I’m glad my parents were hoarders!
One day I was rummaging through my parents basement, and I came across a box of old toys I had as a kid. To my surprise, I picked up Max Steele, the “Leader” of the Robo Force, and as I did so, everything started to slow down around me as I began to reminiscence about this old toy that I had, oh so many years ago..
Released in 1984 by the ever famous Ideal Toy Company, Ideal had hoped to try to carve itself a piece of the 1980s robot pie by introducing its own robot toy line in the marketplace. Gobots had been released a year earlier by Tonka in 1983 and Transformers had already been released that same year in 1984. Knowing that Gobots and Transformers already had their “transformation” vehicle-to-robot and robot-to-vehicle gimmick, Ideal needed a marketing angle of their own that would make its toy line stand out. What happened was Robo Force, soda can shaped robots with suction cup bases at their bottom and “crusher arms” that looked like corrugated drain pipes that would bend like an accordion.
Each robot would have its own unique personality and role, and then have a nickname associated with that particular role. Generally, each robot would also have clamps for hands, so that it could pick up objects and hold things, and like most action figures, each would carry its own unique gun or accessory.
Lead by Max Steele, the Robo Force robots, which were the good robots, worked alongside Dr. Fury to fight their arch-nemesis Hun-Dred the Conquer, who lead the Cult of Dred, the evil robots. Each side had about seven to nine characters, all with unique abilities. Blazer the Ignitor, for example, was one of the good guys who had a gun nozzle as a head, looking very much like a Dalek. The cool thing with Blazer was that his gun nozzle acted as a water cannon that would be able to shoot water. Similarly, Copter the Enforcer was also a good guy that had helicopter blades on top of his head that would spin around and around to give the impression that he would lift off in the air. Hun-Dred the Conquer, the main bad guy, had menacing drill bits extending from his claw-like hands, and also wore a face mask, in which if you lifted it, you’d see two laser guns pointing at you instead of eyes.
What was really unique about this robot line was that they definitely resembled robots and were lacking any humanoid qualities or body parts that you’d see on a Gobot or Transformer. Instead of legs and feet, they had a big suction cup at their bottom. Instead of a neck, their head was part of their body, much like R2-D2. These were fun and cool robots that you could definitely bash around with and they would not break.
Unfortunately, their popularity waned and became just another fatality of the 1980s Robot Wars. Unlike the Gobots or Transformers, with no cartoon series to tell their backstory or to let kids know who these robots were, Robo Force appeared doomed from the start. Although there was different merchandise other than toys, which included, amongst other things, comic books, games, lunch boxes, pillow cases, bed sheets, clocks, and of course, lunch boxes, Robo Force had no weekly marketing on tv to remind the kids of the Robo Force brand.
In 1984, there was a one-time television special called Robo Force: The Revenge of Nazgar that aired; however, again, this was just a single special Without the constant reminder of the brand in a tv series on Saturday morning, kids just ended up forgetting about Robo Force.
Luckily, despite the Robo Force toy line from the 1980s disappearing, through ebay, toy groups, flea markets, tv shows like the Toy Hunter, social media, and people like me and you rummaging through their parents basements, the kids of the 1980s have grown up and now they have a little coin in their pocket and want to relive their childhood. There is still a demand for old toys.
Accordingly, a company called Toyinfinity acquired the rights of Robo Force and in 2013 offered an updated and revamped line of the Robo Force toy line. Smaller in scale and without the suction cup base, the new Robo Force still has the same theme as the older generation toy line, but still gives the toy line a fun and beautiful facelift. Thanks to the efforts of Toyinfinity and toy collectors around the world, the Robo Force flame has not burnt out just yet.
I’m definitely not the Daddy Warbucks of Robo Force, but here’s part of my humble collection: