Friday, March 31, 2017

Flashback Friday: Eco-BeetoBots

Okay, we're looking at a weird one today!  This show came in the third wave of cartoons I came up with for Old School Evil.  I'd come up with all sorts of cartoons featuring humans and mutants and robots but I've never come up with one inspired from my favorite cartoon - Transformers!  I wanted some big vehicles that turned into something besides two-legged robots; All of my cartoons feature humanoid characters. What else could they turn into though?  I've always been fascinated with bugs, so I put the two together and come up with the Eco-Beetobots

When a magical forest is threatened by commercial development, the smallest inhabitants want to protect it.  Five of the strongest beetles are merged with the construction equipment surrounding the forest and creating the Eco-BeetoBots.  The bots are able to change shape from the original vehicles into monstrous versions of their former insectoid selves.  Each beetle took the vehicle closest to their original form, like the Hercules beetle becoming a crane and the dung beetle changing into a cement mixer.  They don't combine like their Constructicon inspiration, but that's fine with me. 

Their enemies are the evil Onyx Corporation, who care nothing for natural life.  They're coming next week though!  For now, check out the production bible!
Eco-Beetobots Production Bible
In the Olympic National Park, the forest floor is rocked as dump trucks, steam shovels, and bulldozers rip trees from their roots and level the ground.  Wildlife runs from the forest, leaving their homes behind before they’re destroyed.  The smallest denizens of the forest, the insect kingdom go to the oldest tree in the forest, the Wise Sequoia, and ask for a miracle.  The tree responds by asking for the strongest volunteers to hold back the attackers.  Stagger the beetle leads his four friends to her and the Wise Sequoia merges them with the construction vehicles, allowing them to become giant metal beetles and defend the forest as the Eco-Beetobots!
General Series Concepts
The makers of the Eco-Beetobots want to show the natural beauty of the Earth and its need to stay preserved.  Encroaching civilization threatens millions of acres of forest around the world, from the Amazon to close to home, and needs defenders to keep them free from devastation.  Though the Eco-Beetobots are willing to protect their forest, they should be shown using their powers to build defensive measures against their enemies and not directly fighting them.  The Eco-Beetobots are engineers above all else, able to build anything they work together at.
The Eco-Beetobots are the strongest of the insect kingdom, but they’re also incredibly smart.  When they work together, they’re capable of incredible structures.  Now that they’re giant, they’re capable of even bigger and strong things – there’s no limit to what they can build!
  • Stagger the Stag Beetle becomes a bulldozer – The leader of the team, calm, collected, very good at getting his team to work together.  He’s the oldest of the group and most experienced figuring out ways around problems.
  • Rhazer the Rhinoceros beetle becomes a steam shovel – The most eager of the group, whether it is to build something or fight something.  Always thinks fighting is the easiest way to beat a problem, has to be reminded that there are other options.
  • Hefter the Hercules Beetle becomes a crane – He’s the smartest of the group, able to come up with incredible designs, but he’s too lazy to implement his ideas.  Has to be constantly pushed to keep working.  Hates having to explain his ideas because he doesn’t think others will understand.
  • Hauler the Triceratops Beetle becomes a dump truck – He’s slow and quiet, and worst of all, he’s a grump.  He knows his job is to just haul things, but isn’t expected to contribute to the group’s ideas.  He tries to offer advice to the group, but grumbles when they don’t listen.
  • Drummer the Dung Beetle becomes a cement mixer – He’s messy, obnoxious, and forgetful – the cause of a lot of problems the Eco-Beetobots have in their constructions.  He’s extremely nice to the others though and very often just throws out a random suggestion that solves the problem the groups is trying to figure out.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 3/29/17

Still got this stupid image.  One day I'll get it fixed. 

Last week I skipped the wrap-up because of the 80s League crossover event, but before that I said I wanted to work on some art for the Bad Guy Beatdown.  I have been working on my art some, but I'm really rusty, so I'm not ready to show anything yet.  I think I've got the style figured out that I want to use (something akin to the Batman TAS style) and I've sketched out Skeletor in it and it looks good.  Not great, but I'm still working on it.  I've got five weeks to get it all done though because that's how many more villains I've got to cover. 

I didn't make any progress on Citizen Robo's logo though.  I'll get there, I swear it.  There are a ton of other logos I need to make too, but that's the priority now since he'll be showing up on Flashback Friday soon.

Next weeks goals:
1. Sketch enough that I'm ready to share it. I'll be sticking with a generic figure until I get the dimensions and posing down.
2. Citizen Robo's logo. 
3. Some kind of writing.  I honestly haven't written much lately and I've got the second draft of OSE 2 breathing down my neck because of it.  Hopefully I can either get chapter 1 rewritten or at least start on chapter 2.  Both would be awesome though.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Scorch

After finding out Emperor Dark was a no-show for villainy, I was in a rush to find someone to replace him in the tournament coming up.  I couldn't pit him against anyone, all he'd do is talk to him opponent or ignore him.  I happened upon Ring Raiders, a five-episode story featuring time-traveling pilots.  It's a surprisingly good show, and probably the first cartoon I've ever seen that even mentions the Vietnam War. 

The Ring Commanders are a group of exceptional pilots plucked from different eras(usually before they're about to die). They're given fantastic planes, all based on real-life military jets, and special rings, which grant them powers when the pilot says, "The command is in my hand!"  They're pitted against the Skull Squadron, led by Scorch, who plans to take over the world with his time-traveling powers. Both teams are housed in flying headquarters and have fleets of generic planes with equally nameless pilots with the Ring Commanders each leading a wing.

