“Challenge of the GoBots” or just simply “GoBots”

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Usually the big question that comes up first with this cartoon / toy line is which came first Go-Bots or Transformers? The simple answer is the GoBots came first to start the battle, but transformers were right behind and finished the war in kids and collector’s hearts over the long run.
GoBots was the brainchild of Tonka Toys. This Transforming Robots series dealt with the heroic Guardians & the evil Renegades from the planet Gobotron.


The two opposing warring factions the Guardians were led by Leader 1. The Renegades were led by Cy-Kill. Focusing on a small number of Robots is what the series really centered in on. Leader-1, Turbo, Sparky, Scooter & small foot battling out with Cy-Kill, Tank, Geeper-Creeper, Fitor, Cop-tur & Crasher lots of guest star roles by other robots would rotate throughout the cartoon.

The toy line was huge in the U.S.A. when released in 1983 and swept the nation for a short time. Other countries that carried the iconic toy line were the UK where they were marketed as Robo Machine. Australia carried the line calling them Robot Machine Men. Brazil and France also released figures in their countries. Manufacturers like Bandai & Glasslite handled the merchandising for a couple of these countries. But it all started and hailed from Japan by Popy a defunct division of Bandai as GoBots started out under the name Machine Robo.

There were over 70 GoBots created a few of which had color variants like Cy-Kill, Buggy-man, Crasher, Blaster, Leader-1 & Tail-pipe. In North America Tonka released at least 8 GoBots 3 packs 4 each of Renegades and Guardians – these are some of the very toughest to find anywhere mint in the package. A couple of cool playsets that you could purchase to use with the GoBots were a Command Center and Andro Base made by Androform. Although Andro Base Space Shuttle was not from Tonka or the GoBots line it interacted with the GoBots as well as Transformers.

Some of the other off shoot toys and merchandise released for GoBots were: Model kits, Books with Records or tapes, puzzles, lunch, box binoculars. Paint by numbers, comics, a video game, party supplies, coloring books to name just a few. One of the great promotions was in Australia, through Nabisco cereals a Hanimex color agent as a prize.


The end of the GoBots came when they battled the Transformers in the summer of 1986 on the big movie screen with full feature length cartoon movies to see who would win the box office. Transformers opened in slightly less theatres then the GoBots – but brought in more than 4 times the money.

Tonka tried after the movie to release a line of Rock Lords based on the film, but no one was buying it. With declining sales Tonka destroyed Gobotron in 1987 along with the GoBots. Hasbro bought Tonka in 1991 but since the molds for GoBots were only leased to Tonka from Bandai – Hasbro has very limited use of how they can use GoBots in the world of Transformers.


There’s an abundance of GoBots toys online for the collector. Nice open loose figures can be had for $7 still in good working order and some figures mint on card as low as $40 but depending on what type of collector and condition you may end up having to spend about $400 and up for mint on card GoBots.

Until Hollywood officially green lights a new updated version for the big screen you can go back and relive your childhood watching the original cartoons on DVD.

Keith Drake