Challenge of the GoBots was an American animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera, based on the Gobots toy-line produced by Tonka. The show originally debuted in animated form as a five-part miniseries, which aired between October 29th 1984 – November 2nd, 1984. A regular series followed the next year, premiering on September 16th 1985. In total 65 episodes were made as well as the Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords movie.
Challenge of the GoBots had a wide and expewrienced cast including:
- Leader-1 – Lou Richards Jr (Defenders of the Earth)
- Turbo – Arthur Burghardt (G.I. Joe, Transformers)
- Scooter, Blaster, Rest-Q, Screw Head, Zeemon – Frank Welker (Scooby Doo, Transformers)
- Cy-Kill – Bernard Erhard (Deathstalker, Visionaries)
- Crasher, Path Finder – Marilyn Lightstone (The New Avengers)
- Cop-Tur – Bob Holt (Gremlins, The Incredible Hulk)
- Matt Hunter – Morgan Paull (Blade Runner)
- Nick Burns – Sparky Marcus (Space Ace, The Get-Along Gang)
- A.J. Foster – Leslie Speights
- Dr. Braxis – René Auberjonois (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)
- Van Guard – Ken Campbell (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
- Dr. Go, Tork – Philip L. Clarke (The Smurfs, Spiderman, Transformers, G.I. Joe)
- Pincher, Spoiler, Tank – Peter Cullen (Dungeon & Dragons, Transformers, Winnie The Pooh, Voltron)
- Scorp – Paul Eiding (Transformers, Ben 10, The Smurfs)
- Baron Von Joy – Phil Hartman (The Simpsons, Three Amigos, Small Soldiers)
- Bugsie – Richard Gautier (Get Smart, Transformers, G.I. Joe)
- General Newcastle – Brock Peters (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)
- Master Renegade – Peter Renaday (Defenders of the Earth, Transformers, TMNT)
- Small Foot – B.J. Ward (G.I. Joe, The Incredible Hulk, Voltron)
- Fitor – Kelly Ward (Grease, M*A*S*H, Magnum P.I.)
- Heat Seeker – Kirby Ward
GoBots dealt with two opposing forces of transforming robots from the planet GoBotron: the heroic Guardians and the evil Renegades. The Guardians were led by Leader-1 while the Renegades were led by Cy-Kill. The characters rarely had guns, instead shooting energy blasts out of their fists. The female robots on the series, such as Crasher, were built like the males, but with some distinguishing female features. The GoBots’ origin as organic beings accounted for the presence of genders among the robots and is introduced to viewers as a war that has raged for thousands of years beginning on the planet GoBotron.
On GoBotron there lived a race of human-like beings known as GoBings. Civil war erupted on the planet when the power-hungry terrorist group known as the Renegades arose, led by a madman dubbed the “Master Renegade”, who waged war against the peaceful Guardians. When a Renegade sabotage operation inadvertently resulted in a gigantic asteroid colliding with GoBotron, the natural disasters that resulted from the asteroid’s impact pushed the GoBings to the verge of extinction. However, the genius who became known as the “Last Engineer” saved his people, taking his experiments to replace parts of his own body with mechanical substitutes to the ultimate extent and transferring the GoBings brains into large robot bodies known as “GoBots”. The GoBot forms possessed an additional ability; after being run through the device named the Modifier, the GoBots’ bodies were able to transform into other vehicles. His work done, the Last Engineer intended to retreat to a pre-prepared workshop elsewhere in the galaxy, but the Master Renegade stole his ship and escaped in his stead. The Last Engineer placed himself into suspended animation beneath the surface of GoBotron, while above, the war continued to rage between the Guardians and the Renegades, now all encased in GoBot shells.
In the last quarter of the 20th Century, the planet Earth became involved in the conflict between Leader-1’s Guardians and Cy-Kill’s Renegades. During one of these battles, one of Leader-1’s lieutenants, Turbo, became severely damaged. Unwilling to let his friend and teammate die, Leader-1 began his quest to find the legendary Last Engineer. Leader-1 found the person he believed to be the Last Engineer, but Leader-1 had unwittingly released the Master Renegade (though he did repair Turbo to gain the Guardians’ trust). The Guardians later found the true Last Engineer, who was instrumental in frustrating the alliance between Cy-Kill’s Renegades and the Master Renegade. The Master Renegade later escaped the custody of the Renegades, and plagued both factions, notably attacking the UniCom colony of New Earth.
Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords
Released on March 21st 1986, Battle of the Rock Lords sees the Guardians’ construction work on Gobotron being interrupted when the planet is struck by a strange meteorite. They investigate the crash site, and find the meteorite has two objects inside. It opens up, revealing a pair of rocks. These then transform into robots, and introduce themselves as Nuggit and Solitaire. They come in peace from the planet Cordax, asking for the Guardians’ help. Solitaire explains to them that Cordax was once made up of many kingdoms, each with their own kingdom and Power Sceptre. However, a Rock Lord named Magmar is conquering the rest of the planet, taking the Sceptres of the vanquished lords to boost his own powers at his Stonehead base. Apart from Solitaire and Nuggit, only a small band of Rock Lords led by Boulder oppose Magmar.
This is all overheard by Fitor, who reports back to Cy-Kill on Roguestar. He’s intrigued by the Power Sceptres, and orders a full-scale attack on Gobotron in order to capture Solitaire and Nuggit. The Guardians agree to help Solitaire, but the Renegade Fleet arrives before they can begin preparations. The size and force of the attack has the Guardians on the back foot, and Cy-Kill is able to infiltrate their headquarters. Nick, AJ, Solitaire and Small Foot are captured by the Renegades, then use them as hostages to cover their escape. The fleet returns to Roguestar. The Guardians plan their next move, and Nuggit reveals he can track Solitaire. Leader-1 prepares to lead a small team to get around their defences – himself, Turbo, Scooter, Matt and Nuggit. On Roguestar, Cy-Kill begins interrogating Solitaire, and finds out about the exist of other Sceptres. He orders Roguestar to make for Cordax.
The ship reaches the planet, but is unable to negotiate the large asteroid field surrounding Cordax. Instead Cy-Kill heads to the surface in a Thruster with a small team and Solitaire, searching for Magmar. He has been surprised by a pre-emptive attack from Boulder’s forces. The Command Center is damaged negotiating the asteroid belt, and crash-lands. Meanwhile, Magmar is on the point of being defeated when Thruster arrives. The Renegades rout Boulder’s army, and only a handful of his troops escape. He proposes an alliance to Magmar, who eventually accepts when he sees Cy-Kill has Solitaire’s Sceptre. The Renegade refuses to hand it over just yet, but does give Magmar Solitaire herself.
The Command Center is badly damaged, and the Guardians are unable to contact Gobotron for help. In the meantime, Leader-1 decides they should meet with Boulder in order to help, and recover the hostages. On their way to his stronghold they’re attacked by Boulder’s troops, who believe them to be in with the Renegades. They manage to clear up the misunderstanding and head to the stronghold. However, they’re soon found by Cy-Kill and Magmar. The Guardians take on Thruster and the Renegades, but both Leader-1 and Turbo are damaged. They all manage to escape thanks to Marbles’ precognition.
His escape route takes them down a river of lava know as the Sea of Fire on a slab of rock. Believing they’re finished, the Renegades withdraw to repair their Thruster. However, Scooter is able to direct the rock to shore, though they now have to travel across Corvax’s wasteland. Boulder states that they have to beat Magmar to the Kingdom of Fossils to prevent the Sceptre of its’ Rock Lord from being taken. Back onboard Roguestar, Nick and AJ manage to escape from their cell, and then find and free Small Foot. They cause considerable damage to Roguestar, interfering with Cy-Kill and Magmar’s planned assault on the Fossil Lord before flying down to Corvax in a Spacehawk.
The other Guardians and their allies are unable to reach the Fossil Lord before his Sceptre is taken by Magmar and the Renegades. The spared Lord meets with them, as do Small Foot and the kids. She suggests cannibalising the Spacehawk in order to repair Leader-1 and Turbo, and makes weapons for their friends. Realised they have to act fast, the group sneaks in to Stonehead’s perimeter, sabotaging Thruster and laying charges around the base. Inside, Magmar adds the Fossil Lord’s Sceptre to his machine, invoking ancient powers and creating a new weapon – the Ultrasceptre. Cy-Kill and the Renegades try to take it, and a fight breaks out between them and Magmar’s followers.
Boulder orders the charges blown, while Solitaire escapes in the confusion and meets up with the good guys. Together they all storm Stonehead, but Cy-Kill grabs the Ultrasceptre and leaves with the Renegades. The Guardians give chase, and finish off the ailing Thruster. Cy-Kill actives the Ultrasceptre, but is able to control its’ raw power. Leader-1 knocks the weapon from Cy-Kill’s grip before it can consume him, and the Renegades retreat. The Ultrasceptre them collides with Stonehead and is destroyed. Magmar also retreats, and Cordax is saved. The Guardians repair the Command Center, bid farewell to their friends and head back to Gobotron, promising to visit Cordax again.
Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords was released to 1045 theatres in March 1986 (five months ahead of Transformers: The Movie) and took a grand total of $1,338,264. It was rated G, animated by Hanna-Barbera and distributed by Clubhouse Pictures. The film was renamed Machine Men: Battle of the Rock Lords for Australian release.