I’m continually looking to the toys and cartoons of the 80s to get that nostalgia fix. While Transformers will always and forever be my favorite property from that hallowed decade, I have strong feelings for many others. G.I. Joe was a strong contender, and putting my collection out for display, and picking up a few new pieces, was great fun. Robo Force was a toyline I never owned, but I’ve got a handful now and like the way they look.
Gobots was a logical place to go next. Gobots are generally seen as the cheaper, less desirable alternative to Transformers, and rightly so. That doesn’t make them bad, and in fact I have a few Gobots from when I was a kid that I absolutely treasure. The smaller size and more stylized robot forms give Gobots a distinct flavor and the toys are still very fun.
Though I had few memories of the show, I decided to order the DVD for the Challenge of the Gobots miniseries to see how I liked it. Storywise, it’s so similar to Transformers it’s hard to believe they weren’t influenced by one another. Alien robots can change into various vehicle forms. There are good ones, called Guardians, and bad ones, called Renegades. The two factions fight over their home planet, and eventually the conflict comes to Earth. A tale as old as time, or at least, 1984, right?
That first miniseries was pretty good, so I decided to obtain the DVD with the first half of the regular series. It had been a while since I had done a Geek Haiku, and Gobots seemed a natural fit for the format, with its bright colors and 80s-evocative look. You can find the collected haikus for the first half of Challenge of the Gobots right here.
So how is the show? In a word: meh. It’s certainly not great, but some individual episodes here and there are okay to good. The animation, by Hanna-Barbera, does not compare well to other shows from the time. Cartoons like Thundercats, Voltron, and yes, Transformers are all more dynamic and visually impressive. Mighty Orbots just blows it out of the water.
Right now, I’m waffling on whether to actually finish the series. If I do decide to go through with it, it’s more a testament to my abhorrence for leaving something incomplete than the quality of the show itself. The Challenge of the Gobots, for me, is having the willpower to see a project through to the end, rather than the rather disappointing battle between the Guardians and the Renegades. And do I subject myself to ROCK LORDS at the end? Oof. We’ll see.