Gobots vs Transformers

Posted by gaiking123 
In our heart of hearts, we all know "Converters" were the best. I mean c'mon, take all the cheaper versions of Japanese toys, throw in some obscure series, and voila.

I loved Machine Robo back when it was only available via my Grandma's trips to Japan, but somehow it lost it's luster when they came out here as Gobots. I guess they had to change it up, since for the longest time they were basically glorified rescue robots until they finally got Devil Invaders (or whatever they were called) as bad guys. And if you think the gobot names were bad, the Machine Robo names were pretty simple too. But they were small and had ample diecast, and were perfect for a fan of hot wheels like I was at the time.
Don't even get me started on "Convertors"...loved the slogan "apparently they're of a higher quantifiable amount than resides in close proximity to your optic nerve cluster!"

I had NOFKA...no...she wasn't Borris Banninoff's girlfriend, it was the ol' SDF-1 from Robotech cleverly disguised as...well...the SDF-1. Brilliant!

-Adam
[www.toyarchive.com]

I didn't even know they had a super valk toy (painted in all black). Though according to that site, nofka was an orguss in disguise, and the sdf-1 was... sdf-1.

And whenever I think of Battle of the Rock Lords, I think of this review:[www.x-entertainment.com]
Sanjeev Wrote:
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> thomas, did the Challenge of the Gobots air in
> Europe at all?

I think so. I don't remember seeing it on TV in the Netherlands back in the 1980s, but we did get most other Hanna Barbera cartoons (like the Jetsons), so I guess it did (but the abyssimal quality might mean I've forgotten it). It was broadcasted in France (and likely Belgium), AFAIK. The UK and possibly other countries got a original comic with a separate storyline that later merged into the US Gobots storyline. There were little storybooks for toddlers, and the UK also got some annuals with stories (all aimed at younger kids than Transformers). There were audio stories released in France. Most toy packaging also features minor background story information.
The UK comic, small storybooks, and annuals feature a really weird mix of Machine Robo background story, US Gobots TV series, and original content. This includes shoving the Godaikin toys into the story using the background story from both Godaikin and the original animes. This same content is featured in some of the catalogues (once I find the box it's in I'll scan in the catalogue I have that features Dancouga and Bismark smacking the shit out of each other, and has 3rd series Super Gobots referred to by their vehicle types even though they were released with Gobots names - the thing's pure crack)

> Or was there no media at all
> supporting the toy line? I'm just wondering how
> Bandai managed to make Gobots popular there (I'm
> assuming Revenge of the Gobots aired later, after
> the toy line had achieved some success).
>
US Gobots likely aired in 1985-1986. Revenge comes in 1987-1988, I think.
The UK (and Germany) definitely got Challenge on VHS - I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but in the UK there just weren't many slots for cartoons on TV, and a lot of shows were VHS only (especially as the BBC wouldn't show anything merchandise-driven, and Channel 4 couldn't afford them - which meant if ITV didn't want it, that was that).

A tip for anyone after later Gobots is to widen the search to European listings on ebay - Gobots faded commercially from about 1985 on, but Robo Machine sold well in Europe for about a year or so longer, and thus a fair few of the rarer Gobots are more common (Throttle, the BMW bike, for example - the European silver one is also much better looking). We also fluked a few moulds America didn't - the Double Machine Robo came out as the Combinators, and the Huey Cobra/APC one is a fabulous little toy.

I'm a bit of a fan as it happens (see sig!)... The first year or so of Machine Robo Series has a sort of simple charm to it, but from about 1984 on they really hit a sweet spot with the smaller figures - largely realistic alternate modes and colour schemes, some pretty innovative transformations and designs, diecast parts (including ball joints on some of them) - plus seventy-odd of the things at roughly the same height look marvelous on a shelf. They're all over Transformers of the same sort of size, and the majority can be found cheap secondhand now. Some of the later ones, the Western-exclusive ones that were blatantly Machine Robo rejects, are a bit awful, though

The Supers are more of a mixed bunch... though Bug Bite and Baron Von Joy were the first two robot toys I ever had, and are thus immune to criticism in my eyes. The first batch of cars are great toys, but feel a bit weird as Gobots and come across as very unusual compared to the Autobot cars... Personally I think the rough layout was a bit overused, what with Herr Fiend and Zeemon following the same basic scheme as the aforementioned. Psycho is gorgeous, though - if he'd come out in Popynica he'd have a much better following...

