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A selection of figures from the Gobot toyline

Gobots was a line of transforming robot toys produced by Tonka from 1983 to 1987, similar to Transformers.

Contents

History

The Gobot toyline was based on figures produced by Popy of Japan (later Bandai), named Machine Robo. In 1983, Tonka decided to import the line into America after realizing Hasbro were doing the same with Takara’s Diaclone and Microman's Microchange lines, which became Transformers after crossing the Pacific. In another similarity to Transformers, Tonka decided to make the figures sentient robots, rather than human-piloted mecha as they had been in Japan, and divided them into two factions – the good Guardians and evil Renegades (although early figures were simply described as ‘Friendly’ or ‘Enemy’ on the packaging). The figures were all given individual names, in contrast to the simple designations they received in Japan.

The line sold well initially, but was overtaken by Transformers, something often attributed to Hasbro's much better promotion and media tie-ins – for example, Gobot figures had no character profiles on their packaging, whereas Hasbro included tech spec biographies for each character on the back of the card or box. Gobots were also largely considered by fans and the marketplace to be overly simplistic when compared to the more sophisticated Transformers line; whereas Transformers characters had iconic names (e.g., Megatron, Starscream, Optimus Prime) and multi-faceted transformation cycles (where the robot often didn't resemble the vehicle), Gobots characters had much more obvious names (e.g., Scooter who changed into a scooter, Tank who changed into a tank, Dozer who changed into a bulldozer, etc.) and simplified transformation cycles (e.g. Tank simply stood up to transform). 1987 was the final year in which new Gobots were released.

Releases

Tonka released the first batch of figures to stores in 1983. The bulk of the Gobot line was taken from the Machine Robo ‘600 Series’ line of figures, which were around 5-8 cm / 2-3 inches high on average. The robot figures transformed into a mixture of generic and specific contemporary machines, plus a handful of Second World War fighter aircraft, and a number of futuristic designs. This unnamed assortment, usually referred to as ‘Regular’ Gobots, was used throughout the four years Gobots were produced, and was later supplemented by figures from the Machine Robo Devil Invaders sub-line, plus some aborted Machine Robo figures and some commissioned from Bandai by Tonka.

Larger figures, averaging around 12-15 cm (5-6 inches) tall in robot mode, were released as Super Gobots [1]. Some of these were drawn from the Machine Robo Scale Robo DX line, some from the MR Big Machine Robo line (these included larger versions of Leader-1, the Guardian leader, and Cy-Kill, the Renegade leader) and some designs not released in Japan. The line also included two gestalt-style figures, the car-based Puzzler and monster-based Monsterous.

Several other ranges were drawn from existing Bandai figures (such as the Secret Riders [2]).

Tonka did design some toys for the line, including the Guardian Command Center and Renegade Thruster playsets, and the motorised Renegade Zod. In addition to these, two versions of the Power Warrior were made for both the Guardians and the Renegades, using molds from the Machine Robo line and recolored. The Nemesis Power Warrior used a tank for the center body and was released only in Japan. A large playset called the Gobotron Fortress was also shown to have existed in various articles and catalogues, but it has never been released.

A spin-off line, Rocklords, crossed over with the Gobots in the feature film GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, but were issued as a separate toyline by Tonka in 1986.

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Gobot Figures

'Regular' Gobots

Note that the figures were not always released in numerical order.

