This is a review of the 1984 “Mighty Orbots” cartoon that ran on ABC.

Like my previous review of Captain America, this is more a series of impressions and opinions than a proper review.

Let’s talk about the fucking Gobots thing first of all.

Tonka sued because “Orbots” sounded too much to them like “Gobots”, meaning the Gobots basically took this show down, which is fucking bullshit because Gobots is hot garbage aside from their cool-ass home planet. So I’m very angry about that, because Mighty Orbots looks great and the Challenge of the Gobots show was literally thrown together to support the toyline that Tonka bought from Bandai.

Characters I Recognized

Since this is an animated series, there won’t be recognizable actors on screen. Instead we’ll talk about some of the character archetypes and how the series uses them.

  • The Hero is Rob, the inventor of this team of super-powered robots. He’s both the weedy nerd and the dashing space commander, depending on whether he’s suited up or not. Like Clark Kent and Superman, only one of these identities has an admirer.
  • The Big Guy is Tor, the strong robot. He’s macho and smug, but comes through when he needs to.
  • The Comic Relief is Bort, who can shapechange into a variety of devices. He’s got a nervous personality.
  • The Glutton is Crunch. He’s the big eater with a stout body, sure sure, but in a subversion of the usual trope, this is good because he can produce energy from what he eats and supply it to devices or other robots.
  • The Chick is divided up between Bo, the practical joker and more aggressive girl robot, and Boo, the more demure and curious girl robot. They have the most overtly magical or superheroic powers, namely elements and light/energy respectively.
  • The Mother Hen is the little kid robot, Ohno. She pushes the others around to keep the base clean, makes sure they get regular recharges, and also has the master key to make the giant robot combination happen. Named for her catch phrase, “oh no!”
  • The Reasonable Authority Figure is Commander Rondu, who’s apparently in charge of everything and has unspecified psychic powers
  • The Action Girl is Rondu’s daughter Dia, who has a crush on Rob’s “Orbots Commander” persona but isn’t impressed much by Rob. She does the rescuing more often than she needs rescuing in return, and could easily helm her own space action series.

Oh yeah, and the show is narrated by fucking GARY OWENS. He does a fantastic job. It’s so good.

The Plot

The show is about the Galactic Patrol and specifically Mighty Orbots against an evil cyborg supercomputer named Umbra. Every week, Umbra cooks up a new scheme and deploys his organization, called SHADOW, to go do bad stuff. Mighty Orbots - Rob’s robot team, who can combine into a giant singular robot - get dispatched to solve it.

There’s a lot of giant monsters, enemy robots, and other big scary things the team has to deal with, but a lot of the solutions come down to Rob and his team figuring out the science behind the problem, and leveraging that to deal with the threat.

Unlike many similar shows, Mighty Orbots actually got a wrap-up episode where they defeat the bad guy once and for all. Hooray.


Robots are people too. This is something I really like in fiction - treating intelligent robots as actual people, letting them have lives and opinions. These robots bicker, play tricks on each other, support each other emotionally, even flirt with each other at times. They have hopes and dreams and self-doubts. They crave vacations, they make mistakes, and they work through anxieties.

Nobody really talks down to anyone. Sure, it’s the mid-80s, but I’m glad to see how little racism, sexism, and other bigotry exists. There’s an episode where Ohno wants to become human because she thinks Rob talks down to his robots, but that’s (mostly) in her head, and Rob shows all kinds of support for his creations. Aside from that, absolutely nobody on God’s green Earth thinks Dia should stay out of danger. She’s super-competent and frequently contributes to the solution of the week. Not counting Commander Rondu, who’s too old to count, there’s a nice even gender balance across the main cast.

Science rules. None of the problems in the series get solved by punching them real fucking hard. Even if the science is often bullshit, it’s treated as the way to get things done. A ship is powered by anti-matter, positive and negative electrical charges are at least mentioned, and more. If you want to seed a kid’s mind with science concepts, there’s worst series to do it with than this one.

The villains are wild. Aside from Lord Umbra, who looks like a giant five-eyed energy face, there’s shapechangers, space pirates, tiny lizards with bejeweled mind-control helmets, evil Ewoks, evil robot rock stars, and a corrupt prison warden. Someone had fun writing villains of the week, and because of the no-kill science-first nature of the show’s resolutions, villains can come back later.

The animation is great for the era. This is a mixed US/Japan production, and aside from the phenomenal opening animation, the show puts in a lot of detail and stylized shots and fancy camera moves and such. The only thing that’s weird to me is the vaguely gorilla-like look that Tor and Bort’s faces have. Compared to them, Bo and Boo have remarkably human faces. But that’s all deliberate, it’s not off-model art.

The vibes are fun kid-friendly adventure. You can’t go wrong with Gary Owens narrating. Aside from that, it’s fun sci-fi robot action.


Clark Kent/Superman leads the Robotic Six. A worthwhile kid’s show with a fun robot ensemble. Nasty-looking master villain with fun supporting villain cast. Watch it if you want an under-represented slice of the 80’s.

Episode compilations are available on YouTube: