Super excited heroes to have you all on the command deck on this day. We are about to get briefed on one of the biggest recorded alien invasions the cartoon world has ever seen…but dont worry..today we have the technology! Robotechnology! (That’s your hint!!)
Begin Transmission: April 1 /2014
It was 5:00 p on a weekday 1980 something and I was enjoying my regular after school cartoon block on Canada’s Atlantic Satellite Network (ASN) waiting patiently for one of my afternoon favorite cartoons, BraveStarr to begin in its regular time slot. To my surprise another show was beginning on this particular day a show I would grow to love. The animation was different it was not your typical Hanna Barbera fare rather it looked a little like Battle Of The Planets, or Astro Boy..the only real Anime that I had given any of my time to in the past. Regardless I watched on. The theme music was pretty cool but I still missed BraveStarr. The main character was Rick Hunter a cocky young pilot with crazy huge hair who seemed badly dubbed in english. However it had a charm to it. It connected from episode one. By the time Rick stumbled into his giant transforming Veritech I was along for the ride. The show was known as Robotech. Anime enthusiasts know it better as Macross..but this post is not about Macross..its about the english dubbed chopped and spliced space opera epic that I love passionately..My Robotech..more specifically my favorite of all generations ..The Macross Saga!
Robotech was a show created by Carl Machek and had an extensive run of 85 episodes. Produced by Harmony Gold USA it began its North American run in 1985. Our Americanized version of Robotech was more or less a mish-mash of three completely unrelated Japanese Television Series: Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA.
I knew these three series as :
The Macross Saga
Robotech: The Macross Saga by far the favorite of all of my Weekday afternoon favorites in the mid 80s! This chapter tells the story of a group of humans and their trials and tribulations, loves and losses in the face of ultimate destruction against a race of aliens known as The Zentradi!
The Macross Saga part tells of humanity's first contact that ends in a war. Rick Hunter is a pilot who gets dragged along with the SDF-1 and joins with them to stop the invaders. Lynn Minmei is a singer who Rick rescues and falls for. He is destined however not to be with MinMei but with Lisa Hayes. A love triangle, mixed with full on intergalactic war.Together they try to save the Earth and end the war without fighting, but with love.
Southern Cross: The Robotech Masters.
The original war is over and the fight continues as the daughter of Max and Myria , Dana Sterling and her group of Southern Cross Calvary members to defend against the coming of The Robotech Masters who’s plot is to harvest the world of the Flower of Life that produces protoculture that essentially drives Robotechnology! Sets the table for the final chapter The New Generation! Masters, In my opinion the worst of the three but still has a great ending and the last several episodes of this series are must watch for any Robotech fan!!
Mospeada:Robotech The New Generation
3rd Gen did not let us down and made up for the lull in Southern Cross Masters series with an all out War! Amazing Series!! Scott Bernard and team dodge incredible odds as the Invid race invade earth in search of the same thing The Masters had attempted to achieve in The Masters series. High drama and intense battles..I was big into this series but had to wait a long time to see how it wrapped up!! More on that later!!
The Earth must fight a devastating second war for a secret prize. Someone else wants the prize, the Invid. The New generation gives us a world controlled by the Invid. The SDF-3 sends a probing force that is destroyed upon exiting hyperspace. A single survivor remains, Scott Bernard who is taught to fight, with the will to free Earth. He forms a resistance with the goal of destroying the Invid hive at Reflux Point, aka New York.
Before you jump in just watch the entire series here!! prerequisite to reading this post!! See ya 85 episodes from now..click on the following link! http://www.waoanime.tv/anime/robotech/
You are back? See I told you how good that show was..on to the post!
The Macross Saga was definitely my favorite of the bunch. Macross told the story of the Earths battle against an Alien Race known as the Zentradi. It is much more than a simple transforming robot show. Its the story of Rick Hunter and his journey from being a side-show carnival pilot to become the best most revered space captain in the universe. His love triangle with Lynn MinMei and Lisa Hayes was true space soap opera material and was genuinely fully realized Their relationships were more complex and to my teenage eyes were very realistic.
Robotech is very much the story of Rick Hunter and how he lives, loses and loves in the face of the all out threat of human annihilation! Ricks journey from being love struck with the celebrity that was Lynn MinMei , to finally realizing that his heart belonged to Lisa Hayes the entire time is an incredible piece of story writing. It is the very centerpiece to the show as spoiled and rich musical superstar Lynn MinMei whom Rick had known from her early days as a young immature girl to the biggest pop star in the world. Minmei distances herself from Rick once famous.
