First Released: 1984
Last Released: 1985
Included Accessories: Silver Weapon
Before there were Transformers, Tonka introduced the world to the Go-Bots, a line of transforming robot toys featuring a variety of vehicles, both real and imaginary. While they are widely ridiculed today, many Go-Bots were superior in multiple ways to numerous toys from the early days of the Transformers line. Both lines had their share of toys which worked well as vehicles or robots, but the Go-Bots line had a larger number of toys which worked well as both. Additionally, where standard Transformers started at $10-20 each, Go-Bots were priced at $2-3 each for the standard, Hot Wheels sized toys and $4-5 each for the Super Go-Bots, sized similarly to standard Transformers. With parents’ wallets stretched thin due to the prolonged oil crisis of the 70s and recession of the early 80s, the Go-Bots seemed like the obvious choice.
Bug Bite is from the first line of Super Go-Bots introduced in 1984. A member of the Renegade faction whose alt mode is a yellow Volkswagon Beetle, he is technically a villain even though many kids (including myself) incorrectly associated his personality with that of another well known transforming yellow Bug. However, as most Go-Bots were pulled directly from a Japanese toy line called Machine Robo that predates the characters from both the Go-Bots and Transformers toylines, the similarity of the two characters is purely coincidental. The level of detail in Bug Bite’s vehicle mode is vastly superior to that of his oft-confused Transformers counterpart and many Transformers across all their lines up to the introduction of the Masterpiece line.
While I had the opportunity to play with Bug Bite quite a bit as a child, I did not actually own one until I was near middle age. As my parents had heavily invested their toy budget, meager as it was, into the Kenner Star Wars line, toys from other lines were few and far between. My next door neighbor’s parents, however, had no such qualms. From 1984-1986, I got to thoroughly play with most toys from the first few Go-Bot lines including many from the Super Go-Bots lines. While my neighbor mostly forgot about Go-Bots when he finally started accumulating Transformers, I never forgot about Bug Bite and his cadre of scale mismatched comrades. As my army transformed in much simpler, but just as effective ways, I was consistently able to outmaneuver my foes with Bug Bite’s fantastically detailed and functional alt mode leading the way.
Bug Bite’s transformation is a great combination of simplicity and functionality. Going from car to robot (or back) in 6 steps (4 if you don’t count unfolding his arms and legs ad additional steps), he can be swapped from one mode to another in a couple of seconds. As some early Go-Bots’ transformations consisted of fold-robot-in-half to turn them into a vehicle (I’m looking at you, Tank), Bug Bite’s is just complicated enough to make it fun to do but not so much so as to make you start looking for the instruction book (I’m looking at you, Alternators line). His robot form is anthropomorphic enough to make him relatable but mechanical enough to ensure everyone remembers that this robot is not human. Like many of the earliest transforming robot toys, Bug Bite lacks a lot of articulation that most take for granted today, only being able to lift his head slightly, rotate his arms and bend them at the elbows.
Retro Rating: 10/10
Being half die cast, this toy is solid, carries an extraordinary level of detail given its age and price point and is a lot of fun to transform back and forth, even when not being played with. Bug Bite’s character recognizability doesn’t compare to that of his Transformers counterpart or even the main Go-Bot cast from the cartoon but does not impact his playability or the amount of fun you can have with him. Personally, I think that Bug Bite’s relative anonymity boosts the fun of the toy due to you being able and needing, really, to make up your own story of who this character is, what his abilities and powers are, etc.
Modern Rating: 8/10
The level of detail on Bug Bite’s vehicle mode is still fantastic, even by modern standards. When compared to the transformation steps required of modern Transformers toys (as the Go-Bots line was discontinued in 1987), Bug Bite’s is incredibly simple and refreshing by contrast. His comparatively low level of articulation is the major detractor and really shows the age of the toy. Conversely, as in the 80s, his non-humanoid robot form adds to the appeal of the toy, making him recognizable and unique in a sea of smiling and frowning humanoid machines. Bug Bite’s half metal construction adds a feel of solidity and durability lacking from many modern Transformers.