Monday, October 1, 2007


Omigod! Gobots! I certainly remember them...and I had some of the toys as well! They weren't quite Transformers...but hey, as a kid, ANY robot toy that transformed into a vehicle (and any vehicle that COULD transform...see M.A.S.K.) was cool.

I remember I had Cykill and Turbo. I think I had the leader of the heroic Gobots too...Aerial-One? Air-One? Leader-One? I can't remember his name. Had quite a number of the others too, but I just can't remember their names anymore.

This article from Wizard Universe:

They may not have survived the 1980s, but these second-rate Transformers had a lot of get-up-and-go

By Matt Caracappa

Posted September 28, 2007 9:00 AM

Transforming robots from another world land on Earth! Good guys and bad guys, towering over humans as they battle on our turf! They use their alien powers to turn into fast-moving vehicles! And they’re not Transformers! Meet the GoBots!

Although the Transformers swiftly established dominance in the transforming toy world and have been the only game in town ever since, GoBots could have just as easily become the breakout stars of the 1980s. They had some fairly high-quality toys, but a lack of variety in the line, (as well as an inferior TV show and animated movie) made them second fiddle to their Cybertronian brethren, which meant no collector’s guides, no fan conventions and no Michael Bay-directed movies.

Still, we have some great memories of the Gobots of our youth, so let’s take a deeper look at the defunct line!

These ‘other’ robots in disguise were good for more than a laugh

Don’t let 20 years of hyperbole fool you: GoBots weren’t just a lame Transformers ripoff. Sure, Optimus Prime made mincemeat of these lesser-knowns in every category, but the GoBots had an impressive run of their own.

It all started in 1983. When word came down the pipe that Hasbro was bringing Takara’s Diaclone and Microchange toy lines from Japan to the States, Tonka raced to bring Bandai’s newer Machine Robo line to market first. Unfortunately, where the Transformers had help from an edgy comic book and an amazing cartoon, GoBots came up short. Challenge of the GoBots was cute and competent, but lightweight by comparison.

As for the toys, they were…cheaper, both in cost and in construction. Whereas Transformers came in varying sizes and complexities, most of the core line of GoBots stood just a few inches tall and had simple transformations. To move into other scales and play patterns, Tonka had to import figures and playsets that very clearly came from different toy lines. The 5-inch Super GoBots included some scaled-up versions of existing characters (like team leaders Leader-1 and Cy-Kill) but were mostly cars and trucks that never appeared in the cartoon series and were far removed from the established style.

Wacky toy guns that turn into things? Slap some “GoBots” stickers on ’em! Weird, wind-up mechanical monsters? Sure, they can be GoBots, too! In some ways, GoBots was less about one definable brand and more about bringing a broad assortment of Japanese toys to the U.S. market. Their one attempt to come up with something original, the sedentary Rock Lords, led to unique toys, but the 1986 movie that introduced them bombed at the theaters, despite the participation of Roddy McDowell and Telly Savalas.

Hasbro inherited the GoBots trademark when it took over Tonka in 1991, and has since used the name for a line of pre-school Transformers. But some of the original toys have returned in Bandai Japan’s Machine Robo Rescue line, where little kids pilot giant robots to fight crime and help those in danger. It’s nice to know that the GoBots live on in more than memories and saved copies of the 1985 Sears Wishbook.

Some fab facts about the 1984 ‘Challenge of the GoBots’ cartoon

Peter Cullen and Frank Welker gained much fame for their portrayals of Optimus Prime and Megatron, respectively, in the original Transformers cartoon. But did you know that both were also cast members on Challenge of the GoBots? It’s true: Cullen voiced Pincer, and Welker voiced Scooter. Megatron as Scooter? That ain’t right.

BRAINS BEHIND THE ’BOTS Technically, GoBots aren’t “robots.” They’re cyborgs! They have HUMAN BRAINS! See, GoBots are an offshoot race of formerly-humanoid beings that lost everything after a huge catastrophe on their home planet of GoBotron. The survivors replaced their diseased body parts with machinery and evidently got carried away.

You’ll rarely see a GoBot break out a giant rifle. They don’t need to, because they can shoot energy blasts right from their hands! Either the show faced a “no guns” rule under the auspices of Hanna-Barbera, or, more likely, it helped soften the fact that the GoBots action figures were too cheap to come with guns.

GoBots lacked any kind of team insignia or even a uniform look to clue you in on who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. As a general rule of thumb, if a character’s voice had a booming echo, he was a hero, but if a character sounded more computerized, he’d steal your mother’s purse and kick her in the gut.

Think the sexy Autobot Arcee was such a progressive concept? Think again. GoBots totally beat Transformers to the finish line when it came to female robots. Of course, in some cases, it was hard to tell if certain warriors were actually female or just guys who marched to a different beat.

COMBINER? I HARDLY KNOW HER! Combiners...gestalts...cheerleader pyramids... whatever you call ’em, GoBots had three

No, he’s not the latest derivative Batman villain, he’s the first-ever GoBot combiner! Composed of six evil robots that turned into cars, the sixth car protruded from Puzzler’s pelvic area, making him the most well-endowed gestalt in toy history.

In a twist on the standard combiner, the Power Warriors were made of one transforming plane and four Power Suits that individual GoBots could get into. The Guardian and Renegade Power Suits formed Courageous and Grungy, respectively. Way to go with the whole “naming your Power Warrior” thing, Renegades.

This extremely creepy combiner was made up of six Renegade warriors who transformed into, well, monsters, or at least monstrous vehicles. When you put ’em all together, Monsterous was a towering mass of wings and fangs. He wasn’t very poseable, but the fact that he was called “Satan 6” in Japan more than makes up for it.

More proof that all modes of transportation should be able to transform into robots.

Sure, every kids’ cartoon known to man had a “Big Wheel” tricycle based on it, but GoBots had something a little...different. With permission from Tonka, Sail Toys made a kid-sized scooter that could actually be transformed into a GoBot “figure” over two feet tall!

Although it was loosely based on the heroic Scooter, the bike’s robot mode looked more like a vacuum for its perpetually-smiling robot head and the fact that it had “pincer” arms that could clasp on to whatever makeshift weaponry you could come up with (a plunger, a knife). But in scooter mode, kids used the robot’s “ears” as handlebars, wheeling around the backyard in total fear of any of the neighbor kids catching them doing that. After all, this thing looked pretty ridiculous. If you were a day older than three years old, driving this around was akin to a 20-something cruising around town in a lime green Yugo.

Star Wars’ AT-AT vs. the look-alike Guardian Command Center

AT-AT: Hordes of Stormtroopers, armed and ready.
COMMAND CENTER: A cafeteria. For robots. We kid you not.

AT-AT: Responds to enemy attack with a bevy of colorful, high-powered laser blasts.
COMMAND CENTER: Transforms into a giant, legless robot with a big happy grin on its face.

AT-AT: Piloted by such esteemed Imperial troops as the legendary General Veers.
COMMAND CENTER: Piloted by Scooter, who usually played paddleball at the same time.

AT-AT: Calls upon smaller AT-ST vehicles to help it take out the trash.
COMMAND CENTER: Potentially lethal waterboarding in the Interrogation Center.

AT-AT: Easily tripped up by extremely long cords which are conveniently available to most Rebel fighters for no apparent reason.
COMMAND CENTER: Wastes critical space best used for missile launchers with dopey things like a cafeteria. (Sorry, we still can’t get over that cafeteria.)


Man, check out that Guardian Command Center toy. I think George Lucas gonna sue somebody!

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