The second series of Supers is a bit more of a mix for me... can't argue with the heavy metal Leader 1 or the neat Spay-C, but I've never been sold on Staks I'm afraid (the mad look just doesn't work for me on an ugly orange truck) and the big Cy-Kill is just a mess - much prefer the smaller version, even if you have to not lose the engine when transforming. Defendor, though, is a beauty, a really lovely little toy - again, if he'd come out as, say, a Transformer he'd be lusted after by a lot more people. Not that I'm bitter, it's like I'm in on a secret :)

The third series I generally like... They're a lot more like Big Gobots (IIRC, they were designed specifically for the line by Bandai, instead of being repurposed from Machine Robo). Throttle and Nightfright are great, Spy-Eye and Raizor are mad enough to pass and the giant Vamp is great fun if you've read the UK comic strip for Robo Machine - he's also great just for being the small toy scaled up 300%. Clutch and Super Couper are... not so good.

I have a soft spot for big fat Tri-Trak from the Secret Riders group too, because he's a big fat trike, and Puzzler's very neatly done for the time despite the car-crotch.

Not got much time for either cartoon - I've found they're both pretty bad, just in a totally different way. They both pick a generally irritating bunch of lead characters (honourable exception: Rod Drill in Revenge of Cronos) and stick to them like glue, compared to the more flexible cast of Transformers. I tend to find myself largely cameo-spotting when watching both, looking out for a brief appearance from Scratch or Harrier Robo... Revenge of Cronos does look gorgeous, but it's so ridiculously cliched... Leina is diabolical, and I'm pretty sure the Kenryu/Baikanfu (why doesn't he ever think of just going for Baikanfu straight off the bat?) combinations take up about ten minutes of each episode.

But yeh, I like Gobots :)

[counter-x.net] - Godaikin, Ideon, Gobots, Ideon, SoC, Ideon, Gundam, Ideon, Ideon and Ideon.
Daitetsujin 17 Wrote:
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Defendor, though, is a beauty,
> a really lovely little toy - again, if he'd come
> out as, say, a Transformer he'd be lusted after by
> a lot more people. Not that I'm bitter, it's like
> I'm in on a secret :)
>

Defendor is easily my favorite of the Super Gobots. Looks like he'd fit right in with Dorvack. The only thing that kind of sucked was the turret came off easily, and if you lost it (as I did) you also lost the robot's head. Wish I still had him.

And I LOVED Psycho's car mode. Psycho and Hot Rod got more floor time than any of my other cars. Am I the only one who took the cockpit apart to get at the little driver figures inside?
Daitetsujin 17 Wrote:
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> The UK (and Germany) definitely got Challenge on
> VHS - I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but in
> the UK there just weren't many slots for cartoons
> on TV, and a lot of shows were VHS only
> (especially as the BBC wouldn't show anything
> merchandise-driven, and Channel 4 couldn't afford
> them - which meant if ITV didn't want it, that was
> that).
>
Wasn't Super Channel a UK channel? We got that in the Netherlands (it had Robotix, Transformers, Robotech, and a slew of other shows), and some of the Dutch channels also broadcasted merchandise-driven shows.

> A tip for anyone after later Gobots is to widen
> the search to European listings on ebay - Gobots
> faded commercially from about 1985 on, but Robo
> Machine sold well in Europe for about a year or so
> longer,

Note that although some Super Gobots have the year 1985 printed on the boxes, they weren't actually released in 1985, but later. They only show up in the official catalogues in later years - eg. Throttle (and a prototype version to boot) only shows up in the 1987 catalogue I mentioned. 1985 in those instances refers to the date the US Super Gobots were made, I think.

>and thus a fair few of the rarer Gobots
> are more common (Throttle, the BMW bike, for
> example - the European silver one is also much
> better looking).

Yeah, but be sure not to mix up the 1993 Robo Machines re-release with the 1986-1987 release. The former can be recognized by having 'RM' printed on its registration plate sticker and is made in China, the latter has a true registration plate and is made in Singapore (shortened to S'Pore, IIRC). The 1993 version is *very* common.
From what I've found the European version of Nightfright is more common than the US version.

> We also fluked a few moulds
> America didn't - the Double Machine Robo came out
> as the Combinators, and the Huey Cobra/APC one is
> a fabulous little toy.

Two words: Gattai Saurer.

