Sunday, March 13, 2011

Voltron and Mighty Orbots

Voltron by NikkoA
Remember Voltron?! How awesome was that show? For years the only thing I knew about that show was the toy line that was sold at our local drugstore. Never had them, but I remember thinking they looked like they were pretty good quality. What I remember the most about Voltron was actually later in the early '90s, it was rerun early in the morning. We'd watch it at a friend's house (he had cable) when we picked him up for school, causing us to chronically be late about three minutes every time. Like all '80s cartoons, it suffered from the stock footage transformation sequence in every single episode and had a monster of the week thing (even though it was on everyday). I liked the mashup of Giant Robot with large Godzilla monsters. But the episodes were quite formulaic.

ROBOTECH was created using three completely different Japanese anime series and editing them into one story, so also Voltron is two series that were completely unrelated to each other besides the protagonist robots combined into one super robot. Beast King GoLion provided the footage of the well known Lion Force Voltron and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV became Vehicle Voltron.

With many of the '80s franchises resurfacing, there have been some recent Voltron productions in the last decade with a few rather well drawn comic book titles. And now there's talk of a large budget CGI film in the making:

A Bidding War Breaks Out to Finally Make a Big-BudgetVoltron

    A Bidding War Breaks Out to Finally Make a Big-Budget Voltron
Atlas Entertainment producers Charles Roven (The Dark Knight Rises) and Richard Suckle had been developing a script with screenwriters Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (who wrote the upcoming Conan the Barbarian reboot), and concept art had leaked last fall. But considering how long this project has been rumored, rudimentary-anime fetishists dared not raise their hopes. Now, news of the eager big-money suitors means this could finally actually happen. Considering the show became an international pop-culture hit at the beginning of the second Reagan administration, one has to ask, "What took so long?"Attention, robot nostalgists: Your dreams of a big-screen adaptation of the 1984 animated series Voltron: Defender of the Universe are one step closer to becoming CGI reality! Vulture hears that a bidding war has broken out to finance a Transformers-size blockbuster retelling of the legend of the iconic robotic lions and their human pilots; Ryan Kavanaugh's deep-pocketed Relativity Media is one of the very interested parties trying to sell itself to World Events Productions, the St. Louis–based company behind the original show.
The answer lies in the show’s mongrel beginnings. Its creator, Peter Keefe (who sadly didn’t live long enough to see his creation reach Tinseltown), concocted the syndicated TV series as an ersatz mixtape, splicing together footage from two esoteric and totally unrelated Japanese anime series. By editing out the Japanese dialogue, music, and seemingly ubiquitous beheadings and disembowelments, Keefe was able to get the show to comply with U.S. broadcast standards, and it became a totally unqualified — and unexpected — global hit.
But while overnight international TV success of Voltron led to interest from Hollywood, World Events’s owner, Ted Koplar, found that the maker of the original Japanese shows, Toei Animation Co. Ltd., was suddenly interested in getting paid; Japanese lawyers would frequently appear demanding payment whenever a Hollywood television studio grew interested.
In 2000, Koplar finally acquired the full rights to Voltron from Toei, freeing him up to develop a TV series. But big-screen producers were also interested: Mark Gordon, the producer of Grey’s Anatomy, developed it as a feature film from 2005 to 2007, setting it up at the 20th Century Fox–based New Regency with backing from Relativity Media. However, that deal fell apart amid new legal challenges from Toei, which insisted the previous TV agreements did not include movies.
However, that discrepancy was finally worked out, and now World Events has both aVoltron TV series and a feature film in the works: Voltron Force will air on the Viacom-owned Nicktoons channel this May.
World Events executive VP Robert Koplar (son of Ted) declined to comment on whether Relativity Media would release the Voltron film itself (entirely possible, given its absorption of two-thirds of the staff of Overture Films last year) or if World Events's recent deal with Viacom’s Nicktoons means that sister company Paramount Pictures could handle it, but he did note that development is proceeding apace, and that regardless, the film will likely be ready to hit theaters by 2013 or by 2014 at the latest — just in time for its 30th birthday.


The show that I remember from my youth on Saturday mornings was Mighty Orbots, not Voltron. Fewer people share this memory, but from what I remember of Mighty Orbots, it was better. Both are very similar sharing the five robots combining into one giant unstoppable robot. The thing that impressed me the most about it was compared to most other cartoons in the '80s, the animation quality was higher. There was a more fluid technique in the art. Perhaps because of this, Orbots had far fewer episodes.

Here is the pilot episode, the plot revolves around a couple of agents of the bad guy under cover as a musical band on tour. I remember very distinctly how strange their music in the episode was:

There is a Mighty Orbots following out there. The show's information is archived nicely on a this site. And there are a nice number of fan art pictures on the web. It never did and never will have the following that Voltron has.

Mighty Orbots by rmo120
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