Did Gobots fail because Transformers was better at lying to children?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by ClunkerSlim, May 19, 2016.

  1. ClunkerSlim

    ClunkerSlim Well-Known Member

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    Hear me out. Lately I've gone back and watched a lot of G1 and Challenge of the Gobots. I think primarily the reason that Transformers "won" out over Gobots is because Transformers had a more mature story and atmosphere. Some people might say Transformers had better animation too but honestly Gobots animation wasn't that bad, it was just horrible character designs.

    In fact, here's what I've noticed. Challenge of the Gobots was BRUTALY honest in depicting their toyline (barring face sculpts). Whatever that toy looked like is pretty much how it was depicted on screen. When Turbo transformed you could see his face under the car and in robot mode he looked like he was wearing a skirt. CyKills hands looked just like the toy. Characters like Baron Von Joy didn't even have a face! For better or worse, the character designs stuck as close to the toys as possible.

    Transformers, on the other hand, would just lie straight to your face. "Mom, I think the store forgot to put the rest of Ironhide in the box!" You were seriously lucky if the toy you bought looked anything like what appeared on screen. In some cases, they were almost nothing alike.

    If both shows were really just half hour toy commercials then you have to say that Gobots was at least the more honest toy commercial. Transformers tied to sell you stuff that didn't even resemble the product on the shelves. What's funny is that I think that desire to be honest and true to the toyline is what held their show back. Kids preferred the lie I guess. And I'm no different, I remember thinking the gobot characters looked dumb as f***. It's just messed up that a company was penalized for trying to portray their toyline honestly.
     
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  2. rodimusconvoy

    rodimusconvoy Well-Known Member

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    I always wondered myself why the animation artists took so much liberties with drawing characters such as Galvatron, Ironhide/Ratchet, Rodimus, Menasor, etc. Why didnt they stick to the source material which wasnt that bad.
     
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  3. ABrown

    ABrown Well-Known Member

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    Transformers superior, Gobots inferior.
     
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  4. greboguru

    greboguru Psychedelic Brainchild

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    This is a great point. I'd never thought about it explicitly, but the issue has been buzzing around in my subconscious for a long time, I guess. And you're right, Transformers totally lied! I loved my Bluestreak toy, but was apalled when I saw my friend's Ironhide -- it was nothing like the character in the show at all.

    It's great that nowadays the toys and their on-screen iterations are usually really close to each other.
     
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  5. Bass X0

    Bass X0 King of Muay Thai

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    You mean like this?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Autovolt 127

    Autovolt 127 Get In The Titan, Prime!

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    The designs and names I think were what kept it from being a hit like Transformers.

    Leader-1 and CyKill just don't come off as interesting sounding as Optimus Prime or Megatron.
     
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  7. Beastwarsfan95

    Beastwarsfan95 Aspie :)

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    This.
     
  8. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP AKA Beve Stuscemi

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    Thing is, Transformers succeeded as toys, not as a cartoon. I honestly think if anything the issue would be reversed: the toys were detailed, cool and resembled real vehicles on average. They also usually had weapons the TV show didn't, like shoulder missiles.

    Really, I think GoBots failed because it lacked the marketting and diversity of TFs. Only one was going to win, and GoBots didn't have as many varied robot sizes and gimmicks.

    Yes, this certainly addresses the first post's subject matter.
     
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  9. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    I agree that variety has something to do with it. The larger Transformers added diversity, while the Gobots seemed to be trading mostly on the consistency of their pocket-size line. The initial line of Super Gobots were well-made toys, but they were aesthetically much less stylish than the TFs of comparable size.

    And indeed, aesthetics are another side of it. It was definitely a factor in my preferences... Transformers toys seemed to have a cooler overall style, helped immensely by the dynamism of some of the box art. Gobots, by comparison, were a bit more stiff or silly looking.

    These aesthetics were mirrored by the onscreen designs. Transformers, as clumsy as it looks to us now, at the time felt way more slick. It had a bit of the feeling of Japanese robot anime to it. Never mind that Transformers had more "faces" than Gobots... the overall robot/character designs just had way more modern flair, and that hint of samurai styling. Everything about the Transformers cartoon at that time felt a bit more "modern" to me than Challenge of the Gobots (which was more reminiscent of the earlier '70s-style cartoons).

    That said, the small Gobot action figures were still mostly better and more interesting designs than the small TFs (minibots).

    Lastly, I think the fiction is a big factor. Although Gobots were on shelves first, the Transformers cartoon hit the airwaves sooner. Even without the cartoon, The Transformers came packaged with their own fiction, and every toy was strongly characterized and personalized, including precise measurements of their abilities.

    Gobot packaging, by contrast, simply gave you a cheesy name and a "Friendly" or "Enemy" designation... no hint of a personality or individualized powers/traits.

    Sure, kids still liked Gobots. They were still cool transforming robot toys. But I think that all of the above is part of the reason why, when we owned Gobots, most of us would try to shoe-horn them into our Transformers play scenarios,* rather than trying to use Transformers as Gobots.

    zmog

    (*for example, Super Gobot Defendor was always my 'Roadbuster'. Arguably, Defendor was one of the coolest Gobots toys, and one of the coolest Transformer toys too! :)  )
     
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  10. Noideaforaname

    Noideaforaname Pico, let's go up to Zuma

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    That's a rather loaded question.

