Popy continued to build on the success of Machine Robo into 1983, adding another eight figures to the 600 Series range and two more DX toys. These followed the trend of the late 1982 releases, and only one - Drill Robo - wasn't modelled on an everyday vehicle. The larger figures in particular - known as the DX Scalerobo - were highly detailed replicas of a Datsun Fairlady-Z and a Porsche 928S with as much attention given to designing the vehicle forms as the robot modes (which had famously unorthodox body layouts).
However while Machine Robo kept up momentum Popy were struggling overall. The company had been set up by Bandai to explore licensed properties (among other things) in 1971, and with this area exhausted were reincorporated into their parent in March 1983. The change would have a positive effect on Machine Robo, however. In Japan the line would continue unabated with largely the same design team - a further dozen 600 series figures followed before the end of the year, along with four more Scalerobo DX toys and the first of several sundries in the shape of the Jet Garry. This was a car carrier scaled for 600 series figures, complete with a cab that crudely converted to a jet. Bandai also redesigned the line's packaging and issued boxed sets containing recolours of extant figures under the name Machine Robo Best 5.
The line being now directly under Bandai also saw the first international releases of the toys. However, unlike today Bandai's overseas operations were relatively basic with operations largely reliant on shipping in figures from their Asian factories and repackaging them - a sometimes expensive operation as they had found out with the financially disastrous attempt to market Chogokin toys as Godaikin. However the smaller, lighter Machine Robo figures were much cheaper to distribute. Initially the exports had the same simple marketing as the Japanese versions, with mythos at a minimum and individual figures prosaically named. In Europe, the line was issued as Robo Machine; in Australia and America, it was renamed Machine Men. While the former lines were a moderate success, in the United States the line sank without trace, despite a supporting TV commercial and the enticement of a mailaway gold Buggy-Man. It would take an American manufacturer to crack the American market for the figures.
Around the time Machine Men was making no impression whatsoever on the American toy market Hasbro, buoyed by the success of the relaunched G.I. Joe franchise, saw toys for Takara's Diaclone and Microchange transforming robot lines at an industry fair. They entered a licensing agreement to release the toys in America (unsuccessful attempts by Takara under the banners of Diakron and Kronoform had done no better than Bandai's similar efforts). Working with Marvel comics, they began the same painstaking approach used for G.I. Joe, planning to back the toys with a detailed fictional universe including a cartoon and comic.
Rival Tonka decided they liked the idea themselves, and snapped up the American licence for Machine Robo. Desperate to beat Hasbro to the punch, they roughly divided the first batch of 600 series figures into 'Friendly' (led by Leader-1, released in Japan as Eagle Robo) and 'Enemy' (led by Cy-Kill, a reissue of Bike Robo) factions, gave them simple names, stuck them to blister cards (with all-new painted artwork for each character) and shipped them to stores at the end of 1983 under the name Gobots.
The figures retailed at around $3 and were an instant hit. The media backing initially only extended to a short storybook named "Escape to Earth", given away free at toy stores and briefly fleshing out how the Gobots travelled from their home planet of Gobotron to Earth. The toys themselves contained no biographical information, simply a name, a faction and a rough description of the alternate mode (the figures being packed in robot mode, with the left arm raised for some odd reason). A TV campaign with the strap line "Mighty Vehicles, Mighty Robots" was also transmitted to support the toys. With a three-month head start on Transformers, Gobots was initially the market leader. The availability of the 600 series moulds meant Tonka could provide an initial salvo of 24 figures (a handful of extant moulds - such as the two Machine Robo bullet trains - were skipped as unsuitable for the American market), soon joined by playsets of their own design in the shape of the Command Center and Zod. All in all, 1983 had been a very promising year for the burgeoning franchise.