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Old 02-04-2009, 06:27 PM   #4
The Lizard
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Default Re: The History of Transforming Robots! (abridged)

III. Giant robots appear in Japan!

The 1956 manga comic series Tetsujin 28-go ("Iron Man # 28", better known in the US as Gigantor) introduced the first giant Japanese robot character. Created by manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama, Tetsujin 28's pointy nose and resemblance to a medieval knight harks back to the "Science Warrior" WWII political cartoon discussed previously. Indeed, in Tetsujin 28's origin story it is revealed that he was developed during WWII as a weapon, but the war ended before T-28 was completed. T-28 is not a sentient robot, but is controlled from a distance by a remote control device. In 1963 Tetsujin 28 went on to become a popular anime TV series in Japan and soon after in the US as well (as "Gigantor").

Tetsujin 28 (AKA Gigantor), manga, & anime.

Another historically important Japanese robot character appeared in 1965, and this one was an actual transformer! ...Sort of.
The great Osamu Tezuka created the manga Ambassador Magma in 1965, and it was quickly made into a television series in 1966, becoming the first sci-fi hero vs monster TV show in Japan (beating the more famous Ultraman's premiere by one week). The TV series was later dubbed and shown in the US as Space Giants during the 1970s.
The giant living golden robot Magma (called "Goldar" in the US version), had the ability to transform into a golden rocket ship, making him technically the first transformer...but there's a catch. Goldar's transformation is not mechanically logical, and there is no clear shifting of parts to explain how his transformation works. In the TV series, there were close-ups of various robot body parts being covered by the hull of the rocket, but you never see where the rocket parts come from. Watch the video to see for yourself...

As we can see, Magma/Goldar's change to rocket is a bit more like magic or morphing than an actual mechanical transformation, so there couldn't be any toys of the character that could transform. Still, Magma technically holds the honor of the first giant robot-to-vehicle transforming character.

Magma (AKA Goldar), manga and live action version.

Another noteworthy early live-action robot appeared in the 1967 TV series Ultra Seven. The enemy alien robot "King Joe" was the first "combiner" robot made up of 4 different smaller machines. King Joe first battled the heroic Ultra Seven in the 2-part episode "The Ultra Garrison Goes West".

King Joe from Ultra Seven, the first live action combining robot.

1972 brought the first appearance of the manga Mazinger Z by manga artist Go Nagai, introducing the first Japanese "mecha" giant robot character. "Mecha" generally refers to a humanoid robot that is merely a vehicle for a human driver, and has no intelligence of its own. While there were several giant remote-controlled robot heroes on TV the 1960s like Tetsujin 28 or Giant Robo, these robots had no human pilots inside them. Thus, Mazinger Z introduced the concept and general visual design of the archetypical Japanese mecha robot. The Mazinger Z anime TV series also began in 1972, and set off a huge wave of giant robot cartoons that still continues in Japan to this day.

The first diecast metal toy figure of Mazinger Z was made by Popy toys in 1974, starting yet another proud ongoing Japanese tradition of the "chogokin" diecast robot series.

Mazinger Z art and original diecast "chogokin" toy.

In 1974, Go Nagai again made Japanese robot history by introducing the first anime robot vehicle combiner, Getter Robo. Getter Robo was formed from three non-transforming vehicles that could assemble in 3 different ways. The combination process seen in the cartoon was again a bit "fudged", so that it's a bit more like morphing in places. Thus, there were no toy versions of the Getter Robo vehicles that could actually combine like in the anime.

^ Getter Robo opening credits showing combinations

NEXT....the first real transforming giant robot (finally)!

Last edited by The Lizard; 02-12-2009 at 07:44 PM.
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