First off, in case you’re wondering why there was no review last week I had some medical issues to deal with. I’m better now and back to business.

image source: Machine Robo wiki

I have a section of the Toy Review category for Transformers and GoBots. While I have reviewed Transformers, I haven’t reviewed any GoBots. It’s time to change that.

GoBots get a raw deal when it comes to transforming robot toys. The only ones worse are the ones you’ve never heard of like Super Defender or Convertors or something. Tonka and Hasbro both went to Japan, were intrigued by transforming robot toys, and brought them back to the US with a different storyline. Tonka just took most of theirs from the “Machine Robo” line while Hasbro used a few different lines. Yet there are some Transformers fans (I’ve never taken a scientific survey so I have no actual numbers, but they’re a very loud group) who hate GoBots, treating them as second rate compared to their Cybertronian counterparts. But I don’t care, I love them!

In the picture above is Road Ranger. He had few appearances in the show. The producers of Challenge Of The GoBots at Hanna-Barbera chose six main characters, three from each side, and others ended up with strong recurring roles. Road Ranger there was not one of the lucky ones, and yet it may be my favorite of the GoBots toys I’ve been able to play with. So that’s why he’s my first GoBot review here at the site.

Road Ranger vehicle

I’m sure the Optimus Prime colors are a coincidence. Remember, they came out at the same time and in some areas the GoBots were out first.

In vehicle mode, Road Ranger is a flatbed truck. Usually when you see a semi it’s either just the cab or with a trailer. Road Ranger is one unit, no connecting parts. I’m still trying to get the pictures looking good (and it may not help that my monitor may be going) but he’s not a bad truck. He looks right at home with any Hot Wheels or Matchbox, which is what I like about most of the GoBots figures. He even has die-cast mixed with plastic, and I hear a lot of Transformers fans complain about Transformers not having die-cast metal mixed in anymore. I don’t care one way or the other myself, but again here it helps the GoBots hide among your other toy cars.

The flatbed can carry some GoBots provided they aren’t too wide.

One thing I really like is how it transforms. That’s hard to show in pictures, which is why I’ve been considering doing transforming robot toys in video form if I ever get caught up with video work. The flatbed folds in half, the arms open up, and you push the bed into the cab, “auto-morphing” the head. And that was long before the first Michael Bay movie Transformers used auto-morphing.

Is this too light? Let me know.

Is this too light? Let me know.

In robot mode, Road Ranger looks very tough. The only articulation is the arms, which is normal for GoBots or for Transformers or other transforming robots toys of the time. What I do like is that unless your looking at the back it does a better job of hiding the “uni-leg” (where the legs are actually one piece molded to look like two legs instead of one big foot) than Transformers at this size. (There are a few of the combiners at this size I could bring up.) That was some nice work on BanDai’s part. (BanDai created the Machine Robo before they had a major US presence.)

I also like the colors and they must be some popular set (red and blue) since both Road Ranger and Optimus Prime share the scheme. Even the robot head is blue, which thanks in part to the shadows makes the mouth hard to see, but it’s there, right under the huge eye visor. Unlike the Transformers, where you had to apply your own stickers, the GoBots stickers are already in place and last longer than Transformers. They do come off, as Scooter can attest to, and Scooter was mien always while I picked up Road Ranger at a collectibles store loose after someone sold theirs off. There’s some minor paint wear but I’m surprised how in good shape this toy is. The previous owner must have kept better care of his (or her) toys than most kids do.

I like the design, I like the engineering (for the day), and I like the transformation. That’s why Road Ranger is my favorite GoBot toy. I’ll try to bring you more GoBots in the future, whether I stick with articles or try to do video reviews but give a GoBot toy a chance if you come across them. You might find one you actually like.


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