RETRO REVIEW: Rock Lords
If there’s one thing that 1980’s toy culture taught us, it’s that you can pretty much turn any object into a transformable toy. We know of the vehicles. The Transformers. The GoBots. We even looked at a transformable Pepsi can (thanks Computer Warriors!). Heck…even McDonalds had a series of menu favorites that transformed into a robot. “Is that an awkwardly small Styrofoam box full of McDonald’s delicious Hot Cakes?”
Well, it was around 1986 when the folks at Tonka decided to create a new spin-off series from their already popular (though not as popular as Transformers) GoBots line. They were known as the Rock Lords and featured a number of characters that transformed between robots and rocks. 1986 was also the year that Masters of the Universe gave us Stonedar – the Heroic Leader of the Rock People.
Apparently, kids around ’86 were consumed with rocks. I remember having a weird rock collection with things like sulfur and quartz glued to a piece of cardboard. They actually sold kids this stuff…and our parents bought it.
But what might have touched off the whole rock creature fad was the nightmare inducing children’s film – The NeverEnding Story. Weird shit came out of West Germany in the 1980’s (99 Luftballoons?), but there was nothing more devious than The NeverEnding Story. It’s the film that introduced youngsters to Rockbiters. They were basically cannibalistic – though they weren’t actually portrayed that way - rock men who ate rocks.
Luckily, the Rock Lords didn’t exhibit any cannibalistic traits. They were just simple fighting robots that broke up into teams of good guys and bad guys. Each figure included a weapon and a little Rock Lord comic book. That’s something that a number of toy lines from the 80’s included…that lovely little comic book.
The figure I picked up from eBay is a “Good Rock Warrior” named Granite. I was surprised by how well the figure had held up. While GoBots have clearly been surpassed toy-tech-wise, a company could fire up these old molds and likely sell Rock Lords today. And while you're likely not going to trick anyone into believing you just dug up that transformed Granite Rock Lord, it's not like you'd need to ask someone what this thing is.
Looking at some of the other figures included in the line, I'd say that Granite is actually one of those who look the least like a Go-Bot. For example, check out Boulder on the above card. Now that guy has the Go-Bot jointed arms and a head that looks like a Go-Bot. So it's hard to believe that a series that had such different designs was bound for failure. They did produce three series of Rock Lords figures, which included Rockasaurs (some rock-robot-dinosaur things) and The Narlies (we have some old Troll doll hair? Okay!).