Thursday, February 17, 2011

MONSTER cyborg dollhouse GARAGE: Gobotronian househunters don't care about how many bedrooms you have because they can always sleep in the driveway

I once commented over on PlasticCrack that since toy robots were essentially Barbie dolls who turned into cars they should be called Carbie dolls or Carbies or something like that. (Forget calling them "action figures". I've always seen toy robots as a very distinct offshoot of action figure that shouldn't be lumped into the same category as He-Mans or Star Warses or Ninja Turtles.) By logical extension the only real difference between the play patterns of little boys and little girls is that Carbies turn into Volkswagens and dinosaurs or whatever. So since we are all little girls inside it is no wonder every kid in the 80s wanted dreamy mansions for their Carbie dolls. The trick was to give us Carbiedoll houses without making it feel like we were playing with Carbiedoll houses. I felt a little silly playing with Castle Greyskull and the Millenium Falcon because no matter how hard they tried to disguise that they were actually dollhouses, they were still very dollhousey with their little chairs and tables and places to entertain friends and have tea time. But toy robots that turned into Volkswagens and tanks didn't have enough leg articulation to get into a sitting pose and this is why the toy robot playsets ruled! Transforming Carbie playset engineers in the 80s focused on creating environments that combined the best design elements of mad scientist labs, prisons, gas stations and the most manly room in the house-the garage. There were no girly little chairs to sit in-just a lot of fuel pumps, crazy looking computer screens, ramps and jail cells. The designers knew that boys obsessed with toy robots just wanted to play with dollhouses like little girls but they didn't want to have any furniture to remind them that's what they were doing.


Luckily the GoBotronian real estate market was exploding in the 80s. Tonka understood this and made a lot of playsets since GoBots were the perfect size for interacting with dollhouses. They had the GoBot Command Center, Thruster the Enemy GoBot Headquarters and even licensed out for production a cardboard playset called the Guardian Headquarters. But perhaps the most sought after and rarest (if it even exists at all) was the GoBotron Fortress. It was decked out with everything a transforming robot sports car could want for recreation-ramps, a periscope, big screen display monitors and even an Astrobeam Chamber for teleporting off to exotic vacation destinations. This stood in stark contrast to the Gobot Command Center which had a cafeteria, strategic command room and trauma and interrogation centers. The Command Center was more like the place they worked. What a cyborg Lamborghini really needed was a place to crash! The pictures here that convey the awesomeness of this ultimate GoBot crash pad are from the 1986 Tonka Toyfair catalog. SuperToyArchive also has a scan of its appearance in the '86 GoBot pack-in catalog. But what's really crazy about it is nowhere will you find an actual picture of one in somebody's robot collection because nobody knows for sure if it was ever released! Alex from the SuperToyArchive believes they do exist and that's good enough for me. This raises the question of what its value would be on the secondary market if one were to ever pop up for sale. Unfortunately the GoBotronian real estate bubble burst in '87 and that's probably why very few of these GoBot machineman caves were ever bought.

GoBotron Fortress No. 7258
  • Now kids can get the Guardian home base featured in the "Challenge of the GoBots"!
  • 9 different action features including: trap doors, periscope, and Astrobeam Chamber.
  • High-tech detailing and graphics
  • No batteries required
Ages: 5 and up
Master pack: 4


The GoBotron Fortress exists halfway chronologically between those other two great robot fortresses-Robo Force's Fortress of Steele from 1984 and the Transformers' 1987 playset Fortress Maximus. Back then all the robots were trying to out-fortress each other I guess. Toy robot real estate buyers must have had a lot of money to spend in the 80s because I don't remember anybody wanting to settle for a simple 1 Bedroom Maximus. Tonka's most direct robot housing competition in 1986 was Hasbro's transforming robot garage Metroplex. While the Gobotron Fortress was like the ultimate tiny toy robot bachelor pad, I have to give the edge to Metroplex for being able to actually turn into a robot. Yet from a practical standpoint I can see why the GoBots went the route they did because it must be kind of hard living in a house with its own cyborg brain, especially if he doesn't like the same television shows you do. Unless you turn into a television yourself you'll never get to watch any. And forget privacy in the bathroom.


I would love to find an ad for the GoBotron Fortress in some old newspaper from 1986 but so far I've been unable to. This is not because of that pesky little possibility that they don't actually exist but more because I haven't spent as much time in 1986 as I would like to. If an ad exists somewhere out there I hope one day to find it. As for the GoBotron Fortress itself I doubt I'll ever see one in my lifetime but I'm okay with that since what my family needs in a robot house has changed a lot since '86. If my son ever wants a straight up dollhouse I think I'll buy it for him without it having to be in some super macho robotic disguise with jail cells and laser beam turrets on the roof. I've come to terms with my Carbie loving side and I don't hide it anymore or manifest it as a hatred of real Barbies. I doubt GoBot Carbies ever were jealous of Barbie because of the extravagant lifestyle she led with her dreamy mansions and Lamborghinis and Porsches. They had the Lamborghinis and Porsches angle totally covered. OKAY MAYBE THEY WERE A LITTLE JEALOUS OF THE DREAMY MANSIONS.


Colin said...

It's decided. The Gobot Fortress must be recreated. A new project for 2011-12! Mahahahaha!

P.S. We should chat about catalogs soon. I'll send you my updated list. Woot!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

We should chat about catalogs on the Podcastalypse, that's what we should do! How about that idea? I'll email you.

Jay said...

That is seriously impressive! I agree with Colin--only make it a Kickstarter so we can all have one!


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.