The Ten Best GoBots Ever Produced!
When I decided to write my defense of The Gobots a few weeks back, I wasn’t expecting to bring back so many fond memories for myself. In fact, I started putting together a list in my head of which of those toys oft-perceived as Transformers knockoffs that could convince even the most jaded toy fan that the GoBots had plenty to offer.
So, without any ado, I present to you the official Dork Droppings list of the best GoBots ever produced!
10. Small Foot
Small Foot just barely beat out Night Ranger for the 10 spot. In reality, Night Ranger isn’t really one of the best GoBot toys – he’s all plastic, his robot mode is kind of wonky, and his color scheme is a little gaudy; but he’s a badass motorcycle in vehicle mode and his name is shared with the band that put out one of the biggest hits of the year he was released in stores. All of that notwithstanding, Small Foot is just a better toy. Despite being half the length of the Transformers Trailbreaker and Hoist, who also transform into Toyota Hilux pickups, she (did I mention she’s a she?) is actually a more accurate representation of the real vehicle. The transformation isn’t all that complex, but Small Foot is such a charming little ‘bot, proportioned well and with a cool little color scheme (it doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for the red/blue combination.) Bonus points for her characterization on Challenge of the Gobots – she’s impulsive, hot-headed and reckless, which gets her into trouble sometimes, but her bravery makes her a trusted tracker and soldier.
Coincidentally, the second of the toys I’m spotlighting here is also a female character, which again speaks volumes about how the GoBots presented females so well. Crasher transforms from a Porsche 956 race car to a great-looking robot, and while it’s not the most clever transformation of all time, it’s very satisfying for its size and time period and makes for a menacing appearance. There were two versions of this toy released: the initial version was white with blue details, and wound up reminding some of the Autobot Jazz. This was the second color scheme, which is far more iconic and the version that appears in all of the fiction. The rubber tires and the size of the vehicle, which was to scale with small, die-cast cars like Hot Wheels and Matchbox, was definitely a plus. Crasher’s character in the cartoon series legitimately creeped me out as a kid – she was an evil genius with a maniacal laugh on the level of Skeletor and Cobra Commander.
As I mentioned before, GoBot names were often uninspiring puns. Geeper-Creeper definitely falls into that category, but at least it’s not a name you’re likely to forget. Ol’ Geeper here is a standout in the world of GoBots for several reasons – the first reason, you might notice, is the fact that he’s one of the few regular GoBot toys to have a gun. Not only that, but his gun attaches to his vehicle mode, so there’s no fumbling to find it whenever it’s time to transform him back into robot mode. Add to that the coolness factor of him being a military jeep, which was always a bonus for me as a kid, and the wacky asymmetry of his head because of the spare tire and gas tank, and you’ve got one cool looking GoBot. Due to his transformation sequence, which is pretty good for a toy this size, he’s got pretty good articulation as well. Just try and avoid getting old Louis Armstrong (or somewhat less-old Siouxsie and the Banshees) songs stuck in your head when you pick him up.
Spoons was a really bad name for a really good toy. First and foremost, he’s a forklift! In all the world of transforming toys, I don’t know of another transforming forklift that existed until the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen toy Dirt Boss made his debut a quarter of a century after Spoons first hit the U.S. market. But not only is he a forklift, he’s an articulated forklift toy that has a really awesome robot mode. And, of all the toys I’ve ever owned in my life, Spoons is one of the toughest. Thirty plus years after I first got him, he’s still in one piece with nice, tight joints, despite going through some major wars in my childhood. He’s nice and weighty, with a lot of die-cast metal, and looks well-proportioned in both modes. He doesn’t have a lot of flair, but he looks tough, like a construction worker at a job site. A hard hat and a “Mom” tattoo wouldn’t look out of place on him.
Spoons was a really bad name for a really good toy. Dive-Dive is a terrible name for an even better toy. However, unlike Spoons, Dive-Dive at least gave you an idea of what his alternate mode might be, and in this case it was a submarine. Not just any submarine, mind you, but the Los Angeles-class nuclear sub the USS Oklahoma City. Everything we’ve talked about thus far has been a four-wheeled land vehicle, so something as awesome as a nuclear submarine definitely helps put this one over the top. Not only is the vehicle mode an excellent recreation of the actual vehicle, but they manage to make the robot mode nice and beefy, thanks to an inspired transformation that buffs out the arms and legs. The one side-effect is the unfortunate placement of the wheels, which aren’t even necessary for a submarine to begin with, but give the impression of giant robotic testicles if they manage to unstick from the folded-up position.
