Unseen

See also: Reseen

"Unseen", in the context of BattleTech, is used alternatively as an adjective (as in an image or design being "unseen"), or as a noun (referring to such "unseen" designs as "a" or "the" "Unseen").

Overview[edit]

The "Unseen" issue arose in 1996, in the wake of a series of lawsuits. The word refers to certain real-world imagery, namely the visual appearance (artwork) of a number of iconic BattleMechs plus a handful of other units, that BattleTech producer FASA agreed to not use fortwith. The use of these so-called unseen images in a BattleTech context was discontinued. Although the units that they represent continue to exist within the canon lore of the fictional BattleTech universe as such, their original visual artwork is not used anymore in print (or electronic) products or as miniature sculpts.

In 2015 Catalyst Game Labs (the current licensee) announced that they had opted for a proper retcon, and that new art would be published to retroactively supplant the Unseen designs and put the issue to rest for good. Since then, various products have appeared featuring new yet recognizable artwork for the classic Unseen.

Unseen[edit]

Main article: Unseen lawsuits

Background[edit]

When FASA created the Battledroids boardgame in 1984 that would become BattleTech, the designers licensed the rights from Twentieth Century Imports (TCI) to use certain pre-existing mecha from the Japanese anime series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Fang of the Sun Dougram and Crusher Joe. These mecha then served as the visual representation of several BattleMechs and other units within the BattleTech universe, with BattleTech-specific names and game stats devised entirely by FASA and totally unrelated to the context of the original mecha.

1996 Settlement[edit]

During a series of lawsuits FASA later found out that TCI might not have been in a legal position to provide these rights to FASA in the first place. However, this was ultimately never decided in court. The lawsuits were settled out of court in 1996.

As part of the settlement agreement, which included a non-disclosure agreement, FASA forfeited the right to use the images in question henceforth. This affected many core designs which have been described as the bedrock of the BattleTech universe at the time, and thus was a serious blow to FASA. All existing products featuring pictures of the Unseen, be it on the cover or within the rulebooks—effectively most if not all BattleTech publications—had to be discontinued, and while numerous other original designs remained that could still be depicted, this massively affected the BattleTech line. Miniature molds had to be destroyed as well.

Beyond the specific artwork covered in the Unseen lawsuits and settlement, FASA decided to summarily treat all designs as Unseen that had been developed out-of-house on general principle as a precaution. This included some designs that had not been covered in the court case, but shared the same background as the contested ones, but also unrelated third-party artwork to which FASA did have full rights.

When they first announced the settlement, FASA also provided an initial list of Unseen designs. This list was repeatedly updated over time as the legal situation (or how it was perceived) changed. Some individual units were even put on and removed again from the list several times.

Project Phoenix[edit]

FanPro, then the holder of the Classic BattleTech license, published Technical Readout: Project Phoenix in 2003. Set in the year 3067, it introduced a series of new, additional 'Mech designs that were in-universe evolutions of older Unseen with a significant visual makeover. These new 'Mechs were meant to functionally supplant their predecessors fortwith, but did not retroactively replace them. Additional Project Phoenix refits were published in later books. Despite this potential workaround, the Unseen issue as such remained unresolved.

25 Years of Art and Fiction[edit]

On 24 June 2009 it was announced that Catalyst Game Labs, now holding the BattleTech license, would resume use of the original Unseen artwork. The announcement did not explicitly mention whether or not Catalyst Game Labs had secured the permissions needed, though that was the general impression.[1] This was just prior to the print publication of the BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction anniversary tome.

Shortly afterwards, the BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction electronic edition was pulled from circulation. Managing editor Randall Bills made a statement on Catalyst Game Labs' website on 10 August 2009 where he explained with regret that twelve designs, originating from Macross, remain Unseen, due to the possibility that their exclusive distribution rights (outside of Japan) belonged to another company (Harmony Gold). Apparently, CGL had been unawares of a hitherto confidential clause in the original settlement agreement.[2] Still, roughly half of the Unseen artwork had been recovered for BattleTech. During this period of time, (formerly) Unseen art appeared in several products including the print edition of 25 Years of Art and Fiction (different from the initial PDF release in that the Macross designs had been removed again), Record Sheets: Operation Klondike, Historical Turning Points: Galtor, Historical: Reunification War, and Record Sheets: 3055 Upgrade.

However, to avoid the possibility of future legal issues in what was perceived as a legal minefield, CGL decided to revert to the previous Unseen situation.

Retcon[edit]

In 2015 Catalyst Game Labs announced that they had opted for a proper retcon, and that new art would be created to retroactively supplant the Unseen designs and put the issue to rest for good. Since then, various products have appeared featuring new yet recognizable artwork for the classic Unseen.

Affected Designs[edit]

All of the Unseen have at least one Reseen variant. Please refer to the list of Unseen.

Some highlights:

  • The original Ostscout, Ostroc, and Ostsol images were Unseen at one point, but were removed from the list in 2011.[3] Their original variants can legally be used with their original artwork.

An exact listing of which variants are Unseen and which are Reseen for all affected BattleMechs and vehicles is desired, but currently unavailable.

