The Return of Robo Force!!


By Shawn Robare

As a kid growing up in the 80s I felt pretty lucky when it came to be exposed to all sorts of different toy lines.  I was pretty obsessed with a lot of the usual suspects, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe and Transformers of course, but also got into some of the smaller or more obscure stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, Blackstar, Go Bots, ThunderCats, Silverhawks, Air Raiders, Starcom, etc.  In this more obscure subset, one of the toys I had that I’ve developed an amazing appreciation for over the past decade of reveling in nostalgia is Robo Force.  I only had one figure as a kid, Wrecker, the black and yellow muscle of the heroic robots.  In fact, I ended up finding Wrecker in the woods behind my house, caked in mud with his chest sticker half torn off.  I wiped him down and added him to my collection, fascinated by the intense hugging crushing action of his bendy straw arms, and his huge suction cup feet (foot?)  I’m pretty sure he acted as a stand-in for one of Skeletor’s minion robots when I played with my Masters of the Universe figures, but I never dug into the line enough to really realize what he was or that there were other toys in the line.  If I had to guess it’s because the line was never merchandized well, not like practically every other property in the 80s.

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Sure, there were bedsheets, baseball caps, watches, stickers, a lunchbox and even a magazine, but the line failed to really penetrate the marketplace with the absence of a syndicated cartoon.  There was a single episode produced by Sunbow that aired only once in the evening back in the winter of 1984, but it was never picked up for a full 65 episode run and thus the toy line sort of died on the vine.  A few years ago, when guesting on the early episodes of the Saturday Supercast, the little under-appreciated robots came up in conversation with Jerzy Drozd and our pal HooveR.  Ever since I’ve been really been addicted to the toys and have been picking up mint figures here and there whenever I can find them in the wild, like this Enemy figure I found at a local flea market.

Well, earlier in the year I caught wind that the rad John Kent and his company Toyfinity had purchased the rights to the line and was planning on relaunching it for a new generation of toy collectors.  We’ve seen all sorts of toy line relaunches by the large companies, G.I. Joe, Transformers and MOTU in particular, as well as designer toys heavily influenced by older lines (like the Weaponeers of Monkaa which riffs off of Crystar and the Trasformers), but how often do we ever see fans grab up the official lines and do an actual relaunch of the property?  Not very often, if ever.  To say that I was excited for the possibility of a Robo Force relaunch is putting it mildly, and this past October I finally managed to get my hands on one of the Genesis editions of the new figure kits!

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The first thing you’ll notice is that these new figures are a little different than the originals.  In particular the “action” features of the originals have been dropped in lieu of a more modern modular approach to the design, taking a page from Onell Design’s Glyos system, with which these are completely compatible.   I’m fully in favor of this switch as it both plays into the robotic nature of the characters and I really love the crossover it presents with other independently created figures like the Weaponeers and Glyos.  The ability to customize Maxx, or down the line to mix ad match eventual colorways is super intriguing and opens the line up to all sorts of fun ideas.

So, what’s included in this initial Genesis Edition launch?  The kit comes geared towards making a Maxx Zero figure with the 25-piece build shown above and below…

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But there are also 14 or so other pieces that will enable you to change out the tank treads for legs and switch out the hands, heads and weapons.  In fact you have enough pieces to build three other classically inspired Robo Force characters, The villain leader Hun-Dred, Enemy and the heroic Sentinel.

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The additional heads are subtly crafted (much like the heads of Glyos figures) to be multipurposed by twisting them around so that in one direction the head looks like the original Enemy or twisted it becomes Sentinel.

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John and the sculptors even managed to get the effect of Hun-Dred’s raised dome to expose his laser gun eyes!

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Getting back to the launch of this new line, when I first found out about it I immediately wanted to tell a handful of other Robo Force fans that I’ve met over the years, in particular cartoonist Jerzy Drozd who I knew would be over the moon.  Secretly, what I really wanted was to see Jerzy get a chance to bring the characters to live with a comic, and lets just say that all the pieces manged to align just right and that has become a reality with the launch of an online story this past week!

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I’m really excited to see where this line goes, and am eagerly awaiting new sculpts and colorways that I hope will be coming down the line in the near future.  If you’re looking to pick up one of these kits, they’re currently sold out at Toyfinity (a very good sign), but keep your eyes peeled as I’m sure there will be more figure drops soon.  In the meantime, Toyfinity also has a line of rad Mordles minifigs that are pretty darn cool!

 

 

  • http://www.rediscoverthe80s.com/ Jason G

    I vaguely remember Roboforce. I’m about 90% sure I had the one in the back right in the picture of all 3.

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Vaguely named Enemy, but I love that guy. So blocky and fun. Yeah, Robo Force was the red-headed stepchild of the 80s toy robots universe for sure!

  • HowardTheDeck

    This is awesome. I treated this post as sort of a “robo force” brush up, since I had no familiarity with it somehow. I am now pumped for the return!

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      Awesome! Yeah, the cartoon that I link to in the article is actually pretty good (it is Sunbow after all.) There’s something very underdog-ish about this brand that I really love. And suction cup butts and hugging power… :p

  • 910dohead

    Sadly, I found out about the Toyfinity figure just shy of it having sold out. I can’t find one anywhere either. It was also cool to discover that they purchased the Manglors line from Ideal. Really curious to see what they come up with next. Anyways, i’ve been a reader of your blog for a long time now (only commented a few times in the past). I thought I would chime in since you posted a link to my Robo Force video, which I was surprised to see! I’m glad that you found it and enjoyed it. My buddy brought over a box of vhs tapes he’s held onto for over 30 years and I flipped when I saw he caught the Robo Force airing. So, cool…

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      I’ve talked to John at Toyfinity and I’m pretty sure there are more drops of the new Robo Force coming soon, hopefully in new colors too. I’m amazed that the Robo Force special was ever caught on VHS, and so glad folks like you were kind enough to digitize and put it out for everyone to enjoy! So thanks for that, sincerely

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