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By Thomas Wheeler

About a year ago, I reviewed an interesting little assortment of robot action figures that turned up exclusively at Wal-Mart. They were called M.A.R.S. No relation to Destro's armaments factory from the world of G.I.Joe, in this case, M.A.R.S. stood for "Motorized Attack Robo Squad", and were marketed under the "Cybotronix" name by a company called Happy Kid Toy Group.

The robots, each about 7 inches in height, were humanoid, fairly bulky, and were capable of walking on their own. Each had a light-up, blinking visor and several weapons. The assortment included Polar Captain, a mostly blue robot; XSS, a mostly black robot; Gold E, a mostly yellow-gold robot; and Red Revo, a mostly red robot.

The concept behind the robots read as follows: In the year 2050, the people of the earth sent an elite force of robot commandos to the planet Mars to make it safe for the growing number of humans. 200 years later, these evil cyborgs won't go away. In order to make the planet safe for human life, the people of eath built a new set of robots to battle the evil commandos. Each with a distinct mission and the power to save humanity, the M.A.R.S. robots are ready to battle whatever machine comes their way.

To date, none of these "evil cyborgs" have been made. But there is a fifth robot in the collection as of this year -- sort of.

In reality, the new robot is a recoloring of Gold E. The figure still bears the letter "A" (the other three have "M", "R", and "S", spelling RS", and is, structurally, identical to the gold robot from last year. But he's been recolored mostly in white, with black trim, a color not used for trim on any of the previous robots. And he's been renamed FREEZY FROST.

Sounds like a good name for a Popsicle.

The other three robots, Polar Captain, XSS, and Red Revo, have also been re-released, unchanged. So -- why redo one of them? For that matter, why redo JUST one of them? It didn't take me long to figure this one out.

Recolored as he is, Freezy Frost does a fair impression, at least colorwise, of ROBOSAPIEN, a very popular robot toy from another company, RoboSapien is quite the remarkable robot, capable of a wide range of moves and actions. Retailing for around $100 in most places, the price tag hasn't kept him from selling very nicely at most outlets. In fact, he's spawned a sequel of his own this year -- ROBORAPTOR, a robotic dinosaur.

There is little doubt in my mind that Freezy Frost was colored to resemble RoboSapien. But, let's chalk that one up to "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". There's no question that they're NOT actually the same robot, and indeed, Freezy Frost and his friends don't have anywhere ear the capabilities of RoboSapien.

That doesn't mean that the M.A.R.S. robots aren't cool toys. They are. As I reviewed the group last year, they're reminiscent of the walking, noise-making, light-up robot toys from some decades ago, that were mostly made out of metal at the time. I had one of these contraptions, until he found out that he wasn't too adept at negotiating staircases.

And the M.A.R.S. robots are certainly more affordable. With a price tag of $4.88, that's just a little over five bucks each including tax. You can get all four for about one-fifth of what RoboSapien would cost. Even without comparing these to RoboSapien, five bucks for a nice 7-inch robot that walks on its own is a heck of a deal.

Let me just add one thing. I'm not trying to put down RoboSapien here. I'm sure it's a cool robot, and the demonstrations I've seen of him are extremely impressive. But he's also not within everybody's budget.

So, if you picked up the M.A.R.S. robots last year, there's one more that you might want to add to the collection. The color scheme is different enough from Gold E that he really will look like a different member of the team. And if you didn't get the M.A.R.S. robots last year -- well, you probably can't get Gold E anymore, but the four that are presently available are definitely worth consideration for anyone who likes cool robot toys.

And as a final note, the number of robots that this company has made is actually decidedly more extensive than what's available at Wal-Mart. Check out their Web Site at and see what's available in the entire "Cybotronix" line. It's not G.I.Joe. It's not Transformers. It's not even Power Rangers. But it's still pretty cool.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Freezy Frost seems to have walked off and I need to find out where -- was that the neighbor's poodle I just heard!? Oh, dear...