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25 June, 2009 / Erik

Transformers Week Day Three

So I missed a day…

While prepping for the Rodimus Prime article the other day, I was reminded of the Go-Bots

Tonka beat Hasbro to the shelves with these transformable toys. Licensed from Bandai’s Machine Robo brand, they were small enough to appear in drug stores on spinner racks and, really, just whetted the apetite for the more ingenious Transformers line.

Go-Bots AssortmentMuch has been written about the general lack of sophistication in the GoBot franchise. I have to admit it’s true. Tonka’s principle job was to beat Hasbro into the hearts of consumers. I think our memories show how well this worked. We all have a clear idea of Optimus Prime, but without the aid of YouTube, what do you recall of Leader-1?

Reading a list of the Go-Bot names reflects how little care was brought to the project. Names like Cop-Tur, Tank, Loco, and Dive-Dive remind me of the level of boredom that leads to Knight Rider’s nemesis being named KARR. Also, Cy-Kill is a really bad pun.

Because they were cheaper and available in knock-off forms at 7-11, they had a brief ubiquity which soon became a mark of an underprivileged youth. An abundance of Transformers indicated economic prosperity. An abundance of Go-Bots — or worse, Machine Robo  — revealed certain hardships. It was a playground class war in some places.

Eventually, Tonka became part of Hasbro and the Go-Bots brand evaporated.

In the pages of more recent Transformers comics, the Go-Bots appear as background characters. Some would say it was a fitting end.

It is amazing to recall just how many robot shows or toys we sustained in the mid-80s. After Transformers and the Go-Bots came M.A.S.K., Tranzor-Z, Robotech, reruns of Battle of the Planets, Voltron, Robotix and a slew of short-run robot shows. I doubt such a thing could happen to day.

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