Peel Here #101, Robotsploitation!


By Shawn Robare

I’ve been thinking a little bit about 80s era robot nerdom because of all the excellent research and work that Steve, over at the Roboplastic Apocalypse, has been putting into his Robo Force blog-a-thon.   Not only has he dug deep into the surprisingly interesting and exciting mythos behind America’s favorite hugging robots, he’s also provided a glimpse into a bit of very rare 80s animation, the one-shot Robo Force cartoon, The Revenge of Nazgar (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3)!   As I sat and watched that long lost episode I had all sorts of thoughts running through my head, from how neat it was to hear Arthur Burghardt (the voice of Destro from G.I. Joe) as the main villain NazGar (not to mention that I’ve gotten to a point in my cartoon watching where I can recognize and name the actor for once), to how sad it was that this line of toys didn’t strike a chord with kids back in the day.  The cartoon was actually really fun and exciting and the guys behind it managed to make the chunky R2-D2-esque designs of the Robo Force robots pretty darn dynamic.  It really makes the recent Robo Force Enemy find even sweeter…

Tangentially, I recently discovered a new set of sticker cards from the 80s (via eBay and Phillip over at Battlegrip.com) called Robot Wars.  These stickers, released by Fleer in 1985, were aimed at lovers of toy robots (released at the apex of toy robot dominance in the 80s) and they featured a surprisingly diverse selection of stickers and games.  Each pack of cards had a series of sticker cards and scratch-off game cards.  Unfortunately there wasn’t an included checklist so there is no definitive number of cards, but I believe I’ve been able to secure what I think is the complete set of stickers…

These stickers are broken up into two sections.  The first consists of a series of eleven sticker cards featuring die-cut robot portraits.  With names like Battle Blaster, Megabot, and Lasertron they’re sort of on the generic side, but the renderings are fun and I can imagine that I would have loved sticking these on my Trapper Keepers had I come across them as a kid.  In particular I like the diversity in the designs which highlight aspects of all sorts of robotic pop culture icons, from Robotech, Battle Tech, Transformers, Japanese Man-in-Suit movies, and even a bit of the vehicle design of the Buck Rogers TV show…

The second set (pictured below) were 22 sheets of mini stickers that were intended to be used to customize your actual toy robots.  I think this is an ingenious idea, even though I was just anal retentive enough as a kid to not want to put stickers on my toys.  This level of personalization and interactivity between branding kind of fascinates me.  I mean for kids who had no problem mixing and matching their branded toys during play had the opportunity to reject the established branding of say their Transformers and Robo Force figures, and to re-brand them with new logos and factions from these Robot Wars stickers.  Maybe Megatron could lead a crack team of robotrons in the Robo Karate league, or Optimus Prime and Cy-Kill would make a great Sniper Robot duo…

    

In addition to the stickers, each package also included three scratch-off cards in the vein of the Yes & Know Invisible Ink Game books you’d find in all sorts of Stucky’s and truck stops around America.   There were four different games, the Robot Wars Maze, the Robot Wars Race, Robot Wars Rescue, and Robot Wars Laser Defender.  Basically you ended up scratching your way across the cards in an attempt to get points or to avoid evil robots and pitfalls.  Though a bit fleeting and random, the scratch-offs do seem to add a interesting level of interactivity with these Robot Wars wax packs that make them seem like they were a ton of fun back in the day.

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  • Esteban

    ROBO KARATE! Holy wow these are so bad they’re hilarious and so hilarious they’re great! I love how you wrote these designs “”highlight aspects”” of more popular robots. Heck, I would have just called them total knockoffs but I guess there is a lot of originality here. The original sticker sheets are definitely the most brilliant unlicensed third party tie-in/attempt to capitalize on popular toy robots ever. When I look at these I’m reminded of the first time I saw the sticker sheet for Omega Supreme because I had the same WTF? feeling when I saw all the crazy shapes and disparate images that were somehow supposed to make sense on a robot. If I had these as a kid I would totally have stuck “”I SURVIVED ROBOT WARS”” or “”ROBOT FIGHTING MACHINE”” on my t-shirt. Oh, Shawn I love it. You make it 1985 all over again.