In the early 1980s, my older brother who was studying in the US would record me video cassettes worth of cartoons. If I remembered correctly there were 21 cassettes at 8 hours each. Yup. That made for a lot of 30 minute cartoons. Among them was a little gem called Robotech.
Robotech is an 85-episode adaptation of three different anime television series made between 1982-1984 in Japan; the adaptation was aired in 1985. Within the combined and edited story, Robotechnology refers to the scientific advances discovered in an alien starship that crashed on a South Pacific island. With this technology, Earth developed giant robotic machines or mecha (many of which were capable of transforming into vehicles) to fight three successive extraterrestrial invasions.
Info from Wikipedia
At this point in Singapore, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, the 3 separate series that made up Robotech were also playing on local TV in their original forms, except they were dubbed in Mandarin. So it was a confusing time for me. But no matter, I enjoyed all the different versions, even more so after I’ve learned about their differences. Robotech itself was never shown in Singapore.
Like most Robotech fans, I preferred The Macross Saga and The New Generation. For one thing, the characters are more interesting and of course, the mecha stood out more. Robotech’s overall plot was far more mature than was out there with its handling of romance and many character deaths. As a kid though, I could have done with less of the icky romance, especially in the Macross Saga.
The toys were released by Matchbox that went with 3 3/4 inch figures (same as G.I.Joe of the time) with the vehicles correspondingly scaled (somewhat) to match. I remember they were only available in a toy shop at the top level of the mall Wisma Atria. I had 3 toys from the series: the Excalibur Mk VI (retconned into the Tomahawk), the Armoured Cyclone and a figure of Rand in civilian clothes.
The holy grail of this line for me was the Veritech Hover Tank from the Robotech Masters portion of the series. The Hover Tank was the main mecha hero Dana Sterling piloted. Incidentally, there was never a Japanese version of this mecha made. I remember drooling over this toy whenever I was at the toy store.
There are a lot of purists who poo-poo Robotech, saying that it’s a travesty of the original material. For me though, it was my entry into anime and in a language that I understood best.
Part 2 of a series
Choudenshi Bioman (Super Electronic Bioman) was one of the first Super Sentai series that I remember. When I was a kid, I’d buy the monthly Televi-kun, a magazine about children’s Japanese TV programs. Even though it was in Japanese, I’d obsess over the pictures. During that time, Choudensi Bioman was the featured Sentai series.
So what’s Bioman?
The sixth Super Sentai. Centuries ago, the android Peebo and the Bio Robot came to earth from the fallen Bio Star. The Bio Robot showered five people with Bio Particles, which would be passed on to later generations. In the present time, Doctorman and his Shin Teikoku (New Empire) Gear threaten the world. Peebo must find the descendants of the original five to form the Chodenshi (Super Electron) Bioman.
It ran from February 1984 to February 1985, totaling 52 episodes. Ranger Wiki has a very good profile on this series.
Typical of Super Sentai, you have 5 color-coded heroes in spandex fighting a new monster every week. At the end of the battle, the monster would grow into a giant and the heroes will summon their giant robot (in this case Bio Robo) and beat the heck out of it. Then repeat all over again the next week with a new monster.
On one of his business trips to Japan, my Dad got me some Bioman toys and an episode of Bioman on Betamax cassette (remember those things?). All I remember from the episode was that it was set at a rock quarry and the action was eye-popping to this pre-teen. Check out the opening sequence:
Bio Robo, the giant robot Bioman pilots, was one of the toys my Dad got for me, along with its base, the Bio Dragon. These were such cool toys:
I remember that sometimes I’d make my Bio Robo into an Autobot and it also beat the crap out of my Macross Valkyries. Good stuff. Bio Robo and Bio Dragon became one of my most treasured items. They also happen to be one of the few complete toys I had left by the time I left Singapore and went to college. My home ended up being rented out.
Unfortunately, the tenants broke into my store room and took some items before clearing out the house. Among these items were Bio Robo and Bio Dragon. Bastards.
However, I STILL have another copy of Bio Robo. This was a stand alone set my Mom got for me before my Dad did (which came in one box set). This copy is now standing proudly (with a ton of scratches) in my display case, in the old school toys section. 🙂
Part 1 of a series