During the 1980s transforming robot craze, originality was at something of a premium. The West in general, and America in particular, couldn't get enough of the things, and innumerable toy companies wanted some. Transformers had already snaffled up Takara's output; Tonka cornered most of Bandai's; even Mark had someone drooling over their wares, licensing a selection of moulds to Select for Convertors. As well as these lines, there was a mix of approaches - some domestic companies imported other minor Japanese lines, some designed their own figures (though Remco's Zybots is a prime example of why they perhaps shouldn't have), while some overseas manufacturers hurriedly exported their wares to America. One of these was Hong Kong-based Upright Toys, who manufactured Dashbots.


Dashbots JeepTheir contribution was basically to take the moulds of Monogram's line of licensed Gobots plastic model kits , and turn them into ready-assembled toys. Or maybe it wasn't - let's not forget that the Monogram Gobots also included the Legios Alpha Fighter from Macross as Leader 1, and the Mospeda Bike Suit as Cy-Kill. It's possible that the moulds were designed by Upright (the figures do bear a 1984 copyright marking, after all) and then licensed to Monogram, who just fudged them to represent the characters they most resembled.

The first pair used very similar moulds to the kits for Turbo and Buggyman, and these were then modified to a larger extent. These are the types I've spotted in some place or another: -

  • Red Ferrari 308GTO (based on/inspiration for Turbo model kit)
  • Blue Meyer Manx (based on/inspiration for BuggyMan model kit)
  • Black Corvette Stingray
  • Green Army Jeep
  • White Motorcycle
  • Black/white Police Cruiser

As those of you familiar with Gobots might have noticed, these are very similar to several vehicles in the series in general - the motorcycle bears more than a passing resemblance to Night Ranger, for example. It's quite likely that Upright tried to cash in on the line, or on Machine Robo, but some of the moulds seem to be original, as there weren't model kits for the likes of Night Ranger, Geeper-Creeper or Hans-Cuff for UpRight to copy.

The toys were released in two ways, as far as I know - either individually carded (see above picture, nicked from ebay), or loose in a countertop unit (see the pictures at Super Toy Archive ). The latter seems to have originally contained two of each figure, meaning the six listed above may have been the extent of the line - unusually for this sort of thing, there don't seem to have been any recoloured figures (the art for that box looks like a cock-up to me).


FERRARI

Dashbots FerrariAt the time of writing I only have one of the Dashbots figures. I'm not sure exactly what 'name' (from the Jeep card, I'm guessing they had rough descriptions rather than actual names) this thing came out under, probably something like "Sports Car". Ferrari weren't actually that common a target in the 1980s toy robot licensing free for all - I make it three Transformers (Overdrive, Chase and Wildrider) and one Machine Robo (Testarossa Winner). This figure used the same mould as the Monogram Turbo model kit - but the plastic is heavy duty, while most of the car upper body is diecast.

Dashbots FerrariThe car mode is modelled on a Ferrari 308 GTO (the same as Wildrider, incidentally), and while that wasn't the slickest of Ferraris, the toy is bulkier than the real thing. It's not really super-deformed, but it is quite beefy - I'm guessing to give a solid base for the robot. Like the rest of the line, it has a friction motor driving the rear wheels. It's nice and chunky, though the larger-than-expected 3.75" length does cost it a little cuteness.

The transformation is very simple, with only about five moving parts. The robot mode is similarly straightforward, but has a bit of charm to it - painted details, a fairly unique face and a little effort's gone into the legs thanks to that rotating radiator panel. It's a nice little toy, though again it would be cuter at 50% of the 4" size. The thing looks bugger-all like Turbo in either mode, though, adding further credence to the idea that it wasn't designed by Monogram for that purpose.

If anyone has any more information on Dashbots, please contact me!