GoBots, Robo Machines and Machine Men – Bandai’s family of transforming robots

Robo Machines. UK. 1983.

GoBots. Model kits by Monogram. US. 1985.

I name thee…

GoBots, Machine Men and Robo Machine(s) are some of the international names given to Japanese toy company Bandai’s transforming vehicle/robot toy line first sold in 1982.

In Japan, the original line was called Machine Robo and was initially made by Popy, thereafter by parent company Bandai. In Europe the line was known as Robo Machine or Robo Machines by Bandai UK Limited. In North America the line was adapted into GoBots by Tonka. In Australia the line was Machine Men by Bandai Australia PTY Ltd, and in Brazil – Mutante by Glasslite. In 1986, Tonka released Rock Lords – a short-lived toy line based on characters in the movie GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords.

The Robos VS Transformers

The toyline, in its numerous guises, was always in competition with Hasbro’s Transformers. In both the transforming toy craze of the 1980s and its TV, video and film stakes, it’s probably fair to say that Transformers won out as the most popular. Interestingly though, and in a manner truly representative of ‘transforming’, in 1991 Hasbro bought out the Tonka company (who owned the rights to GoBots) and became its new intellectual property owners, later incorporating the two franchises by making GoBots a part of the Transformers universe.

Robo Machines today

The line continued in various toy and media formats throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, with numerous reappearances thereafter, including a Bandai/Production Reed/Action Toys revival toy line in 2015.

TVTA is pleased to present a selection of adverts and catalogue pages bringing together this multi-faceted robot family from Bandai.

Machine Men Hanimex camera competition. 1985. Bandai Australia.

Robo Machine mini catalogue front cover.

Robo Machine Command Centre Play Set.

Zod. Robo Machine catalogue page.

Comic book serialisation

British comic Eagle ran a serialisation of Robo Machines between 1984 and 1985 written by Tom Tully and with initial artwork by Mario Capaldi then Kim Raymond. Eagle comic issues from this period often contained toy giveaways and prize competitions to promote the Robo Machines toy line as well as the serialisation.

The Robo Machines. Tom Tully and Kim Raymond. Eagle comic. UK. 1985.

Bandai prizes competition. Eagle comic. UK. 1983.

Robo Machines Command Centre. 1985.

Robo Machines Leader One and Cy-Kill robots offer. Eagle and Tiger comics. UK. 1985.

Robo Machines. RM15 offer. Eagle. UK. 1985.

DX Robo Machines offer in Eagle comic 1985. UK.

Thank you for transforming with us!

8 thoughts on “GoBots, Robo Machines and Machine Men – Bandai’s family of transforming robots

  1. Although this is not part of my younger world, I sure know Transformers. Of most interest is the fact that “Hasbro bought out the Tonka company (who owned the rights to GoBots) and became its new intellectual property owners, later incorporating the two franchises by making GoBots a part of the Transformers universe.”
    This is a common practice, and in a few years the planet will be owned by 5 companies, if it isn’t already!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes, you’re probably right about that!
      The toy industry has been notorious for companies buying one another out over the years and acquiring the rights to sometimes longstanding rival toy lines. In fact, it’s so rife, it’s almost impossible to keep track of who owned what, when, and who owns it now. Not that it’s a bad thing mind, as it’s ensured many toylines have been able to stay in production. One example – Kenner was the original 70s/80s US license for Star Wars toys – at the same time Disney Buena Vista had a license to sell Star Wars storybooks and records – then Hasbro took over Kenner in the 90s – then in recent years Disney took over… so Disney (although not a major license of Star Wars back in the day), has kind of come full circle by owning Star Wars completely!


  2. Hi TVTA, ah…the eighties craze for transforming toys! Jacob was 100% spot on when he mentioned that metallic text on the ads, pure 80’s!
    I quite like the Bandai take on Bumblebee (yellow VW Beetle). I never owned any of Bandai’s robots but I did have a few original Hasbro Transformers. I had Silverbot, the Concorde inspired Aerialbot and I had Optimus Prime.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yae! I wasn’t aware of the history, cause I just knew them as GoBots… and assumed that mine was similarly branded. I had Bug Bite (the yellow guy there) and, I believe, Herr Fiend. They came in a box if I remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool you had some of those and remember them! I wish I had some as a kid and some Transformers too, but they never happened. I had no idea of the GoBots/Robos history either until I made the research on Machine Men which looked similar. It’s been good to connect them all into one post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I believe the GoBots were a gift from my grandparents, cause I had some Transformers. Guess it was kinda the same thing to them. The Transformer toys were pretty impressive… great detail and robust. Though that might just be how I remember them.

        Liked by 1 person

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