|Airdate||October 23, 1985|
|Written by||Mark Zaslove|
|Animation studio||Wang Film Productions|
Cy-Kill creates Puzzler to go up against Courageous, but his new human allies interfere in his plans.
Seeking a way to counter the might of the Guardian Power Warrior Courageous, Cy-Kill devises a plan to construct six new robots who together will combine to form "Puzzler", a giant Renegade able to tackle Courageous on even footing. The Monster GoBots are sent to acquire the materials and funding necessary for the project: Scorp tunnels into a Detroit steelyard to steal metal; Vamp hacks into the computers at the International Bank Gold Depository to redistribute finances; and Pincher raids an army base for electronic components. Finally, Cy-Kill pays timid used car dealer Larry "L.E." Cocoa to act as their representative in the purchase of a factory to construct the robots. When the robots are completed, the reluctant Cocoa is further coerced into selling them, in their automotive modes, through his business—something that frustrates Cocoa's belligerent wife Hilda, who forces the nebbish little man into asking Cy-Kill for more money.
Meanwhile, General Newcastle calls upon the Guardians to investigate the Monster GoBots' repeated thefts, and the heroes split up to simultaneously investigate the three locations. Scooter and Nick catch Vamp in the act at the gold depository, but when Scooter's holograms fail to sufficiently hide them from detection, Vamp knocks the pair out and throws them in the depository's vault. Vamp fails to reckon with Scooter's computer skills, though, and the little Guardian soon picks the door lock electronically and frees them. At the same time, Turbo and A.J. are pursued through a Detroit sewer by Scorp, but manage to trick him into driving off the edge of an overflow pipe. At the army base, Leader-1 appears to be caught unawares by Pincher, Crasher, and Cop-Tur, but proves to have set a trap of his own when a shockwave from Crasher blows the wall open, revealing Newcastle and a platoon of soldiers and tanks. Summarily thwarted, the Renegades return to the factory to report their failures to Cy-Kill. While the Renegade leader is distracted berating them, the money-hungry Hilda snatches the remote device used to control the six Puzzler components and flees with her husband in the last component left in the factory.
The Renegades give chase, but find their efforts stymied by the arrival of the other Puzzlers, who Hilda unintentionally calls to her defense by randomly pressing buttons on the control device. When she happens to hit the right button, the six cars transform to their robot modes (with the Cocoas being ejected in the process) and merge into their towering combined form, just as the Guardians arrive on the scene. The Guardians try to take on Puzzler as it fires wildly around it, but Cy-Kill soon recovers the remote from Hilda and takes control of the giant robot. While Leader-1, Turbo, and Staks keep Puzzler busy, Scooter races back to the Command Center and contacts Path Finder on GoBotron to have the Guardians' Power Suits Astrobeamed in. The arrival of the suits prompts the other Renegades to join the fight, but they are no match for the powered-up trio; Leader-1 baffles the Monster GoBots with holograms while Turbo and Staks use their enhanced firepower and forcefields, respectively, to occupy Puzzler. Path Finder soon arrives with the fourth Power Suit and the Courageous ship, and the Guardians link up into their Power Warrior form. After a brief struggle, a few well-placed blasts from Courageous shake Puzzler to pieces, leaving the defeated Renegades no choice but to flee... and Cocoa and his wife at the mercy of the disgruntled customers to whom he sold the Renegade cars in the first place!
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"Uh, ahem... Mr. Kill? Cy? I was wondering... uh, well, my wife and I were wondering... if we might have a, uh, word with you?"
- —Larry Cocoa "takes control of the situation"
"Outsmarted?! That's not very hard when the three of you have the combined intelligence of a ping-pong ball!"
- —Cy-Kill is unhappy at the Renegades' failures
"Get away from me! I warn you, I'll scream! Take this!"
(Hilda throws the control device at Cy-Kill like a weapon, but he grabs it)
"Thaaaank you, I shall!"
- —Hilda Cocoa and Cy-Kill
- Turbo mentions he's going to smell like Dumper for weeks after patrolling the sewers, which is the only time the 1983 Guardian dump truck is referenced in the series outside of a silent cameo in "It's the Thought that Counts". Well, he says "a" Dumper, so maybe he wasn't even talking about Dumper the GoBot, just a truck, but whatever, we'll take it!
- Speaking of one-shot bots like Dumper, "Auto Madic" features the first and only appearance of Puzzler and his components in the series. Of the group, only Tic Tac and Jig Saw are identified by name. The components are merely remote-controlled drones—this isn't Transformers, after all, you can't just build and program a GoBot since they require living organic brains.
- Gadgets and Powers:
- Scooter tries to hide behind a holographic set of computer servers, but Vamp isn't nearly as dumb as...well, every other Renegade ever.
- Scooter's chest-mounted sensor plugs let him manipulate the (presumably) electronic time lock of the bank vault.
- More Scooter. He decided a hologram of a sensible sedan was necessary before leaving the Puzzler battle scene.
- Courageous generates a shield to defend itself against Puzzler's blasts.