Rick however longs for her affection ad meets with disappointment at every turn. The Rick / Lisa storyline is the best in the show and is actually the underlying theme consistent throughout the series. Rick a cocky sure shot pilot who is immature in his own way crosses paths with the daughter of war commander and primary leader of the command deck of the SDF-1. Hayes, is Ricks superior is at first reviled by Ricks immaturity and defiance of orders but somehow begins to develop feelings for him. Both from different places in life somehow find each other in the face of all out world / galactic warfare and go on to be the couple who would one day stop the war.
The supporting cast of Roy Fokker, Max Sterling and Ben Dixon made up Ricks cast of fellow Robotech Defenders, the infamous Skull Squadron. In the episode “Farewell Big Brother” Ricks little brother /big brother relationship with Roy Fokker in particular was very well presented and when Roy meets his eventual fate its one of the few times a cartoon hooked so realistically it drew tears. No joke. I am man enough to admit it!
The journey of Rick from boy to adult is fully explored as he is hardened by war and becomes a leader to mankind. In one of the best episodes of the show is “Rainy day”. It’s an episode short on Robotic warfare and space adventure rather this episode centers around a simple conversation between Lisa Hayes and her Co-worker and friend Claudia Grant who is suffering the loss of her man Roy Fokker. It is a heart-felt episode that fully develops the supporting cast and strengthens the main romance story line between Rick and Lisa as Claudia challenges Lisa to take down her walls around Rick and finally let him in her life. Amazing 10/10 episode and potentially one of the best of the series!!
Max Sterling was actually Ricks superior in regards to piloting an aircraft. Sterling is the blue haired ace pilot who falls in love with a female Zentradi warrior named Mirya. She is sent by the Zentradi to infiltrate the humans colonized aboard the SDF-1 and learn their secrets. What she finds is an emotion she did not know she had..love. In one of the better episodes entitled “Showdown” Max and the gang are visiting an arcade on board of the SDF-1 when Max sees Mirya who he instantly is entranced with. Max ends up going head to head with Myria in a game resembling actual war flight simulator. Max beats her to the shock of all present and to the sheer humiliation of the Zentradi warrior. However they eventually see eye to eye and fall for each other and even have a child that would be important to the next arc of Robotech..The Masters. Dana Sterling is born the daughter of Max and Mirya and represents the first-born half human and half Zentradi.
Humans meet Zentradi..Max and Myria the first inter race couple on Macross!
The antagonists of the show are the race of mega giant aliens are the Zentradi who race to gain possession of Robotech technology. Led by the hand of Lord Dolza, Bretai Kyrhon, and Exedor wreak havoc on Earth and the human race with a massive full-scale invasion that leaves the earth in ruins and a unimaginable body count. These were not your typical Saturday Morning Cartoon bad guys that were easily subdued with a spiderweb or a batarang, The Zentradi were vicious and unrelenting in their attack. It was one of the first shows where characters actually died. Many of Ricks friends do not make to the end of the series as the Zentradi leave their mark on our heroes.
The Zentradi were unique in that they had no idea what to make of human emotions, music and actually feared it! Some stories involved the Zentradi soldiers actually defecting to the human side after being micronized to explore the novelty of music and love. These bad guys were fully developed and quirky unlike cookie cutter villains of the day. Watch one of the final episodes of the series as Kyrhon does a suicide run on the SDF-1 something never seen in American cartoons of the day! These villains were extreme and thus the conflict in the series always felt real. You felt legit fear your favorite characters would be killed off!
The ending of the series wraps up the love story of Rick and Lisa while leaving no question of who wins the war between the Zentradi’s and The Human Race. The episode “To The Stars” ties up all loose ends as the war ends and as does Rick and MinMei’s relationship as Rick and Lisa finally get together. A great scene at the end of the show when Lynn MinMei sees that Rick and Lisa are meant for each other is a very well conceived conclusion to this chapter of the series and sets up the next coming two generations of Robotech.
In a blip on the Robotech radar it is important to bring up the obscure Robotech The movie: The Untold Story. Seen by some American Robotech fans as NOT being considered cannon but this thing did exist and did relate directly to the Macross Saga hence its inclusion. I , while being a die hard fan have watched this only once and that is quite enough for me. It deals with Rick Hunters relative Mark Landry, who uncovers the government cover up about The SDF-1 s computer that is being hunted down by the Robotech Masters. The Movie itself is a collage of Masters footage and another unrelated series Mega Zone 23. The movies original test run was disastrous as promotion was almost non-existent and it faced the release of Transformers :The Movie. The fact that production struggles disallowed the production team to use any tangible connection to the Macross Saga but only the Masters series. As a result this landed with a thud in theaters and lasted only several weeks in total. It is not available on DVD or Blu ray as the original negatives for this movie were washed out in a flood in the early 90s. But for those wondering about it..for what its worth..here it is for your viewing displeasure.
