Friday, 28 September 2012


Here's a US print advert (published in comics cover-dated February 1986) for the syndicated transforming-robots show CHALLENGE OF THE GOBOTS.

This Hanna Barbera produced show, created to sell Tonka's imported toys (known as Machine Robo in their native Japan), really was poor.  The animation was simplistic and crappy, the scripts poor (even by animated show standards) and production standards non-existent.  Despite these obvious shortcomings, Britain's breakfast broadcaster TV-am seemed to favour this show above the rival - and vastly superior - Hasbro/ Marvel THE TRANSFORMERS show, which it also aired in the UK.

TV-am chopped-up GOBOTS episodes into five-minute chunks and stripped them across a week as part of their school holidays-only daily show WACADAY, hosted by Timmy Mallett.  They'd previously done the same with Marvel's show (and later reran them - relatively - intact at weekends) but, much to the annoyance of Transfans, swiftly seemed to favour this (clearly inferior) show.

Perhaps H-B cut TV-am a better deal.  Or - possibly - the breakfast station felt more comfortable airing the Gobots because its toy association was a little less blatant.  The Gobots toys were sold as ROBO MACHINES in the UK and - possibly - TV-am felt it was less of a blatant plug for the toys.  TV-am's roster of kids shows also included JEM, CARE BEARS, THE GET-ALONG GANG and M.A.S.K which - maybe - made them sensitive to acquisitions that they were operating as an extension of toy companies marketing departments.

The TV show ran to 65-episodes, stripped daily by local stations in the States.  It's likely TV-am only bought a fraction of the available shows (one episode did, after all, last a week in the UK!) and most will never have been seen on this side of the Atlantic.  

Challenge of the Gobots even managed to spawn a spin-off: the long-forgotten GOBOTS: BATTLE OF THE ROCKLORDS animated feature film.  Cursed with the same production standards as the small-screen version (indeed, it was originally created for TV and suddenly upgraded as an opportunist big screen release) - and designed to sell a crappy toy idea (robots that transform into - err - rocks!) - the movie made barely a dent on popular culture when it was released in 1986, the same year as TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE.

A ROBO MACHINES strip briefly appeared in IPC's EAGLE.  Although it featured the some of the same characters, the premise was completely unrelated to the animated show (contrasted with THE TRANSFORMERS, which - despite some differences - demonstrated strong consistency across its various media and publishing incarnations). 

1 comment:

  1. Calling all Gobots fans, I'm selling my collection : Contact me for further info


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