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  1. #1
    Join Date
    24th May 2007

    Default Gobots finally making a return?

    After 20 years in legal limbo, Go-Bots could finally be making a return as a toyline.

    In 1991, Hasbro bought Tonka... which was their rival in the 1980s, when they both released competing transforming robot toy lines.
    Go-Bots was Tonka's toyline (called Machine Men here), and it came out first to get an early lead, but when Transformers came out in 1984, it crushed the opposition... ultimately leading to Hasbro's purchase of Tonka.

    As soon as Hasbro acquired Tonka and all its American trademarks, they stamped their authority on the Go-Bots name by using it in the Transformers line... not once, but twice early on (with the Water Squirter toy called Gobots, and a whole line of Gen2 toys called Go-Bots), and then a third time in about 2002 with the Playskool Go-Bots kiddie toyline. Not to mention using the name Leader-1 for a toy in 2002.

    Even TakaraTomy got in on the act, using the Gobots name on an Ehobby exclusive set of Minibot redecos. (the toys were even planned to have Go-Bots character names, but weren't officially named, possibly due to the legal reasons listed below)
    And by this time we were seeing original Go-Bots characters showing up as cameos in comics and later by FunPub... inspiring Transformers redeco toys (including those Ehobby Minibots, Hasbro's own Crasher homage called Fracture, and FunPub's Bugbite & Cop-Tur).

    So why no homages before now? If Hasbro owns the series and all (Western) Trademarks, what's stopping them from reissuing the original toys or producing all new homage toys that have the original names?

    Well, most of it comes down to the same problem TakaraTomy has with releasing certain Gen1 Transformers toys that Hasbro "owns".

    Tonka and Hasbro bought licenses from Japanese toy companies, to produce and sell robot toys in America (and their Western markets).
    The problem, was that even though Hasbro and Tonka released their versions under one umbrella of "Transformers" or "Go-Bots" in Western markets, those toy designs in Japan still belonged to different companies... often rival companies. Hasbro and Tonka may own the new character names and story concepts to Transformers and Go-Bots, but they could only produce toys from those Japanese sources under strict conditions.

    The big problem ended up being, Hasbro were in bed with Takara (who were the source of most Transformers toy designs), and Tonka was in bed with Bandai (a rival company to Takara).
    So even though Hasbro bought and owned Tonka in 1991, the Go-Bots Brand was long-dead and probably deemed as minimal return, Hasbro may have seen that there was no need to risk their relationship with Takara (the source of their Transformers designs over the years, and ultimately revenue), by seeing if they could make a little money on the side from the Go-Bots franchise (by way of reissues or homages).
    As such, homages like Crasher and the Ehobby Go-Bots have been minimal, and any comic inclusion has been a tiny, often nameless, cameo, so as not to incur the legal wrath of the current owner of those original Go-Bots toys (Bandai)... who would claim that someone else (Hasbro, IDW, FunPub) are making money off their toy designs.
    Similar to Harmony Gold suing Hasbro for releasing a toy that looked more like a Robotec toy than a Transformers toy (that was supposed to homage Comic Jetfire NOT toy Jetfire), Bandai would sue anyone trying to make money off toy designs that they must still own... unless there was a license to pay them royalties for it.
    (and in reverse, Bandai can't reissue the toys as "Go-Bots" with Go-Bot character names without getting sued by Hasbro... one owns the characters and story, one owns the toys and their *visual likeness*.. but releasing one without the other is too half-assed to be worth trying, or just risky)

    Now, thanks to a multi-Billion dollar return on four Transformers Movies, Hasbro must have worked out that it is worth doing business with Bandai for a new Go-Bots toyline... supported by a Movie.

    TakaraTomy probably wasn't too happy with that, and may well have made some objections, but ultimately they would have to realise that the same motivation for Hasbro to strike up a business relationship with Bandai (lotsa money) is the same motivation for TakaraTomy to not risk their ties with Hasbro (lotsa money, from Transformers).

    Now, if only Hasbro and Harmony Gold could come to a similar business arrangement, so that we could finally see some decent transforming Robotech toys. (Robotech story with Hasbro/TakaraTomy engineering... could be good)

    So, if the new Go-Bots are a success for Hasbro, I think there would be a good chance of official cross-overs in the next ten years***... if Hasbro's lawyers can manage a deal between Bandai and TakaraTomy (because someone would have to have the toy and movie-trademark rights in Japan, and both companies would be very protective of their own brand).
    I guess if Toy Story was able to eventually work as a toyline with Hasbro and Mattel brands in the one Movie and Toyline, anything is possible.

    ***Okay, FunPub have already created stories of the two series being in the same universe, that are deemed official because they are a licensed company for a "club" and "convention" (not comics or cartoons, but produce comics and character bios on the side)... but then, does that mean any license holder can create canon if they release some fiction to go with their licensed merchandise? (a serious question, as in, where do you draw the line of official when it comes to stories, based on what a company is being licensed to produce)
    Last edited by griffin; 27th January 2015 at 01:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    8th Nov 2012
    Beverly Hills, Sydney


    I still have Fracture A.K.A Crasher somewhere. Technically she is an example of Hasbro making use of the Go-Bots intellectual property but there wasn't much fanfare when she was imported.
    Any figure that comes with swords demands wrist articulation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    8th Mar 2010
    Central Coast


    If this actually happens it would be funny if the movie turns out to be better lol

  4. #4
    Join Date
    27th Dec 2007
    Sydney NSW


    Quote Originally Posted by VERT View Post
    If this actually happens it would be funny if the movie turns out to be better lol

  5. #5
    Join Date
    28th Dec 2007
    A little to the left... a little bit more...


    I've always been a fan. Back in the day, both GoBots (Machine Men) and Transformers were equally popular for a couple of years. Basically anything that transformed, especially in to a robot, was super cool, whether it was Robotech, M.A.S.K., Converters (I even remember Matchbox's Parasites line was fun). And of course, many GoBot figures are actually superior to TFs at the same size (both large and small).

    I've enjoyed buying and watching the latest DVD releases of the GoBots series. Story-wise, some episodes are really good, even though the animation has always been its weakest point. So, yeah... any new content would be great - the overall premise of GoBots as organic/robotic cyborgs rather than sentient robots, was interesting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    19th Jan 2008


    Bandai make some pretty good toys, and their high end transforming toys like the Macross Frontier line are pretty awesome.

    If Bandai do make whatever merchandise line accompanies this movie it will be interesting to see how they compare.

    Maybe it will be like the old days where the small Gobot toys are actually better quality than the equivelant sized Transformer toy.

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