I have a theory about Tonka. I see a bunch of executives bored and eager to get home to their high-priced whores daring each other to see who'll go furthest, testing whether kids really will buy anything. It started off pretty simply - getting names like Leader-1, Hans-Cuff and Cop-Tur onto figures and getting away with it. But someone had to trump this lot. Exacerbated by a lack of oxygen to the brain due to cocaine blocking both nostrils one braces-wearing exec has the trump card. Gobots is a line of small, part-diecast transforming robots - why not add a giant plastic non-transforming dinosaur to the line?

And thus, Zod was born. Well, I can't think how else they came up with the idea. Zod was added to the Gobots line in 1984, and went on to have a role in the Hanna-Barbera Challenge of the Gobots cartoon, notably in the "Battle for Gobotron" opening mini-series where Cy-Kill's plan hinged on building an army of Zods. An upgraded version of Zod was featured in the episode "Ultra Zod", but this wasn't turned into a toy. Bandai decided to co-opt the toy for the European Robo Machine line - interestingly, catalogue pictures showed a different scheme, notably featuring a large number of red paint apps, but this was never released. Zod also got to appear in Fleetway's Robo Machines comic too, where he was actually the new form taken by the highly intelligent cyborg scientist Stron-Domez. Quite why a highly intelligent cyborg scientist would see a big lumbering dinosaur robot form as an upgrade I don't know, but then I guess these highly intelligent cyborg scientists know what they're doing. Like the other Tonka-designed toys, the rights to Zod are presumably now owned by Hasbro.

Even in a line full of slightly mental figures (see Destroyer, Staks and Bladez, amongst many, many others) Zod sticks out a mile - even Tonka's other big slice of self-devised oddness Scales had some pretension at being a transforming toy - Zod's just a bit blue robot T-Rex. On wheels. And I've got to say I think he's tremendous fun. The whole thing's just so mad. Despite being nearly all plastic, Zod's respectably made - very sturdy, with a nice amount of detail moulding distracting from the simplicity of the figure. Unlike the Command Center, he really does display quite nicely with other figures - despite being a big brick he somehow retains some dynamics. Maybe because he never did much more than roll and roar on the telly. His jaw can be moved regardless of the electronics, and you can fit the top half of Blaster in there no trouble - this resolves the problem of what exactly to do with Blaster into the bargain. I love the way he's got rubber tyres too - Tonka design something this mental, but decide it's got to have good-quality rubber tyres on the one occasion they could have got away with some cheapo plastic drums or something.

Zod's action feature (powered by three 'C' batteries in his tail) causes him to leap forward with a pretty violent snapping motion designed largely to terrify my cat, as far as I can discern. I'm not sure if it's the age of the thing or just me being supersensitive with my figures, but it does seem far too rough to be let loose on other Gobots. The fun bit is the power switch, which can be turned on on his back, but has to be turned off on his belly - basically by firing a projectile at it. The toy came with a missile, but mine didn't so I have no idea of how exactly this works. It's a fun feature nevertheless.


For all his weirdness Zod is actually good fun, especially if you have some 'walking wounded' junker figures you can let him loose on. For a big block of plastic he displays pretty well too, being a nice sort of size compared to the small figures. He won't be to every taste but if you have a sense of humour about these things, he's rather endearing.

[Corrections? Let me know!]

1984, Gobots - Zod
1984, Robo Machine - Zod

1 x missile