Robo Force

Robo Force Magazine

Maxx Steele & Hun-dred

Robo Force Packaging

Ideal Robo Force 1984 Toy Fair Catalog

Robo Force Read-Along Book

Robo Force Fan Club Certificate

Remember Robo Force? Didn’t think so. Even if you grew up in the 80’s there’s a pretty good chance you missed out on these radical robots. Ideal Toys debuted them at the 1984 Toy Fair; unwittingly pitting them head-to-head with the Gobots and the Transformers, both of which apparently caught the company by surprise. Without the power to transform and very limited poseability, Robo Force simply couldn’t compete with rival toy lines. Ideal pulled the plug on Robo Force in 1985, a planned second series was prototyped, but never saw the store shelves.

Ideal put a huge amount of marketing muscle behind Robo Force for its initial launch, with a one-shot cartoon special, commercials, story books, board games, lunchboxes, a magazine…and that’s just the short list. There was even a Maxx Steele telephone and an official Robo Force fan club. They really went all out, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to overcome the toys inherent shortcomings.

My brother and I had a few of these, he started out with the mighty leader Maxx Steele while I went for his evil counterpart, Hun-dred. My fondest memories of these toys was in the early summer of 1984 when we left Western New York to live in sunny Florida. My parents packed us up in the Chevy Monte Carlo and we were off on a three day journey to parts unknown. Keeping my brother and I company in the back seat were our Robo Force guys, mini command centers my dad carved out of solid styrofoam, and a cooler full of Dr Pepper. To this day, with the potent combination of indestructible robots (these things were built like tanks), squeaky breaking styrofoam, and a seemingly endless supply of caffeine, I have no idea how my parents retained their sanity. By the time we had settled in Orlando, Transformers had taken over our robot play time and good ol’ Maxx and Hun-dred were relegated to the dustbin. Sorry guys.

My Robo Force figures are long gone and trying to find quality images of them on the web can prove to be insanely difficult. Thankfully, there are a couple of sites that helped me put this post together: BattleGrip & Roboplastic. Give them a look, they are both bursting at the seams with awesome stuff.

80’s Transformers Box Art

Transformers: 1984 Box Battle

Transformers: 1985 Box Battle

Transformers - Decepticon: Soundwave

Transformer - Decepticon: Ravage

Transformer - Decepticon: Buzzsaw

Transformer - Decepticon: Frenzy

Transformer - Decepticon - Insecticon: Bombshell

Transformer - Decepticon: Beastbox

Transformer - Autobot - Dinobot: Grimlock

Transformer - Autobot: Wheeljack

Transformer - Autobot: Ratchet

Transformer - Autobot: Jazz

Transformer - Autobot: Hoist

Transformer - Autobot: Prowl

Transformer - Autobot: Hound

Transformer - Autobot: Mirage

When I was growing up G.I. Joe and Transformers were a lethal one-two punch for my imagination. The toys were cool, the cartoons were awesome, but the box art was the catalyst for daydreaming. Seeing that stuff on the shelves, looking at the hand-crafted portraits of the characters really got my mind going. The fact that these were actually painted, with all the textures and imperfections that come along with that process, really drove home a certain personality that is all but lost on kids today.

You can scope the entire series of box art over at Botch the Crab.

He-man mini comic cover by Eric Powell

This past week has been very busy so things have been a bit slow around the blog. But here’s a little Sunday gem I came across last night. One of my favorite comic artists, Eric Powell, created a cover for an upcoming He-man mini comic. For those nerds in their 30s, you’ll remember every He-man toy came packed with a little comic book back in the day. Hoping I can get my hands on one of these.

And guess what? This original painting is up for auction on eBay. I wouldn’t argue if someone wants to buy it for me.

Eric Powell is best known for his funny book The Goon from Dark Horse Comics.

Japanese town logos: Part II

Last night I posted up some Japanese town logos, when all of a sudden LA’s own Steven Sacks pipes up on Twitter with a goldmine of even MORE logos, stylized from Kanji characters. Once again from the mighty Pink Tentacle. I thought that original find was teeming with good stuff, then it doubles. Blown away.

You know, I think we can learn a lot from these 1-color bits of amazement. If you’ve been in the design field for any length of time you’ve probably worked on some kind of signage dealing with geography, whether it’s for your town, city or whatever. Our natural instinct is to jump right to a landmark and use that as the backbone. And hey, fair enough. I’ve done the same thing many times. But these … beautiful and timeless. Unique, yet run together as a solid set.

I can’t offer any historical background to these because I’d just be faking it. But there’s something here, something we’ve been missing for decades. Something pure. That make any sense?

Japanese town logos

Alright, I’m not even going to pretend I know what’s going on here. Last week I came across this gallery of Japanese town logos on Pink Tentacle and have been amused, baffled and star-stuck ever since. Each municipality has their own simple, 1-color iconic logo.

No pictures of the town clock. No lighthouses. No “Welcome to Blah-blah” slogans. Just symbols. Clean, nice symbols. Man, how amazing would it be to see stuff like this on roadsigns as you bomb down the highway?

Absolutely beautiful. All I have to say on that. Swing over to this post to read the little story as to what these are.

MarsUnited prints by Andy Rohr

Now we’re talkin’. Check out these art prints created by Chicago’s own Andy Rohr. This is the kind of personal project I really enjoy, Andy invented an “airline” called MarsUnited then proceeded to create some cool travel posters for it. 100% homegrown for the fun of it. You can’t beat that. Well done, Andy.

You can check out his diverse portfolio, or swing over to his shop where these posters are available to purchase. Big thanks to my pal Ron Doucet for the heads up on Andy’s work!

Canadian swimming badges

All you Canadian kids out there probably recognize these little morsels, and so will Mom and Dad. When I was little my parents enrolled me in swimming lessons, tossing me half-naked into a group of other kids I barely knew in order to ensure I wouldn’t sink to the bottom of a pool like a stone. Well, it worked and today I can swim like doofus whenever I need to.

The Canadian Red Cross swimming lessons were broken up into “colors”. When you completed a level you were awarded with that badge color. I always liked the design of those badges, really smart with the swimmer aligning with the wave. I managed to find these online last week and wanted to show them off, mostly because these are the four I got when I was a kid. Maroon basically meant “He can dive, but not well.”

Not sure if you have these in other countries, or if us Canadians were the lucky ones. I’m not even sure if these are still being used. Anyone know?

The Dark Knight Rises poster

This poster for The Dark Knight Rises made the rounds online yesterday, really caught my attention. I was pretty impressed with the run of posters The Dark Knight spawned a couple of years ago and it looks like they’re keeping a similar vibe going for the new movie.

Really dig this one. The buildings forming the Bat symbol in the negative space looks real smooth and smart, nothing clumsy going on here. It’s not too often I talk about new movie posters here on the blog, but I felt this one deserved a bit of time. Not much more to say then that. Well done, Wayne Industries!