Wait, don’t go anywhere! Yeah, Scooter all kinds of annoying on Challenge of the Gobots, but the toy was one the best GoBots to ever be produced. For one thing, his scooter mode doesn’t have the stupid face on it that his animation model does, nor does he have that weird kiddified cartoon face at all in real life. Scooter is a neat little, um, scooter, with a simple and striking black and red color scheme, who turns into a well-proportioned and neat looking robot. The transformation is unique and interesting, and while you’ll never unsee a robot laying on his back, curling up his legs, and extending his arms when he’s in vehicle mode, he still looks great in both modes. Ironically, kind of like how Bumblebee is one of the taller of the mini-vehicles in the Transformers toy line, Scooter is actually taller than a lot of other GoBots despite being the smallest one in the cartoon series.
There aren’t a lot of transforming flying saucers out there. The Transformers, of course, have Cosmos, who is one of the smallest (and lamest) toys in that series. The GoBots, however, put out Pathfinder, who is just a marvelous little toy that holds up well three decades later. The details in the vehicle mode are pretty stunning for a toy this size, and the simple but effective transformation makes for a genuinely pleasant little robot mode. The color scheme is extremely nice, with dark grey and silver dominating the figure and some lovely red highlights popping out. The figure itself looks a little feminine, which is why it works so well that Pathfinder was one of the few GoBots who were designated as female on the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon series. Also, every time I’m in the conference room at work and I look at the microphones for the Polycom Conferencing equipment, I want to pick one of them up and transform them because they remind me of Pathfinder’s robot mode.
Tux is a vintage off-white Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine that transforms into a robot. That might not seem that impressive at first, but that’s only because you don’t know Tux. Everything about Tux is perfect. His name is Tux, which is perfect. His luxurious cream color is perfect for his character. His vehicle mode is perfect. And let’s not forget that he transforms into a perfectly proportioned robot mode who has the grill of a Rolls-Royce as a codpiece and wears a Top Hat on his head. You can’t look at this GoBot in robot mode and not think that he’s this completely despicable high-class dickhead who looks down upon everyone. And let’s face it, Tux would be awesome for all the reasons I mentioned before even if he just had some generic robot head, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t have a generic robot head. He has a Top Hat. A Top Hat. And, did we forget that his name is Tux? Tux is the perfect name for such a perfect toy. There were a bunch of GoBots who had crappy names, but Tux was certainly not one of those GoBots. Tux is a God among GoBots.
2. Flip Top
After I gushed so much about Tux, who is definitely as perfect as a tiny die-cast car who transforms into a robot can be, we still haven’t hit the pinnacle of GoBotdom. Flip Top kind of suffers from the silly name syndrome that many other GoBots do, but it’s kind of fitting, because flipping the top is a major step in this toy’s transformation. Flip Top is a military helicopter, particular a Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, which is a really nifty alt mode. He’s got a really nice blue color scheme, with only a few white, black, and silver details to offset that scheme. Transforming this guy is a real joy, though. The legs and arms fold out in a way that gives him a tough, bulky look, and the head flips over, as his name might indicate, leaving the propeller in a menacing position on his back. And, as you may have picked up on the above review of Geeper-Creeper, there’s something to be said about a little bit of asymmetry, and I always imagined as a kid that the tail rotor on his right foot was like a spur that he could use to shred his opponents when he was in a jam.
Royal-T, for a 30-plus year old toy that stands just a hair over 2.5 inches tall, is a marvel of engineering. I remember, upon receiving my first GoBots toys sometime in 1983, seeing a tiny, low-res picture of Royal-T in the catalog that came with them, and realizing that I needed to own this toy. I knew here was something special about Royal-T from the moment I saw him, and I put him on my wish list. I wasn’t disappointed in the toy, and decades later, I’m still not. Royal-T is a British GR3 Harrier Jet, which is near-perfect in his tiny vehicle mode. In fact, compared to the Transformers jets of the same time, Royal-T easily wins out, despite being dwarfed by the Starscreams and Skywarps of the world. The color scheme is perfect, with complimentary shades of military green offsetting the main fuselage from the jet intakes, which factors into his robot mode. The transformation is amazingly complex for a toy this size, and while he does have the traditional nose cone-chest look that was perfected by the Macross Valkyrie, he looks beautiful in his robot mode, and his wings can either be swept back or lifted up to give him different poses. He does suffer from the low-hanging fruit issue that I mentioned for Dive-Dive earlier, but that doesn’t stop Royal-T from being about as perfect a toy can be considering its age and size.
This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the GoBots. I just covered the standard, tiny, $3 at retail in the prime of their existence, regular GoBots. The Super GoBots were an entirely different bag of awesome, and I still plan on giving them their own spotlight here soon!