Sunday, June 22, 2014

Go! Mighty Orbots!

While I'm on the subject, let me present another curiosity from my cartoon video collection...

Never shown on British TV, and mustering only 13 episodes in America in 1984 before it was cancelled, I'd never heard of Mighty Orbots before I stumbled across this video tape a few years ago. And I'm a huge fan of this kind of thing, as I might have mentioned before, so that just shows you how obscure it was. It would be easy to dismiss it as a cheap attempt to cash in on the popularity of Transformers, but it's more than that - for one thing it was created before Transformers became the hit cartoon and the must-have Christmas toy of that year; it's more like the both of them (and Go-Bots, and all the others) were simultaneous attempts to cash in on the popularity of Japanese giant robot cartoons and toys. For another thing it wasn't at all successful at cashing in - judging by the vague rumour and hearsay scattered around the internet, the plan seems to have been to license the Bandai toy Six God Combination God Mars (gotta love those Japanese cartoons and their liberal use of the word 'god'), only to be stopped by a lawsuit from Tonka, who turned out to already own it. And most importantly, Mighty Orbots isn't at all cheap - the artwork and animation are simply gorgeous! Better than Transformers usually mustered, certainly!

Admittedly you don't get that impression from this video cover. A collage of images copied from the episode "The Wish World", which isn't on this tape, we get a big green monster (his name's Plasmus) and a planet being sucked into a whirlwind, both unique to that episode, plus recurring character Dia who only makes one brief cameo in the three episodes in this collection, plus regular characters Bort, Tor and a strangely effeminate-looking Rob (compare this picture with the actual screenshot on the back that it was copied from - this cover isn't the work of my hero Marc, but it's a similar piece of work). Luckily, several episodes are available on YouTube, so you can check it out for yourselves!

This tape is interesting, because from what little I can find on the net, only the first six episodes were available on video in the USA. This British tape has episodes 7-9. Possibly the entire series was released over here, and ignored by Transformers-obsessed 1980s kids? I'd like to find the rest, anyway...

The show chronicles the adventures of dashing space hero Rob and his team of six robots: Ohno, who resembles a small girl of quite excessive cuteness, and Tor, Bort, Bo, Boo and Crunch, who combine into one giant robot called Mighty Orbots. The giant robot's singular name is the same as the name of the team, which is a bit weird. They fight the Shadow Organisation in thirteen entertaining if unoriginal adventures.

The thing that sets Mighty Orbots aside from other cartoons of the time is the narrator - cheerfully commenting on what's happening throughout the story, he's funny and entertaining and it gives the whole show more of a friendly feel. The episodes are mainly written by the same guys who wrote Transformers and many other cartoons of the time, but the 'house style' of Orbots is something I really like, and want to see more of.

We need a DVD, people! Someone release one!

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