3/2 Go-BOTS: the Challenged Robots


The mid eighties- the era that launched a thousand franchises. The thinly-veiled brainwashing waves imbedded within nostalgic favorite TV shows have inspired a sort of second coming for many of the more popular kiddie shows of the decade now that the kiddies have grown up. Trendsetters like the TransFormers, G.I. Joe, and so on are getting a new wave of fandom with their latest comic/toy/cartoon tie-ins.

But not everyone was as fortunate to get a second start. Memory serves that there was a second group of robots doing battle against their evil counterparts for the sake of Earth. Those unsung, bargain-bin heroes... the Go-Bots. The Go-Bots barely even have any slobbering fanboy sites, usually just relegated to sub-sections of obsessive TF collecting sites, without bios or anything.

In a nutshell, to explain what the Go-Bots were, they were a transparent Tonka knockoff of the Transformers. They came without much in the way of flourish or accessories, because the cartoon led us to believe that they could shoot lasers out of their fists, sort of like Space Ghost, only coming off lamer. They were popular for having lower price points than similar Transformers, which for some kids and parents was enough to outweigh horrifyingly bad names, and the tendency to lose arms and legs more regularly than third world land mine farmers. Plus they had a cool base that wasn't just an unfolded semi truck.

The cartoon followed the Guardians, self-proclaimed 'friendly' robots, fighting the Renegades. This outgoing nature tended to compromise their vehicular disguises, but not so much as the fact most of their faces showed when they 'converted' (because 'transforming' might have incurred the wrath of the Lawyercons) to their vehicular forms. That and the fact some of them didn't particularly look like anything. The diabolical, Homer Simpson stubbled Cy-Kill, for example turned into a motorcycle. One that looked a lot like a guy on all fours, trying to hold tired between his hands and knees. And showed his face on the front. Excusing the fact of course, that he was a motorcycle with no rider, ever. One might argue he still had an edge in mobility over Megatron, whose reign of terror could theoretically have been ended by being slipped in a leather holster.

Renegade limousine: "TUX". No, I'm not kidding.The Renegades were an interesting bunch. Cy-Kill seemed to believe he was clever, and his she-male companion Crasher had an accent and maniacal laugh. Other than that, their ranks were filled mainly by idiotic flunkies and metal-eating tricycles. And they didn't come to Earth to rob us of natural resources, they just kind of wanted to screw around with guys smaller than them. You might even argue the presence of the Guardians caused more trouble than it should have, since Cy-Kill probably would have got bored and moved on to another world had he not had the squeaky clean Leader-1 been around for him to focus evil plots on.

But what about said Guardians? Well, the Go-Bots answer to Optimus Prime and his authority was Leader-1, a prime (no pun intended) example of how great they were at naming themselves. In some sort of unconscious counterpoint to Starscream, Loser-1 was a squeaky clean Boy Scout of a guy who turned into a boringly accurate F-15 Strike Eagle. Well, there is one major deviation- even in the animation model, the plane mode has four wheels on the bottom instead of normal landing gear. He was kind of cool looking, in spite of having a head that looked like Mr. Clean in an old-man sun visor. One of my most profound memories of this show had him getting de-magnetized or something and simply falling apart. The Go-Bots' Bumblebee was a little red imp named Scooter who turned into a dorky little scooter. I'm pretty sure he had no elbows.

There were a couple of Go-Bots movies, as per some sort of deregulation law that allowed for not only 'program length commercials' but 'feature length commercials.' One of them was a few repackaged TV episodes wherein Cy-Kill came up with a whole army of Zods, which was probably as close as he would come to world domination. Zod was a vaguely Godzilla-like robot who puttered around on a trio of thick rubber tires. His tail had a few segments shaped like D batteries. Coincidentally, D Batteries went there in the toy. Zod was pretty much a dumb animal, but the fact he could eat cars like Doritos made everyone at least act afraid whenever he was on the loose. Later on he had a rival of the lame sort, a sort of Formula One racer that sprouted a robotic snakes' head. The other, and more infamous picture was a crossover with the even worse toy concept, the Rock Lords. Mighty warriors, who turned into ROCKS. The only thing even remotely good about that was the amount of circulation a Rock Lord toy might have after being left in the park or woods in Rock mode. I wonder how many of those guys were actually bought and not just found.

In terms of quality and inventiveness, individual Go-Bots were all over the place. A huge chunk of their catalog were pretty much cars that had you pull or unfold the legs, then pull out the arms and stand them up. Every few of them though, they would really knock themselves out and come up with an inventive series of joints to make for some that were more fun to mess with than similarly priced (cheap) Transformers. The combiner Puzzler is one of the more sought-after sets, a series of six cars that unite into one big robot with more articulation than any of its parts. Some of the deluxe-sized ones in particular were impressive feats. The most noteworthy thing of all about the Go-Bots was just the sheer variety of stupid vehicles to choose from. We had a principle character who turned into a fucking Vespa, for crying out loud. An old British roadster named "Good Knight." Fire truck and dump truck brothers unfortunately dubbed Dumper and Pumper. Did I mention their names sucked ass? The Puzzler bots were noteworthy for having some of the Eightiest names ever- including Rube. As in Rubick's cube. The other combiners, the Monsters were noteworthy for having names lame even by GO-BOT standards. Like Creepy. Other notably awful names while I'm at it: "Jeeper Creeper." "Crain(sic) Brain." And of course "SPAY-C," the pet-neutering friendly robot space shuttle.

The package art reflected the toy's poseability or lack theirof by having the majority of them with their arms raised in a "HEIL HITLER" manner.

If one thing was worth pointing out, they seemed more willing to include female characters. Small Foot was a spunky pickup truck with an oddly tantalizing roll-bar bra. She was voiced by a former Playboy Playmate, but then again who isn't? Pathfinder was an unassuming flying saucer (Again; they weren't the best at disguises.) The aformentioned Crasher was supposed to be sort of like a twenty foot tall Baroness, but well, lipstick doesn't flatter chrome complexions. Even when spraypainted pink. Sorry, Sugar-Crash.

OK, so they ripped off the Transformers' home world too. Gobotron. This is where the Gobots romp and play and get conquered by a motorbike with no handles. They apparently begin their non-life cycle unable to transform, and are granted the power after completing course at a robo-academy. Guardian Academy sounds fine and all, but for some reason the idea of a self proclaimed 'academy' for Renegades sounds suspect. Maybe that explains why Cy-Kill just sort of hunches over instead of transforms, per se...

I could end this gracefully, but frankly it just dawned on me I spent nearly an hour hunting down images and writing about frickin' GO-BOTS, and I suddenly want to cry. GALAHUAGHLAUAGLAGAHUAGLAG



...the 4x4 I dared to love as a boy.

I'm glad they named this 'tard Tank because he looks more like an unruly hot air popcorn popper. Plus once he loses his guns, he's just a guy hunched over.