20. Go-Bots Tonka 1983
Go-Bots is the toy line of transforming robot toys produced by Tonka from 1983 to 1987. They are based on the figures produced by Bandai. Divided into two factions the good Guardians and evil Renegades. The toys did very well, but Hasbro’s Transformers quickly surpassed them. Most lines on this list didn’t last 1 year, so Go-Bots lasting 5 years is almost an eternity! While Tonka licensed most of the figures from Bandai, they did make a few of their own. An example is Renegade Zod (shown is a prototype I recently received that hasn’t made it to photography yet). Later in 1996 they would spin-off the Rock Lords from the line as well.
19. Starriors Tomy 1984
Starriors was a robotic toy line created by Tomy, which was based on a 1984 Marvel comic series by the same name. The line lasted two years 1984 and 1985. A different theme than your usual good versus evil. Future Earth is threatened by solar flares. Scientists created three series of Starriors robots to protect the human race and the planet. The Protectors were made for restoring Earth, the Destructors to defend Earth from Aliens, and Guardians to protect the human race while in suspended animation underground. Over time the destructors become self-aware and take over. After some time passed, some Starriors remember their original mission and start to wake the humans. For me, I always liked interchangeable toys and I also loved wind-up toys.
18. Starcom Coleco 1986
Starcom details an American astronaut brigade as they fought off invasions by the Shadow Force. The toys are well made and look great, and I love the magnetic gimmick. Didn’t love the size though, a little small for my taste at 2”. Oddly the show was backed (helped) by the Young Astronauts’ Council, with the goal of sparking young viewers’ interest in the NASA Space Program. Unfortunately, the show only lasted one season. For a one year show, it was a massive release of 38 figures, 24 vehicles, and 6 playsets.
The magnetic Magna Lock technology allowed the figures to stand on the vehicles without falling off and activated the featured (gimmicks) on the toys. For example, placing a figure on Star Base Station playset, its Magna Lock magnets would make the elevator rise to the top automatically. All the vehicles and playsets had one or multiple Magna Lock gimmicks… if that wasn’t enough, the ships had automatic wind-up mechanisms that allow them to perform multiple actions without the need for batteries. Oh, and I forgot to mention the toys were very high quality.
17. Visionaries Hasbro 1987
On the heels of the Super Natural toys came Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. The story is set on the planet Prysmos. One day the futuristic society’s technology suddenly stops working. Its citizens return to the use of ancient magic to survive. There were two factions: the heroic Spectral Knights and the evil Darkling Lords with each having a creature talisman that matches the bearers’ abilities, the talisman also allows them to transform into that creature.
Some knights had magical staffs with special abilities, which in the cartoon, needed recharging after each use. Some characters even had the power to infuse vehicles with magical powers. This line had the good sense to add some female characters who were given shields that had the same powers as the staffs. Like Super Naturals, they were expensive to produce and the line lasted only one year.
16. Silverhawks Telepix 1986
Silverhawks was set in the 26th century in the Limbo galaxy. The criminal MonStar, finally free after a century of imprisonment, sets out to dominate. Volunteers from Earth undergo a conversion and become metal with wings of silver to battle MonStar. All the good guys had a gimmick where when their legs were pressed together their wings snapped. The figures are fairly hard to find in nice condition given the generous amount of chrome. But when they have nice chrome they look very sharp. The show had over 60 episodes but the toys only lasted for 2 years.
15. Inhumanoids Hasbro 1986
Finally, a toy series named after the bad guys! I think Hasbro got it right with that decision. Inhumanoids are subterranean monsters, which are kept in check by the Earth Corps. The Inhumanoids are aided by the elemental Mutores.
Unlike most of the Saturday based toy lines with roots from full-length cartoons, Inhumanoids had its origins from a Sunday morning mini-series. Later it did make it to Saturdays. Figures ranged in size from 6” to 14”. Where the series went wrong is the reuse of the same sculpts which they merely repainted.
14. Steel Monsters Tonka 1986
I wonder how many of you reading this even knew these existed. Frankly, a toy line that was really, truly cool but few knew about. At home right out of a Mad Max movie. Tonka made these 3 ¾” scale action figures with large, VERY high-quality vehicles that had very little support. No cartoon and no comic. While the series lasted 2 years, only 8 vehicles were made each coming with a diver. I recently got quite a few of these in, prototypes and all, very cool!
13. Centurions Kenner 1986
Centurions Power Xtreme toys are both man and machine. The figures designed by Kenner, have holes throughout their exo-frame suits where assault weapon systems attach to the figures. This gimmick was the focus of the toys’ promotion. The exo-frame suits give them special powers thus allowing for many combinations of unique toys.
Set in the near future of the 21st Century, Earth is threatened by the evil cyborg, Doc Terror who is in command of an army of Doom Drones. The Centurions are a highly skilled group trained to defend against Dr. Terror. The Centurions cartoon lasted for over 60 episodes, which was very long-lived at the time, with most shows not making it to 20 episodes.
12. Sectaurs Coleco 1984
“The World’s First ‘Hands-In’ Action Figures” were Coleco’s initial foray into action figures. What that means for those of you who never had them is they were in some cases literally hand puppets. Sounds cheesy in print, but not in hand. Very cool toys, especially the insects and bugs, unfortunately, the wings are very fragile and most are now broken. Sectaurs were 6” figures, which for me is a little big. A fun fact both Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron), voiced characters in the series.
11. Wheeled Warriors Mattel 1984
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors were released by Mattel in 1984. After a planet went supernova, the radiation mutated plants and created the Monster Minds. This new species became focused on conquering the universe. Monster Minds began entangling whole planets in vegetation, the horror! Enter Jayce and the Lightning League journeying across the galaxy to protect the universe against the evil Monster Minds.
Mattel produced the Wheeled Warriors toy line. The gimmick of the toy line was “stack & attack” which allowed the wheels and weapons of all the vehicles to be interchanged. Talk about customization! Even better, they sold extra weapons packs for further modifications. While the show lasted for over 60 episodes, the toy action figures line was canceled after just a year.