In the great toy robot wars of the 1980’s there was only one winner, Transformers! While it’s fair to say Transformers dominated the market, they had stiff competition for the Gobots who pre-dated Transformers by a year.
The toy-line was first released in 1983 and ran for four years until its eventual discontinuation in 1987. An animated TV show ‘Challenge of the GoBots’ was also released with 66 episodes and then a follow up movie called GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords.
Tonka released the first batch of toys in 1983 and were actually a reissue of a series of toys originally produced by Popy of Japan, who later became Bandai. These first figures were 2-3 inches in height, they transformed into a mixture of different machines, including WW2 fighter aircraft. Larger figures were then released at around 5-6 inches in height and named ‘Super GoBots’.
The GoBots were divided into two classes, “Friendly” and “Enemy”, this was changed to “Guardians” and “Renegades” with the launch of the animated TV series ‘Challenge of the GoBots’. The story began on the war torn planet of Gobotron. A disgruntled Guardian named Cy-Kill rebelled with a group of followers and formed the domination-bent Renegades to usurp power and threaten the freedom of the planet. But quick to thwart the Renegades were the leftover Guardians, led by the gallant Leader-1. The show picks up the story in the midst of this great conflict as the GoBots have taken the fight to planet Earth.
Unfortunately, unlike Transformers, the GoBots figures came with no distinction once outside the box, they had no markings to show what side they were on which meant you had to watch the show in order to know which GoBot was on which side. There was also a lot of different toys, by a lot, we mean this many….
Regular GoBots 1984 – 1987
As you can see, there are so many regular GoBots that remembering which side each GoBot was on was a real struggle with nothing to differentiate them!
To accompany the GoBots were three series of Super Gobots, these were larger than the usual GoBots but also split into two factions – Guardians and Renegades.
The GoBots didn’t just stop there though! The production of the GoBots was so thick and fast you barely knew what was coming or going! There were numerous smaller collections of GoBots toys, including:
Combiners were basically a rip-off of the very popular Transformers combining idea, where small robots would combine to make one large robot. Only four of these were made (possibly five but we’ve yet to see a real picture of it), some looked far cooler than others.
Dread Launchers were some of the last GoBot ever produced, they stood 8 inches tall but only three were released, all of which were Renegades.
Secret Riders were also known as ‘Power GoBots’, they were all Guardians and only three were produced.
As well as the toys, two ‘bases’ were released, one for the Guardians and one for the Renegades. The Guardian Command Center doubled up as a four legged AT-AT style robot while Thruster became a spaceship.
Over the years GoBots was in production a bunch of other random toys were released here and there which didn’t really seem to fit in, they were possibly from other cancelled or failed toy-lines and just lumped in with GoBots to try and sell them off. If you think you may have had one of these random toys then feel free to let us know!
For those looking for an instant hit of nostalgia, the opening theme tune….