Since the series didn't last that long, we didn't get a chance to find out much about Scorch.  There's a few flashbacks through the series, one telling the story about how Scorch turned against the leader of the Ring Raiders, Victor Vector, crashed into a mountain and burned half his body before being kicked out of their flying academy.  The second was about his rise to power - his scientists blasted him with a special ray that made him bigger, stronger, and almost invulnerable to damage.  Too bad the show never give us a real example of those powers, since we either see him sitting in his cockpit or a command chair in his base.

Speaking of the flashbacks, the five episodes do a great job of showing us how each of the Ring Commanders were recruited.  Most of them got their own episode consisting of a lot of backstory.  I can only assume those that weren't featured would have gotten their own episodes if the show were allowed to continue.  I'm not exactly sure why the show didn't continue on - time travel and fighter jets sounds like a good combination to me.  Come on, dinosaurs even!  The only real problem I have with the show is the rings themselves, granting the pilots upgrades to their plane, improved radar capabilities, healing, powering the headquarters after a lightning strike.  They can do practically everything and when time travel sounds more reasonable than the ring powers, that's a problem.
Let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 6. Scorch is a pretty cool looking guy; he's got a skull face mask covering half his face, there's a flame motif on most of his clothes, and he's a big dude.  His voice is provided by Rodger Bumpass, whose 80s roles also included Louis Tully in Real Ghostbusters and hero Mark Fury in Robo Force. Rodger gave him a great voice very reminiscent of David Kaye's Megatron in Beast Wars.  I only wish we got a chance to see what his powers were besides breaking the restraints on the lab equipment that gave them to him.  Scorch flies Scorch's Torch, a modified Saab Viggen outfitted with all sorts of incendiary weapons.
Effectiveness - 3.  Unfortunately, Scorch doesn't get a lot of opportunities to show off his tactical acumen. Most of his plans start off pretty good, and he's a pretty smart bad guy. He talks about "In combat, firepower is only half the battle; brilliant strategy wins the war," but then at the end of the episode gets in a shouting match about who came up with the idea that just failed.  I only wonder if his schemes would have gotten dumber as the show went on like so many other villains suffered from.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Flashback Friday: Trapper

Today we're taking a look at Trapper, former colleague of Zane and leader of his own band of robotic animals.  Instead of building friendships with his animals as Zane did, Trapper had developed a mind control chip that turned animals into slaves.  The creation of the chip, and Trapper's original plan to use the animals to steal funding for their other projects, is what forced the split between the two zoologists. 

When the animals were put into their robotic bodies, they had no choice but to go with Trapper (though Lead Tentacle has no problem working with Trapper as long as he's feeling useful).  The chip, while giving Trapper complete control over the robotic animals, doesn't do much to curb their poor attitudes, much to Trapper's chagrin.  They may not be able to stop following Trapper's orders, but they have no problem giving him shit.  Iron Horn (I've been calling him the wrong name this whole time!) is the worst of the bunch, sometimes taking electroshocks before finally obeying.  Though there is some animosity between Zane's Zoobots and Trapper's animals (which are never called Zoobots in the cartoon), it's mainly between the two leaders.  The Zoobots have a bit of pity for the others being controlled as they are, but that only makes the other animals madder.