One of my favorite Christmas memories was getting my set of Robotech action figures and vehicles. Sears published a Christmas catalog every year and the “Wish Book” as it was known was the BIBLE of a child’s X-mas wish list. This particular year they featured Robotech toys for the first and only time!! Also comic book ads pumped these toys hard as well..I had no choice..I HAD to have em!
Robotech The Toys.
Matchbox Released figures for all three generations of Robotech figures and they were great!
They were in the line of 3.75 inches in height and went very well when combining them with my collection of G.I. Joe and Star Wars. I hit pay dirt on Xmas 1985/86 with a fine load of Robotech figures. I was the recipient of Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Roy FoKker, Max Sterling, Zentradi Soldier, Bioroid Warrior , Zor Prime, Scott Bernard, and many many more!!
The toys shown above showcasing the vehicles were released by Matchbox in 1985, there were a number of variants released later by Harmony Gold themselves of which I purchased several years later scoring a great Myria and alternate Max Sterling! The SDF-1 Playset was only released under the Matchbox line in the 80s and could be used with both the 3 3/4 and 6 inch figures.
I was not fortunate enough to grab this set as it was unavailable at the time of the order! This collection was delivered en mass on Xmas day and I had more than an inkling I was getting these toys as many evenings when my parents did their thing, I snuck into the guest bedroom in my house and sneaked a peak at my incoming toy grab for Xmas! I didn’t expect so many in one haul but I was a lucky boy on this mid 80s X-Mas!
Though my loyalty lies deep with The Macross saga, I had a passion for Robotech: The New Generation as well!! Scott Bernard and Company battling an Invid Invasion was must watch TV! It didnt matter what was on my plate, friends be damned, I would drop everything to rush home to catch Robotech every weekday!! I was a SuperFan and didn’t miss a show! In a weird turn of events good old afore-mentioned ASN loved to show the episodes in succession and in full chronological sequence but always during the late episodes of New Generation ASN would restart the entire series. So I watched the entire thing again to see if they messed up and sure enough it would cut off at the same point! I actually had no Idea what happened in the last few episodes of the series..never the less I would be victorious in my pursuit of finishing this series!! More on this later!!
In an interseting side note Matchbox were unable to sell the 1/55 VF-1 Valkyrie toy originally sold in Japan by Takatoku Toys due to Hasbro leasing the property as the Autobot Transformer named Jetfire as part the Transformers toy line. Because of this, they had to settle with distributing a non-transformable Veritech Fighter that could fit the line of the 3 3/4 inch action figures.
Toys were only part of my Robotech collection. AS STATED earlier I had yet to complete my viewing of the 3rd Robotech Generation and it haunted me. Well, as I graduated from High school years later in 1992 I did not let go of my search! Attending University brought me to the big City in our Province which meant tons of comic shops and places to search! After wandering downtown on one fateful after noon I stumbled into an old Video store named Alan’s Video which housed a cornucopia of VHS tapes..among them Robotech Macross Saga video tapes that encapsulated the entire series!!
I rented the crap out of these things and watched the entire 1st gen once again! It did not quite have the same feel as the videos were highly edited to make each tape one super long episode minus intros and end credits and even stripping out some narration. Still it was all that was available!! I tried to buy these tapes but the owner being a glorified dick refused even though I was seemingly the first renter of these tapes for several years! So one of my tech savvy uncles rented all the tapes and pirated the days lights out of them making me two monster 8hr VHS tapes with the full series in SLP mode! It wasnt the best version, but finally I could lay claim to owning the series!! Other copies of Robotech VHS circulated around the city off and on usually containing one or two episodes per tape. I received a sweet copy of Robotech episode one Booby Trap!!
My Quest for video ended abruptly when I made my first visit to my Cities main comic book store, the immortal dungeon called Time Masters. After sifting through several back issue bins of comics in the corner of my eye I spied a video wall..and friggin ROBOTECH videos!! I do not recall the exact amount that I paid for these tapes but remember them being expensive (15-20 bucks was big money in 1992!! )The Paladin Books collection series had collected the complete saga on VHS but Time Masters did not carry them all but with all moons aligning they carried the COMPLETE Robotech The New Generation series!! I didn’t have the funds to buy all 6 tapes..but I damn well grabbed the last three tapes!!
