Synopsis of Toy

“Mighty Robots, Mighty Vehicles”

If you were a little boy during the mid-1980’s, chances are that you owned at least one robot toy that transformed into something else. During this time, The Transformers inspired a mania on television and in toy stores for transforming robots. Plenty of other toy companies jumped into the fray to get in on the action and produced countless toys to compete with the Transformers. The most successful of these were the GoBots, a vehicle/robot brigade manufactured by the toy car kings at Tonka, and actually released around the same time as Hasbro's Transformers line. Though these toys never surpassed the Transformers in popularity, they definitely gave them a run for the kid-toy money.

The GoBots were a remade version of the Machine Robo toys that were popular in Japan. They also had their own cartoon, Challenge Of The Gobots, which told the saga of Gobotron, a planet divided by strife. The Guardians, a group of robots that could transform into vehicles, protected the planet. Their ranks became divided when a robot named Cy-Kill formed a band of bad robots called the Renegades to take over the planet. The remaining Guardians, led by the heroic Leader-1, decided to fight back. Their battle soon traveled to the planet Earth and the show chronicled the events that happened when they made this momentous move.

To help kids recreate these cartoon battles, Tonka Toys released an impressive array of transforming robot toys in advance of the show’s release in 1984. The heart of the toy line was a series of 3- to 4-inch figures made of die-cast metal and plastic. These toys brought the Guardians and Renegades to life by recreating their ability to transform back and forth between vehicle and robot. This was accomplished in a different way with each toy, but usually revolved around manipulating the arms, legs and head of robot so it could shape-shift into its vehicle disguise.

Examples of Guardian GoBot figures included Leader-1, the hero that could transform into a fighter jet, and Turbo, a red robot that could become a speedy sportscar. Renegade GoBots figures included Cy-Kill, a villainous type who could become an imposing motorcycle, and Kop-Tur, a scary robot that transformed into a helicopter. There were also larger GoBots toys. For instance, Zod was a motorized, dinosaur-like enemy robot that could roll, rear back, and roar. Another example were the 12-inch Power Warriors, composite Renegade robots built out of smaller robots.

As Challenge Of The GoBots became a television favorite for kids, the GoBots toys became steady sellers at the toy store. They also benefited from the fact that they were cheaper to buy thanks to their compact size. The GoBots also inspired plenty of spin-off merchandise. A good example was GoBot Walkie-Talkies, a set of working walkie-talkie robots that could transform into poseable robots. Other GoBots merchandise included books, toy guns and bedsheets. The show’s popularity also led to a movie in 1986, GoBots: Battle Of The Rock Lords. This movie also inspired a series of new toys based on the Rock Lords characters that could transform from robots into rocks or prehistoric-looking creatures.

Like all toy phenomena, the GoBots eventually ran out of steam (not that they were steam-powered, but you get the idea). When its parent television show ended after its third season, Tonka phased out the GoBots toys. They have not been revived in this country since that time, but the original GoBots remain popular with robot toy fans today and continue to be traded back and forth. After all, they are quite the bargain: for the price of one GoBot toy, you receive something that is both a “mighty robot” and a “mighty vehicle”… that’s real value for the money.

Release History of Toy

1984 - GoBots
1986 - Rock Lords

Sub Categories of Toys

action figures
toy cars
tv tie-in

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