The Other ’80s Robots Cartoon That Deserves Blockbuster Treatment

By Zack Zagranis | Published


I know how this is going to sound before I say it, but I’m going to say it anyway. As a kid, I liked the GoBots better than the Transformers. What’s more, I think they deserve a shot at a big-budget, live-action redemption before Paramount vomits out any more abysmal Transformers sequels.

GoBots Showed Up Before The Transformers


I know, I know, it’s blasphemy, but I can’t help it. I’ve always had a thing for underdogs and the GoBots were nothing if not underdogs. Trust me, I am fully prepared to have my nerd card forcibly removed from my person by a gang of rabid Hasbro purists.

Before that happens, though, allow me to try and sell you on a GoBots movie. For anyone not familiar with the GoBots, they were similar to Transformers—giant sentient robots that transformed from vehicles to humanoids and vice versa—but never quite as popular. While the GoBots are often seen as a cheap Transformers knockoff they actually appeared on American toy shelves a whole year before their more successful cousins.

First On The Small And Big Screens


From there both toy lines were turned into half-hour cartoons with the GoBots again beating the Transformers to the punch. To be fair Challenge of the GoBots only began airing a week before Transformers but a win is a win.

Even crazier, the GoBots made their big-screen debut first as well. GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords hit theaters in March of 1986 while the copycat Transformers: The Movie wasn’t released until August of the same year.

Kids Didn’t Go For The GoBots

For all of their pedigree, the GoBots just never seemed to take off with kids the way Transformers did. If I had to guess, I’d say the series’ lack of memorable characters might have had something to do with it. While Transformers regularly introduced new characters to pad out the Autobots and Decepticons rosters, the GoBots mostly focused on six main characters, and that was pretty much it.

The Guardians And The Renegades

The good guys, known as the Guardians, were comprised of the accurately named Leader 1 (a fighter Jet), Turbo (a race car), and Scooter, whose transformation was self-explanatory. Meanwhile, the evil Renegades were led by Cy-Kill, a maniacal motorcycle, and included Cop-Tur (a helicopter) and Crasher (an evil female race car). As cool as those six were—and they were cool darn it!—any other background GoBots were completely forgettable.

GoBots Are More Powerful


So why did I like these robotic goons? Well, for one thing, as I said, they were underdogs, and I have a soft spot for underdogs.

For another thing, they didn’t need guns like the Transformers; the GoBots could shoot deadly energy blasts from their fists. In my pre-pubescent mind, that made them more powerful than the Transformers and, as a result, the more superior transforming robots.

Plus, be honest, would you rather have a fighter Jet on your side or an 18-wheeler? Optimus Prime has to transform out of his vehicle state to fight. Leader one can just rain down hell upon his opponents as he soars by without even changing a wing.

Hasbro Owns GoBots, Too

The real reason I think a GoBots movie could work, however, is actually because of their has-been status in the world of giant transforming robots. Imagine a meta comedy where the GoBots turn out to be real, and everyone’s initial reaction is, “Wait, aren’t these guys just lamer versions of the Transformers?” You see, the M. Night Shyamalanian twist here is that Hasbro actually owns the GoBots as well as the Transformers.

The toy company juggernaut bought the rights to the GoBots brand in 1991 and really hasn’t done much with it since. Now would be as good a time as any to bring the original characters back in a movie. The movie can be set in an alternate reality where the Transformers exist as toys, and the GoBots are seen as a crappy knock-off when they suddenly appear on Earth.

Embrace The Meta

The film could lean into jokes about how the GoBot’s planet of GoBotron has a dumb name and how Lazy it is to name a robot scooter, Scooter. The whole thing would be played for laughs. Basically make it the anti-Transformers.

Then, eventually, when the inevitable Hasbro Cinematic Universe takes off, the GoBots and the Transformers finally come together along with G.I Joe for whatever the toy equivalent of Avengers: Endgame would be.

Boom! Box office gold. I swear I’m in the wrong business.