?Few kids who collected Transformers in the 1980s could afford to own the entirety of the Autobot and Decepticon forces. There were too many and they were too expensive, especially when compared to the cheaper — both in price and usually in quality — Gobots. The Gobots were less popular than their transforming brethren at Hasbro, but surprisingly, many of them were somewhat convincing doppelgangers for their more expensive (and successful) cousins from across the toy aisle — and we’re not just talking about to clueless parents. These are the Gobots that, with just a little lunch money and imagination, allowed kids to affordably fill out their Transformer ranks, and perhaps even fool their friends on the playground.
Thanks to TFU.info and ToyArchive.com for most of the photos.
25) Heatseeker as Starscream
?The colors are kind of right and he’s a jet, but dammit, our biological necessity to own a Starscream made this half-assed match easier to accept!
24) Waterwalk as Megatron
?Waterwalk’s head and gray was close enough to Megatron’s that he could just squeak by as a stand-in for the Decepticon leader. Just don’t ever, ever transform him, or else break into an uncontrollable fit of laughter at the idea that Megatron turns into a pontoon plane. Strangely, there seem to be more Waterwalks on this planet than people, probably due to him being heavily bootlegged for the last 30 years. Why the creators of knock-off toys love Waterwalk so much is a mystery, but you can still find him in dollar stores and in about every other lot of Gobots on eBay.
23) Loco as Astrotrain
?Loco may not have been a Triple Changer who could also turn into a space shuttle, but he could fit the bill as the Decepticons’ anachronistic steam engine.
22) Flip Top as Vortex
?The helicopter modes are VERY similar, although Flip Top looks like Vortex in his nerdier, more awkward days at Cybertron Middle School.
21) Tic Tac as Tracks
?Tracks was a blue Corvette, but the beautifully painted battle scene depicted on the back of all Transformers packaging from 1985 tantalizingly showed him colored red (which was a variation of the toy only released in Europe). Hasbro loved to taunt us kids with toys that looked cooler in the catalogs but never existed, like the infamous blue Bluestreak. For those of us who wanted Tracks, especially the elusive red version, the orange Tic Tac was an acceptable alternative.
20) Leader-1 as Thundercracker
?Sadly, Decepticon henchman Thundercracker had more personality than Leader-1, commander of the good Gobot Guardians. In fact, the only non-bland toy released of Leader-1 was this blue repaint.
19) Sparky as Cliffjumper
?An excellent match! Just don’t tell Cliffjumper that Sparky’s a girl.
18) Scratch as Trailbreaker
?One benefit of using Scratch as Trailbreaker is that you wouldn’t loose his fists inside the couch five minutes after removing him from the packaging.
17) Small Foot as Gears
?It’s unlikely a lot of kids were desperate to own Gears, as he was already cheap and not one of the most popular Transformers characters. But he did get to mix it up with Spider-Man in the comic books, and that’s gotta count for something. In recent years, Gears was repainted and released as Small Foot in Japan.
16) Pumper as Inferno
?Every kid needed a fire truck to put out all those careless oil fires started by the Decepticons. They were worse than BP!
15) Dozer, Dumper, Block Head and Crane Brain as the Constructicons
?If you were a little boy in 1985 and didn’t own or pine for the Constructicons, you just might have been a heartless robot, yourself. Begone, D.A.R.Y.L.! (Or to make an equal opportunity obscure ’80s reference: Begone, Small Wonder!) Yet, not everyone could convince Mom to buy six separate Transformers or a huge boxset. Didn’t parents understand the unquestionable need to own each and every member of a combing team so you could form a giant robot from them? Gobots at least offered some cheap robots that fit the bill of turning into construction vehicles so you could pretend to have the whole team, if you squinted and used rubber bands to hold them together.
14) Crasher as Jazz
?There were two versions of Crasher, the most well-known being the second version that was black and red. As one of the main evil Renegade characters in Challenge of the GoBots, she made history with the GoBots predating their competition in gender equality among transforming robots. Crasher even got a new toy in the Transformers toyline in 2007, renamed as Fracture. Anyway, Crasher was originally released in white with a deco very reminiscent of the Autobot’s jive-talking style-hound, Jazz.
13) Road Ranger as Optimus Prime
?Sure, the resemblance isn’t perfect. But kids for the last 30 years have learned to salivate at the basic idea of a red and white robot who can turn into a semi-truck. Pavlov’s Robot, my friends. If the godsend of an Optimus Prime toy was not to be in your 1980’s childhood, GoBots at least offered the mercy of this possible stand-in.
