1982 was the first year of the Machine Robo franchise, the precursor and sister line of GoBots. As things were just getting started not much happened beyond the first batch of toys coming out in Japan.
Japan[edit | edit source]
Machine Robo[edit | edit source]
The history of GoBots began in Japan in 1982 at toy company Popy. They had been set up by Bandai in 1971 as a separate company to develop toys based on TV licences. Eschewing the common tin often used up to that point, Popy used a mixture of diecast zinc alloy and ABS plastic on their toys. A model of the Mini Cyclone motorcycle from Kamen Rider was a sensation, as was a robot from the cartoon Mazinger Z. A string of successes based on Japan's fertile children's television followed, bringing with it fresh design innovation as the company's craft grew, including figures that could change configuration, split into vehicles and more. While imitators sprung up Popy remained at the vanguard of what is known as the Super Robot era.
Come the early 1980s the company's talented head designer Katsushi Murakami pushed for a range of more accessible toys not tied to any licence. He believed the company's expertise and technology could produce figures capable of switching from one mode to another at a small enough size to be appealing and collectible to Japanese children. Thus Machine Robo was born. Popy initially hoped to produce the figures to retail at ¥500 but this involved too many compromises and instead a the price was fixed at ¥600 - around USD$2-3 at the time. The first toys in the Machine Robo Series - often informally referred to as the 600 Series because of the price, which would remain constant until the range ended in 1985 - were released in April 1982 and were an immediate hit, leading to a steady stream of releases. While the first four releases turned into science fiction influenced made-up vehicles the fifth was modelled on a JNR Class D-51 locomotive, and from that point onwards the series began to be dominated by present day vehicles with only the occasional flight of fancy. The line was promoted by regular features in TV Land, a prominent children's magazine.
At the end of the year the Machine Robo Series was joined by what would become the first figure in the Machine Robo DX series - a transforming version of the Psychoroid vehicle from the cartoon Space Adventure Cobra. This larger toy retailed at ¥2,200.
Toys[edit | edit source]
Machine Robo Series[edit | edit source]
Machine Robo DX[edit | edit source]