A foul mouthed robot with authority issues, an opening chest cavity and bendy arms.
You could easily be forgiven for thinking I was talking about Futurama’s Bender, but this character predates him by 21 years.
Ro-Jaws is a Federal Recycling and Environmental Droid or a FRED 2L, designed for cleaning sewers. Essentially guv, ‘e cleans yer khazi.
Unfortunately, faulty circuits meant that he has trouble following orders and has developed a cheeky, Cockney personality rendering him unsuitable for general service but a prime candidate for work with the Ro-Busters disaster agency.
The idea behind the Ro-Busters was simple, why risk sending humans in to disaster areas when you can send a relatively cheap and expendable surplus robot instead?
While it was a popular strip, it was also short-lived. But Ro-Jaws returned, first in the Nemesis the Warlock strip and then later in the continuing adventures of the A.B.C. Warriors and it’s as part of that team that he’s presented in action figure form by ThreeA.
Packaging: Ro-Jaws comes in his usual plain mailer box which ThreeA have wisely removed their logo from, supposedly to avoid unwanted attention from customs during import. His box proper is a nice green matte affair bearing monochrome images of RJ and his iconic tax disc on the lid. For the mint-on-card crowd, there’s no window flap I’m afraid — if you want to ever see your toy, you’ll have to open the box. Inside, Ro-Jaws is held very securely in place with two plastic trays that lock together and form a kind of clamshell.
Design & Sculpt: While Mongrol is a giant, Ro-Jaws is much smaller. In the comics his head was at chest height on everyone else. In figure form he is in the 1:6 scale making him approx eight inches tall.
Ro-Jaws was originally designed by artist Kevin O’Neill, and ThreeA have done a bang up job of rendering that design in three dimensions. He’s absolutely comic-accurate, right down to his trade mark tax disc, garbage disposal teeth, ‘TV’ ariel, spade & working snippers ‘hands.’
He has his main wheel and rear stabilizer, as you’d expect. The only problem with his design is that he can have a tendency to topple forwards if you’re not careful. As long as you pose him carefully you should be fine.
Plastic & Paint: I’m assuming that Ro-Jaws is partly vinyl, it’s that unmistakable ThreeA smell you get when you open the box. He’s surprisingly light, which suggests a bit of roto-casting too.
His tires are separate pieces and made from a slightly squishy rubber.
Ro-Jaws is painted in his traditional drab, institution green and carries the amount of heavy weathering you’d expect from ThreeA. The dirt, wear and oil stains are very well done but I would say they’re maybe a little TOO well done. Despite the fact he was designed to work in a sewer, Ro-Jaws almost always looked pretty clean and sparkling in the comics. That said, if he’d been “clean” I would have expected complaints from the ThreeA crowd, swings and roundabouts.
The paint is well-applied and looks great, as you would expect.
As with his earlier teammate, Mongrol, there was a variant available from the Bambaland store. The “Black Hole” version has a ‘stealth’ black and gold colouring. It actually looks a lot better on Ro-Jaws than Mongrol, but as I’m a sucker for the originals, I went for the green.
Articulation: Ro-Jaws has a cut joint at the neck and an opening and closing chest cavity with a little surprise, more on that later.
From the prototype teasers a lot of folk assumed that he would only have articulation at the shoulders or perhaps classic ‘bendy’ arms that utilize rubber and wire. Instead, ThreeA pulled it out of the bag again, Ro-Jaws arms are made up of individually ball-jointed segments. Each segment comprises a cup containing a socket with a stem and ball behind it. These all link together to create a pleasingly bendy and robotic-looking arm. A very elegant solution to the arm articulation.
Ro-Jaws has a kind of armor at the shoulders that also retracts into his body to allow him to lift his arms straight up, very cool. Well, it would be very cool if I could move his arms at the shoulders, mine are locked tight.
The clippers on his left arm are articulated and open and close.
Both of his wheels turn, but my main wheel spins so far before getting stuck, suggesting that it’s ever-so slightly buckled. Actually, this isn’t such a bad thing for me as it means he sits still on the shelf and isn’t too prone to rolling or tipping and I can still move it all the way round with a tiny bit of effort.
Accessories: Ro-Jaws comes with the one accessory that the 1:6 world has been crying out for; a perfectly sculpted turd.
Yep, open his chest cavity and you’ll find a poly-bagged Richard the Third in there. It’s not actually character-specific (outside of the fact that he’s a sewer droid) it’s merely there because Ashley Wood has a filthy sense of humor. It’s…well…turd-colored and sculpted from the same material as the tires.
Really, there’s little else you could really give him, Ro-Jaws doesn’t really have alternate hands or any other gadgets so it was this or nothing and at least this presents you with some opportunities to put the rest of your 1:6 toys through some toilet humour.
See what I did there?
Quality Control: Other than the tire not turning freely and the stuck shoulders, there’s little else to report. His spade falls out of the socket once in a while, but pops back in easily.
Apparently the stuck shoulders are a fairly common problem, and some folk have used a hair dryer to free them up while others have resorted to brute force to get the suckers moving. I’ve done neither so far, I don’t want to risk any damage and as he’s mostly a display piece is doesn’t bug me a massive amount, that said, however…
Overall: At £60/$100, Ro-Jaws felt a tad too expensive at the time, but in hands he’s great. That said, I wouldn’t expect to have to take a hair dryer to any toy I bought, especially something this high end, and for that reason I’m docking Ro-Jaws a half raven.
But I have a Ro-Jaws action figure! This is a toy I wanted since I was eight years old and never expected to get. Holding him in my hands, even 30 years later, is a joy. If you’re a 2000 AD fan like I was, you might just want to add that raven back again.
Ro-Jaws is the third release for the 2000 AD line and while he’s great, it still seems odd that Dredd hasn’t put in an appearance yet, especially as the film is getting great reviews. We’ve been told to expect him by the end of the year, along with Ro-Jaws best bud, Hammerstein. Time will tell.