1986 was the last year of the GoBots franchise. It was also the fifth year of the Machine Robo franchise, the fourth year of Robo Machine and Machine Men and the first year of Rock Lords.
Late releases from the third series came out during 1986 and the line continued to ship to North American stores for the bulk of the year. However, sales slumped drastically from the previous year - down to just $25m, less than 20% of the previous year's total. As such the third series would be the last as Tonka tried to instead shift their inventory of figures. However, a second combiner - Monsterous - was released, as were the Secret Riders (drawn from Bandai's Zenmai Kahen Winch Robo line), the Dread Launchers (designed on Tonka's behalf by Bandai), the Power Marchers (taken from another Bandai line, WalkingRobo and the new Tonka-designed Space Hawk vehicle. However, the large GoBotron Fortress playset was cancelled.
GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords film
Challenge of the GoBots did not return for a second season, though the cartoon remained in syndication. Instead a feature film was made, once again mimicking Hasbro's plan to follow the same route for Transformers. After initially weighing a treatment known as Starquest, which would have closely followed up on some threads from the series, instead the decision was made to create GoBots: War of the Rock Lords, a simpler storyline that featured a larger role for Tonka's new Rock Lords toyline to GoBots fans. Scripted by Jeff Segal and directed by Ray Patterson, the film was retitled GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords shortly before release.
Released on March 21 by Clubhouse Pictures, the film was a commercial failure, grossing just $531,905 in the USA despite being released in 1,045 screens and featuring guest appearances by Telly Savalas, Margot Kidder and Roddy McDowall alongside the cast of Challenge of the GoBots. What critical notices it did draw were mixed, generally pondering why audiences would bother seeing it instead of reruns of the series, and its' financial failure was another nail in the coffin of the floundering Clubhouse Pictures, and also seems to have been a major factor in convincing Tonka that GoBots' time had passed.
GoBots Magazine 
Telepictures Publications began a quarterly magazine based on the series; it featured a short 5-page GoBots strip in each issue, otherwise focusing on factual articles about science, computing and robotics. The A4-format magazine was only available by mail order.
GoBots was effectively replaced in Tonka's arsenal by Rock Lords, a line of transforming rocks co-developed with Bandai. While the characters debuted in GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords and appeared in GoBots Magazine the toyline made no mention of GoBots and was marketed separately. The line was a solid hit, bringing in around $30m in revenue for Tonka.
As well as 12 different Rock Lords the toyline also saw the release of the monster-to-rock Rockasaurs, the non-transforming Narlies and a vehicle for each faction. However, plans for a large Stonehead playset were dropped.
Series 1 (1986)
Rock Lords (Series 1)
Rock Lords (Series 2)
Narlies (Series 1)
Rock Lords did not receive a cartoon itself; instead in addition to GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords the mythos was promoted by a mini-comic included with the figures.
The start of 1986 only saw a handful of new Machine Robo releases. However, midway through the year the line saw a major revamp as Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos, to tie in with the anime. The line largely consisted of reissues and retools of extant Bandai figures from Machine Robo and beyond.
The Machine Robo Series had finished after 54 releases, though the figures remained in production. Instead the new Double Machine Robo and Martial Arts Robo series began, while a second Battle Suit - Land Commander 5 - was released.
Double Machine Robo Series
Martial Arts Robo Series
Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos
The previous year had seen Transformers arrive in Japan, with repackaged toys backed with a dubbed version of the American cartoon. Bandai decided to respond by commissioning the first Machine Robo cartoon series from Ashi Productions. The result was Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos, and the franchise was reorganised to tie in with the series.
The toyline largely consisted of reissues of extant Machine Robo figures, though several 'new' figures were drawn from Bandai's other lines. These included the Russian Doll-style Chogokin retool Baikanfu; the retooled Super Sentai based Tough Trailer, Pro Truck Racer and Varigale-X; the Secret Riders-inspired Dash Robo; and the battery-powered vehicles Battleflex and Land Giant 32, both licenced from Galoob. The range also saw the release of the Rock Lords figures as the Rock Robo, and Monsterous as Devil Satan 6, while new designs were released in the Double Machine Robo and Martial Arts Robo series. Meanwhile non-transforming versions of the leads from the cartoon were released as the Chara Collection, later upgraded with BB-style guns as the Chara DX Collection.
The toys were reorganised into different subgroups to tie in with the cartoon's new mythos:
- B for the Battle Tribe
- J for the Jet Tribe
- C for the Cronos Tribe
- R for the Rock People
- G for the Gyandlar
Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos
Bases & Vehicles
Machine Robo Series
Police Car Robo
Missile Tank Robo
New Shinkansen Robo
Big Machine Robo
Double Machine Robo
Martial Arts Robo
Chara DX Collection
Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos cartoon
The first Machine Robo cartoon, Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos, premiered on TV Tokyo on July 3, 1986 at 7:30pm. Created by Ashi Productions with Hideki Sonoda as story editor, it told the story of Rom Stol, his sister Leina and their friends Blue Jet, Rod Drill and Triple Jim, trying to prevent the invasion of the Machine Robo home planet of Cronos by the evil alien Gyandlar, led by Gadess. Much of the rest of the toyline featured in various guest slots as the series progressed
Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos print material
Print coverage of the new series would switch from TV Land to rival publication TV-Kun.
The Robo Machine line included the European release of the Rock Lords toys.
Puzzler Fiends (1986)
- 1. Fright Face
- 2. Heart Attack
- 3. South Claw
- 4. Weird Wing
- 5. Gore Jaw
- 6. Fangs
Rock Lords (1986-1987)
World Distributors produced a second Robo Machine Featuring the Challenge of the GoBots Annual, drawing most of its' inspiration from the Challenge of the GoBots cartoon series.
- March 21: GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords premieres in American cinemas.
- July 3: Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos begins broadcasting on TV Tokyo at 7:30pm, with the episode "Rising Storm - the Fighting Style of Justice!".
- August 22: "Machine Robo Honō" by Martin and "Aoi Heart no Stranger" by Ema Watanabe are released as singles by Futureland.
- November 29: "Shōri no Machine Robo" by Masato Shimon is released as a single by Futureland.