Robo Machines (franchise)

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This article is about 1993 franchise. For the 1983-1987 franchise, see Robo Machine (franchise).
[l-r] S.O.S., Sports Car, Chaser

Robo Machines was a 1993 toyline released in Europe by Bandai, except in Italy where the line was released by Giochi Preziosi.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Toyline[edit | edit source]

The line consisted of reissues of a selection of figures from the 1980s Machine Robo and Robo Machine lines, many of which had been released as part of GoBots. Due to rival Hasbro owning the various GoBots trademarks the reissued toys were all given generic descriptors instead of names - though it didn't make any difference for Scooter and Zero. The exception to this was five figures drawn from Bandai's then-current CG Robo line, which were not only new to Western customers but were also given names. These figures activated lights and sounds when their lights were pressed down. The line was likely at least partly influenced by Hasbro's Transformers: Generation 2 and/or their European branch's Classics range.

  • The standard "Robo Machines" were all sold on identical blister cards showing Sports Car (i.e. a modified white Crasher) flying in robot mode above the figure's vehicle mode. The 'name' of the figure was then added on a slim silver sticker - this allowed the same card to be used all across Europe, with the local translation of the designation simply stickered on. The card back only varied slightly in terms of cross-sells.
  • The "De Luxe Robo Machines", drawn from the Super GoBots range, featured similarly generic packaging, albeit using a window box with a plastic tray inside and a picture of the vehicle mode on the front. For some peculiar reason De Luxe Sports Car II used a red/black colour scheme never used on the figure before.
  • The "Light & Sound Robo Machines" did feature some attempt at personalisation, with computer-generated images taken from the CG Robo advertising campaign showing the character in both modes, and in Britain at least received names. These were the only CG Robo moulds to be issued outside of Japan.

The reissued figures all had modified sticker sheets; these substituted most text on the original sticker sheet with "Robo Machines", "RM" or some variation. Meanwhile Sports Car's stickers were totally recoloured to make it look less like Rothmans' livery - not only for copyright reasons but also because the idea of a children's toy featuring cigarette advertising was a lot less likely to fly in 1993 compared to 1983. Sadly the new stickers were cheap and papery, tearing easily and adhering to the plastic poorly. The plastic itself for the line on the reissued figures was also noticeably cheaper than that used in the 1980s while parts of some figures were hard to get flush or move freely, either due to mould degradation or poor quality control. The "Light & Sound" figures seemed to suffer less; it is possible they at least were unsold Japanese overstock.

Translations on the packaging used English, German, French and Spanish, while similar but separate packaging was used for Giochi Preziosi's Italian releases.

Fiction[edit | edit source]

The 'fiction' for the line was entirely limited to the tagline "Mighty Morphin' Heroes", which established that the Robo Machines were heroes who morphed, and mighty ones at that. While it obviously rings of Bandai's more successful Power Rangers line the latter only just debuted, so was an odd thing to try and cash in on. Unlike Power Rangers the line was not a success and disappeared after a single year, with much of the stock shelf-warming for years and getting heavily clearanced. However, it is notable as the last occasion on which 'classic' GoBots/Machine Robo figures were available new at retail. It also meant several late run figures from the 1980s line were put in circulation in greater numbers.