    I'd imagine there are a load of factors that helped make Transformers a success and Gobots a failure. Things like having Marvel coming up with the names, Peter Cullen channeling his brother and giving Optimus a certain air of relatability, the two factions having obvious and iconic badges, the transformation noise, Soundwave's cool robot voice, villains that turned into guns, and yes, cheating the designs for sake of coolness. Gobots didn't have anything really comparable.

    And then they made rocks.
     
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  11. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    personally, i think transformers won over gobots, not because of the cartoon, but because the toys came in various sizes. larger robots to inspire children to get. smaller ones for children to buy with pocket change. Gobots had the regular size gobots, and then the super sized gobots, and that was it. Transformers also had a larger variety in what robots turned into.

    and then there is the factor that gobots even back in the 80s, were incredibly fragile. those metal ball joints, being cased in a plastic shell, did nothing but dig a hole in the sockets. Kind of like the big giant metal bar in shockwave does nothing but dig holes in the sides everytime you transform it.

    transformers also had the luck of having a marvel comic book still running, even after the show had stopped. and few years after the toys had vanished from the shelves. Keeping the name alive, until G2 happened, and then beast wars happened. a show that inspired an entirely new generation of fans, in a way that no show ever since has. no movie, no cartoon, no comic book. IF it was not for beast wars, G2, and marvel comics, transformers would have also died long ago.

    these factors allowed transformers to grow into what it is today. All because hasbro wanted to keep the franchise going. Tonka by this point had already moved on to other things. To Tonka, gobots was just another toyline in their various toys. and so was the cartoon, to Hanna Barbera. They just did not care to keep it going. it was a licensed property that they did not own. and only created to fund other projects in the future.

    Again, Transformers had the benefit of having Marvel as their team. the same team that took ROM spaceknight, a single action figure, and turned it into an entire universe of stories. a 79 issue series, that lasted way longer than the actual toy. a story that had existed within the marvel universe, and actually effected it. Transformers had this kind of a team working for it.

    Gobots had a team that was really more interested in making more super hero shows, then robots that transformed. Hanna Barbera, was just not that great at cartoons during the 70s and 80s. It was not until the mid-80s, and early 90s, that they started to get great. putting out things like the real adventures of Jonny Quest.

    however, if GOBOTS had the luck of being picked up by marvel, instead of transformers. and transformers got picked up by Hanna Barbera, we would most likely be having this conversation in reverse.

    what it really comes down to is how much the writers gave a damn.
     
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  12. Jerrymiru

    Jerrymiru TF Ninja

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    I remember watching them both as a kid and was lucky to have some of both. Gobots just felt like a wanna be to me back then. In both show and toys, however did enjoy them.

     
  13. Mirimus

    Mirimus Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't it stated by someone who did the TF show's designs that they ended up looking more proportionately human and streamlined so they'd be less complicated to animate?
     
  14. Kirby0189

    Kirby0189 Soundpost

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    I'd expect that a lack of show-accuracy and giving an appearance completely different from the toy would be more disappointing to kids than being very show-accurate and displaying the faults of the toy.

    I have seen so many fans who complained about G1 Ironhide, so no mystery about the G1 cartoon there.
     
  15. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Hammer of the Gunplas

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    You're forgetting the most often overlooked but very critical fact the Transformers franchise actually was first launched by the comic book, which predates both the actual toyline and the Sunbow cartoon by a couple of months.

    Huh, they actually went that far? I've never seen the GoBots cartoon at all, to be honest, but now I kinda want to just to experience that kind of cartoon surrealism where having a face and head structure is a luxury and elbows are a myth.
    To be fair, you knew exactly what you were getting when it came to the box art.
    [​IMG]

    And a lot of the static art that the series is also famous for tended to take few liberties with the physical structure of the actual robots to the point of making Bumblebee look downright suicidal. While Prime is pissed he apparently took somebody else's gun because that's not his Ion Blaster.
    [​IMG]

    Actually, the truth is that both Microchange and Diaclone had been attempted in North America under their original aesthetic of piloted robots, but failed miserably. The original 1984 lineup of Transformers was in fact a hastily thrown together bunch of repurposed molds randomly grouped together - all the cars on one side, everything else on the other - and almost no retooling (hence why IH and Ratchet had the chairs instead of heads, for the diaclone pilots they no longer had - ditto for Prime's many seats in the trailer, Roller, and future Matrix chamber chest). The 1986 movie lineup is the first time the toys were able to be designed to actually look like their animation models to some degree.

    Quite to the contrary, GoBots tended to be on the average cheaper than the majority of TF's, so it held some advantage there - doubly so in the lack of any real system to differentiate the Guardians from the Renegades by symbols ala Autobots and Decepticons, so it would have been easy to conscript the GoBots into larget Transformer armies with a spare faction sticker from another Transformer's sticker sheet.

