One thing I love about old toy robots newspaper ads is how they occasionally provided case assortment numbers within the ad text. I can't think of any good reason for retailers to include this information or how it could possibly have had any value to consumers. The only other place I've seen assortment numbers used is in Toy Fair catalogs and those were distributed by toy manufacturers to the retailers for the behind the scenes purpose of ordering these toy assortments. I don't think these numbers were really meant to be shared with everyday shoppers and not all stores put them in their ads. Their inclusion was probably just a matter of style but it is always possible a deeper conspiracy exists and some stores put these assortment numbers in their ads to torment me 25 years later because they knew I would find the challenge of compiling and cataloging them irresistible. This might sound weird but I don't wake up everyday thinking 'You know, what the internet needs is a chart correlating the first year's worth of GoBots releases with their case assortment numbers'. But I guess this is just one of those days.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'GROUNDBREAKING PIONEER' AND 'REDUNDANT IDIOT' IS REMEMBERING TO GOOGLE FIRST TO SEE IF ANYONE'S DONE IT BEFORE
Campbell Supply 10/30/84And so it is with GoBots that looking over all these ads I found I had just enough numbers to assemble a very basic list of GoBots case assortments. I started keeping track of these numbers and a rough outline of GoBots releases emerged. But were these all of them and which robots came in which cases? There were still questions. As I looked at my embryonic little list I wondered if taking it further was even worthwhile, considering there are already four really good GoBots checklists by Remi the Reminator, Super Toy Archive, Counter-X.net and TFArchive.com. But as I was looking at all those I noticed none of them arranged the information in quite the way I was thinking about. Instead of being discouraged that similar lists had already been done, the work of others served as inspiration and motivation for me to assemble a new kind of listing of GoBots. It could link each toy to the case assortment it came from, much like what Jon and Karl Hartman did for Transformers at their Transfomers Case Assortments page. Since it would be a list that focused on case assortments instead of individual figures a list like this could provide insight into not just when the figures were released, but how they were released, giving consideration to special packaging like giftsets which had their own assortment numbers. It would also help define what the GoBot 'waves' looked like in a certain year. Then I realized this was all most likely information found in the pages of the Tonka Toy Fair catalogs of the GoBot era. With my luck someone will scan and post the relevant GoBots Toy Fair book pages to the internet immediately after I spend way too much time and effort piecing the puzzle together myself. The imminent obsolescence of anything posted to the internet is sort of why I don't believe in heaven-I'm sure if the Book of Life really existed someone would have posted scans of it by now.
|Pay&Save 12/03/84||Playland 11/27/85|
THE NUMBERS OF THE BOTS
What got me started on all this was when I noticed that occasionally ads from 1984 for the regular GoBots would reference their case assortment numbers as being 7200 and 7201. Then ads from 1985 for the regular figures referenced them being from assortments 7253, 7254 and 7255. I wondered if it would be possible to figure out which GoBots were released in the 7200 and 7201 assortments. Sure enough, it turns out the figures from these initial release case assortments were packaged differently from later figures. GoBots from the 7200 and 7201 cases had their assortment number printed on the upper right hand corner of their card. [Check out the 7200 series Pumper, Dozer and Buggy Man cards and the 7201 Rest-Q and Geeper Creeper.] I was then able to assemble the following lists of which GoBots came out in the 7200 and 7201 cases by looking at the cross sells on the cardbacks and searching the internet for other carded GoBots pictures:
|Assortment 7200 Enemies||Assortment 7200 Friendlies|
|8||Buggy Man (blue)||12||Hans Cuff|
What's interesting is that in addition to the assortment number, each GoBot was also assigned a GoBot number with Cy-Kill kicking things off at #1. Assigning sequence numbers to toy robots was a tradition started by Japanese toymaking company Popy, who kicked off the modern Roboplastic era with their GA series of die cast toy robots (some of which were later distributed in the US by Mattel as Shogun Warriors). It was Popy's Machine Robo line from which the early GoBots came, so GoBot numbers are a cool little shout out to their Japanese lineage. However, GoBot numbers did not run sequentially with the case assortments and although there are 24 different robots in assortments 7200 and 7201, the GoBot numbers within are not #1-24.
|Assortment 7201 Enemies||Assortment 7201 Friendlies|
|24||Crain Brain||25||Leader-1 (grey)|
I found that each case had 12 different characters-Assortment 7200 was evenly split with six each of Friendly and Enemy GoBots while 7201 had five Enemies and seven Friendlies. 7200 contained the GoBots with the first 12 sequential GoBot numbers but the 7201 assortment broke it up a bit and did not contain GoBots with numbers sequentially from 13 through 24 as I expected. Instead, #13 Fly Trap, #14 Small Foot, #15 Dive Dive, #16 Slicks and #17 Block Head were skipped entirely and wouldn't appear until later assortments. Case assortment 7201 starts with GoBot #18 and continues sequentially until it ends with GoBot #29.
GO-ING, GO-ING, BOT!
Pay&Save 12/03/84Many of these 7200 and 7201 GoBots would be included in later case assortments, some unchanged and others in different colors but with their same GoBot numbers. Later GoBot cards didn't put the case assortment numbers in the upper right hand corner so it's easy to differentiate between an initial release Cy-Kill and a later one for instance. Rounding out the rest of the 1984 GoBots assortments were the six Super Gobots from Assortment 7202, the GoBots Command Center which was assortment #7240 and Enemy Monster Zod from assortment #7241. (I have found one ad from a store in Anchorage, Alaska called Pay&Save that seems to reference an assortment #7203 but I think that may just be a mistake or typographical error.) I've also been able to piece together an overall list of case assortment numbers for the GoBots line but it's not complete and does not have every case number nor does it have individual figure breakdowns for each assortment. I'll do that list in my next Gobotical post along with observations comparing Tonka's figure selection and case assortment strategy with that of Hasbro's Transformers.
NEXT TIME ON GOBOPLASTIC APOCALYPSE: A BONAFIDE BOMBARDMENT OF BOTS BOXES!