Monday, October 3, 2011

Rocktober/Under the Man-croscope: Rock Lords!

How about a post that slides perfectly into (guffaw) both our ROCKtober coverage AND my continuing series Under the Man-croscope where I critique childhood treasures with cynical adult eyes. Talk about killing two bastard chirping birds with one stone. STONE! HA! It's like a rock, which is exactly what I'm here to talk about. Oh yeah! I'm talkin' bout' ROCK LORDS.

You remember Go-Bots, right? The poor man's Transformers? Led by the shittily monikered Leader-1 and Cy-Kill? Well, in 1986, after a large run of toys, manufacturer Tonka said (actual quote): "You know what, you guys? I bet those damn hyper kids are absolutely sick of robots that transform into awesome shit like fighter jets and Lamborghinis. What about robots that transform into rocks? Kids are fascinated by rocks. They love them. They love throwing them at my car."

Join me after the jump for more robot/rock action!

Why describe how a Rock Lord works when I can just show it to you. For your first assessment please watch and take notes on the following clip:

I don't if there were subliminal messages ("YOU ARE EXCITED BY ROCKS. YOU APPRECIATE ROCKS) hidden deep within that admittedly catchy theme, but as an easily led astray ten-year-old I WAS genuinely an unironically excited at the prospect of adding these to my collection. There is nothing like a "rock to unlock" a young imagination! You can paint a face on a rock. Or throw it at a can. Or bludgeon someone with it. We're surrounded by rocks all the time but we never pause to consider that they could be carefully disguised and extremely patient aliens. 

I mean, you have to understand. At this later stage of our toy owning (and playing) careers our little arms were exhausted from racing cars along the carpet or whooshing jets through the air. I think most of us were relieved that once these robots turned into rocks they would just kind of sit there. Perfectly still. Sometimes for hours. Oh the fun we had! Thank you, Rock Lords!

Okay so you may have noticed in that clip that by far the coolest toy was that dark two-headed bastard that hurls that giant boulder. (Whoa! Wait... so they are made of rock but spend the whole commercial throwing rocks, punching rocks, and tearing rocks in half! They are self-loathing Rock Lords). Anyway, that two-headed monstrosity is Sticks 'N' Stones, and I didn't have him. No. I had the totally pussy Nuggit:

Images from the wonderful Gobot archive at
 Nuggit, I guess is basically the Bumblebee of the Rock Lords, in the sense that he's small, yellow, and presumably irritating. Here's his wikipedia bio:
"Though he's a robot, Nuggit is worth his weight in gold! He's smaller than the other rock warriors but brave and bold beyond his size. Nuggit is very proud of his shiny finish. Nuggit's Tri-Gun does triple duty: the top barrel hypnotizes; the second barrel paralyzes; the third barrel revives the unlucky victim for questioning." 
He also has a hidden fourth barrel that sends you flowers in the morning.

To make up for it though, I also had Magmar, who is apparently the leader of the Evil Rock Lords, and transforms into a disappointing and indistinct brown loaf.
Images from the wonderful Gobot archive at
Here's his bio for laffos:
 "Magmar is the most cunning and evil-minded of the Rock Lords. His domineering personality and physical strength make him a fearful presence to all but the most brave. Magmar lives to conquer the rock planet Quartex. His favorite activity is combat. Wielding his Ax-Rifle with deadly accuracy, he assaults foes scattering rocks and pebbles as he goes."
Yes, his favourite activity is combat, but colouring is close behind. And he assaults foes by "scattering rocks and pebbles"? Where do those rocks and pebbles come from? Oh! Don't answer that.

But this is where it gets really weird and even harder to justify. I had one other Rock Lord toy and it looked like this:

Images from the wonderful Gobot archive at
That is Narliphant (apparently) who is neither robot nor rock, but is a ball of grey fur with a purple trunk. He's also on wheels so you can rev him along the ground. Apparently, as a child, I felt the need to own this. All I can find out is that they are "furry animal companions to the Rock Lords". OK. Oh! And they appeared in the Rock Lords movie.


Yes! GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords was also released in 1986. It had voices by Margot Kidder, Telly Savalas and Roddy McDowall. Oh! And remember Sticks 'N' Stones? Well, his two heads were voiced by the shifty Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) who were brazenly cheating on their beloved Transformers franchise by appearing in this shitty knock off. For shame! 

If you have a cast iron stomach, absolutely nothing to do, and low self-esteem then you can even watch it in full on youtube. Here's the first part:


Ok... I watched a tiny bit. How dare I call it a knock off! They have Gobotron which is completely different to Transformers' Cybertron! They also have their own version of Jar Jar Binks who turns into a scooter. And probably begs for you to sit on him.

Transforming rocks. Man. How embarrassing. You'd never catch He-Man and the Masters of the Universe ever pulling a stunt like that! Oh wait...

Do you know of something that should be put under the stern, unwavering gaze of the Man-croscope? Email me at!



    Also: 'Nuggit is very proud of his shiny finish'

    Also: Nuggit is basically a torture-bot? WTF?!?

    Also: no, really, you made this up

  2. And yet every word is chillingly true!

  3. I totally had either Rokkon or Stonedar! I have never ever thought of it until seeing that ad just now.

  4. YES! I absolutely had a couple of these (And definitely had Narlifant)...The power...AND the fury!

  5. Would you be surprised to know that "Nuggit" is sitting on my computer desk staring at me right now as I type this? ALSO I still have his "tri-gun".

  6. I think I still have my Magmar somewhere. Never knew what he was from though.