Without further ado, here's the rest of Zane and the Wild Zoobots:
Mark Trapper – Zane’s former partner, he’s interested in everything animals can do, and likes hunting, but he doesn’t personally like animals.  He’s never been kind to them, and Zane always had to remind him to be careful with them during tests.  He used a device to mind-control some of the animals at the zoo they were working and made them commit crimes. After seeing the Zoobots in action, he made his own. 
  • Iron Horn – A tan rhinoceros.  He’s grumpy.  That’s about all there is to him.  He takes a lot of convincing from Trapper to do anything and general takes his abuse as he knows Trapper can’t physically hurt him.  His head and front legs mount on his arm as a battering ram while the back legs become a booster.  When not on his arm, the front half can become armor for Trapper while keeping the backpack.
  • Platinum Pincher – A red crab.  He’s always wanting to fight, even provoking his fellow robots when no one else is around.  He’s not a very good fighter though, so he usually loses (most often Titanium Horn sits on him to win).  He converts into clawed gauntlets or a back-mounted hoverpack.
  • Mercury Coil – A silver snake.  She’s sly, sneaky, and always spying for Trapper.  She acts as his eyes and ears and is the only one that isn’t treated badly by Trapper.  She connects to his arm and can become a whip or a sword.
  • Lead Tentacle - A purple squid.  The only good-natured robotic animal Trapper has, always happy to help, regardless of it being a bad deed or not.  Generally, he’s just happy to have someone around and will do whatever to please Trapper, hopefully making him stay underwater longer.  His head can become a helmet for Trapper while his tentacles can propel him with air jets.  Does not have a secondary connection.
Zane works at the zoo with his favorite animals.  His partner Trapper sees what they are capable of and trains one to work for him in their lab.  Zane doesn't like that they're being forced to do their bidding and fires Trapper.  Trapper returns with a serum that can control the animals, administering it to his animals.  Zane finds out and stops him before he can use it on all of the animals and fights Trapper, which releases the serum into the air and starts to hurt all the animals.
The animals are all dying and Zane doesn't have a lot of time to save them.  He makes an antidote to stop the serum from killing the animals, but they're locked in a comatose state.  So that their minds won't be locked inside frozen bodies, he transfers them into new robotic bodies.  Trapper convinces him to do the same to his own animals, but then still has control over them due to the serum.  He escapes with them and uses them to steal more chemicals to make his serum again.  Zane and his Zoobots show up to stop them.
The two groups are fighting when Trapper's animals get the upper hand.  Trapper knocks Zane down and is about to deal the killing blow when Titanium Talon transforms into a shield and blocks it.  Zane takes advantage of Trapper's surprise and turns the tide, causing Trapper and his animals to retreat.  Zane builds a suit so he can connect with his Zoobots when they turn into weapons.  Mercury Coil watches the process and shows Trapper how he can replicate them.
Trapper figures out the only way to defeat Zane it to take control of his Zoobots.  He forces his animals to sneak into Zane's farm and captures the Zoobots.  He programs the Zoobots to follow his orders anduses them to attack Zane, but Zane is able to convince the Zoobots to fight the programming and turn them back against Trapper.
Trapper steals a dinosaur egg from a museum and hatches a Triceratops.  He uses the mind control serum on the animal and forces him to fight Zane, but they still lose because the Triceratops is too slow and stupid.  He converts the Triceratops into a robot, but he's extremely sad and lonely.  Trapper uses him to defeat Zane, but Zane convinces him to turn against Trapper.
Trapper figures out how to override the Zoobots again so they can't turn back to Zane.  Zane's unable to get them to listen to reason and can't defeat them on his own.  He convinces the Triceratops to help him and he defeats Trapper and frees the Zoobots.
Trapper sends Mercury Coil into Zane's farm to bite and poison him.  With Zane sick, the Zoobots have to sneak into Trapper's base and get the antidote to save him.  Osmium Antler escapes with the antidote and revives Zane just in time to save the other Zoobots from Trapper.
Trapper has a hacker friend of his create a computer virus to incapacitate the Zoobots, but it infects  both the Zoobots and Trapper's robots.  Instead of shutting them down, they go berserk and Zane and Trapper can't stop them.  They're forced to work together to save them.
Trapper tries to build a robot dragon but without an animal mind to control it, the robot goes berserk.  It takes out Trapper and fights his robots to a stalemate.  Zane shows up with the Zoobots but the dragon is able to knock Zane out as well.  The combined forces of the Zoobots and Trapper's animals is able to defeat the dragon together.
Trapper's animals are finally able to remove his control over them and they escape,  After trying to live at the zoo again and being forced out by the animals there, they go to Zane's farm.  Trapper follows and instead of bringing his animals back under his control, he uses his remote to take over the Zoobots.  Zane has to use Trapper's animals to beat him, but Trapper escapes with the Zoobots.
Zane needs to get his Zoobots back from Trapper, but his animals refuse to help.  Undeterred, Zane goes after Trapper, and his animals follow them to watch the battle.  Trapper's animals are surprised to see Zane's devotion to the Zoobots.  Zane confronts Trapper and is easily defeated, but before Trapper can beat him, Trapper's animals jump in to save him.
In a fight with Zane and Trapper's animals vs Trapper and the Zoobots, Zane is getting the upper hand.  Trapper has trouble making the Zoobots follow his commands.  Zane finally breaks them from Trapper's control, and Trapper sets off his last resort - explosives in his robotic animals.  To protect Zane, they all go back to Trapper so he'll turn off the explosives.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Great Villain Blogathon 2019 - Unicron

Here at Old School Evil, we watched a lot more than just Saturday morning cartoons - we watched a ton of movies too. And 80s movies had some of the greatest villains, ranging from high school bullies to international terrorists, to mystical monsters.  And I loved to hate all of them, no matter how realistic or ridiculous they were.

However, there is one villain in 80s movies that literally terrified me, whether it could exist or not. Imagine, if you have to, that you're a kid that loved the Transformers.  You find out there's a movie coming out and you wait in line to buy a ticket.  You're dying to see the Autobots battle it out with the Decepticons on the big screen.  The movie starts and you see this:

In just two and a half minutes, you witness this ginormous planet eat an entire world and its whole population (save one).  A world full of men, women, and children, who you saw playing and talking a few moments before, is summarily devoured and digested to power this cosmic monster.  And we learn the planet's name is Unicron.  Next time we see Unicron, we learn that it feels - it bursts forth with a howling rage at seeing the Autobot Matrix of Leadership.  Shortly after, we find out that this planet does more than screaming, it speaks!  With Orson Welles's legendary voice, no less.  
Unicron summons a dying Megatron and grants him and his fellow Decepticons new bodies and a mission to destroy the Matrix.  When Galvatron (the reformatted Megatron) fails Unicron, his master sends a searing hot pain into his brain to correct him.  Incredulously, Galvatron plots against Unicron once he steals the Matrix, even trying to open it on Unicron's surface.  Unicron retaliates, revealing himself to be a Transformer and setting his sights on destroying Cybertron after having eaten two of its moons.  After taking a few shots to his face from his former servant, Unicron pinches Galvatron drops him in his maw.
Scale issues aside, Unicron is a truly monstrous villain, unrivaled by anything I had seen in my youth. Yes, I admit it, I don't think I saw Star Wars as a kid.  Anyway, the writers of Transformers took something already imposing, the Death Star, and made it even scarier.  Since this movie, Unicron has become a fixture in Transformers lore even 30 years later. But here in his initial appearance, he blew the minds of a whole generation.  As if they weren't traumatized enough after seeing Optimus Prime die.

This post was originally written as a part of a Banzai Reto Club crossover post and changed to be part of the 2019 Great Villain Blogathon.  Make sure to check out the rest of the posts on the Speakeasy and Silver Screenings!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Emperor Dark

My little brother loved Starcom as a kid and for good reason. The toys were cool as hell, all motorized and magnetized and chock full of action features. So imagine my surprise when I find out it had a cartoon. And my further surprise that it had fantastic animation and was created in collaboration with the Young Astronauts Council to build interest in space with kids so it had a realistic (as far as a cartoon could be) scientific focus. It was awesome! I couldn't wait to see the villain, Emperor Dark, leader of the Shadow Force.

