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Old 02-24-2009, 09:26 PM   #60
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)

OK, time to wrap this up!

XIII. Global Robotic Revolution

The nostalgia for classic giant robots that firmly took hold in Japan in the late 1990s continued unabated into the 21st century with anime series and OVAs updating '70s classics like Mazinkaiser (2001), New Getter Robo (2004) and the CGI-enhanced Reideen (2007). 1980s toy favorites like Zoids (1999-2005) and Armored Trooper VOTOMS (2007) also made a comeback. The light-hearted King of Braves, GaoGaiGar Final OVA series (2000-2003) brought back the final entry in the "Brave" series of transforming robot TV anime from the '90s.

New Getter Robo (2004) and Reideen (2007)

While there were still anime and toy lines following the mystical Evangelion formula, classic super-robot elements were added, as seen in the series RahXephon (2002) and Demonbane (2006). The popularity of the super-robot genre would increase even more with the release of Gurren Lagann (2007), an often-comedic anime series featuring extreme robot designs and satirical over-the-top action.

Gurran Lagan diecast toy by Bandai, 2007

The Macross series also continued to be updated, with the prequel OVA Macross Zero (2002-2004) and the sequel TV series Macross Frontier (2008). Unfortunately, the distrubution of the Macross series and toys in the US has had problems due to US company Harmony Gold (producers of Robotech) holding international rights to the Macross robots and storylines. Highly detailed Macross toys made by Japanese collector toy company Yamato could not be imported to the US, so American company Toynami bought the rights and have sold the "masterpiece series" of Robotech mecha from Macross and Mospeada, much to the delight of collectors. Both Toynami and Yamato have gone on to produce many detailed upgrades of classic '80s transforming robots as well.

Toynami Robotech Alpha and Beta (2008) and Yamato Megazone 23 Garland (2007)

The collectors' market is the target of several other robot toy lines that have popped up in Japan within recent years. Japanese model company Kaiyodo introduced the "Revoltech" series of toys in 2006, featuring non-transforming but highly poseable action figures of such beloved robots as Tetsujin 28, Dougram, and even Optimus Prime and Megatron. On a related note, Takara merged with Tomy, another well-known Japanese toy company (and creators of other classic robot toy lines like Zoids), in 2005 to become "TakaraTomy". Since Tomy is the recognizable brand name outside of Japan, TakaraTomy just goes by "Tomy" in the US.

A selection of Kaiyodo's "Revoltech" super-poseable figures

After the success of the 2007 Transformers film, the new Transformers Animated cartoon series premiered on Cartoon Network in December of that year. An updated storyline unrelated to any previous cartoon or film, and heavily stylized artwork were introduced for the new animated series. The characters were designed by Hasbro and Cartoon Network, and the 2008 toy adaptations created by TakaraTomy have increased the articulation of the robot modes yet again.

Transformers Animated cartoon and toys (2008)

Now directly-imported Japanese TV shows and OVAs are quickly and easily accesable in many countries. The internet brings instant news updates of new transforming robot toys, online import stores to order from and streaming video of the latest anime. It's now easier than ever to enjoy cutting edge robot designs. The simultaneous popularity of "old school" versions, stylized animation versions, and updated live-action versions of Japanese transforming robots guarantees a large variety of fun TV shows, movies, games and toy products for years to come.

The end! Woo-hoo!

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