Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dōmo Arigatō, Mister Roboto

The Others Part 3
If these guys look familiar, they should, Machine Robo was the predecessor of the American robot line Gobots.  In the same way that American company Hasbro converted Diaclone into Transformers, Tonka converted Machine Robo into what more people know today as Gobots.  But Gobot toys were never very popular here in the Philippines.  For me, it was Machine Robo.

I got my first Machine Robos from my usual source & supplier of toys and all things good back then…my dad. I remember finding them cool since they were like Transformers in that they also transformed from vehicles to robots and back again but their transformations were simple and their small sizes made them easy to carry around.  Of course they also came with small catalogues that showed me the rest of the line…and there were a lot!  A funny thing I remember was that these robots didn’t have real names other than a code number designation like “MR-01, 02, 03 and so on”.  Of course back then it didn’t occur to me that  “MR” was short for Machine Robo, so I would call my robots “Mister” 01, 02, 03 & so on…I was very formal with these bots.

Anyway like I said, although not as complicated as Transformers, these WERE cool robots and I did get quite a lot of them, probably more than Transformers since they were a lot cheaper.  So you may wonder why these guys didn’t make as much of an impact to me as Transformers did.  I thought about this for a moment and almost instantly came up with an obvious answer.

So which one would you watch?
Although the Gobot toys didn’t really make it to our shores, the Gobot cartoon did….and quite frankly, it pretty much SUCKED.  Ok most unbiased Transformers fans will admit, the original G1 cartoon was far from perfect but it managed to do what the Gobots cartoon failed to do.  Aside from introduce kids to robots, the Transformers cartoon (and later toy tech specs) introduced us to actual characters, the noble and stoic Optimus Prime, the cocky and delusional Cliffjumper,  the treacherous Starscream, I could go on and on, even my third string favourite blue jet Thundercracker was a Decepticon who wasn’t quite convinced by the Decepticon cause but followed Megatron because he feared him (taken from the tech spec)..this was deep stuff for a kid’s toyline but it made these ‘robots’ more real to us.

It was like the Gobots weren’t even trying, each episode featured the same 6 cookie cutter good guys and bad guys with the occasional guest appearance from some random bot.  So yeah, in my opinion, the Gobots toyline died not because they had an inferior product, but because their manufacturers failed to go the extra mile and build a world around their characters.

In the end, Hasbro ended up buying Tonka along with the rights to the Gobots. So now the Gobots are essentially all Transformers….although they will always be treated as second class and scrap fodder for Megatron and company.


And if you were wondering where Leader-1 ended up...

Yub Nub! Eee Chop Yub Nub!
I pretty much wrote most of what I wanted to say about my early days of collecting Star Wars in a previous post.  By the time I moved to collecting G.I. Joes, Star Wars was almost a distant memory.  I say “almost” because I did manage to hold on to some of my favourite characters.  And when I say favourites, I don’t mean Han or Luke or Leia (back then they had yet to make a Slave Leia action figure).  In 1983, when Return of The Jedi hit the theatres, the first time I laid eyes on the Ewoks it was pretty much love at first sight.  I read somewhere that Lucas intentionally invented the Ewoks in order to attract younger viewers to Star Wars…well MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! I loved these guys! And I would watch my Betamax copy of ROTJ as well as the 2 Ewok movies that followed (Caravan of Courage & The Battle for Endor) over and over again, just to see my favourite Ewoks. 

The initial line only offered 4 distinct Ewoks, Wicket (of course), Logray the medicine man, Teebo the scout, and Chief Chirpa the….well, chief. Later on they added 2 more, Warok & Romba.  These guys made up my “super six” and I would take them everywhere I went.  They didn’t fit in with any of my other toylines though, but I didn’t care.  They stood out on their own.

My Super Six
When I started collecting toys again, I made it a point to NOT collect Star Wars again, simply because well there were just too many lines out there (I ALMOST caved with the Clone Wars), and even now I am tempted to buy JUST some Jedi or JUST some bounty hunters. Ok I admit, after writing about my favourite bounty hunter Dengar in a previous post, I came across a lot of bounty hunters (including Dengar & Boba Fett) for cheap on eBay that I just could not resist and purchased it.  More on those guys on a future post...

the New & Improved Wicket! 
photo courtesy of Marc Thomas 
Anyway, last year Hasbro came up with a NEW and improved Wicket action figure, this year they released a new Logray….I already have both of them standing proudly next to my laptop at home.  Later this year they will be releasing more ewoks care of a 2 pack scout pack and an exclusive 5 pack as well….I HATE YOU HASBRO.

With honorary ewok, Chewie