Boy was I disappointed.  Normally when I do a villain retrospect for a cartoon I didn't watch as a kid, I watch the first three episodes of the show and base it off my first impressions.  But that doesn't work because Emperor Dark shows up once in the first three episodes!  The episode he does she up in, he's got two lines and isn't even on screen for one of them!  I ended up watching the entire 13-episode run and every episode I cursed picking this guy for a retrospect - because he does absolutely nothing!  He only appears in about 6 episodes, in the very beginning or end, says a few lines to his henchmen, maybe a veiled threat, and that's it.  The rest of the time he spends doing research, none of which we see the results of. 
None of the heroes ever meet him, or even see him, instead facing off against one or two of his subordinates.  How do you say he's this threat to the galaxy if you utterly fail to represent him that way?

It's a real shame too because the rest of the cartoon is incredibly well-done.  The animation is possibly the best I've seen watching all these shows, the three main characters are interesting and have a great relationship, the rest of the Shadow Force (the organization Emperor Dark supposedly leads) is full of diverse bad guys, and the show is at least a little bit based on real technology.  I just can't believe they dropped the ball on their villain so much.

When I covered Overlord from Spiral Zone, I complained about having to go to Wikipedia to find out the backstory of the show.  Unfortunately, even Wikipedia is mum about the Starcom cartoon and I had to go to the Starcom Wiki to learn more about Dark.  From what little source material has been found, Dark was a lot more powerful than they portrayed him to be.  It won't change the ratings since it was never actually shown to us, but it's still interesting.  He was a scientist that discovered a series of obelisks on Mars.  Tired of dealing with Starcom's bureaucracy, he studied them alone and they exploded, demolishing his lab.  The rest of the scientists escaped, be he was stuck with the obelisk for a long time and absorbed the vast alien knowledge in it.  With his new-found intelligence, he built the Shadow Star and created the Shadow Force to take over the rest of the universe.  And yes, his ship does look like that. Dark never leaves the ship, and it's theorized (either by Starcom or the writer of the wiki article) that he's connected to some massive power source inside, but there's no idea what kind of power it gives him.

Let's rate this guy:
Coolness - 3.   Okay so, there's not much to go on, but I kinda like that this guy never falls for the common villain tropes.  He doesn't raise his voice or his fists at all and even when faced with his troops either going against his orders or outright turning against him, he calmly accepts it.  Maybe that shows him a fool, but I think it gives him this cool demeanor, as if nothing can phase him.  It's different than the slamming fists on a desk, calling his troops idiots kind of villains we've seen on here.  He's voiced by Neil Munro, an actor that hasn't provided vocals to any cartoons in the day which is the case of most of the voice actors in this cartoon.  Neil gives him a calm, smooth voice that reminds me a bit of David Kaye's Megatron in Beast Wars without going over the top.
Effectiveness - ?  I can't even pretend to give him a grade on this.  He doesn't do anything himself and doesn't even command his lackey's much either.  In episode 5 - Fire and Ice, when one of his generals requests permission to take a squad to one of Jupiter's moons, he says flatly, "Do as you wish.  Leave me to my studies." That's some piss-poor leadership if you ask me.  I wonder if Dark would have done more if the show had been able to continue, or would he have stayed the apathetic leader he is here?

Of course, this does ruin my tournament plan.  Anyone got any ideas for another villain?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Flashback Friday: Zane and the Wild Zoobots

I came up with Zane and the Wild Zoobots almost by accident.  As I was making my third round of edits on Old School Evil, I needed a scene with a hero in it.  So far in the story, the only characters that had appeared were either the villains from all these cartoons or their children and I had to change that.  I made up a character that was the son of a hero, watching over one of the villain's kids.  I wanted him to be an over-the-top hero cliché, wearing the costume and using the abilities passed down by his father in broad daylight.  I came up with a cartoon similar to the Centurions, where the character has a costume covered in ports where gear could plug in.  But instead of just using various mechanical pieces, I gave the hero robotic animal companions that could disassemble their bodies and become weapons to the wearer. 

The character in the book became Zeb, titular hero Zane's son, who runs around with the last remaining Zoobot, Cobalt Claw.  When it came to the production bible, I decided to add Zeb in (unlike most of the children characters in the book who played no part in their fathers' careers), and I took a lot of inspiration from Scott Trakker and T-Bob from M.A.S.K.

I had such a fun time with the concept, I built two teams of four Zoobots each for Zane and his nemesis, Trapper, (both Lead Tentacle and Titanium Horn belong to Trapper) and I really can't wait to create toys based off their designs.  While working on the models for the two Zoobots that appear in the big image up top, I wasn't able to build them to the toy specifications, but I'm planning on it someday soon - I really can't wait to play with them on my desk one day.

Without further ado, here's the first half of the production bible:
Zane and the Wild Zoobots Production Bible
Zane Wilson was a biologist that volunteered at a zoo giving tours for children.  He and his partner, Mark Trapper, found out a way to mind control animals and while Zane was against using it, since animals should have regular lives, Mark suggested using them to control powerful animals just like we do with horses and dogs, suggesting they could accomplish so much more.  He eventually used the device to control some animals to ruin Zane’s life.  Zane, with animals he trained himself, was hurt in an accident and he was able to build robot bodies to transfer their minds into, giving them speech and increasing their intellect.  Trapper did the same to the animals he controlled to conduct his nefarious schemes.
General Series Concepts
Zane and the Wild Zoobots means to show kids how animals, no matter the size or behavior, are living creatures and should be treated with respect and dignity.  Zane will always respect the Zoobots’ rights by never putting them in dangerous situations against their will or forcing them to do anything they are not comfortable.  In comparison, Trapper will force his animals to do his bidding through threats and abuse.  In turn, his companions will be angry and bad-tempered.
Trapper's animals are never to be called Zoobots, that is a term reserved for Zane.  Trapper's can be called robotic animals, robots, or animals.
Though the show will not outright advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle, it will be suggested through Zane’s vegetarian choices. 
Zane – Zane is an animal-lover at heart – every animal from the smallest insect to the largest elephant.  He fights for their rights against any ill-treatment, whether it’s abuse or neglect or being over-worked.  Zane stands vehemently opposed to Trapper’s taking advantage of his animals, and tries to turn them against Trapper whenever possible.  Zane works from the zoo as a volunteer giving tours to children and also owns a small farm where he help rehabilitate animals that have been injured or illegally taken from their homes and kept as pets.
His Zoobots:
  • Cobalt Claw – A blue puma.  She’s sly, sneaky, but loves to cuddle.  Can transform into foot-mounted jump boots or hand-mounted claw gauntlets.
  • Titanium Talon – A dark grey eagle.  He’s always ready for action – fastest of the crew when he’s flying and when he wants to fight.  He can turn into a winged backpack or an arm-mounted shield.
  • Chromium Fin – A white dolphin.  She’s the most playful and happiest and usually ready with a joke.  She can turn into a jet turbine – she isn’t around much since there’s not a whole lot of water stories, so she doesn’t have a second mode.
  • Osmium Antler – A silver elk.  He acts like royalty and often acts as if he’s above getting dirty, although he will do what needs to be done when absolutely necessary.  He becomes a back-mounted booster pack where his antlers become compressed air boosters or can become an arm-mounted claw weapon (with the rest on his back, though it loses its boost ability).  The boosters don’t allow him to fly, but to run fast.
Zeb – Zane’s son, introduced in the second season.  He’s incredibly excited to work with his father and the Zoobots.  His over-eagerness often gets him in trouble.
  • Tin Tuner – A green turtle.  He’s very concerned with Zeb’s well-being and tries to keep him out of trouble, but doesn’t do the best job.  He converts into a go-kart.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 3/15/17

I know I missed last week, but I think I've got a pretty good reason - I got my own website! I made a Facebook page! I finished the title image! I finally hit 2,000 monthly pageviews! 

I had a busy week last week and some of that was because I took a week off work to complete all the above stuff, but I also had an anniversary to celebrate (8 years!), and a baby to play with.

So as you can see above, I created the new Old School Evil image with the five designs. What do you think of it? Since two of the designs are from Zane and the Wild Zoobots, I think I'll post the first half of that production bible this week for Flashback Friday. I've got the insignia ready for that show too, unlike Citizen Robo, although I do have a design in mind that should be pretty easy to implement.

Goals from last week are totally completed, so what's the goal for this week? I've got a picture in mind that I want to draw that'll have all of the villains from the retrospective series in it that needs to be ready before the Bad Guy Beatdown tournament.  That's still a few weeks away since I have six more villains to go over, but I'd at least like to have a sketch of the picture made up.  I also want to have Citizen Robo's insignia done. 

That's it for this week.  Check out the Facebook page and like for more updates and let me know what you think of the new title image. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Overlord (Blackstar)

When I went into the second phase of the Villain Retrospectives and went searching for cartoons I missed, I was at least a little familiar with them.  I probably heard the name before or remember seeing the toys when I was a kid.  But Blackstar?  Nope.  Not a single memory of it.  Before I went diving into the cartoon headfirst (you know, on YouTube), I got some help from some friends and checked out Saturday Morning Breakfast Mix (their Blackstar episode can be found here).  I've admired the work put in their show and it's become a go-to for cartoons I've missed.

Image via Cult Faction
Blackstar is the story of an astronaut that got sucked through a black hole and crash-landed on an alien world.  He meets the alien Trobbits, and with the help of the sorceress Mara and shape-shifting Klone, he fights the evil forces of Overlord.  Blackstar and Overlord control two halves of the PowerStar, the Power Sword and Star Sword respectively, and uniting them would make the holder invincible.

The cartoon's often considered a precursor to another Filmation show, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and they share a ton of stuff.  A super-powered, scantily-clad hero with a sword, companions that include a magical female and comic relief characters, and a villain that wants to take the hero's weapon and rule the world.  Much like other Filmation shows, it shares familiar voice actors like Alan Oppenheimer (Overlord, Skeletor),  George DiCenzo (Blackstar, Hordak), and Linda Gary (just about any female in a Filmation cartoon ever).  

Image via He-Man Reviewed
However, when I see the word "precursor," I didn't realize just how far in the past that it seemed. Blackstar feels like it came from a whole different era than the rest of Filmation's work.  First off, this is before the studio started rotoscoping a lot of their animation.  For those unaware of what that means, rotoscoping is an animation technique where the cells are drawn over live-action footage. Watch a He-Man episode and a lot of the good recycled animation is drawn directly from real models.  Because of this, Blackstar's animation comes out a lot less smooth, while still retaining the highly-edited, almost choppy look. The characters don't fare much better with Blackstar and Co. being mostly bland cookie-cutter hero templates and having not one but seven comic relief characters, going so far as to copy the dwarves from Snow White almost verbatim. 

Worst of all, Overlord himself has none of the charm from subsequent Filmation villains.  Alan Oppenheimer doesn't give Overlord any kind of character in his voice acting, and without something like Skeletor's signature laugh and mean-hearted put-downs, there's nothing that sets him apart from his subordinates.  That leads to another problem - his lackeys.  There aren't any!  Almost every episode has a new villain working for him, and when they're all voiced by Oppenheimer, it's no wonder Overlord gets the most generic voice.  My biggest problem with all of these episodic bad guys is that Overlord himself barely gets any screen time, except, of course, for when he's on a screen talking to the other character.  It really just ruins whatever credibility he gets, even when he's got one of the most powerful weapons on the planet. 

