Tuesday, July 7, 2009

challenge to remember the go-bots

Back in May at Anime North I sat in on the "classic anime" panel, where the topic of conversation sort of meandered amusingly, and we were rude to kids in the hall (not THE Kids In The Hall, just some actual kids in the actual hall) who were interrupting our important discussion with their tremendously annoying squeals. At one point, discussing the way Japanese toys made it over to North America in the 1980s sometimes without benefit of TV series support or any familiarity with the shows in question -a topic I've covered here before-, my befogged brain twitched and served up a tidbit of memory of a certain toy. Released as part of the "Go-Bots" line of transforming robot toys, this plaything was actually from SPACE ADVENTURE COBRA, the Buichi Terasawa manga turned into the TMS anime series all about Cobra and his Psycho-Gun and the various sexy ladies that help him on his sexy outer space adventures. Wow, I hadn't thought about that toy in a long time, not since I was in high school working part time at K-Mart and killing time wandering through the toy aisle marvelling at how K-Mart was selling Xabungle toys and Dunbine toys and who knows what else.

At any rate a couple of weeks later we were rooting through an antique mall and lo and behold, there it was, the "Go-Bot" in question. Five dollars and an inane conversation with the clerk about it being a "Transformer" later, and it was mine! Proof my brain is still the boss!

Given the name "Psycho", this space-age sports car was a proud addition to the mighty "Go-Bots" line of toys. But if the "Go-Bots" were all poorly-animated sentient robots who transformed into vehicles for the benefit of chortling, easily amused preschoolers, then why are there two human shaped people sitting in the passenger seats?

That's because this toy was originally known as the "Psychoroid", the passenger vehicle of the definitely-not-for-preschoolers Cobra, a freebooting space adventurer with a powerful laser gun built into his left arm, a sexy robot companion, and a taste for the full-figured gals that exist only in the mind of Buichi Terasawa.

Bandai licensed the toy out to Europe who took out the missile launchers, renamed it the "Future Machine", and happily passed it on to America, who were pleased to get yet another transforming robot toy to cram onto the overstuffed shelves of toy stores across the nation.

With a few clicks and turns this sporty speedster becomes an amazingly clumsy robot that barely looks as if it can stand on its own, let alone help Cobra or the "Go-Bots" battle in the far flung world of the future.

Cobra inspired an interesting line of toys, as seen here captured in photos from "My Anime" magazine.

Who wouldn't want a toy of Cobra's utilitarian spaceship "Turtle", as well as a toy Psychogun to wear on their very own arm? The schoolyard bullies will definitely respect you once you start waving that Psychogun around.

Also released as "Go-Bot" model kits were two mecha from the Tatsunoko series MOSPEADA. One was an Alpha Fighter relabeled as good "Go-Bot" leader "Leader One", and the other was a Mospeada Cyclone bike renamed as "Go-Bot" villain "Cy-Kill". You know, because he's a motorcycle, and he's evil. That's the kind of subtle understatement we've come to expect from American cartoons of the 1980s. And yes, I'm aware "Go-Bots" were based around a Japanese toy line called "Machine Robo", except for the ones that were from "Diaclone", and that some of the "Machine Robo" toys became "Go-Bots" and some became "Transformers". And I totally do not care. Toy lines that aren't based on cartoons about Psycho-Guns and/or sexy space ladies are of no interest to me.

So, farewell to the "Go-Bots"! So long suckers! Give my regards to the "Rock Lords!"


Superdeformed said...

Yet another reason I am pissed at my mom for tossing out my toys.

Mind = Blown

Matt Murray said...

Jesus Christ; I'd forgotten all about the goddman Rock Lords. I remember us joking in high school about the doubtlessly upcoming toys of transforming kitchen sinks, as the idea had very few other places to go.

Steve Harrison said...

I like how even in this bizarro version they still managed to have the Cobra figure in red and Lady chromed.

Another one of those "uuuuuh?" toys was the Converters, which many were toys from Galvion, the show that killed Takatoku Toys.

The toys were designed, the tooling cut, and just before they went into production *WHAM* lock the doors, we're done!

But, like the last chopper out of Saigon, that tooling found life in quasi-bootleg sales to Toys R Us and such. There were a handful of DX Galvions made and they go for sick, sick money.

It wasn't near anywhere as good as the VF-1 Valkyrie toy, sadly.

Chris Sobieniak said...

A toy line I just never knew the reasons for at a young age! Loved it when it was referred to as "the Kmart Transformers" in the Clerks sequel and I was just like, "Yep, that's all they were!"

Still, a shame I didn't keep some of those if I had knew the origins of them.

Steve Harrison said...

Dave! Dave! hey Dave! You should TOTALLY cosplay Cobra at AWA!


dig the groovy English!


And if they made this in a size I could wear this would totally be my 'con shirt'


Hey, Japan! Americans want to wear your clothing too! Sumo-size it!

Kirk D. said...

Wow, it's great to know the back story on this fellow! He was always my favorite GoBot and I was always a bit confused by him. I knew he didn't quite gel with the others. The two little guys inside was a big clue. Thanks for clearing up this mystery. I'm inspired now to get him out of the garage and stand him on my desk.

Chris Sobieniak said...

As Dave had pointed out before, it's interesting the Japanese anime/manga properties that never came over here, otherwise did through means such as this (stuck into another toyline for example). I think Cobra would've been my fav toon if it had saw an airing somewhere on the dial in the 80's or 90's but it just didn't happen. Sad finding out about these classics later on and think "Where was I when all this was going on?" Too bad I was still too young to really pursue it then when the 80's were a hot time for it.

Helen McCarthy said...

I dare not show this post to my dearly beloved. he would head straight for Canada, dressed in a striped jumper and black face mask, carrying a bag marked 'SWAG", and break into your apartment.

That is SUCH a cool toy that I'd even post bail for him....

Rogh-sensei said...

Holy shit I HAD ONE OF THESE as a kid! Never could figure out the continuity it belonged to until now. Also, my toy didn't have the little passengers in it. Thanks for the flashback, man.

darkknight81 said...

I've been looking for this bad boy for quite a while now! Psycho's design always reminded me of the Batmobile. Thanks for posting,if you hadn't,I'd still be looking for him today!