Monday, January 26, 2009

East Vs. West (Vs. East Vs. West): Machine Robo-er, Robo Machines-er, Machine Men-er...

Sometimes, when a toyline is transplanted from one language group to another, the transition is relatively smooth. (Transformers, for instance, was pretty seamless in the early days of G1, although as time dragged on, the two sides of the Pacific drifted apart increasingly, to the point where nobody has any idea how to reconcile Hasbro's view of the fictional multiverse as opposed to TakaraTomy's view.)

Other times, we see what happened to Machine Robo.

Machine Robo has been known by many names: Robo Machines, Machine Men... and Gobots.

Yep. This:


or possibly this:

Well, okay, that last one was something different descended from Machine Robo in Japan itself, so it doesn't count (much).

Anyway, one unique feature of the distribution of Machine Robo is that it was actually separately distributed in three different English markets. Again I say, for emphasis, separately.

In the UK, kids were presented with "Robo Machines," embodied primarily in this fiction, which is quite distinct from Gobots, despite most of the characters sharing names. Eventually, distribution of the Gobots cartoon superseded this fairly minor comic, and it was mostly forgotten as the line was rebranded.

In Australia, the line was initially distributed as Machine Men, and the most media it got was these. Uniquely, the Machine Men line was popular enough that Bandai didn't want to risk its popularity by rebranding it, so instead they rebranded the cartoon as Challenge of the Machine Men. (I can't imagine how Machine Men would have fit on the Challenge of the Gobots title card.)

Compare this with Transformers, where when a character crosses the Pacific, usually the most important change is in the character's name, or possibly a tweak in personality. (There are exceptions.)

-Signing off, partly because the computer is sluggish right now.

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