Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I don't get shape-changing robots.

I mean, I do understand that they are robots which can change their configurations and disguise themselves as other machines, but the elaborate mythologies that have been crafted for these robot toys - and the TV shows and movies that support them - baffle me. So, if I can't grasp the intricacies of the TRANSFORMERS phenomenon, imagine how mystified I am by that of TRANSFORMERS imitators, like Tonka/Hanna-Barbara's CHALLENGE OF THE GOBOTS (1984)!

The five-episode miniseries collected in this set chronicles the saga of the shape-shifting Gobots of Gobotron, divided into two factions: The Guardians and the Renegades. As might be expected, the Renegades rebel against the peacekeeping Guardians, and, stealing a powerful weapon, escape to Earth. Predictably, a team of Guardians, led by the unimaginatively-named Leader-1, pursue them, and soon, the fate of planet Gobotron and its inhabitants lies in the hands of the Guardians and their human allies. But the Renegades have an ally, too...

Okay, I admit it. I'm too old for this stuff, and was even when they originally hit the airwaves and toyshelves of America. I still cannot grasp why alien robots would happen to transform into shapes that so exactly resemble Terran transportation - and even often have interiors custom-fit for Earthlings. Why in hell would they be designed that way? But, that said, I know that a lot of guys just a few years younger than myself have considerable nostalgic affection for these characters and their elaborate backstories. It just isn't my thing.

Still, if it is your thing, CHALLENGE OF THE GOBOTS isn't bad at all. The Hanna-Barbara animation is quite good for its time, with some decent character designs, and the voice work - by folks like Rene Auberjonois, Brock Peters, B.J. Ward and Frank Welker - is excellent. The story makes no sense to a jaded old fart like me, but it's action packed and the characters - both Gobot and human - are engaging enough.

If you are one of the millions of young men (or women) who rabidly followed their adventures during the 80s (and, as this miniseries spawned a 60-episode series and an animated feature film, odds are you are), then this MOD DVD-R remastered presentation of CHALLENGE OF THE GOBOTS is a great deal. It contains the initial 5-part miniseries - "The Battle For Gobotron," "Target Earth," "Conquest of Earth," "Earthbound, and "The Final Conflict" - in their original 1.37:1 "full frame" aspect ratio, with Dolby Digital Mono audio. The transfers are culled from remarkably clean source materials, and are virtually free of age-related damage or wear. Colors are bright, and detail is good. There are no extra features included.

For fans of the series and/or toys, CHALLENGE OF THE GOBOTS is recommended. The remastered transfers look great. 

BUY: Challenge Of The Gobots