Animated MechWarrior Series Cancelled After Being Hit With Cease and Desist

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HbIIC and MADCAT

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

Earlier in December, we reported a new teaser video for an animated MechWarrior series to be created by Black Plasma Studios. The YouTube video was unfortunately taken down after amassing tens of thousands of views to the disappointment of BattleTech fans the world over.

We received word from the video’s director, RoA Nitrox, that Black Plasma had been hit with a cease and desist letter. But it wasn’t from the much reviled Harmony Gold – it was from Topps, the owner of the BattleTech copyright.

Topps acquired the rights to BattleTech in 2003 after purchasing WizKids, the makers of the MechWarrior: Dark Age clix system. WizKids was shut down in 2008, but Topps kept the intellectual property to many of FASA’s universes, including BattleTech.

Centurion

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

“On December 7th, Black Plasma Studios received a cease and desist letter from Topps and the trailer was removed from the channel,” Nitrox told me via email. At Mech_Con he was able to talk to some of the PGI developers to see if there were any strings they could pull with Topps to get it back up.

PGI’s licensing with Topps is only for creating computer games, not animated series, so there wasn’t much they could do other than just add their voices to the chorus of people pleading to not kill the series before it had even begun. Sadly, Topps wouldn’t budge, so the whole thing was kiboshed.

There is, however, a tiny silver lining: RoA Nitrox was able to finangle the original teaser video after into an advertisement for MechWarrior Online. It largely resembles the original video, but with some advertising for the game thrown in and making it very clear that Topps owns the rights to BattleTech.

So, no new animated MechWarrior series. Let’s all now have a moment of silence for yet another victim of BattleTech’s litigious history.

RoA Nitrox also had a personal message he’d like to share with everyone who supported the video and his desire for a new animated series. As it’s a truly heartwarming message, I’m posting it in its entirety with minimal editing.  

“My experience [at Mech_Con] did no less than assure me that going forward with this series was what I truly wanted to do.”

“On January 17th, 2015, I found MechWarrior Online and began my journey as a pilot in this community. Within that first year, I experienced what was one of the best online communities I had ever taken part in. In early 2016, I considered the idea of attempting to create an animated series out of MechWarrior Online and started looking into what would need to be done in order to begin production. I slowly planned out the steps necessary throughout the year, eventually leading up to the first Mech_Con event. My experience there did no less than assure me that going forward with this series was what I truly wanted to do. Over those first two years, the MWO community and PGI’s engagement with it created a place that felt like a second home to me, and one I was proud to be a part of. The gears were set in motion, and for the 3rd year, I put together the trailer that I had the honor of presenting the week before Mech_Con 2017. The time of celebration was unfortunately short-lived, as the forces that be decided it was not our place to become a part of this community in the way I had hoped.

Direstar

courtesy of RoA Nitrox on YouTube

“I’ve met so many kind people who shared the same dedication to this franchise we all love.”

“In the end, I’m still proud to have had the chance to share with PGI and the community something special and to express my thanks for all the joys you have given me. Actions often speak louder than words, but unfortunately, I will not have the opportunity to continue displaying my thanks through the creation of the full series. Words are now all I have left to offer and they cannot express my level of appreciation for how incredible these past 3 years have been. Both in game, at each Mech_Con, and on my tour of the PGI studio, I’ve met so many kind people who shared the same dedication to this franchise we all love and I look forward to supporting this community for the many years ahead of it. Once more, I give my sincerest thanks to everyone and I’ll see you all out on the battlefield we know as the Inner Sphere, and the one I call home!”

Thank you, Nitrox, and we here at Sarna hope that one day you’ll be able to share your vision for a MechWarrior animated series without lawyers getting in the way.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

This entry was posted in Community on by .

About Sean

Hooked on BattleTech at an early age, Sean honestly can’t remember whether it was the cartoon, the serial novels or the short-lived TCG that did him in. Whatever it was, his passion for giant shooty robots never died, so now he writes about the latest and greatest in ‘Mech related news.

11 thoughts on “Animated MechWarrior Series Cancelled After Being Hit With Cease and Desist

  1. Rob C.

    WTF. Now we have to worry that TOPPS is turning into HG?
    It would have been great advertising, now their going look like potential vultures.