<snip>

> Defendor, though, is a beauty,
> a really lovely little toy - again, if he'd come
> out as, say, a Transformer he'd be lusted after by
> a lot more people. Not that I'm bitter, it's like
> I'm in on a secret :)

Defendor was also never released in a European box :( It was only available in US boxes in Europe, AFAIK. Then there's the Japanese version, that is infinitely superior due to coming in two gorgeous color schemes, having lots of little add-on details (that were scrapped from the US release - likely because they were pointy and small), and it has a firing bazooka.

<snip>
> Revenge of Cronos does look
> gorgeous, but it's so ridiculously cliched...

Don't take it seriously, and it's a lot more watchable. :) The Japanese OVA's are very cool and a lot more serious (mostly). Too bad BattleHackers apparently sucks.
Yeh, Superchannel was on satellite, though, in the days it was broadcasting to a few tech nuts :)

The 1993 reissues seem to have some big QC issues - cheap plastic and some ill-fitting parts, though it seems to be a bit random. Still, at least we got a few of the CG Robo moulds out of the line... Plus it makes the likes of Bent Wing and Ace more common (plus the parts for Zero) - I'd be pretty gutted if I'd spent a lot on them, cool plane modes or not.

Nightfright and Tailpipe were probably about the only (Western) figures I actually had much trouble finding... Nightfright and Raizor seem fairly rare in Europe as well, while IIRC Tailpipe was skipped by Robo Machine. Though Gobots are a difficult thing to get in some ways secondhand because a lot of people selling them don't know what they are... I seem to remember paying a fortune for a blade-less Nightfright where the auction was properly labelled, and then fluking onto one in better condition with the blades in a job lot. And yeh, we didn't get Defendor... Thankfully, I managed to get both a US and Japanese version from overseas. His only downside really is that he's quite fragile with that thin diecast 'back'.
Daitetsujin 17 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> The 1993 reissues seem to have some big QC issues
> - cheap plastic and some ill-fitting parts, though
> it seems to be a bit random.

I believe they had to reverse-engineer part of the molds off existing figures due to detoriation of the original molds (the tolerances are off so much you can't mix and match parts with the 1980s versions).

> Still, at least we
> got a few of the CG Robo moulds out of the line...
> Plus it makes the likes of Bent Wing and Ace more
> common (plus the parts for Zero) - I'd be pretty
> gutted if I'd spent a lot on them, cool plane
> modes or not.
>
Amusing thing on P-51/Ace: check the molded copystamp on the 1993 version, and compare it with the original 1980s one. Apparently the thing was slated for a Machine Robo release but was cancelled *after* they changed the mold.

> while IIRC Tailpipe was skipped
> by Robo Machine.

Together with a few others.
On the other hand, some toystore franchises in Europe did a lot of parallel import in the 1980s, including actual Machine Robo 600 toys, so they show up from time to time.

> Though Gobots are a difficult
> thing to get in some ways secondhand because a lot
> of people selling them don't know what they are...
> I seem to remember paying a fortune for a
> blade-less Nightfright where the auction was
> properly labelled, and then fluking onto one in
> better condition with the blades in a job lot.

The recent changes to Ebay haven't helped...
Ahhh, that'd explain it :) Yeh, I found out the hard way with the components, though Zero's blade and drop tank seemed to work well enough. Still, the Robo Machines reissues are so cheap you can't really complain - it's a nice way for anyone just getting in to the figures to pick up a few cheap and in good condition.

Talking of components, I remember taking an American Bullseye part to repair it with bits of a European one, and pretty much every single piece was different; very weird.

Over here I think we got a lot of unsold Gobots shipped over - Puzzler ones especially were/are much more common on American Gobots cards than Robo Machine ones. I've been trying to work out a list of figures that came out in America but not Europe, and it's pretty difficult due to the RM-numbers going mad later on... I think I made it Crain Brain/Block Head/Tailpipe/Mr. Moto/Pumper/Stallion/Van Guard/Scratch/Cy-Kill recolour/BuggyMan recolour and Treds, but I could be wrong. Robo Machine's a confusing line to work out, especially when all that Godaikin overstock turned up...
Daitetsujin 17 Wrote:
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<snip>
> Talking of components, I remember taking an
> American Bullseye part to repair it with bits of a
> European one, and pretty much every single piece
> was different; very weird.

