I suppose I’ve always been one to root for the underdogs. If someone said they could take me back to 1973 via a time machine and get me a front-row seat for Elvis Presley’s Aloha From Hawaii performance at the same time that Arch Hall, Jr. was playin’ a gig at the Ponderosa Stomp, I’d go for the Archer in a flash. Were I faced with the opportunity to see either a pristine 70mm print of the original, unaltered Star Wars at the Pantages versus a battered, choppy ol’ cut of Luigi Cozzi’s Starcrash at some hole-in-the-wall venue, I would opt for the latter.
And, when it comes to the age-old debate of Transformers versus GoBots, I’m afraid that I’ll side with them GoBots each and every time. Why? Well, for starters, the GoBots’ image (what there is of one) has not been tarnished by Michael Bay in the guise of crappy, poorly-written CGI-laden blockbusters. Nor has its theme song been ripped off by Chuck Nutt. But that’s beside the point, really.
Despite the fact that the Transformers have always reigned supreme in all forms — toys, TV, film, etc. — the GoBots line of toys were the first hit American shelves in late 1983. Thanks to a recently-dismissed 1969 ban by the FCC that prohibited toy companies from making television programs in order to promote their goods (which, in hindsight, probably wasn‘t a wise move: go take a walk through your local toy store if you don‘t believe me), a GoBots television mini-series followed September of ‘84; less than two weeks after the Transformers cartoon first aired.
At its robotic core, Challenge Of The GoBots: The Complete Miniseries is about as ‘80s and as Saturday Morning Cartoon-ish as you can get. Cheesy, lurid and downright silly, its story is a wholeheartedly conspicuous blending of such live-action science fiction films as the Star Wars and Superman franchises, Flash Gordon and more. And that’s just one reason why this Hanna-Barbera show kicks ass.