Responding to the rising call for robot entertainment, Harmony Gold USA licensed three Japanese television shows to create Robotech. As Harmony Gold required enough footage to create a 65-episode-long season, they used footage from three sources. First, there was Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which aired in Japan in 1982. There was also Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, which originally aired in Japan in 1984. Finally, there was the 1983 Japanese series, Genesis Climber MOSPEADA. By blending these shows, Harmony Gold created an 85-episode-long series in 1985 that has spawned multiple follow-up movies.
Before Harmony Gold licensed Macross, Revell had already made plans to release toys based on the series. They called their toy line Robotech Defenders and even had a DC comics series to help promote their toys. The two companies decided to work together rather than duke it out for the name and the rights. As they were preparing to create a Robotech line of models, Harmony Gold also named the new series Robotech.
Even though Robotech would later be developed into a lengthy series, it began as a movie that merged the first few episodes of Super Dimension Macross. The first three episodes were packaged together to create Codename: Robotech. As this movie garnered a following, Harmony Gold moved forward to fully develop the series.
Rather than mash all the characters and mechs together, Harmony Gold instead decided to present Robotech as a story that spanned multiple generations. Together, these three time periods are known as the Robotech Wars.
Harmony Gold’s Robotech series began with the Macross Saga. This section began with the discovery of a crashed ship, which made humanity realize that they were not alone in the universe. Thus, they reverse-engineered the technology to create robots to defend themselves with. Their worries about an attack from extra-terrestrial forces proved true as the Zentraedi aliens arrived. Having traced the remains from their former ship, which had been rebuilt as the Macross, the Zentraedi attacked Earth.
Unlike most cartoon series of the time, Robotech killed off some of its main cast, like Commander Froy Fokker. Despite the deaths and difficult battles, humanity managed to beat the Zentraedi. Even though they defeated the aliens, the Earth was left in a ruined state. Moreover, humanity learned of the protoculture energy and became aware of the Robotech Masters
The second part of the series, Robotech: The Masters, established that the Robotech Masters were the ones who developed the Protoculture. Even though humanity first encountered the Zentraedi, they were only another species that sued the Robotech Masters’ creations. Moreover, the Zentraedi worked under the Robotech Masters as soldiers.
This era introduced a new generation of characters, with many being related to the prior set of characters. When the Robotech Masters arrived in Earth’s orbit, the Southern Cross attacked them, igniting a new war. During the conflict, the series unveiled that the Robotech Masters had lost the science of creating protoculture. So, they were hoping to reclaim the protoculture matrix that was housed within the SDF-1. Moreover, the Robotech Masters were on the run from another species, the Invid, who had attacked their home world.
The site where the SDF-1 crashed had transformed into three mountains that produced the Flowers of Life. These flowers in turn became highly prized, as they proved to be a powerful source of protoculture. These flowers would later draw the Invid to Earth.
The final saga of Robotech was called The New Generation, which began with the Southern Cross failing to defend Earth from the Invid forces. Thus, humanity was conquered and turned into slaves. Fighting against this invading force were the members of the Robotech Expeditionary Force.
Accompanying Harmony Gold’s animated series was an expansive series of toys from Matchbox Toys that came out in 1985. While many of the toys could transform, there were some notable exceptions. The most significant was Veritech Fighter Super VF-1S toy, which conflicted with Hasbro’s Jetfire toy. Thus, Matchbox modified its toy to remove its transforming elements.
Each toy from the Matchbox Robotech line came in either a colorful box or a blister card. Moreover, the backs of these boxes featured short bios for each character or machine.
Otherwise, there were two major segments of Matchbox’s Robotech toy line. First, there were the 3 ¾” scale action figures which featured most of the main cast. This line-up included Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Roy Fokker, Max Sterling, and Miriya. There was also Micronized Zentraedi, Dana Sterling, Zor Prime, Bioroid Terminator, Robotech Master, Scott Bernard, Rand, Rook Bartley, Lunk, and Corg.
Then, Matchbox released several 6” action figures, highlighting how much larger some of the alien fighters were to humans. These action figures included Breetai, Exedore, Khyron, Dolza, Miriya, and Armored Zentraedi Warrior.
Aside from the action figures, Matchbox released multiple mecha vehicles for the Robotech toy line. There were Armored Cyclone, Veritech Fighter, Veritech Hover Tank, Tactical Battle Pod, Zentraedi Officer’s Battle Pod, Excalibur MKVI, and Gladiator. Moreover, they created toys for Spartan, Raider X, Bioroid Hovercraft, Bioroid Invid Fighter, Invid Scout Ship, Invid Shock Trooper, Zentraedi Power Armor Botoru, and Zentraedi Power Armor Quadrono.
The final, largest element of the Matchbox Robotech toy line was the SDF-1 Playset. This playset was designed so that it was compatible with both the 3 ¾” action figures and the 6” action figures of the toy line.
The legacy of the Matchbox Robotech toy line lived on. In 1992, Harmony Gold rereleased many of Matchbox’s toys under their label. However, some toys did not get a reissue, like Lunk and Corg. Harmony Gold also introduced Minmei to the toy line-up.
Another notable source of Robotech toys was the Japanese toy company, Gakken. Before the company closed its doors, it created a few Mospedia toys in 1984. These toys were later released with the Robotech logo by both Excite and Matchbox.
Likewise, Revell had their series of Robotech toys, as they originated the name. Their line-up included a few unique sublines like the Insectoids.
The Robotech franchise lived on for decades, with various movies released from time to time. First, there was Robotech: The movie, which used footage from Megazone 23 and came out in 1986. Then, there was Robotech II: The Sentinels which came out in 1988. This movie salvaged animation done for a sequel series that fell through. It notably introduced the SDF-3 to the franchise. The next two films to carry the Robotech name were Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, which came out in 2002, and Robotech: Love Live Alive, which came out in 2011.
The legacy of Robotech also remained alive in comic book form. Multiple publishers created Robotech stories. These publishers included Comico, Eternity, Academy, and Antarctic Press.
Moreover, Playmates brought forth a new era of Robotech in 1994, when they launched the Exo Squad toys. These toys reintroduced some of the most iconic robots from the series. However, it did not have any lasting staying power.
Later, Toynami joined forces with Harmony Gold to introduce the Masterpiece Collection in 2002. These high-quality toys came out in boxes that resembled books. The popularity of their efforts allowed the companies to continue to release toys for years to come. For instance, they have produced multiple toys under the B2Five banner. They also released a 2021 convention-exclusive Robotech action figure.
Even though Macross continued to exist as a separate entity in Japan, the property remained intertwined with Robotech around the world. This connection was strengthened as Harmony Gold and Tatsunoko strengthened their commitment to work together in 2021.
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