With both the challenge and acceptance videos from the MegaBots crew and team Suidobashi numbering nearly ten million views in little more than a month, it looks like this good-natured rivalry is turning more heads than just those belonging to us big stompy bot fans. Especially with BattleBots back on the air… which, of course, brings me to some of the heavy-hitters getting involved. It’s no longer just a team of spirited ‘mecha-nauts’ anymore.
I mentioned in my first article about the challenge that the co-founders of MegaBots were no strangers to the media. But the crew they’ve managed to put together for this undertaking honestly reminds me of a 21st century Team Bonzai. And going by the new concept artwork for the redesign, the new Mk.II looks like a mashup between Robot Jox and Rocky IV- just dripping with ostentatious patriotism.
All this concept art needs is Captain America’s shield and Hasbro would be all over this.
After their unsuccessful Kickstarter in October of last year, the Oakland California-based MegaBots Inc. seems to have done the best thing they could do to stay active in the public arena. They picked a fight.
In late June via video, Andrew Stroup and Gui Cavalcanti challenged Suidobiashi Heavy Industries to a duel- Abatchall, if you will, to fight against Suidobiashi’s current combat mecha- Kuratas. Neither Stoup nor Cavalcanti are unfamiliar with either engineering competitions nor high media exposure. Both appeared in the 2012 Discovery Channel reality show: The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius.
I think the BattleTech cartoon was probably as close the franchise came to making the mainstream of popular culture. I could include the videogames (which I have discussed before) but the cartoon took place during a time where big fighting robots were generally in the mainstream anyway. MechWarrior 2, Robot Jox, and of course blockbusters like Terminator 2. Even Japanese distributors were beginning to test the US market with titles like Patlabor and different flavors of Gundam. Big robots were beginning to become as much a staple of science fiction as the space opera. (Some media, like Gundam and BattleTech combined the two).
So how does one market a mech-centric space opera towards children? As seen with other US franchises like Exosquad, don’t sugar coat it. In space operas, there are big wars going on, and people die. 1st Somerset Strikers doesn’t show death like Exosquad does, but one of the plot developments banks on one of the major characters failing to eject from his devastated BattleMech before it explodes and being thought dead by his compatriots for most of the season. Likewise, though it specifically mentions in the official BattleTech canon that the Jade Falcons evacuated the city of Romulus before glassing it with orbital bombardment, it was never brought up on the show. So the viewer thinks they just watched an entire city of people get vaporized. Heady stuff. I really wish they had made more of a deal of the destruction of Edo on Turtle Bay later in the season, considering that most of the inhabitants in fact WERE massacred by the Smoke Jaguars (one of the reasons that clan was targeted for termination during Operations Serpent and Bulldog)
I recently watched reviews of this film by internet personalities That Sci Fi Guy and Cinema Snob, which prompted me to find and watch this ’90s sci-fi cheesefest. I’d probably rented Robot Jox a hundred times in the early nineties, but a few things stuck out at me that prompted a fresh look after a few decades.
Robot Jox is a 1990 film co-written by science fiction author Joe Haldeman and directed by Stuart Gordon. In a future after a nuclear holocaust, the international community has pulled together enough to form at least two socioeconomic factions. Somehow, war has been left behind, replaced by a kind of Circle of Equals involving giant robots sponsored and built by the factions and piloted by who amounts to a combination sports star and national hero. If you noticed my reference to the Clan Circle of Equals, believe me, I have a few reasons.
I can see the Matsumoto 14 appearing in a TRO as a resized heavy or assault ‘mech.
I recently watched the mid-90s cartoon show on Hulu for the first time since it aired on television. And I have to say that it touches me on a level that I don’t think anyone marketing a cartoon to sell toys really has before or since.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s, when cartoons were usually made in such a way as to appeal to the most number of age groups. And they usually stuck to a really clear-cut list of things you can and can’t get away with regarding real life issues like war and politics. Shows like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs got away with well written and subtle jokes aimed at an adult audience, even though any four year old could plop down and watch it and have just as much fun as a teenager, or even their parents.
Exosquad broke all the rules of what cartoons could get away with- in the western hemisphere anyway. Japanese anime had been catering to an adult and mature audience for decades at that point, and even their toy-selling shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Dougram, Votoms, and a slew of others had very adult themes. I think Universal Studios was aiming at that market here in the US; told exactly like an epic war movie.
J.T. Marsh: the BattleTech universe could use a few of him.