1984 - 1987
If your family didn't necessarily have a lot of money in the 80's it didn't exclude you from the "Transformers" crazy that hit in 1984. GoBots were the only true rival to the Transformers, and remained so throughout the 80's.
What ended up hurting GoBots the most was the while both they and Transformers had their own animated series, the Hannah-Barbara produced GoBots often came off as less "mature" than the Transformers. Granted kids were watching the series, but facts were that Transformers was just a little more stimulating to the brain.
The GoBots toy line originally began in Japan. The series creator Popy Planning was actually a division of Bandai, which is the well known company behind the infamous Power Rangers. Rather than being called GoBots, the series was called Machine Robo. The story lines and animation were far superior to the U.S. versions, but then again, they usually are.
When Machine Robo finally aired in the U.S., kids went ravenous for the "in" toy line of the 80's. Toys that transformed from robots to cars, planes and other various machinery were like crack cocaine. The series became so popular that like Transformers, a movie for the theaters was eventually released. This springboard gave Tonka the opening that they were looking for, and several other sub series were released under the GoBot logo.
However, we're going to only look at those related to the TV show.
Seventy three standard GoBots were released between 1984 to 1987. Unlike Transformers, the series remained one size, and one size only. Being the equivilant of the smaller Transformer, Tonka somehow managed to not only make the figures more durable, but also managed to include great detail, something sorely missing in it's competator's line.
On top of the 73 standard "figures", Tonka released two vehicles, and two playsets. This was by far impressive when compared to the amount of "figures" that were released, but it kept the series relatively affordable for most lower income families.
As the years pressed on, several sub series hit shelves. This would lead to the eventual downfall of GoBots as oversaturation in the market would eventually catch up. It didn't help that all these additional lines had no show or movie to back them up, thus leaving kids unsure of what they were. The series included; Super GoBots, Combiners, Dread Launchers, Secret Riders, Boomers, Power Marchers and Arco Bots.
GoBots eventually fizzled out in 1987. Tonka pulled the plug on the toy line when the show was cancelled. What's great about this series is that while it was ending once the bug like creatures began hitting the market, you can definitly see where this design style stayed with later Bandai products.
For whatever it was worth, GoBots put up a good fight against the Transformers, but due to marketing strategies and the intelligence level of the show, the series just couldn't hold on.
But, that's our look at GoBots. I hope you enjoyed it. Check back next time for a look at another great toy series from the 80's!
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