List of cancelled toys
GoBots and Machine Robo get cancelled almost as much as Joss Whedon shows. So throughout the line's history there has been a steady line of toys that haven't been publicly released. These can run the gamut from being design sketches abandoned early on to packaged samples being produced, and the reasons for them being cancelled can vary from safety concerns to an entire franchise folding through poor sales.
One of the most infamous cancelled toys was the Renegade Snoop, an import of the Machine Robo Blackbird Robo figure. Due to be released as part of the carded assortment in the second series of toys and advertised in Tonka's 1985 catalogue, Snoop featured in several episodes of Challenge of the GoBots and the toy got as far as packaged samples but does not seem to have been publicly released. The reasons for this are unknown; it is possible that the diecast nosecone of the SR-71 Blackbird vehicle mode was ruled a safety hazard and re-engineering the part was ruled as too expensive. As well as the Japanese release, the figure came out in Europe and Australia without issue.
A large and ambitious playset designed by Tonka, the GoBotron Fortress was planned for the third series of GoBots, and advertised in Tonka's catalogue for 1986 and even briefly appeared in GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords. While at least one prototype was made and featured in promotional photography but the set was not ultimately released, likely due to the expected high price tag at a time when the series was fading commercially.
Planned as a second Renegade Power Warrior, Nemesis was a recolour of the Machine Robo Land Commander 5 and as such would have used the same Power Suits for limbs as Grungy, with only the central unit being different. Despite being advertised by Tonka for the third series and at least one prototype being made the figure was not released, again likely to the line's declining fortunes.
A smaller non-transforming assortment using similar to the Power Marchers, three GyroBots were planned - Ridge Runner, Dactyl and Hitch Hiker (a name which was instead used on the Guardian Power Marcher). Again, the line's imminent cancellation likely stopped these reaching stores - the Power Marchers themselves were among the last GoBots releases in 1986. At least one prototype of each was made.
A large playset that featured prominently in Tonka's 1986 catalogue for Rock Lords, Stonehead would have been a base for the Evil Rock Lords, and was the inspiration behind Magmar's mountainous lair in GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords. While more compact than the version seen on screen, the prototype featured a variation on the Tumbler device seen on screen, with a hand crank that made the jaws of the skull chomp on unfortunate Good Rock Lords. It was cancelled around the same time as the GoBotron Fortress, and possibly for the same reasons - a high ticket item in a contracting market, with stores possibly already having a considerable inventory of Command Center and Thruster sets. Interestingly the Tonka catalogue's photography depicts it as an opposite number to the Rock Pot and does not feature the Stone Wing, raising the possibility that the latter was a belated addition to the first series of Rock Lords to give both sides something to interact with.
Consisting of four members known as the Fossil Lords, Fossilsaurus was a combining team. The members did not have individual alternate modes, instead being made up of four robots who merged to form a single large dinosaur. Despite this, Tonka planned to sell the members both individually and as a boxed "Fossil Puzzler Gift Set" during the second series of Rock Lords, with plans for a release as part of the Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos line in Japan as the Fossil Men around the same time, with prototypes featuring in promotional material on both sides of the Pacific. Neither release happened, though the figures were later retooled as Gattai Saurer for the 1987 Japanese Machine Robo: Battle Hackers line (which was later imported to Europe in small numbers and renamed Fossilsaurus). The reasons for the lack of a Western release is unknown; Tonka may have got cold feet over selling the figures with their abstract individual modes and a giftset release might not have been viable, while the adjustments to Gattai Saurer appear to be more than cosmetic, meaning there could have been engineering problems which were not resolved before Rock Lords was cancelled.
Machine Robo Series
Eight figures passed over as part of the Machine Robo Series were instead issued in the West in the third series of GoBots as Ace, Bent Wing, Bolt, Bullseye, Dart, Gunnyr, Mr. Moto and Treds. It is not known how close to a Japanese release these figures came before being abandoned - no information about possible names or the like has yet emerged. The reason for these figures not being released in Japan may be due to what can politely be described as their unconventionality, and the majority having severe durability issues.
