I never had any Robo Force toys when I was growing up. That's ok. I don't remember them being very popular or that awesome really. I mean, they are cool in a boxy robot sort of way but they aren't great in the sense that they have a lot of continued play value.
They weren't the right size or demeanor to play with your GI Joes or other military style figures. They just looked too silly to hang out with tough guys like Shipwreck
or Gung Ho
What sparked my interest in Robo Force was that I was poking around on EBAY and came across an auction for the entire run of Robo Force toys including their giant Fortress Of Steel
play set for like fifteen dollars, plus shipping. When I logged on the auction only had a couple of minutes left and nobody had even placed a bid so I figured "Why not?" and put in my opening bid. I ended up winning the box full of Robo Force toys for a mere fifteen dollars. Pretty cool right? Well it kind of was and it kind of wasn't. Let me take the next paragraph or two to explain it to you...
So I bought the stuff and got the package early the next week. Everything was as advertised and I was totally stoked to have a complete collection of an action figure line that I didn't particularly like in the first place.
Really though, it was pretty cool until I started getting emails from the seller, angry emails. It seemed that in his opinion I hadn't gotten around to writing him positive feedback in a timely enough fashion. I'm cool with writing feedback but it's one of those things that I do whenever I get around to it. It's not that I don't appreciate a good deal it's just that I show my appreciation by paying for the item as quickly as I possibly can. I think that's what a good customer does and that feedback is a bonus not a requirement.
As it turns out the vendor had taken a hit on the shipping and he was very unhappy that he had to do it so therefore it was my responsibility to write him feedback that said I appreciated what he'd done for me, shipped the item for the price we agreed on.
Over time the emails got angrier and angrier. Sure, I could have just gone and done what he'd asked but come on, at this point was it a positive experience? Hardly.
He kept on emailing though and eventually added a note on my account that said that I never paid for the item and never got back to any of his repeated notes. I think that was one of the only ways that a seller could add negative feedback to a buyer. Claim that he never paid. I was annoyed and whatever but it was big deal in the long run because I had the Robo Force and all he had was anger and as we know Anger Kills! and Robo Force only brings joy. I win.
Here's a little background on Robo Force if you are interested. Robo Force was produced in by The Ideal Toy Corporation in 1983. I've heard some mixed reports on the date and Wikipedia lists them as coming out during "the mid 80's" which isn't very specific. 1983 was the year that I saw the most during my research so I am going to go with that as fact but really, who knows?
All of the robots in the Robo Force line had a suction cup base and arms that were similar to the joints on bendy straws. The arms were sold as having "Crusher Arm Action" because if you pushed a little button on the back the arms would come together in a bear hug like motion. Not the greatest thing in the world but still cool enough to keep a kid busy I'd imagine.
The designs for the robots was pretty good and almost iconic in the way that they vaguely resembled robots from the 50's and 60's but still had an 80's feel to them with the bright colors and other elements of the era the classic look isn't by accident though as Robo Force is clearly influenced by an earlier Ideal toy line from the 60's called The Zeroids
. I'm not too familiar with The Zeriods but am a little more so with a later incarnation of The Zeroids called The Star Team.
The Star Team came around in the late 70's and was meant to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars. The robots on the Star Team all had a vague resemblance to Star Wars characters. For example The Zeroid Pilot is a clear take off on R2 D2 and his partner Zem 21 has more than a passing resemblance to C3P0
That's cool though. I'm not hatin' There was a lot of style biting at the time and the hot style was Star Wars. You do what you gotta do to stay afloat in the toy biz. I guess you do what you gotta to stay afloat in ANY biz but ya, that's the way of the world.
So the 80's began and Ideal probably needed an idea and decided "hey, have we reincarnated the Zeroids lately?" Ta-Da! Robo-Force.
Every Robo Force figure came packaged with a mini comic. The package that I purchased sadly didn't include the comics so I'm not up on the tales of Robo Force but I'd imagine that it's pretty much good robot vs bad robot stuff. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's always the simplest stories that draw the most money and people love good vs evil. It's the most popular story in the book.
There was a Robo Force cartoon one shot called the Revenge Of Nazgar put out by Ruby-Spears in 1984 It's a pretty rare video apperantly as these things go. It only aired the one time in Dec of 1984 so if you didn't tape it when you saw it that was that. . It's not available on video but if you are interested it's on youtube. Jeez, ok.. Here you go.
I think that the Robo Force idea was just a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The competition for space on the toy racks during the 80's was bananas. The shops were just overflowing with interesting and soon to be historic action figure lines like GI Joe and The Transformers, He Man and The Masters of The Universe and the rest (Gobots etc). It was a tough time to be a toy, if you wanted to get noticed.
Here is an interesting side note about Robo Force's home company, The Ideal Toy Corporation. Ideal was founded in 1903 by Morris Michtom after he invented the Teddy Bear. Talk about having your biggest idea first...