When I was very young, there was a magical time at the crack of dawn where a wonderful tv station in the Toronto area (It was either CFMT or CHCH, but to be fair I may be combining the two in my head) where it played the Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Voltron and the show that pretty much was my gateway drug into anime, Robotech.
It had planes that turned into robots and giant robots, as a rule, are awesome.
Along with Transformers and G.I. Joe, Robotech became a corner stone of my cartoon childhood. Looking back on it now as an adult, it’s sort of amazing that Robotech even got a fair shake with my generation.
For instance, Robotech had some rather adult themes compared to other cartoons of the day. Robotech was the first cartoon that I remember that featured the death of a character that I liked. Roy Fokker was cool and was kind to his geekier, younger friend Rick Hunter. Being a younger, geeky kid, it was important to me that one of the characters would like a guy like me and eventually help me in my quest to pilot giant robots. It also meant that when Roy was killed, there was more of an emotional attachment to the character and the show. It was was one of the few cartoons of the time that dealt with relationships in more then simple “I love you, you love me” terms. Relationships in Robotech could be complicated, but not so complicated that a young kid couldn’t follow them. As an adult, the show still stands up… more or less. You still want to murder Minmei with a sledgehammer (she kind of exemplifies everything that ever drove you crazy in your high school relationships) and the animation is a little dated, but on a whole I would say it stands better then Transformers… but maybe not quite as well as G.I. Joe.
The other thing that stands out is that Robotech wasn’t a show that was pushed by a toy line.
Yes, there was a toy line but the line wasn’t very prevalent, especially when compared to the market saturation of Transformers and G.I. Joe. Even Voltron had a wider release of toys. The Robotech toy line was also hampered by the fact that what would be the most popular toy in the line was unavailable.
If you are unfamiliar with Robotech the show I imagine the Veritech fighters look kind of familiar.
Familiar right? Kind of like this?
His name is Jetfire and he was possibly the coolest Transformers figure there was. If I can ever find one at a reasonable price, I will buy one. Because it also happens to be the coolest Robotech toy ever made. Taktoku Toys in Japan licensed off the Veritech fighter mold to Hasbro as part of their Transformers line (Transformers, at the time, was the combination of a few Japanese toy lines) before Matchbox had secured the rights for a Robotech line. As a result, no transformable Veritech fighters were made by Matchbox (although there were a few purely jet mode toys. Since then there have been more toys, usually high end or expensive. I got lucky a few weeks ago when I scored a cheap Zentraedi Battle Pod from Big Bad Toys Store for a cheap price.
For anime fans, the cartoon stands as a bit of an interesting debate topic. Assembled from three separate cartoons from Japan that held no relationship with one another, Robotech is seen by many as a bastardization. An example of the west coming in and exploiting a Japanese series and dumbing it down. For people like me, Robotech was the gateway drug that opened the doors for other anime like Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. So it’s a cartoon worth taking a look at.
And if any of you happen to have any Robotech toys you want rid of, drop me a line, we can talk. Especially if it’s a complete Jetfire.