12) Jig Saw as Prowl or Downshift
?Jig Saw bore a decent resemblance to Autobot police car and military strategist Prowl in both robot and car modes. Jig Saw’s vehicle mode (aside from the police lights) also looked a lot like Downshift, a lesser-known Autobot who was only available by mail-order to kids whose parents cared enough to send in their Robot Points. Both Jig Saw and Downshift appear to be based on a white Toyota Supra.
11) Major Mo as Windcharger
?This might be blasphemy but we’re going to say it: Regular Gobots were better toys than the similarly-sized Transformers Minibots. The Minibots might have had better marketing going for them, but the Gobots were more complex, varied and detailed. Hence, Major Mo makes a better Windcharger toy than the real Windcharger.
10) Bug Bite as Bumblebee
?This is the one case on this list where the Gobot toy dwarves the Transformer it represents! The Bug Bite/Bumblebee connection received official recognition in recent years from both Hasbro and Takara (who make Transformers toys in Japan) when they both produced exclusive toys of Bumblebee repainted white for some reason as Bug Bite. The story behind this was that the Gobots were infiltrating the Transformers universe and creating bodies that would allow them to fit in. That’s an ’80s fanboy’s wet dream.
9) Spoiler as Sideswipe
?The original Autobots in 1984 had not one but two Lamborghinis, a yellow one and a red one. GoBots amazingly also offered both a red and yellow Lamborghini! A coincidence? Product placement? Or a grand plot between Hasbro and Tonka to mess with our minds?
8) Convertible Laser Gun as Shockwave
?Shockwave was the whore of the Transformers; not his character, who was undyingly loyal to Megatron, but his toy, which was not a Hasbro original and had been licensed to companies far and wide, including Radio Shack. Yet, even Gobots couldn’t pony up for the Shockwave mold. They instead released a toy that was strikingly similar to Shockwave, yet beaten for awhile with the lame stick. But if you were a kid deprived of the incredibly awesome Shockwave or even his gray Radio Shack equivalent (Shackwave), than this toy could at least leave you a little satisfied. Like a $25 whore when you wanted a high-priced escort.
7) Odd Ball as Powerglide
?Powerglide was an odd ball in the Transformers cartoon. Coupled with the resemblance between the two toys, it’s an easy match. Also, Odd Ball was available for free with a children’s meal at Wendy’s! Powerglide probably just would have dated a girl named Wendy, based on his track record.
6) Jeeper Creeper as Hound
?He’s like Hound, but decidedly more evil.
5) Man-O-War as Broadside
?Broadside was an Autobot triple Changer who nonsensically transformed into both a jet AND an aircraft carrier! Could he carry himself? He was an enigma wrapped in a paradox sold in a small cardboard box at Toys R Us. He was also shown with two wildly different character models in the cartoon and comic books. Man-O-War, who turns into a battleship, looks a lot like the depiction of Broadside that the actual Broadside toy does not resemble.
4) Buggyman as Beachcomber
?The stars of Gobotron and Cybertron somehow aligned to give us two blue dune buggies that transformed into robots, and they were both cool little toys. Sadly, Beachcomber was a hippie and Buggyman was more like the MAN, man.
3) Pathfinder as Cosmos
?A green UFO might have been an unusual choice for the Transformers toyline, but the GoBots had one, too. And if you already owned Cosmos, Pathfinder (a female in Challenge of the GoBots) made a pretty damned perfect girlfriend for him. Their offspring surely would have resembled the aliens from *batteries not included. Fan Fic writers, get to it.
2) Rest-Q as Ratchet
?The sad part about this is that Rest-Q made a better Ratchet toy than the actual Ratchet toy, which looked like a metal, headless midget on a sled.
1) Pocket as Sunstreaker
?Pocket and Sunstreaker are so eerily close – even the heads and faces match! – that there had to have been come kind of corporate espionage going on between Bandai (the creator of the Gobots toys) and Takara (the creator of the Transformers toys) back in the day. The one huge difference is that Pocket is part of a combining team that forms the giant robot Puzzler. If only Sunstreaker had gotten to pose as Breakdown, the Stunticon combing team’s own Lamborghini, in the Transformers episode “Masquerade” (that honor went to Sunstreaker’s brother, Sideswipe), the comparison would have been complete. Now, off to eBay with all of you to drive up the price of GoBots!