Yup. AFAIK, Bandai manufactured the European Robo Machine toys in separate factories. First in Japan (there's mold differences between original Machine Robo DX toys, the US toys derived from them, and the early DX Robo Machine toys that were made in Japan), then Singapore and Macau (likely chosen for their good trade connections with Europe). Since back then they didn't have extensive computer-aided machinery to make the molds (and copies of them), there's differences between assembly lines that produce the same toy.

Toys that have major differences between the US and the European release:
- Man-o-War: completely different mold. Interestingly, I have what appears to be a sales sample for Man-o-War (obtained from Italy) that uses another mold that is much closer to the US/Machine Robo mold than the European mold.
- Clutch: compare the wheels.
- Staks
- Psycho
- Herr Fiend (also many differences within European releases)

You can have the same problem with toys that are both from Europe. I once wanted to swap parts between two Euro Staks, and discovered their internal structure was different (possibly Staks Transport vs. regular Staks). Major Mo is available with a copystamp telling us it was made in Macau, and another in "Macao" (which is the French spelling - perhaps only available in France...) - there's many differences between the two versions. The same goes for a lot of the other toys. I've noticed some have been stamped with a letter code ('A', 'B', 'K', 'Y', 'Z', that kind of thing). I think these indicate what production line a toy was made on, as toys with the same letter share the same mold, while there's mold differences (sometimes very minor) between different letters.

Kind of obsessive, but once I wanted to make a Gobots version of Fred's Workshop's Transformers Variation page... :)

>
> Over here I think we got a lot of unsold Gobots
> shipped over - Puzzler ones especially were/are
> much more common on American Gobots cards than
> Robo Machine ones. I've been trying to work out a
> list of figures that came out in America but not
> Europe, and it's pretty difficult due to the
> RM-numbers going mad later on... I think I made it
> Crain Brain/Block Head/Tailpipe/Mr.
> Moto/Pumper/Stallion/Van Guard/Scratch/Cy-Kill
> recolour/BuggyMan recolour and Treds, but I could
> be wrong. Robo Machine's a confusing line to work
> out, especially when all that Godaikin overstock
> turned up...

Small Gobots were only made for the European market in Singapore and Macau - everything else is US or Japan overstock that got imported. You can add Screwhead (I've never found one that was made in Singapore or Macau) and Blaster (this one got dumped in great numbers on the Dutch market in Machine Robo boxes, I believe...) to your list.

I'll send you a PM with more additions for your website.
Excellent stuff - I'm like Johnny Five, always need more input... I just love finding stuff out about toys; one of the things I find less fun about Transformers is that it's all already been discovered and catalogued.

To go back a few posts, it'd be interesting to know whether the reissue moulds were reverse-engineered... Considering the song and dance Hasbro/Takara have made about using the process on Transformers (and for some pretty popular characters), I wonder why Bandai bothered for a cheap reissue line... But then the whole thing was a bit weird...
Daitetsujin 17 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
<snip>
> To go back a few posts, it'd be interesting to
> know whether the reissue moulds were
> reverse-engineered... Considering the song and
> dance Hasbro/Takara have made about using the
> process on Transformers (and for some pretty
> popular characters), I wonder why Bandai bothered
> for a cheap reissue line... But then the whole
> thing was a bit weird...

I assume the ones released were the molds that hadn't degraded too far yet (or were still available - often old molds are recycled to make new molds). It's mostly the metal parts that seem reverse-engineered: they have soft detail and are slightly larger than the originals. From what I understand of the manufacturing process, molds for metal parts detoriate faster than those for plastic parts.

AFAIK, Has/Tak did the same thing for the European 1989-1991 Classics reissues of the Autobot cars (which makes it all the weirder that they apparently lost the Wheeljack and Sunstreaker molds afterwards :/ ). Those have some serious mold and sticker variations (e.g. the infamous "Diaclone" on Prowl's doors). Perhaps it simply tells us something about the *real* market for the reissues that apparently they could do it around 1990, and not now...
Anonymous User
Since we have the two experts in the house, I have a question.

I have seen 600 series MR toys (MR-18 and MR-19, if I recall) sold in a plastic bag and header with the Popy logo on the header. There is some sort of insert in the bag as well, perhaps a catalog. Are these genuine? If so, why are they packaged differently from the other 600 series toys?

Hoping someone will know the answer, and if so, thanks in advance.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/12/2010 06:02PM by akum6n.
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