But honestly, I know I can't give Overlord too much crap.  Of all the cartoons I'm looking at for Old School Evil, Blackstar is one of the oldest, starting in 1981.  There were cartoons before that of course, like Thundarr the Barbarian, which many say inspired this one.  But before Overlord, there weren't any original villains that the hero faced off against in every episode.  Maybe the writers weren't used to using a regular bad guy and were stuck in their episodic formula.  Whatever the case, I can't blame Overlord for much of his problems, considering the villains that followed him were so much more colorful and quirky and most of all really enjoyable. 

Let's rate this guy:
Coolness - 1. Even if I can't blame him for his faults, it doesn't stop me from recognizing them.  Everything about him, from his design to his voice, is just so generic.  He's got a goofy helmet on, he's purple (the color of evil), and he's got a cape.  There's nothing else you really need to be a villain, I guess.  Even his powers from the Star Sword are uncreative, mostly just shooting Filmation's patented white lasers that don't do anything.  Don't believe me?  Watch any Filmation cartoon and keep an eye out for every blast from a finger, a ship, or a gun - it'll be white and have no effect when it hits something.  And let's be honest - that is the most awkward and uncomfortable sword I've ever seen.
Effectiveness - 2. Can I even give him a rating since he's not the one fighting Blackstar in most episodes?  He's basically Dr. Claw, yelling at his lackeys through the whole episode while not lifting a finger to help them.  Yes, he does have half of the PowerStar and it's believed to have the same powers as Blackstar's half, but I don't think he uses them as much.  And he's taken over a lot of the planet, employing every bad guy to attack Blackstar one after another.  But I'm just not sure I can credit Overlord with any of their successes. On the other hand, I can't blame him for their failures either, so I'll be generous with the 2.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Villain Retrospect - Overlord (Spiral Zone)

There are three different kinds of Saturday morning cartoons.  You have one that starts at the beginning, like the Transformers leaving Cybertron to crashland on Earth or the Foxx's wife being kidnapped by the Crown empire in The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers.  Then you have other shows like M.A.S.K. or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, where the premise of the show is spelled out through the intro, telling you all you need to know because the show doesn't have an introductory episode.

Then you have Spiral Zone, where you don't get any kind of introduction at all.  The theme song talks about the Spiral Zone without any information about it, and the first episode doesn't tell you what it is either, instead showing one of the heroes getting hypnotized by a video game.  Honestly, after watching three episodes of the show, I still have no idea what's going on.  There's a team of "Zone Riders" wearing arctic camo that work for the military, there's another team of guys covered in red splotches, a bunch of citizens that have the same splotches and yellow eyes, and some kind of zone.  I'm as lost after three episodes as I was before I pressed play on the first one.

After a check of Wikipedia, I found out the series's background, something that begs to be spelled out.  The show takes place in the future where Overlord up there created the Spiral Zone, dead areas across the globe where the people stuck inside develop the red splotches and yellow eyes and also lose free will.  They're rendered braindead zombies called "Zoners" which only Overlord can control. He releases a few henchmen from the will-sapping effects and names them the Black Widows.  Unfortunately, he couldn't reverse the skin lesions on his men or himself, who seem to have it even worse then the rest of the Zoners.  Why he picked these four, I'm not sure since none of them have any real skills or personalities.

The Zone Riders - led by the laughably named Dirk Courage - have the only suits that provide them immunity to the effects of the Zone and work with the military to destroy the generators that power the Zone.  While I have to make jokes about Dirk's name, the rest of the Zone Riders have more depth than any of the Black Widows.  The requisite German member (so they can give him a bad accent), Tank, gets the most characterization, where in the third episode he reveals he lost his wife and children in the Zone.  They're not dead, of course, just stuck in there.  And as easily as the Zone Riders get in and out of the Zone, I'm not sure why they can't get them.

But who cares about depth, when you have a bad guy like Overlord?  Besides his control over the Zoners, he doesn't really have a lot going for him.  Unless you count that incredible unibrow and red mustache.  Jokes aside, Overlord is a decent villain, having taken over most of the United States and frequently outwitting the Zone Riders, figuring out their plans long before they're able to implement them.  In the third episode, he sows that he can prioritize, by focusing on catching a girl immune to the Zone instead of taking out one of the Zone Riders. He's a scientist first, and a strategist second, and excels at both of them.

Let's rate this guy!
Coolness - 2.  First off, I've got to talk about his voice.  He's voiced by the fantastic Neil Ross, who after lending his voice to heroes like Springer from Transformers, Herc Armstrong from Inhumanoids, and Ace McCloud from Centurions, finally got his chance to play a villain. Unfortunately for us, he just speaks like he's got laryngitis.  It's so disappointing!  Second, he's got a cool looking vehicle called the Bullwhip Cannon (again, only found that on Wikipedia).  Too bad I never saw him do anything with it - it blew up more often than I saw it shoot anything.  In fact, I'm not sure I ever saw it fire a single shot.
Effectiveness - 6. Overlord may not be able to drive and he might need a lozenge, but he is a great villain.  He has taken over half the country and has an army of brain-washed people which makes the Zone Riders reluctant to fight back.  He constantly thwarts the good guys' plans, already knowing their attacks and setting traps against them.  I always like the cartoons where the good guys are at a disadvantage and the Spiral Zone definitely fits that bill.  After a visit to Wikipedia, of course.

