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1984 was the second year of the GoBots franchise; it was also the third year of its sister series Machine Robo and the second year of Robo Machine and Machine Men.

North America[edit]


Main article: GoBots (franchise)

The test sample of GoBots figures has sold well and in January the line went nationwide in America. The initial range was joined by another 12 figures and larger toys - the first six Super GoBots, the motorised non-transforming monster Zod and the Command Center playset. Pushed by a $1.5m advertising blitz[1] - including television commercials featuring the memorable tagline "Mighty Vehicles, Mighty GoBots".

Strong sales led to a second series of figures, shipping from the summer. The carded GoBots were reorganised into three assortments of 16 figures apiece - a Friendly assortment, an Enemy assortment and a Hot Shot assortment (featuring a mix of toys from both factions), with new releases joined by the stronger sellers from the first series. Five more Super GoBots also joined the range. However, competition was hotting up - February had seen Transformers launched at the New York toy fair, and by spring the toys were beginning to arrive in stores - eating into Tonka's market share.

Still, for the time being GoBots sold formidably - Tonka recorded revenues of $52.8m for the line, and licenced the brand to numerous other manufacturers to produce secondary merchandise bearing the GoBots name. Demand was such that they even commissioned extra figures from Bandai to keep up with demand.


Series 1[edit]
Main article: GoBots (assortment)
Super GoBots[edit]
Main article: Super GoBots
Mobile Fortress[edit]
Zod Monster[edit]
Series 2[edit]
Super GoBots[edit]
Main article: Super GoBots


Escape to Planet Earth[edit]

The first GoBots fiction was in the form of a storybook produced by Tonka. Written by Michael Halperin, the book laid down a lot of the basics of the GoBots mythos, including establishing them as part organic (in contrast to the entirely robotic Transformers), with Cy-Kill as the leader of the Enemy GoBots and Leader-1 as head of the Friendly GoBot Security Force. The story featured Cy-Kill escaping custody on GoBotron and attempting to attack Earth before being frustrated, with the Friendly GoBots assisted by human children Pete and Nancy.

The book was given away free, either packed in with Zod, through collection in stores or by sending off to Tonka themselves.

Challenge of the GoBots[edit]

Tonka swiftly realised a cartoon was needed to push GoBots to another level. They commissioned Hanna-Barbera to create a five-part mini-series based on the toys as an effective pilot for the series; this has become known as "Battle for GoBotron" after the title used on home media omnibus releases. The series itself was named Challenge of the GoBots. Written by Jeff Segal, Alan Burnett and Tom Ruegger, the mini-series was syndicated across five days from Monday 29th October (six weeks after the Transformers cartoon had premiered, for the record). While using the gist of the Tonka-produced mythos to date it made some changes and additions, which due to the cartoon's high profile have become synonymous with GoBots. This included modifying the faction names to the familiar Guardians and Renegades, while the metallic planet GoBotron was given its' famous 'apple core' shape. While most of the first series toys were featured in part, the narrative largely focused on the heroic Leader-1, Turbo and Scooter battling the villainous Cy-Kill, Crasher and Cop-Tur, a template which would become the norm for most of the franchise's media. It also introduced Matt Hunter, A.J. Foster and Nick Burns as the Guardians' human allies, as well as debuting recurring supporting characters Anya Turgenova, General Newcastle and the treacherous Doctor Braxis.

The miniseries was a success and a full series of 60 episodes was put into production shortly afterwards. The success saw Golden Books issue storybooks based on the episodes, while K-tel would produce record-and-book sets recapping the mini-series.


Machine Robo[edit]

Machine Robo continued to be a success, with the Machine Robo Series continuing and further toys being designed to interact with the smaller figures. This included Battle Armor 5, a system of suits that could accommodate (some) of the smaller figures and combine to form a large robot. The year also saw the debut of the Devil Invaders, the first villainous toys in the range.


Machine Robo Series[edit]
Main article: Machine Robo Series
Devil Invader Series[edit]
Main article: Devil Invader Series

Battle Suit[edit]

Main article: Battle Suit

Combat Buggy[edit]

Battle Base[edit]

JAL Exclusive[edit]

Main article: Japan Air Lines


Machine Robo fiction was still largely disseminated in print via the pages of TV Land, though the mythos behind it was substantially overhauled following the debut of the Devil Invaders. The franchise also made its' animated debut - as part of the promotional push for Battle Armor 5 an animated promotional video was commissioned from Studio Pierrot.


Robo Machine[edit]

Main article: Robo Machine

Robo Machine continued, though Bandai took note of Tonka's success in the Western market and began adding names, generally drawn from GoBots, to the figures.


Robo Machine[edit]
Enemy Invaders[edit]
Battle Suit[edit]


Copy of 037.jpg
The Robo Machines comic strip[edit]
Main article: The Robo Machines

A Robo Machine comic strip was also published in the pages of Eagle, published by Fleetway. Each weekly issue contained a three-page part of the serial, written by Tom Tully and initially drawn by Mario Capaldi, with Kim Raymond later taking over art duties. This fell in line with the toyline's new ethos of using concepts drawn from the GoBots line, notably the majority of character names and factions, though some would follow the tweaked Robo Machine version of the backstory, including the characters hailing from the planet Robotron. The serial would debut in the 10 November edition of Eagle.