Zoids were a range of mechanical robot toys from the mid eighties created by Japanese toy company Tomy. Given Japan’s liking for all things robotic, it comes as a bit of a surprise that when the toys were originally launched in Japan in 1982, under the name Mechabonica, they failed to take off.
It wasn’t until the toys were renamed Zoids and released in the US and Europe a couple of years later that they became popular, prompting a far more successful relaunch in Japan.
Unlike other robot toys like Transformers, the Zoids needed to be assembled before they could be played with, which meant if you had more than one set you could potentially make your own designs. They also came with motorised parts, so your completed model could even be made to walk.
Most of the original Zoids kits resembled dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus or other prehistoric animals such as the Sabre Tooth Tiger, rather than the perhaps more expected tanks and airplanes.
The brand lasted until the end of the eighties when it started to die away, but by the mid nineties it was back again. Since then the Zoids toys have gone in and out of production many times, sometimes being released by Tomy and some times as licensed releases by other toy companies. In addition to the toys themselves the Zoids name has also featured in comic books, cartoons and there are several videogames featuring them too.