Low budget toys are back, and this time they’re… expensive?

Any kid of the 80s who liked toys that transformed from an object into a robot knew the GoBots.  They were the cheap transforming toys your Aunt & Uncle or Gran got you because you like Transformers and  they just couldn’t tell the difference.  Anyway, now they’re being brought back in their original Machine Robo1 form by a combo of Action Toys2 and Bandai3, and this time they’re bringing articulation with them!

I realise from the intro that it appears I’m treating GoBots as a complete joke toy line but, like a moderate number of Transformers fans4, I have it squared away in my heart underneath Transformers but above Dino Riders and Starcom.  Being from the UK we didn’t know GoBots until later on and instead had Robo Machine and a requisite (at the time) appearance in an IPC comic5, in this case The Eagle.6  That comic sold me on GoBots.  It even sold me on the shoddy Zod who in this comic strip was a monstrous form a human scientist had transformed himself into.  It was a brutal turn of events matched with the appearance of the very-alien, nay demonic-looking, Vamp.  Such fun comics that I was glued to every week.

So, yeah, I have a love for GoBots in a roundabout way, but we’re not here to talk GoBots anyway, we’re here for Machine Robo!

Machine Robo: it's very much NOT GoBots.
Machine Robo: it’s very much NOT GoBots.

Action Toys are a new company that seem to have appeared out of nowhere with a masterplan fully in place.  It’s a bit strange but for the hints at who may be behind them.  The new Eagle Robo7 bears some similarity to Independent Transforming Toys released by FansProject and Maketoys8, particularly the hands.  Now if this is true, and it will remain an ‘if’ until Action Toys or Bandai ever say it’s the case, this can only be a good thing because that designer (or design team) have put out some of the best Independent Transforming Toys money can buy.9

They're kind of similar, right? I'm not just imagining it, yeah?
They’re kind of similar, right? I’m not just imagining it, yeah?

You’d have thought since they’re remaking the Machine Robo line they’d be releasing them in the same order, but nope.  Yes, we’re getting Bike Robo10, MR-01 from the original Machine Robo line, and Battle Robo11, MR-02, but then there’s a huge jump to Drill Robo12, MR-17, and then further along to Eagle Robo’s MR-25.  Drill Robo kind of makes sense since he’s fairly centre stage through the Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos cartoon that these toys are badged with, but Eagle Robo?  It should be Jet Robo, Fitor, who is up front with Drill Robo in the cartoon.

The cynic in me… or optimist maybe in this case… is left wondering if this is all a ploy to market these outside of Japan.  Leader-1, Tank, Cy-Kill and Screw Head all appeared in the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon, so maybe they’re trying to delicately push the nostalgia button in North Americans and Europeans?  I say delicately because GoBots are currently a Hasbro property, so that route is closed off bar for some bizarre deal that would see two competitors for the same market agree on something.  Mmm.  I’m not going to hold my breath on that but, as we’ve seen with the rise of Maketoys & FansProject, Hasbro don’t seem as litigious as we’ve come to expect of corporations, so these may exist in the same weird limbo despite actually being fully licensed toys.

Regardless of their status internationally, Action Toys seem to be going great guns with the line as these four aren’t all we’re getting.  While we’ve seen previews at toy shows of Fitor13 and Turbo, a recent photo showing off the grey prototype of Machine Robo Tough Trailer in vehicle mode also happens to feature Loco in his steam train form.  We’ve also had a sort-of confirmation of prices and release dates thanks to a surprisingly quick-on-the-mark Big Bad Toy Store listing.  $46 and Q2, so basically ‘soon’ and ‘cheaper than FansProject & Maketoys combiner limbs’.

And, finally, Action Toys released further info on what we’ll be getting.  Firstly, and this is an interesting turn, the toys will contain die-cast metal parts, an element that featured heavily14 in the original Machine Robo toy line.  What parts of each robot will be metal is unknown as yet, but hopefully this will make them pretty solid.  There is also something that is becoming more and more common in toy releases: a stand for the toy to pose on.  And this one is modular, too.  A modular action figure base system.  That will be extremely interesting to see and compare against Bandai’s Tamashii Stages.  And, going by the photo of Tank & Leader-115 the figures themselves have hard-points for the stand’s connectors to plug in to for ultimate posing!

  • Not a standard stand

Hopefully what will have come across from the above is that I’m both curious and excited for this line.  Whether it’s Machine Robo, Robo Machine or GoBots what does seem evident is that someone wants to make good action figures out of the 80s donkey to Transformers’ stallion, and that’s never a bad thing.  We just need a storyline that’s not stupid, maybe something more akin to the Robo Machine comic .  And Crasher.  We have to have Crasher.

Crasher, the awesomest GoBot
Crasher, the awesomest GoBot

References   [ + ]

1. GoBots was also a Japanese toy line before Tonka got hold of them, much like Transformers.
2. A new company nobody seems to have any info on.
3. Bandai were the parent company to Machine Robo’s manufacturer, Popy.
4. Some might say a handful.
5. IPC were part of a triumvirate of publishers including Fleetway & DC Thompson who basically ruled kids comics for decades.
6. Home of Dan Dare and, more importantly, Doomlord!
7. Or as we know it, Leader-1.
8. Most notably FansProject’s Intimidator crew of not-Stunticons and Maketoys Quantron crew of not-Technobots.
9. I’m not kidding, Maketoys Blindfire is absolutely amazing to the point where I also own the Ripper (it has the G1 Terrorcon Cutthroat’s colours) version of it.
10. aka Cy-Kill.
11. aka Tank.
12. aka Screw Head.
13. Dammit, I knew I’d end up switching to GoBot names!
14. This was genuinely unintentional, but I’m going to run with it.
15. Yeah, I’ve pretty much given up using Machine Robo names…