A longtime bridesmaid in the robotic toy universe, GoBots has earned a reputation as a cheap knockoff of Hasbro’s Transformers. In fact, the GoBots ahead Transformers: a co-production between Tonka and a now-closed Bandai division called Popy of Japan, GoBots (originally Machine Robo) hit stores in 1983 — a year before Transformers.
However, when Hasbro released Transformers, GoBots didn’t stand a chance. Popy’s simple design couldn’t hold a candle in front of Transformers’ complex array of moving parts. Adding insult to injury: the first generation of GoBots were only two to three inches tall – about half the height of the average Transformers. By the time Tonka started releasing larger Super GoBots, it was all over but the screams.
Tonka’s last attempt to bring some level of respect to the GoBots was a cartoon, but again, they found themselves outdone at every turn. “The GoBots Challenge“aired in the set, but even the efforts of producer Hanna-Barbera could not save it from immediate rejection by young viewers: what other way to watch the obvious parody films? as obvious as Bumblebee carbon Bugbite, or Stretch, which transforms from a limousine into a cyborg… with a helmet? The 1986 feature film “GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords”, which introduced a spin-off version of Rock Lords, didn’t help the downward spiral of the toy line.Hasbro executed a coup of grace for the GoBots by purchase Tonka and the characters’ names and biographies in 1991, although Bandai retains ownership of the toy molds.
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