Convert-A-Bots is either a knockoff line or one of those lines that grabbed whatever crumbs they could from other manufacturers left. It was probably running around the mid-1980s, when everyone tried this sort of thing. The line was packaged by North American company Village Toys.

I'm still unsure of whether the line was actually above board - the packaging claims trademarks and featured the address of Village Toys, but the release of the Mini Convert-A-Bots would have most likely clashed with Select's release of the same figures as the Convertors Mini Bots. This is theoretically possible, what with Mark being opportunistic whores and everything and 1980s toy manufacturers generally being a lot less stringent about this sort of thing. Village didn't move fast enough to secure any major Japanese licences, instead having to make do with a few leftovers from the likes of Mark, Yonezawa and ToyCo.


These were taken from Mark's Robo Car line of simple, transforming vehicles (also issued as Mini Bots in Select's Convertors line). I'm not sure if they were licensed or not, as the two I have don't bear any markings beyond the Village Toys sticker (though neither the Mark originals or the first wave of Convertors Mini Bots do either).

The two I have are interesting in that they use brand new colour schemes. I've got no idea how many different figures were issued in the range - the cardback art above shows a rough take on the Pontiac Firebird, which might suggest Bird was issued, but then this could just be artistic licence. I say 'artistic licence', but I mean 'underpaid freelance illustrator not giving a toss'. The toys have notably poorer moulding and quality than the Mark releases - this may have been through the moulds degrading, however.


The Mini Convert-A-Bots were superseded in 1985 by a range imaginative titled Mini Convert-A-Bots/2. These figures (I'm assuming there's more than one, anyway) are interesting - with the possible (but unlikely) exception of Talk-A-Bot (see below), they seem to be the only thing purposefully designed for Convert-A-Bots - there's a Village Toys stamp (rather than sticker) inside the leg and everything.

The design closely follows that of the Mark Robo Car figures, and indeed there's every reason to believe the actual design was the work of the Japanese company again (who, after all, did design work for Select along the same lines, including the American Mini Bots for the second year of Convertors). The design has been updated slightly, with the bonnet of the car flipping down to form the head and shoulders of the robot. While the rest of it follows the same pattern as the original Mark figures, the thing has been substantially remoulded. The car mode is now a Chevrolet Camaro, while the head cast is actually a separate piece, rather than a moulding on the plastic chest. Combined with the colour scheme, the thing's actually very similar to the much later Transformers Generation 2 figure Skram. It even has one of the same faults, the shoulder-type face blocking the bottom half of the robot face... The toy can still be transformed in the exact same fashion as the first batch. I've even taken a picture of this to show you. How lovely am I?


These simple remote-controlled transforming cars were originally produced by Japanese company Yonezawa, under the name Remote Change Robo Series. Quite a fall for one of the big names of the tin toy age... Three designs (a Porsche 911, a jeep and a sportscar) were made, though whether Village Toys issued all three I couldn't tell you (I'm guessing from the pluralisation they did, but that's only a guess). The remote control had two functions - accelerating the car, or activating the simple transformation. These things actually made it out under the Transformers banner in Brazil, where Estrela licensed them and released them as the Eletrix figures. As well as that, the figures were commonly bootlegged throughout the 1980s.

   

This was another electronic toy, most likely manufactured by Yonezawa again - who actually seemed to be genuinely in on the Convert-A-Bots thing, which makes me think the series was actually licensed - it'd be unlikely that Village Toys would legally obtain the rights to the Yonezawa moulds, then bootleg the Mark ones - maybe they were just sloppy manufacturers? The same figure was also issued in the UK by Grandstand under the Convertors banner (unrelated to the American line beyond being a transforming robot brand), as Deltratron.

Christ, what an awful name. I've yet to see an actual picture of N-4-SR (Enforcer, geddit?), but it's obvious from the cardback art that the figure it was based on was the ToyCo Astro Magnum figure, another transforming robot with electronic features (in this case, light and sound), best known for being licensed by Hasbro and issued as the Transformers figure Shockwave in 1985.

Many thanks to Menasor 13 for putting this link my way - it turns out N-4-SR was released in an unusual dark grey with purple trim scheme.


Right, I have no idea about this thing at all... I'm guessing it has an FM radio in it, and beyond that I'm stumped.

This is more here as bait, hopefully provoking a slew of emails mocking me for not knowing it's the Tackyama Super Happy Radio Robots Talkyboy figure. Preferably with a clip of usable pictures attached.


Trans-Bot-3 had originally been manufactured by Yonezawa in 1983. The figure had a walking motion in addition to transformation.

Like Fight-R-Bot the figure was also licensed to British manufacturer Grandstand for their Convertors line of transforming figures, as Betatron, and it turned up in several guises world-wide in the mid-1980s.


So there we go, that's all I've got for now, though there's probably more out there.

If anyone has any more information on Convert-A-Bots, please contact me!