Before I begin, I just want to remind fans that next year is the 30th anniversary of the Transformers franchise. So to honor it, I will most likely be submitting more Transformers related fanart by next year. But that's not what I want to talk about for this entry. Now let me ask you something, how many of you out there remember the show known as “Challenge of the Gobots”? Because to be honest with you, I'm not sure if there's many people who remember that show as much as they might remember Transformers, which was much better received, and was considered one of the highlights of the 80s. Now, some of you might ask, why am I talking about Transformers and Gobots at the same time? Well, it's simple, because I used to watch both shows when they first aired on television in the 80s. But first I want to get some history out of the way. Right from the beginning, more people were into Transformers than they were into Gobots. From what I can recall, a lot of people hated Gobots because it was considered by fans to be a Transformers rip off. However, that's debatable to say the least, because both shows aired in 1984. However, some sources indicate that Challenge of the Gobots aired at least a few months prior to Transformers, which means Gobots came first. But regardless of which series aired first, there's no denying that Transformers was far more popular and well-known. Whereas Challenge of the Gobots is one of those shows that's been left in the shadows.
Based on what I've learned, Gobots originally started off as a toy-line in 1983 by a Japanese company known as Tonka. Originally, the Gobots toy-line was called “Machine Robo”. The Transformers toyline on the other hand, started a year later in 1984 by Hasbro and Takara. So in reality, Gobots most definitely came first. There were even two animated TV series that aired in Japan known as “Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos”, and “Machine Robo: Battle Hackers”. Revenge of Cronos ran from 1986 to 1987, and lasted 47 episodes. While Battle Hackers ran from June to December of 1987, and lasted 31 episodes. But that's not what I'm going to discuss for this review. The show I want to go over is the American TV series known as “Challenge of the Gobots”, a show which to my understanding has pretty much been forgotten. The show was made by Hanna Barberra, the same company that gave us Scooby Doo, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Dynomutt, the Super Friends show, and lots of other cartoons that come to mind. As I said earlier, Challenge of the Gobots was not very well received among viewers. But it aired in the same year as the original Transformers cartoon. Because both shows aired in the same year, it sparked a lot of confusion among audiences. Mainly because both shows revolved around alien transforming robots who came from planets that are entirely mechanical, and brought their war over to Earth. In fact, the premises of these two shows are so similar, that it's easy to get the two confused. If it wasn't for the titles, nobody would have been able to tell the difference. However, there are some notable differences between the two series.
The first thing that's different are the names. Not only did Challenge of the Gobots feature a completely different cast of characters, but the names of the places and ranks were different two. For example, the name of the Gobot's home planet was Gobotron rather than Cybertron. Along with that, the Autobots were called the Guardians, and the Decepticons were called the Renegades. There were three main characters on each side. The leader of the Guardians was “Leader-1”, who transformed into a jet plane, and the leader of the Renegades was “Cy-Kill”, who transformed into a motorcycle. On Leader-1's team we have Turbo, whose alternate form is a sports car, and Scooter who true to his name, transforms into a scooter. On Cy-Kill's team, we have Cop-Tor, who transforms into a helicopter, and Crasher, a female Renegade who transforms into a black sports car. She was perhaps the first female robot ever to be introduced in a series about transforming robots. And she predated Arcee by two years. There were other Guardians and Renegades two. Many of them which appeared in specific episodes of the series. But there's too many to list, so I'm not going to go into details with that. Unlike the Autobots and Decepticons, who were all marked by their respective logos, the Gobots (as well as the toys) had no identifying insignias or markings to indicate their allegiance, although it was clearly indicated on the packaging. Likewise, there was no commonality of design within each faction. The only 'theme' to a side was that anything that turned into a 'monstrous'-looking robot or vehicle was a Renegade. Also like in Transformers, the Guardians even had human allies, which included Matt Hunter, Nick Burns, and AJ Foster. Unlike Transformers, which ran for 3 seasons and lasted for nearly 100 episodes, Challenge of the Gobots was rather short in comparison. The show ran from 1984 to 1985, and an overall total of 65 episodes were made. It's also worth mentioning that there was even a full-length animated feature film called “Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords”, which was shown in theaters in 1986, the same year when the original Transformers movie was released. From what I’ve heard, the movie performed quite poorly at the box office, and did not receive many good reviews. Just in my opinion though, Transformers: The Movie is a much better movie in comparison.
In recent years, Hasbro somehow managed to acquire the rights to some of the characters from Gobots, and incorporated them to the Transformers universe. Though they have only appeared in some of the comics that I bought from my local comicbook store. In those comics, we've gotten appearances from Leader-1, Cy-Kill, and even Crasher. Though they have been redesigned from their 80s incarnations. Which is understandable since times change and all. In one of the comics that I have in my possession, Cy-Kill appeared as a gladiator who engaged in a one on one duel with Megatron for surpremacy. Of course, Megatron ended up killing Cy-Kill in the end. And there has been numerous references to Gobots in the Transformers universe. Though their appearances are rather rare and brief. In 2007, just shortly after the release of the first live action TF movie, there was a flash cartoon that I saw on YouTube that featured Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Leader-1 interacting together. In this short cartoon, Optimus Prime and Megatron chat with each other at a dinning table, and Leader-1 acted as their waiter, who was rather pleased to see them. But Prime and Megatron are less than impressed. At the end of the short, we even get a very brief cameo appearance from Johnny 5, the robot from Short Circuit. All played for laughs.
Now some of you might ask, what are my personal thoughts on Gobots? Well, to be perfectly honest, I do not share the same hatred towards the series that the majority of the Transformers fandom has for it. In fact, to begin with, I used to love Gobots when I was a child. And I used to have a lot of the toys as well. But up until I learned about Transformers later in the same year, I quickly lost interest in Gobots, and focused my attention on Transformers, because it was a far more popular and respected franchise at the time. But in all honesty, I thought Gobots was an okay show for what it was. I may not have liked it as much, but I thought it was okay for its time. I never hated the series or had any sort of negative feelings for it. And believe it or not, it still has some nostalgic value for me despite its obscurity. But to this day, I still consider Transformers to be one of the best shows of the 80s. Needless to say the franchise is still going strong right to this day, even after almost 30 years later.