|Racing into the marketplace at nearly the same time as Hasbro’s Transformers, Tonka launched its own “Mighty Robots, Mighty Vehicles,” the GoBots. The transforming robots—robot to plane, car, helicopter, motorcycle, etc., and back—had been a major craze on the Japanese toy scene for years, and the U.S. versions were just as successful. The toys caught on like wildfire, and both Tonka and Hasbro fed the flames with syndicated cartoon versions of their mechanical warlords.
Challenge of the GoBots began on the planet Gobotron, where a group of robots called Guardians were created as planetary protectors. But good robots can go bad, and under the command of motorcycle/robot Cy-Kill, the Guardians raged against the machine, becoming a band of insurrectionists known as the Renegades. And so, it was up to jet/robot Leader-1 and his team of loyal Guardians to keep Gobotron from destruction.
Fighting on the side of good were Scooter, Smallfoot, Turbo, Rest-Q and others. Cy-Kill’s evil henchmen included Crasher, Cop-Tur, Loco, Fitor and Pincher. In the pilot episode, the war moved to earth, where the good Guardians were befriended by heroic human Matt Hunter and youngsters Nick and A.J.
The battle continued for 65 episodes and led to an animated feature, GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords, but Leader-1 and the gang never managed to hit the same level of popularity as their Hasbro rivals.