Gobot # Name Vehicle Mode MR Number
01 Cy-Kill Motorcycle MR-01
02 Tank Tank MR-02
03 Fitor Jet MR-03
04 Cop-Tur Helicopter MR-04
05 Loco Locomotive MR-05
06 Spay-C Space Shuttle MR-14
07 Turbo Concept car MR-07
08 BuggyMan Dune Buggy MR-08
09 Dumper Dump truck MR-09
10 Pumper Fire Engine MR-10
11 Dozer Bulldozer MR-11
12 Hans-Cuff Toyota Crown Patrol Car MR-13
13 Fly Trap Garbage truck MR-26
14 Small Foot Toyota Hilux SR5 MR-35
15 Dive-Dive Submarine MR-33
16 Slicks Renault RE-20 Turbo MR-32
17 Block Head Cement Mixer MR-34
18 Road Ranger Semi-trailer truck MR-18
19 Royal-T Harrier Jet MR-19
20 Spoiler Countach LP500S MR-21
21 Crasher Porsche 956 MR-20
22 Screw Head Drill Tank MR-17
23 Blaster Missile tank MR-23
24 Crain Brain UNIC K-200B Crane MR-24
25 Leader-1 F-15 Eagle MR-25
26 Rest-Q Ambulance MR-15
27 Scooter Scooter MR-16
28 Geeper-Creeper Mitsubishi Jeep CJ-3B MR-28
29 Path Finder Flying Saucer MR-29
30 Night Ranger Harley Davidson Motorcycle MR-37
31 Spoons Forklift MR-34
32 Water Walk Cessna Seaplane MR-31
33 Flip-Top SH-2 Seasprite MR-40
34 Good Knight Classic Style Excalibur MR-44
35 Blaster (recolor) Missile tank MR-23
36 Street Heat Camaro Z28 MR-43
Gobot # Name Vehicle Mode MR Number
37 Wrong Way AH-64 Apache MR-41
38 Scratch Ford Bronco MRT-41*
39 BuggyMan (recolor) Dune Buggy MR-08
40 Zero A6M Zero MR-39
41 Tux Rolls-Royce Phantom VI MR-46
42 Twin Spin CH-46 Sea Knight MR-50
43 Snoop (unreleased) SR-71 Blackbird MR-45
44 Leader-1 (recolor) F-15 Eagle MR-25
45 Cy-Kill (recolor) Motorcycle MR-01
46 Vamp Futuristic Car MRD-101
47 Scorp Robotic Scorpion MRD-102
48 Pincher Spaceship MRD-103
49 Stallion Ford Mustang MRT-45*
50 Sparky Pontiac Fiero MRT-43*
51 Van Guard Dodge Caravan MRT-42*
52 Heat Seeker F-16 Falcon MR-49
53 Stinger Chevrolet Corvette MRT-44*
54 Major Mo Nissan 300ZX MR-48
55 Bad Boy A-10 Thunderbolt MR-47
56 Creepy Robotic spider-scorpion MRD-104
57 Tail Pipe Nissan Skyline MR-42
58 Bugsie bug n/a *
59 Bladez crab Monster MRD-105
60 Klaws sea animal n/a *
61 Hornet Futuristic Jet n/a *
62 Treds M1 Abrams n/a *
63 Bullseye B-1 Lancer n/a *
64 Mr Moto Honda 200X n/a *
65 Mach-3 F4 Phantom MR-51
66 Man-O-War Iowa class battleship MR-54
67 Ace P51 Mustang n/a *
68 Bolt P-38 Lightning n/a *
69 Dart Honda VF1000 n/a *
70 Sky Jack F14 Tomcat MR-52
71 Gunnyr MiG-21 n/a *
72 Bentwing F4U Corsair n/a *

[*] Denotes that the figure was not released as part of Machine Robo. The figures with "MRT" designations were commissioned from Bandai by Tonka; the remainder of the figures unreleased in Japan were Machine Robo prototypes.

Media

Cartoons

Hanna Barbera produced a cartoon series to promote the toyline, which ran for 65 22-minute episodes from 1984 to 1985.

Film

In 1986, soon after the end of the Challenge of the Gobots television series, the Gobots co-starred with the Rocklords in an unsuccessful animated feature film, again produced by Hanna Barbera.

Comics

The closest thing to a Gobot comic was the Gobot Magazine, produced by Telepictures Publishing. This included a short comic strip, based on the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon continuity, as well as features on real-life robots, quiz pages and the like. It ran quarterly from Winter 1986 to Winter 1987, managing five issues. Unlike the Transformers comics, it was aimed at a very young readership.