- Absent any obvious relevance of his chocolatey last name, "L.E. Cocoa" is apparently named in reference to Lee Iacocca, the president and CEO of the Chrysler automobile company in the 1980s, who starred in a series of famous television adverts for the company during the decade.
Continuity and plotting errors
- Scooter's got a load of "stethoscope" leads in his chest this episode, but that's where his computer interface cable is supposed to be according to previous adventures.
- It's never actually explained why Cy-Kill wants the Puzzler components disseminated among different human owners. Seems counterproductive to what he wants to accomplish with them.
- As in "Sentinel," Scooter doesn't form part of Courageous, so the need for two extra Guardians means Staks and Path Finder have to join the episode in order to form the Power Warrior. Thing is, while Path Finder arrives from GoBotron, Staks appears out of literally nowhere to help battle Puzzler some time before she arrives. Why couldn't they both have come from GoBotron at the same time?
- Scooter creates a holographic disguise before returning to the Command Center, presumably to hide himself from Cy-Kill as he departs, but he does it really obviously in the middle of the street in Cy-Kill's line of sight...
- Based on broadcast order you'd be forgiven for not realizing how utterly whack the Power Suit continuity is in this episode, as the individualized abilities of the suits are not spelled out until the later-broadcast, but earlier-set, "Return to GoBotron". In this episode, Turbo wears the "P-2" suit, which is supposed to grant increased speed, but he gains enhanced firepower; Leader-1 uses the P-1 to generate illusions when its power is to grant its wearer telekinesis; and Staks uses the P-3, which is supposed to be equipped with advanced sensors, to generate a force field. Illusions and forcefields, you'll note, aren't Power Suit powers at all, but the personal abilities of Scooter and Leader-1. Sigh.
Animation and technical errors
- When Pincher flies in to land at the military base, he disappears just before the shot changes.
- There's a big ol' hair caught in the frame when Cy-Kill studies the computer image of Courageous.
- When Pincher asks what Cy-Kill's plan is, a night-time open-air background painting is used, instead of Thruster's interior.
- Rube is colored white instead of black when he first appears on the slabs.
- After Crasher unleashes a shockwave on Leader-1, it's missing from the very next shot, then reappears in the view of the scene on Cy-Kill's monitor. When the episode returns from commercial break, the effect is missing from both the re-establishing shot of the scene, and the shot shown on Cy-Kill's monitor.
- When Scooter opens the bank vault, the door swings inwards when previously it swung outwards.
- When Cy-Kill fires on the fleeing Cocoas, one of his energy blasts overlaps their car, instead of going behind it.
- Path Finder is identified by name and has her regular voice, but Heat Seeker's character model is used in place of hers for this episode.
- When the Monster GoBots attack after the Guardians get into their Power Suits, a daytime sky background painting is used instead of a night-time one.
- It looks sort of like Leader-1 teleports during his fight with the Monster GoBots, disappearing from mid-air and reappearing behind them, but logically, what we're supposed to be seeing is the fading out of one hologram and the projection of a new one. It's not helped by the fact that the luminous effect is missing from the fade-out, meaning Leader-1 just turns into a black silhouette of himself.
- When Vamp's forearms reach into shot to try punching the Leader-1 hologram, they're colored like Scorp's.
- Once Courageous' combination begins, the Power Suits become as messed up in terms of animation as they are in terms of story. "Path Finder" (Heat Seeker) arrives in a duplicate of Staks's P-3 suit, which results in Staks suddenly wearing the P-4 model when they combine. Once the combination is complete, footage of the robot posing is recycled from "Ultra Zod," meaning that Staks and Path Finder have both vanished, replaced with Scooter in the P-3 and Rest-Q (who isn't in this episode!) in the P-4. "Path Finder" and Staks return for most of the battle, but they switch sides (Staks going from the P-4 on the left leg to the P-3 on the right and "Path Finder" vice versa) when the combiner dodges a blast from Puzzler. When Courageous delivers the final blast to Puzzler, Staks is replaced with Scooter as the left leg, then finally, when Nick and Scooter drive up after the fight is over, the legs are Staks as the right, and... Scooter as the left. Sigh.
- Crasher's red chest squares vanish for a few shots just as Puzzler is falling apart. Afterward, as Cy-Kill calls retreat, she's missing her lipstick.
- Either there are two Puzzler character models, or the different views of the combiner on his model sheet feature contradictory depictions. In the three-quarters view of the character on Cy-Kill's monitor, and multiple times in the final act of the episode, he is drawn based on a mis-transformed version of the toy, with his left forearm incorrectly split in two down the middle. In many other shots, however, his arm is one intact piece, as seen in the comparison image at right. Additionally, the "split arm" model has a different pelvis design, with a more defined, ahem, "package" that moves Jig Saw's wheels and arms (those black bars on Puzzler's hips) further back.
- Hilda Cocoa isn't referred to by her first name at any point in the episode (Larry refers to her with the pet name "Dumplin'") but it is included on her character model.
- Along with William and Katherine, the Cocoas seem to be one of the surprisingly few married couples in Challenge of the GoBots.
Home video releases
2015 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume One (Warner Archive Collection)