction motor drives the figure in both modes and when running fast enough, flint sparks fly from a hole near the motor.

Front on Liftor is visually the same as Dromo, Command Van and Pro-Ton bar the stickers.

A slight anomaly in toy numbering exists between this model and Mixer Robot. The illustration art of Mixer Robot on its packaging shows 'M02' on the character's leg, however the box numbering lists it as '3' and the model number is 'M03'.

 

LIFTOR
Robot Racer / Magic Robo

Robot Racer Liftor in Robot Mode Liftor in Crane Mode
Robot Racer Liftor Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Liftor on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Liftor

 

WRECKER ROBOT
Magic Robo

Wrecker Robo Maruka Magic Robo in Robo Mode Wrecker Robo Maruka Magic Robo in Red and Yellow Hilux Crane Mode

 

 

MIGHTY-MAN - 7.25 cm

Robot Racer #2 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

NAME UNKNOWN

Change Robo JP Maruka Toys

Mighty-Man's vehicle mode is based on a Mazda RX7.

The spring powered, pull-back windup motor drives the figure forward in both robot and alt modes. Mighty-Man does not include the flint sparking feature included with Liftor, Dromo, Commander Van and Pro-Ton.

 

MIGHTY-MAN
Robot Racer

Robot Racer Mighty-Man in Robot Mode Mighty-Man in White Mazda RX7 Mode
Might-Man Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Mighty-Man on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Mighty-Man

 

 

DROMO - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #3 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

MIXER ROBOT - 7.5 cm

Magic Robo 3 / M03 JP Maruka Toys

Front on Dromo is visually the same as Liftor, Commander Van and Pro-Ton bar the stickers.

Dromo's vehicle mode is based on a Toyota Hilux pickup / utility with a small cement mixer on the tray.

The flywheel powered friction motor drives the figure in both modes and when running fast enough, flint sparks fly from a hole near the motor.

Front on Dromo is visually the same as Liftor, Command Van and Pro-Ton bar the stickers.

The Maruka Magic Robo Model Number was M03

While unconfirmed it's likely both versions were released for the Magic Robo line.

A slight anomaly in toy numbering exists between this model and Crane Robot. The illustration art of Mixer Robot on its packaging shows 'M02' on the character's leg, however the box numbering lists it as '3' and the model number is 'M03'.

 

DROMO
Robot Racer

Robot Racer Dromo in Robot Mode Dromo in Cement Mixer Mode
Dromo Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Dromo on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Dromo

 

 

SURF-FINDER - 7.25 cm

Robot Racer #4 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

NAME UNKNOWN

Change Robo JP Maruka Toys

Surf-Finder's vehicle mode is based on a Volkswagen Type 1 / Beetle

The spring powered, pull-back windup motor drives the figure forward in both robot and alt modes. Surf-Finder does not include the flint sparking feature included with Liftor, Dromo, Commander Van and Pro-Ton.

 

SURF-FINDER
Robot Racer

Robot Racer Surf-Finder in Robot Mode Surf-Finder in Yellow Volkswagen Beetle Mode
Surf-Finder Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Surf-Finder on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Surf-Finder

 

 

COMMAND VAN - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #5 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

NAME UNKNOWN

Magic Robo 4 / M04 Maruka Toys

Command Van's vehicle mode is based on a Toyota Hilux pickup / utility with a covered missile payload in the tray.

The flywheel powered friction motor drives the figure in both modes and when running fast enough, flint sparks fly from a hole near the motor.

Front on Command Van is visually the same as Liftor, Dromo and Pro-Ton bar the stickers.

 

COMMAND VAN
Robot Racer / Magic Robo

Robot Racer Command Van in Robot Mode Command Van in Toyota Hilux with Missiles Mode

Robot Racer Command Van on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Robot Racer Command Van

 

NAME UNKNOWN
Magic Robo

Maruka Magic Robo Missile Van in Robot Mode Maruka Magic Robo Missile Van in Vehicle Mode Maruka Magic Robo Missile Van with Missile Bay Open

 

 

WAGON MASTER - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #6 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

CITY ROBOT

Change Robo 2 / M06 JP Maruka Toys

Wagon Master's vehicle mode is based on a Honda City Turbo.

The spring powered, pull-back windup motor drives the figure in forward in vehicle mode only. Wagon Master does not include the flint sparking feature included with Liftor, Dromo, Commander Van and Pro-Ton.

The Maruka Change Robo Model Number is M06 while the Change Robo number is 2.

 

WAGON MASTER
Robot Racer

Robot Racer Wagon Master in Robot Mode Wagon Master in Honda City Turbo Mode
Wagon Master Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Wagon Master on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Wagon Master

 

 

EXCELLOR - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #7 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

NAME UNKNOWN

Change Robot JP Maruka Toys

The Maruka Magic Robo version windscreen sticker text is 'Fairlady Z' while both Fairlady Z and Excellor stickered versions appeared on Robot Racer cards; this could be regionally based.

Excellor's vehicle mode is based on a Nissan 300ZX.

The spring powered, pull-back windup motor drives the figure in forward in vehicle mode only. Excellor does not include the flint sparking feature included with Liftor, Dromo, Commander Van and Pro-Ton.

 

EXCELLOR
Robot Racer

Robot Racer Excellor in Robot Mode Excellor in Red Nissan 300ZX Mode

 

EXCELLOR - Fairlady Z Version
Robot Racer / Change Robo

Magic Robo Fairlady Z / Robot Racer Excellor Fairlady Z Sticker Version in Robot Mode Robot Racer Excellor Fairlady Z Sticker Version in Red Nissan 300ZX Mode
Robot Racer Excellor Fairlady Z Version on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Excellor Fairlady Z Version

 

 

PRO-TON - 7.5 cm

Robot Racer #8 UK/EU/CA ESSO 1985

NAME UNKNOWN

Magic Robo Change Robo 1 / M01 JP Maruka Toys

Pro-Ton's vehicle mode is based on a Toyota Hilux pickup / utility.

The flywheel powered friction motor drives the figure in both modes and when running fast enough, flint sparks fly from a hole near the motor.

Front on Pro-Ton is visually the same as Liftor, Dromo and Command Van bar the stickers.

 

PRO-TON
Robot Racer / Magic Robo

Robot Racer Pro-Ton in Robot Mode Pro-Ton in Toyota Hilux Mode
Robot Racer Pro-Ton Shown in Both Modes
Robot Racer Pro-Ton on Card Cardback / Backing Card for Pro-Ton

 

NAME UNKNOWN
Magic Robo

Maruka Magic Robo / Change Robo Pickup in Robot Mode Magic Robo / Change Robo Pickup in Toyota Hilux Mode

 

 

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