    GoBots was overtaken and eventually assimilated into Transformers by 1991, but this was due to the better infrastructure Hasbro employed - the same infrastructure pioneered with GI JOE. Specifically the tech specs, which even if somebody had never seen the show or read the comics, that little box of fiction and numbers established each figure as a character. You weren't buying some plastic robot that turned into a car, you were buying BUMBLEBEE.

    Additionally, you have to consider how boring the packaging was. The idea of packaging is to sell the toy right there on the shelf, to make it look appealing as if you WANT that thing. Gobots...really didn't do that.

    [​IMG]

    The wording just doesn't sound exciting at all - barring the name implying he's Erector's drinking buddy at the "Unfortunately Named Construction Vehicle Robot Shapeshifters" bar, he's just a 'friendly robot dump truck' who goes from robot to vehicle. And the actual toy is posed more dynamically than the big image of him on the card itself, which is just standing around with its left arm lifted slightly for some reason.

    Compare that to, say, G1 Seaspray, whose packaging shows a surprisingly number of similarities including the idea of a grid-based backdrop.
    [​IMG]

    You got the dominant franchise logo with the tagline, a large image of the robot itself and the alt. mode, their affiliation, and in this specific instance the same primary bright colors.

    But what Seaspray's card does that Dumper's doesn't -and in the larger picture what the TF series did that GoBots didn't - is everything ties back to the core gimmick of transformation with much more impressive sounding words. He's not just a 'friendly robot' - he's a heroic Autobot and has the badge to prove it. That image of him on the card is dynamic like he's leaping into action - doesn't matter the toy can't actually do that pose. His name sounds more imaginative than simply the action of what his alt. mode can do. The tagline ties into the whole "transformers" thing by being a robot IN disguise - same with how the package doesn't simply state he "goes" from one mode to another, he TRANSFORMS from robot to hovercraft...and then back again because he can and it sounds more exciting that way!

    Moving product in regards to how it works with Transformers goes far beyond the cartoon. The packaging and trends within the franchise it reflects are important when it comes time to pick the toy off retail shelves. And maybe I've been watching too many of Ashens' poundland specials but the simplistic, no frills packaging with a tagline of just "Mighty Robots, Mighty Vehicles" really seems kind of unenthusiastic compared to the more exciting G1 stuff like its taglines and an actual system to identify who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.
     
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  16. Dolza_Khyron

    Dolza_Khyron Well-Known Member

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    i never watched the transformers cartoon as a kid, i did buy the toys. the thing i really liked most transformers vs gobots, was the packaging. mostly that big giant drawing of the character. which even until this day, I prefer over the designs from marvel, or the cartoon. They just looked really cool, and they popped out of their packaging. you could see that it did look like the toy inside. the packaging is also bright colors, whether it was the autobots or the decepticons. they also had wonderful artwork on the back, like posted above. they also had names like Ironhide and Seaspray, while gobots had names like Dumper.

    If you look at that Dumper packaging, Dumper himself blends into his own packaging.

    and then there is the factor that transformers had guns, and were loaded with weapons, and accessories. while gobots shot at each other with lasers from their fists.

    while the gobot way was probably more practical, it's far cooler to have optimus prime loaded with weaponry, fighting megatron, who he, himself, was a weapon.
     
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  17. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP AKA Beve Stuscemi

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    That was one hell of a great post.

    Presentation really is everything, it seems. I wasn't aware GoBots packaging was so boring. They look like knock offs almost. TF packaging was so dynamic.
     
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  18. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    GoBots animation WAS that bad. Hanna-Barbera from the 1970s on was awful. Hell, even before that, their animation wasn't great, but they at least balanced it out with better writing. But by the time GoBots rolled around in the mid-1980s, H-B was a creative wasteland.

    Irrelevant. The comic is not what made Transformers a household name. Comics in the early-mid 1980s were getting harder and harder to find, with the advent of the direct market. What made Transformers a household name was the cartoon, which was pumped into every household in the United States for free on a daily basis.
     
  19. WishfulThinking

    WishfulThinking "Don't touch it! It's evil!"

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    What many have said here...the cartoon, the comicbook, the packaging, everything was more engaging and dynamic with the Transformers. In short, it was JUST FLAT MARKETED BETTER to kids and their parents.

    Unfortunately, the cost per figure was chump change, causing kids to think of them as cheap dollar store figures...when in fact, they were better designed than the Transformers Minibot counterparts. But without a REALLY good fiction to back them up and no personality in the toy aisle, Gobots hung it up after a few years.
     
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  20. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Hammer of the Gunplas

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    While I don't doubt what you say is true, the Transformers having the comic aspect is still important to this discussion in that the GoBots did not have anything of the sort, so it was one more advantage TFs had over GoBots.

    Plus, the original plan was for it to just be a four-issue limited run, but the wiki states it proved popular enough that they kept the series going until issue #80 in 1991, before the whole deal with G2 getting only 12 issues and Jiaxus being a joke name by Furman in response to his prediction to Marvel pulling the plug on the comic. I agree that it was the cartoon that mainly made the Transformers franchise a household term but the fact the comics ran right up to G2, outpacing the original toyline AND the cartoon, means enough people had been buying it in some capacity.
     

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