Finally I had the last piece of the Robotech puzzle!! These tapes were loaded and featured better edited versions of the series than the original F.H.E. (Family Home Entertainment) series. I ingested these videos in no time flat and completed the elusive series!! That would not be it. Yes we had toys and video tapes but my lust for Robotech would not waiver as I jumped on the barrage of novels!!
I managed to grab all books shown above with the exception of the Sentinels books. Author Jack Mckinney did an amazing job of covering the series and adding layers to the characterization of the cast of Robotech. The books elaborate on certain scenes and take the reader on parts of the Robotech story that are simply touched upon in the TV series!! PLus as an added bonus aside from being priced decently these books sport excellent post Robotech TV series art work. Symphony Of Light the final chapter of the New Generation is probably the most enlightening of the bunch as the book is able to elaborate on the eventual arrival of Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes and provide more of a back story than originally provided on the series. Due to the TV shows being originally three unrelated series at times the narrative was cheated to make sense of the connection between the shows. None more painful than the anticipation of the return of Rick and Lisa at the end of New generation. I wont be a spoiler here but you will see what I mean!! Myself not being a huge reader of regular novels..I was however a HUGE fan and religious reader of comic books!! As a Robotech fan in the 80s we were SUPER SERVED!!
DC took the first unfortunate crack at Robotech with a 3 issue Mini Series called Robotech Defenders. It predated the television series and was based on a collection of Models from the Revell company. This series was a very painful read with a poor excuse for art. It however was American comics first taste of Robotech Mecha..and it sucked. Gleefully unrelated to the TV series the Earth is attacked not by Zentradi but the very horrible looking Grelons. Grenlons were a “technologically advanced” alien race who used their mecha to over power the earthlings. A small team of rebels activates a Robotech Defender and inadvertently unites mecha from around several planets to assist in the defence of the planet! It is only when our heroes unlock the Robotech Defenders minds that the full strength of their warring capacity is unleashed and they defeat the enemy race. The only redeemable note from this lump of crap was the fact that each Defender had a “speciality” based on their home environment and had each different set of attacks that coincided with their home world. Example Defender Thoren was enabled with Heat and Magma powers.The only decent concept in this other wise unacceptable piece of crap.
The best part of this 3 issue limited series was that it sold so poorly that DC pulled the plug and cramped the last two issue into one ad free issue number two! Others have cited that it was Harmony Gold wanting to have all channels clear of any residual Robotech confusion as they prepared to launch the Robotech series States side. Seriously you could not have done a worse job with the franchise than with this mini series.
Comics would not go without Robotech however as a little while after the series roared onto the airwaves indy publisher Comico released an official adaptation of the entire three Generations at once! I was hooked! At times the art would be a little sketchy to say the least but Comico published slick-looking brilliantly colored books that wet my appetite! My 20 dollar a week allowance only stretched so far so I was only able to collect scattered issues when I could concentrating mainly on The Macross Saga, and New Generation! They matched the stories perfectly with the exception of The Robotech Masters series which was edited to avoid spoilers in the other books!
This series actually begins with issue number two as issue one was an adaptation of the Japanese series, Macross..but then jumped into straight continuity of the American Robotech series with issue two! The Robotech comics from Comico were the closest to anything that I wanted out of an adaptation! They are by far the best Robotech series in my opinion as they were faithful (With one exception) to the source material!! Below is a massive cover gallery for my favorite of the set The Macross Saga!!
In conclusion..my journey through Robotech was a big part of my childhood..and this post is a big reminder of that lest I forget one day! Hope everyone gets the same enjoyment out of this post and the show as I did. I have only scratched the surface on Robotech and one day I will be back with another follow up Robotech post!! Let me know what you would like to see discussed?!
Hope you have enjoyed our walk-through the galaxy and Robotech! If you would like to continue the conversation you can contact me on twitter @charlton_her0 and use the #SuperHeroSatellite before we go here are some great links!!
NewWaveTraders.com For vintage toys like Robotech and for the Retro Video Game fan in your home look no further than the great folks at NWT!! follow them on Twitter @newwavetraders
Love the comic books shown in the cover gallery? Check out http://www.mycomicshop.com/ For all your comic book and Robotech comic book needs!! They have a huge selection at great prices!
Watch every episode of Robotech right now at http://www.waoanime.tv/anime/robotech/
See ya next time Heroes!! Strap in Heroes…next stop Symbion? (Hint!!)
Satellite Extra: Complete Comico Robotech :The Macross Saga Cover Gallery