In the UK, a Robo Machines comic strip was produced, using many of the characters from the Gobot line, but following a different continuity than the cartoon. This was written by Tom Tully, and ran in the second volume of Eagle from November 1984 to July 1985. After Fleetway discontinued their licence agreement, the property was leased to World Distributors, who produced annuals following the cartoon continuity in 1986 and 1987.

Software

A Gobots video game was released in 1986 by Ariolasoft on the Commodore 64, [3] Amstrad CPC, and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum [4] [5] computer formats. Gobots software for other computers, home video game systems or coin-operated arcade game systems is unknown at this time.

Worldwide

Unlike Transformers, Gobots was released in several different guises around the world.

  • In the UK, France and a number of other European countries, Bandai released the figures as Robo Machine, utilising most of the Tonka names. Later on, when the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon arrived, this was changed, or modified (often resulting in clumsy branding such as Robo Machines featuring Challenge of the Gobots or Challenge of the Gobots - A Robo Machine Production).
  • In Australia, the line was released as Machine Men. The Machine Men name had been used also by Bandai in an item to market Machine Robo in America in early 1984, but after issuing six figures the line failed. However, Bandai's Australian release was successful enough to retain the Machine Men branding, which was even added to the cartoon when that began airing.
  • In Brazil, the line was initially produced by Glasslite as Mutante. The license was later taken over by Mimo.
  • It was also translated into Arabic and retitled Hikayat alamaliqa, or A Tale of Giants.
  • In Japan, Bandai opted to keep with the Machine Robo line, rather than importing the Gobots.

Transformers

Go-Bot Reptron

In 1991, Hasbro took over Tonka, and thus the Gobot trademarks; the molds for the action figures remain the property of Bandai, having only been leased to Tonka, and some were reissued in 1993 for the European Robo Machines line. Since then, these have been used several times – a character called Gobots was released in 1993, a range of figures in 1995 were called the Go-Bots, and Hasbro subsidiary Playskool issued a line named Transformers: Gobots in 2002. To this date there have been a few exclusives referencing GoBots, but they have all been recolors of other Transformer molds as opposed to new figures.

While Hasbro has used current toy technology to update their G1 Transformer characters over the years, it is unlikely that Gobots will receive similar treatment, as ownership of the molds - and thus, original character designs - belong to a direct competitor.


Cultural references

  • Sam McKinney makes mention of GoBots in an episode of Diff'rent Strokes.
  • Dreamwave’s Transformers comic titles occasionally featured Gobot cameos in crowd scenes, as well as two robots looking suspiciously like Leader-1 and Cy-Kill meeting their doom in the smelting pools under Shockwave's regime.
  • Additionally, the GoBot Cy-Kill appears as an unnamed gladiator who is killed by Megatron in IDW's Megatron Origin mini-series. Crasher makes a cameo as one of the spectators during this battle.
  • In the 2006 movie Clerks II, Gobots are referred to as "the Kmart Transformers".
  • In the 1987 film Lethal Weapon, the character Roger Murtaugh says, "I bet you like the Gobots" when speaking to a child.
  • Cy-Kill & other Gobots have appeared in ToyFare's Twisted Toyfare Theater numerous times as second-rate wannabes Transformers toys.
  • Scooter was also in an Episode of Robot Chicken, found in Bobby Bolivia's used car lot, were Sam Witwicky finds BumbleBee and they go on an adventure, while Scooter is the only thing cheap in the lot, but then gets destroyed and turned into a regular scooter because he talks too much and doesn't fight.
  • Cy-Kill, Leader-1, Turbo, and Cop-Tur also appeared in a Robot Chicken sketch where a Gobots Fan was upset about a so-called Gobots sketch where Leader-1 catches Turbo in the bathroom, Cy-Kill transforms into a tricycle, and arguing about Cop-Tur's original Japanese name and how cool it was.
  • In the CollegeHumor sketch "Transformers Go Hollywood", Leader-1 is seen as a waiter at a coffee shop where he sees Optimus Prime and Megatron talking about the success of their live-action movie. He is then humiliated by the Transformers leaders when he attempts to hand them his proposed script for a Challenge of the Gobots movie.

See also

References

External links


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