As the 1980s began, there was at first still plenty of carryover from the colorful "super-robot" genre of the 1970s. Combiner robots were still plentiful, with some noteworthy examples being GodSigma
(1980), the first combiner formed from smaller humanoid robots instead of vehicles, and of course Golion
(1981) and Dairugger XV
(1982), which would both end up as the dubbed US series Voltron, Defender of the Universe
Godsigma, Golion and Dairugger XV
However, there was also an ongoing attempt to incorporate the dramatic "real-robot" aesthetics established in Moblie Suit Gundam
, as seen in various anime shows featuring giant robots such as Ideon, Space Runway
(1981) and Xabungle
These attempts were met with modest success until the 1982 TV premiere of Super Dimension Fortress Macross
. This anime succeeded in combining the human drama, romantic intrigue and realistic mecha that older fans were hungry for. Macross
was an immediate success, and its transforming Valkyrie aircraft designs set a new standard for "perfect transforming" robot designs that looked functional and cool in both vehicle and robot modes.
, along with the similarly-themed anime Mospeada
(1983) and Southern Cross
(1984), would all be dubbed and combined into the Robotech
TV series, which premiered in the US in 1985. Macross
toys in particular were hugely popular in Japan, and jumpstarted the transforming robot toy craze from 1982 onward.
Macross transforming VF-1S Valkyrie toy by Takatoku. This toy would later become the Transformer Jetfire.
Next: The origins of the Transformers themselves!