Alphabetical List of the "Unseen"[edit]

Archer
Battlemaster
Black Python (Viper)
Conjurer (Hellhound)
Crusader
Galleon Light Tank (Only the image from Technical Readout: 3025)
Glass Spider (Galahad)
Goliath
Grand Crusader
Griffin
Griffin IIC
Horned Owl (Peregrine)
Howler (Baboon)
Incubus (Vixen)
Jenner IIC
Locust
Locust IIC
Longbow
Marauder
Marauder II
Marauder IIC
Nexus
Phoenix Hawk
Phoenix Hawk IIC
Phoenix Hawk LAM
Raijin
Rifleman
Rifleman IIC
Samurai AeroSpace Fighter
Scorpion
Shadow Hawk
Shadow Hawk IIC
Stinger
Stinger LAM
Thunderbolt
Valkyrie
Vapor Eagle (Goshawk)
Warhammer
Warhammer IIC
Wasp
Wasp LAM
Wolverine

Origins of the Unseen[edit]

Below, the Unseen are divided into categories based on their original series or creator. Each unit is listed by its BattleTech name first, followed by the model and/or name used in its original series (where applicable).

Super Dimension Fortress Macross[edit]

  • VF-1 Valkyrie

This Mecha from the Super Dimension Fortress Macross series normally transformed into the three combat modes recognized in BattleTech by Land Air 'Mechs. Within the BattleTech game this one vehicle was split into distinct non-transformable 'Mechs models and LAM models. The LAMs, true to their artistic origin, could transform into aerospace fighter, hybrid, and 'Mech mode.

Wasp - VF-1S
Wasp LAM - VF-1S
Stinger - VF-1A
Stinger LAM - VF-1A
Valkyrie - VF-1S
Phoenix Hawk - VF-1S Super Valkyrie
Phoenix Hawk LAM - VF-1S Super Valkyrie
Crusader - VF-1A Armored Valkyrie
  • Destroids

Destroids are non-transformable combat mecha. As such, their designs were easily transported to Battletech. Although rules limitations necessitated the removal of weapons in the case of the Spartan/Archer(a gun cluster in the center of the chest, but gained arm-mounted Medium Lasers in exchange) and Tomahawk/Warhammer(torso-mounted missile launchers and one machine gun in the head).

Rifleman - ADR-04-Mk.X Destroid Defender
Archer - MBR-07-Mk.II Destroid Spartan
Warhammer - MBR-04-Mk.VI Destroid Tomahawk
Longbow - SDR-04-Mk.XII Destroid Phalanx
  • Zentradi Tactical Pods
Marauder - Glaug Commander Type
Marauder II - Glaug Commander Type
  • Returned
In December of 2011, BattleTech's line developer ruled that the Ostscout, Ostsol, and Ostroc were sufficiently different from their inspiration (Regult Scout Pod, Regult Battle Pod, and Regult Heavy Missile Pod, respectively) to be removed from the "Unseen" list.[5]
  • Note
The Stone Rhino (Behemoth) and Matar are loosely based on the HWR-00 Destroid Monster Mk. II, with the Stone Rhino's "5" variant being a more direct homage to the design.[citation needed]

Crusher Joe[edit]

Locust - Ostall
Samurai AeroSpace Fighter - TR-5 Harpy
Galleon Light Tank (3025) - Galleon
  • Returned
The Technical Readout: 3058 version of the Galleon was ruled, in December 2011, to be similar enough to the original that it should be removed[5], however, that decision was reversed in November 2014.[6]
  • Other units of note
While inspired by Crusher Joe images, the following have never been "Unseen":
Sparrowhawk AeroSpace Fighter - TR-5 Harpy and SR-5 Siren
Corsair AeroSpace Fighter - SR-5 Siren
Leopard Dropship - Minerva

Fang of the Sun: Dougram[edit]

Shadow Hawk - Dougram
Griffin - Soltic H8 Roundfacer
Scorpion - F35C Blizzard Gunner
Wolverine - Abitate T-10B/T-10C Blockhead
Thunderbolt - Hasty F4X Ironfoot
Goliath - Abitate F44A Crab Gunner
Battlemaster - Soltic HT-128 Bigfoot

Victor Musical Industries, Inc.[edit]

These images by Victor Musical Industries, Inc. were created for BattleTech but were removed to prevent the possibility of future legal issues. Note that while the IIC images (with the exception of the Jenner IIC) are obviously inspired by images taken from SDF Macross, they were removed only because they were created by an "out-of-house" source.

  • Video Game Designs:
Nexus
Raijin
Grand Crusader
Locust IIC
Jenner IIC
Griffin IIC
Shadow Hawk IIC
Rifleman IIC
Warhammer IIC
Phoenix Hawk IIC
Marauder IIC
  • Unused Concept Art:
Stone Rhino (Behemoth)
Bane (Kraken)
Howler (Baboon)
Incubus (Vixen)
Horned Owl (Peregrine)
Conjurer (Hellhound)
Vapor Eagle (Goshawk)
Glass Spider (Galahad)
Black Python (Viper)

See also[edit]

References[edit]