Check back next week when we watch Blackstar and look at the other Overlord,

Friday, March 3, 2017

Flashback Friday: The Terrorsaurs

Finishing off the Defenders of Dino City production bible with a look at their reptilian enemies, the Terrorsaurs.  Yes I know it's not the most original name - the most prominent example I can think of is the treasonous Predacon in Transformers Beast Wars. But he name fits and it's not as if it'll be used anywhere else.  The Terrorsaur emblem above represents the combination of each of the members - the Tyranosaurus Rex's face represents the leader's helmet, while the horns, crest, and spikes are from the other members. 

When I created the team's leader, I originally called him Professor Rex, an obvious pun off the X-Men leader.  This was back before I even had any other idea about him.  He's a scientist that created dinosaur-like brutes so I just imagined him in a lab coat bossing these guys around from his lab.  When I took inspiration from other cartoons, he became an amalgam of Genghis Rex from Dinosaucers and Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I decided to give him dinosaur-like armor similar to Shredder's.  And now he doesn't look anything like a Professor.  So I'm not sure what to call him.

Anyway, here's the rest of the production bible.

The Terrorsaurs
Professor Rex – An archeologist that discovers Dino City.  After being kicked out by Bronn and Terry, he uses the few bones he got to create the Terrorsaurs.  He wears some T Rex styled armor, but doesn’t fight much at all.  He’s extremely smart, but never seems mad about the Defenders, he’s just excited to get more bones.
Sailback – A dimetrodon, has a sail that runs down his back.  He’s the smallest of the group, and the meanest to make up for it.  He’s the leader of the group, just as likely to start a fight with the Defenders as the rest of the Terrorsaurs.  The sail on his back moves side to side (creates a gust of wind).
Spiketail – A Stegosaurus, has plates down his back and spikes on the end of his tail.  He’s the loner of the bunch and hates the others.  Does everything begrudgingly.  Doesn’t take orders from Sailback without a question.  The plates on his back move back and forth like a saw.
Hornhead – a triceratops, has a frill and three horns.  He’s the laziest of the bunch, but also the biggest and strongest.  Once someone gets him angry, he won’t be stopped until he’s beaten them up.  He has a strong neck that he uses to pick things up after running headfirst into them.
Spikeshell – an ankylosaurus, has a spiky shell on his whole back and a huge club on his tail.  He’s the dumbest of the bunch, mispronouncing a lot of dinosaur names (including his own).  He likes to fight because it doesn’t make him have to think much.  He also eats all the time.  His head can pull under the shell on his back.
Rapterra – A raptor.  She’s Professor Rex’s scientific partner and always tries to convince him to stop attacking Dino City.  She doesn’t fight, but stays in his lab.  No toy will be produced so except for a special episode, do not show her outside of the lab.
Dino City
                Dino City looks like the ruins in Greece or Rome.  Lots of open buildings and columns.  In the center of the city is a tower (similar to Pisa) that the Defender use as their base.  Bronn can’t go in, but speaks to them through an open door.  Terry has a perch in the center.  Other areas of the city include an arena they practice in, a fountain Salimandro meditates near, and a garden Chamelo is trying to regrow.
Professor Rex’s lab
                The main room is the lab, which features a lot of big glass tubes where the Terrorsaurs were created.  There are other tables with all sorts of equipment on it.  There’s also the Terrorsaurs’ living room, which is a mess and covered in food. 

