Artwork from the boxes for the Gobots Secret Riders , showing Tork and Tri-TrakTransforming robots had been the craze of 1985, which meant they were old news in 1986. Most of the opportunistic lines rapidly disappeared from shelves with only Transformers and Gobots lasting the year. And Gobots was in trouble. The problem was the supply of figures from Bandai in Japan; Tonka simply didn't have the engineering know-how to design their own. Instead the range made do with a rag-tag of left-over Machine Robo toys, rejected Bandai prototypes, figures from other lines (the Secret Riders were drawn from Winch Robo) and a few commissioned toys (a third series of Super Gobots). The toys largely failed to sell well as the brand fell from grace, sales dropping from $132m to $25m.

UK video cover for Gobots - Battle of the Rock LordsNot helping was the decision not to renew the Challenge of the Gobots cartoon series, which wasn't justifying the expenditure. A planned second season opening mini-series was instead reworked into a feature film, intended to trump the arrival of Transformers - The Movie in cinemas. With low-rent star actors (Telly Savalas, Margot Kidder, Roddy Macdowall) roped in to voice the new Rock Lord characters it was released on March 21st 1986 (six months ahead of its' rival), distributed by Clubhouse Pictures. It took only slightly over $1.3m and the Los Angeles Times called it a "leaden exercise in ennui". It did little for the Gobots range at least, though Tonka had brief success selling toys of the Rock Lords themselves - despite their sole animated appearance being in the film and only subsequent showings coming in Telepictures' Official Gobots Magazine, the toys were marketed separately.

Helitanser, one of the Double Machine Robo figuresIronically the biggest moves came from Japan, albeit nothing that was much use to Tonka. The Machine Robo line initially seemed to be winding down at the start of the year - one final 600 Series figure, Land Commander 5 (a reworked version of Battle Armor 5), three Double Machine Robo (two vehicles that combined to make a single robot) and three Martial Arts Robo (vehicular shells which opened to reveal a highly poseable - for the time - non-transforming robot) concluded the original line.

Rom Stol, Leina Stol, Kenryu and Baikanfu in promotional artwork for Revenge of CronosHowever, in the summer Bandai gave the series an expensive relaunch. Foremost was an all-new 47 episode anime series created by Ashii Productions (who had previously worked with Bandai on Dancougar) named Machine Robo - Revenge of Cronos. The show junked the previous fictional background of the Japanese toyline in favour of a more mystical quest style, focusing on a few characters travelling around the planet of Cronos fending off the alien Gylandar. The accompanying toyline was largely made up of reissues, retools of figures from other Bandai lines and a handful of toys held over from the original line. The centrepiece was Baikanfu, a reworked version of the Chogokin Gardian figure incorporating a three-stage matryoshka-style action. Neither the line or the cartoon were much use to Tonka, though Bandai's work was the source of the combiner Monsterous (a recolour of the Japanese Devil Satan 6 set), the Winch Robo retools used for the Secret Riders and the Rock Robo toys used for Rock Lords.