Perhaps the most famous unreleased Machine Robo Series was City Turbo II Robo; while no prototype has yet been discovered the toy appeared in a catalogue, the animated Battle Armor 5 promotional video and an episode of Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos but sadly not in stores. Machine Robo Wedge included further concepts, including plans for figures based on a Pitts Special biplane, an M-1 Abrams tank (using a completely different layout to Treds, but possibly part of the same design process), a refrigerator truck (using similar engineering to Sanitation Robo and therefore possibly an early version of that figure), a Concorde jet-liner and a TGV high-speed train (which again got as far as being advertised in some printed material).
Five figures, known informally as the "MRT" or "Machine Robo Tonka" figures due to their stamp markings, were designed by Bandai on behalf of Tonka and were not ever considered for a Japanese release: Scratch, Sparky, Stallion, Stinger and Van Guard.
Devil Invader Series
As with the abandoned Machine Robo Series prototypes mentioned above, three abandoned prototypes for further Devil Invaders were released in the third series of GoBots as Bugsie, Hornet and Klaws. Again, no information about possible names has surfaced, though the design for Klaws was later repurposed as Death Winner Gamma in the TV Land Winner Robo stories.
Bandai initially planned to continue with a switch towards aircraft alternate modes. Plans for an SR-71 Blackbird were drawn up and a Saab Viggen was also planned before the range was shelved, possibly in favour of Big Machine Robo, though the idea of a transforming SR-71 would be revisited with Blackbird Robo.
Martial Arts Robo
The Martial Arts Robo went through several changes of concept before the final "articulated figures with transforming shells" idea was settled upon. Initially they were chunky conventionally-converting figures, and somewhere in the process the rotund Sumo Robo reached the prototype stage. Presumably he couldn't be reworked without losing the bulk that made it obvious he was modelled on a sumo wrestler. Tai Chi Robo was another prospective member who does not appear to have gone any further than concept sketches.
Another possible direction for the series was a more general sports approach, which led to a concept sketch of a figure based on an American footballer being made.
A large converting Boeing 747 that could accommodate a Machine Robo Series figure in a similar manner to Combat Buggy, appears to have been abandoned at the concept stage, though a toy based on the same aircraft would be made as a promotional item for Japan Air Lines.
Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos
An early plan for the franchise involved the Machine Robo being split into land, sea and air divisions, each with their own transforming base. One, presumably for the seaborne forces, made it as far as a prototype.
Another proposed large vehicle was planned as a transport for Rom Stol and his friends, even appearing in the animated "pilot" reel as such, and similarly made it to the prototype stage. The reason for abandonment seems to be a general reluctance by Bandai to release large all-new toys for the series.
They also considered making the Power Machines Flex figure licenced from Galoob into Eagle Shot, a transport for Martial Arts Robo figures, but instead it came out simply recoloured as Battleflex.
Machine Robo: Battle Hackers
Bandai then brought in several large all-new figures for the Battle Hackers line, being met with - by all accounts - disastrous sales. As such a planned toy for Garzack, which would not have converted but instead been intended to interact with either the series or a computer system (no-one seems especially sure), was cancelled - resulting in the character being de-emphasised in the series. Technical problems may also have played into this; no prototype has yet appeared.
Another forestalled plan was for an updated version of Revenge of Cronos star turn Baikanfu. Stock footage of Baikanfu was used in the majority of episodes of Machine Robo: Battle Hackers with Bandai planning an all-new toy of the character. It was possible the character would have fully returned in the show but the cartoon was cancelled after 31 episodes due to the aforementioned awful sales, meaning the toy only seems to have got to the concept stage. Baikanfu would eventually make brief animated appearances in Leina Stol in Wolf Sword Legend but the toyline had been cancelled by then.
Bandai attempted to redirect the failing Machine Robo toyline with the Winner Robo, small figures which harked back to the Machine Robo Series but with spring-loaded transformations. The gambit was not a success, and after eight Winner Robo figures had been released the line was cancelled, ending the Machine Robo franchise's original run. One figure, Hilux Winner, was far enough along in production to have had a prototype featured in catalogues, while two more - Drill Winner and Train Winner - appear to have only made it as far as the concept stage.
The 1993 revival of Machine Robo as CG Robo was another sales misfire, and at least two planned figures were abandoned, possibly at the concept stage.
Developed by PLEX for Mattel, Robo Wheels was a short-lived line of transforming cars under the Hot Wheels umbrella, released in the West during 2001. It was originally planned for the Japanese release of the figures to be a revival of Machine Robo, though the plan was abandoned and few details have since emerged.