In 1984, Milton Bradley came up with a line of building toys called Robotix. In 1985, a series of cartoons (and a Marvel comic book) were produced to help promote the toy line. Robotix was one of four cartoon shorts packaged together by Marvel Productions & Sunbow Entertainment as the syndicated Super Saturday (or Super Sunday if a station decided to air it on Saturdays). For the record, the other three shows were Jem, Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines and Inhumanoids. Only Jem and Inhumanoids did well enough to receive their own standalone series.
The toy line outlasted the cartoon by quite a bit (running until 1994) but the Robotix cartoon is not without some charm. Even though I’d never seen this series until recently, I couldn’t help but get a nostalgic feeling since the show makes use of many voice actors from G.I. Joe and The Transformers. Even some of the same music is used.
The animation is up to par with G.I. Joe and The Transformers for the most part. I say that because some of the robots look a bit weird and like they don’t belong. I would blame that on Milton Bradley, but I can’t since the Robotix characters used in the cartoon were completely different from the actual toy line the cartoon was supposed to be promoting!
The story of Robotix is pretty similar to the Transformers. Good robots (the Protectons) vs. bad robots (the Terrakons) deserted on a planet with human companions caught in the middle. An interesting twist is that all of these robots are embodied by the minds of warring lizard-like aliens (who lost their bodies and had their minds downloaded to some super computer while their planet was about to be destroyed). When a human steps in to help command and control the robots, the robot becomes even more powerful. Or something. The minds can be implanted into and removed from the robots by the neutral Compucore computer system.
The Terrakors easily have the coolest names and designs. Nemesis, Tyrannix, Steggor, Goon, Venturak, Terragar– those are good names! The Protectons are kinda bland on the design side. Other Protectons are named Bront, Narra, Jekkor and Kontor. I’ll concede that Argus and Boltar are pretty cool names.
Eventually all 15 six-minute shorts were collected and released on VHS. Sadly, this obscure action/adventure toy-promoting cartoon has never received a DVD release in America. It is available on Region 2 DVD (for Europe and the like). Or you can watch it on YouTube:
It’s actually got a pretty good theme and I love that they use the creepy voice announcer from The Transformers. He made everything sound so perilous and urgent.
Another interesting thing is that the commercials also followed G.I. Joe and Transformers by placing kids “in” the action.
Ultimately, while Robotix is not a knock-out series, it’s enjoyable enough that old-school Joe and TF fans may find it interesting enough to watch at least once. I know I did.