    Reply
  2. Ken Johnson

    Unfortunately this is probably due to the current lawsuit. As they are currently fighting over the rites to several redesigns that would have been used in this series as well they need to be active in defending it in order to help with their case. Otherwise they can weaken their case by not actively defending their IP. If the case were not happening this may be a different story. Sad but possibly true.

    Reply
  3. MW Fan

    Give TOPPS some credit. What if MWO for example was slack? The MWO web site forum agreement / policy state that the forum can not be used to promote individual or company enterprise outside MWO.
    Yet, there are post with claims of owning some part of Battletech IP or related business outside MWO. \
    Just one example: When a forum post includes “Shameles plug here” followed by the words “Officially Licensed”; an IP holder just might feel nervous.
    TOPPS has the right to defend it’s IP. Forum admins up to CEO should consider every aspect of IP.

    Reply
    1. Zack

      Agreed. The guy who was making the animated series should has negotiated with TOPPS with a license grant to get it running, Topps should get at least some money for it.

      Reply
  4. Mopar

    What really gripes me about this is that a company like Topps is not doing ANYTHING to further the IP. It in effect just sits there collecting dust. Would love to see the IP be sold to a company that would do something with it.

    Better yet a company that would maybe instead act as a guiding force. People would have to be for usage of the IP and the owner would determine what was worthy and what was not. However if judged worthy they would be hands off and collect a fair fee for the usage.

    Instead we have companies that sit on IPs such as this and Wheel of Time and allow some of the great fiction IPs to rot away.

    Reply
  5. James Beard

    This one is technically legal and justifiable. Disappointed, but cannot fault them, unfortunately. Frankly I do find the concept interesting, and am rather surprised that they wouldn’t, at the very least, use it as a YouTube show as a bit of advertising for BattleTech

    Reply
  6. Aadem

    Well, Topps has every right to do so.
    Also I think this animation sucks, you guys should really start to have some taste and not bite on everything with a battletech mech in it. This animation is just MWO models ripped from the game, and direstars and other meta shit running around, if you want to watch MWO meta stuff then go watch NGNG’s animated series…
    I saw some people saying Topps not letting others to continue the IP, what do you think Catalyst Game Labs is doing with Classic Battlettech, their company makes only story and fluff and rulebooks for Battletech. If you hunger for the story go throw money at them.

    Pardon me for my harshness.

    Reply
    1. RoA Nitrox

      If you think the full series we were going to make was going to be nothing but meta builds, jokes and references, then let me assure you we were going to go a lot farther than that and make a serious show. Maybe this first trailer ‘sucks’, but believe me, I was fully prepared to invest a lot more into improving it over the years.
      What I’m upset about isn’t that I got the C&D, I’m upset that we got it from a company wasn’t doing anything with the IP to begin with. There’s literally NOTHING in the animated series format our series would have been competing against financially. I wanted to make this fully with the intent of increasing the popularity and recognition of MechWarrior using our now 1.5 million subscriber base. Trust me, if all I wanted to do was make money, there’s plenty to go around with the Minecraft Animations we’ve been doing previously.

      Reply
  7. X-Grunt

    Not a hard concept to grasp. If you do not own or pay for the intellectual rights to someone elses property you cannot use it. TOPPs is going to be going after anyone, who is using their property (rights) with out their consent. They paid money for the rights, so they expect you to do the same. Hope you have an Atlas’ weight worth of C-Bills handy.

    Reply
    1. RoA Nitrox

      well, you say that; but there’s a nice hand full of 2D Animations over on the NGNGtv Channel. Topps hasn’t done anything about theirs, so how was I supposed to know that somehow ‘my’ animation crossed the line?

      Reply
      1. Methuselas

        Yes, that were all drawn and done without swiping art and animations. You’re talking about your 1.5 million subscriber base following the Minecraft Animations you were doing, yet do you get PAID for your subscribers? Do you make money off the videos you create, though ad revenue from YouTube? I bet you do.

        TOPPS was well within their rights to send you a cease and desist. You’re violating their IP to make a profit. In fact, the reason they allowed you to release the video is the non-profit disclaimer put at the beginning.

        Face it, you tried to make a buck off their IP and got caught. Being both a former comic artist and game animator, I don’t have any sympathy for you.

        Reply

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