The Terrorsaurs
Professor Rex – An archeologist that discovers Dino City.  After being kicked out by Bronn and Terry, he uses the few bones he got to create the Terrorsaurs.  He wears some T Rex styled armor, but doesn’t fight much at all.  He’s extremely smart, but never seems mad about the Defenders, he’s just excited to get more bones.
Sailback – A dimetrodon, has a sail that runs down his back.  He’s the smallest of the group, and the meanest to make up for it.  He’s the leader of the group, just as likely to start a fight with the Defenders as the rest of the Terrorsaurs.  The sail on his back moves side to side (creates a gust of wind).
Spiketail – A Stegosaurus, has plates down his back and spikes on the end of his tail.  He’s the loner of the bunch and hates the others.  Does everything begrudgingly.  Doesn’t take orders from Sailback without a question.  The plates on his back move back and forth like a saw.
Hornhead – a triceratops, has a frill and three horns.  He’s the laziest of the bunch, but also the biggest and strongest.  Once someone gets him angry, he won’t be stopped until he’s beaten them up.  He has a strong neck that he uses to pick things up after running headfirst into them.
Spikeshell – an ankylosaurus, has a spiky shell on his whole back and a huge club on his tail.  He’s the dumbest of the bunch, mispronouncing a lot of dinosaur names (including his own).  He likes to fight because it doesn’t make him have to think much.  He also eats all the time.  His head can pull under the shell on his back.
Rapterra – A raptor.  She’s Professor Rex’s scientific partner and always tries to convince him to stop attacking Dino City.  She doesn’t fight, but stays in his lab.  No toy will be produced so except for a special episode, do not show her outside of the lab.
Dino City
                Dino City looks like the ruins in Greece or Rome.  Lots of open buildings and columns.  In the center of the city is a tower (similar to Pisa) that the Defender use as their base.  Bronn can’t go in, but speaks to them through an open door.  Terry has a perch in the center.  Other areas of the city include an arena they practice in, a fountain Salimandro meditates near, and a garden Chamelo is trying to regrow.
Professor Rex’s lab
                The main room is the lab, which features a lot of big glass tubes where the Terrorsaurs were created.  There are other tables with all sorts of equipment on it.  There’s also the Terrorsaurs’ living room, which is a mess and covered in food. 
Episode Premises
The Terrorsaurs kidnap Terry when he sneaks out of Dino City and create a clone of him to infiltrate Dino City.  The plan goes great until Terry escapes by annoying the Terrorsaurs enough that they let him go.  Only Salimandro can tell it's not Terry because of his mental powers, but he cannot convince the others to be concerned with it.
Professor Rex creates a huge clone army of the Terrorsaurs, but they're incredibly stupid.  He sends them to attack Dino City, but Chamelo is able to convince them to turn Rex by using her charms on them.
The Terrorsaurs kidnap Chamelo as she is collecting plants for her garden.  Rex holds her ransom for a full T Rex skeleton that he plans to reanimate.  Chamelo and Rapterra bond by telling stories of the guys they work with and Rapterra releases her in time to destroy the skeleton.
Sailback is tired of being the smallest Terrorsaur and leaves to live on his own.  He runs into Amphibios and they fight, eventually getting to a stalemate and a mutual respect.  The rest of the Terrorsaurs show up to reclaim Sailback, and try to capture Amphibios, but Sailback gives him a chance to escape, saying he wants to take beat him next time they fight.
Rapterra convinces Professor Rex to give up on his attacks on Dino City.  He releases the Terrorsaurs, who attack Dino City on their own because it's all they know.  They actually succeed and get to the time door, but when Professor Rex joins them, the Defenders admit it was a trap. 
Amphibios and Tortoso get in a fight over taking the fight to the Terrorsaurs.  Amphibios leaves right before the Terrorsaurs attack and the Defenders are beaten.  Terry escapes and has to convince Amphibios to come back and save the Defenders.
Bronn tell the Defenders there is trouble through the door: Aliens are stealing dinosaurs eggs.  The Defenders go back in time and find out the aliens are actually the Terrorsaurs - Professor Rex has built a time machine.  They push the Terrorsaurs back and destroy Rex's time machine.
Professor Rex leaves the Terrorsaurs and goes to Dino City alone as a scientist.  He pleads his case to be able to study living dinosaurs.  Just as he is about to win his case, the Terrorsaurs show up, thinking he's been kidnapped.  Because of their interference, Bronn decides he'll never be welcome in Dino City again.
Tortoso tells Terry the story of his time before the Defenders.  He was the animal totem to his Indian tribe.  He tells about the time he was instrumental in saving his tribe from armed forces - turns out he was talking about Custer's last stand.  The terrorsaurs show up and capture the others, Tortoso uses the skills he learned during that battle to save the Defenders.
Salimandro locks himself in his room to meditate during the eclipse and to reconnect with his monk roots.  The Terrorsaurs attack and the Defenders are losing.  They can't break Salimandro from his trance and when it looks like all is lost, he awakens as a mighty dragon.
Amphibios is called back to his home in the Amazon as the rainforest is being destroyed.  Turns on the Terrorsaurs are clearing a space out as a trap to catch him.  He's able to use his skill as a hunter to take down each of the Terrorsaurs one by one.
Chamelo goes back home to see her samurai friend, Hondo.  Professor Rex shows up and captures him but she challenges him for his freedom.  The two fight, but Rex cheats with special armor.  Chamelo uses her invisibility to stop him.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday Wrap-Up: 3/1/17

Last week I set the goals of creating wireframes for a number of models that I'll be using in the new title image.  And after some last minute pushes on Monday, I completed them!  Here's what I came up with:
This is the Force Bolter, Big Gun's signature weapon from Ultra City Ultra Twins.  The previous picture I posted were from before I added the cables on.  I might change the angle of the picture on the title image to focus on the rear of the gun so more details are shown instead of the mostly hollow barrel.  One of these days I'm going to print out a full-size version of this gun - well maybe kiddie-sized.

You've seen this guy before too - it's Lead Tentacle from Zane and the Wild Zoobots. This hasn't changed at all since the original posting.  The robot in question, similar to Titanium Horn and all the Zoobots, can separate into a couple components to create weapons or other objects for their partner.  Lead Tentacle, however, unlike his fellow Zoobots only has one configuration (the same goes for his heroic counterpart, Ferro Fin).  In LT's case, the dome that makes up his head (which will be clear) becomes a helmet for Trapper, the show's villain, while two sets of tentacles become weapons and the others connect under his arms, giving him an armed scuba set.  Two of his tentacles have propellers, while the other two free arms have your basic laser blasters.  I'm wondering if I should redo the image but with the legs posed as if he's swimming, not just on an assembly line. I keep going back and forth on who my first figure I print out will be - whether it's Barksmore from the Hurricanines or Zane, as I really like the Centurion-like play-style that the Zoobots offers.
The next two models are from Citizen Robo, a cartoon that features villains piloting giant robots. But these aren't your normal giant robots - the mecha are closer to tanks with unorthodox weapons.  This here is Saw Horse.  The vehicle resembles a massive table saw with possible legs that let him destroy almost anything.  Don't let the image fool you - the small handle on top of the motor is the vehicle's cockpit, so that's a massive saw blade!

This is another villain from the show called Hammerslammer. It's basically a tank but instead of a cannon on the turret, it's a huge hammer.  There's not much else to saw about it.  The treads on the front are similar to the Thundertank from Thundercats in that there are hands at the end, but these are for holding down any material he's trying to smash.  Unlike Sawhorse that only cares about breaking stuff, Hammerslammer's obsessed with building - walls, fortresses, bridges.  It doesn't matter, and neither does it matter where the materials come from.

I sincerely love doing all this modeling, and it's great practice for when I eventually start making toys.  I've got ideas for how each cartoon's toyline will look and behave, but some of them like the ones above that would have action features are a big beyond me.  Still, I'll make up as many prototypes as I can to share with anyone that's willing to look.

As far as the image goes, I've got some work to do on it this week.  And I think after that I'll be redoing the Wednesday Wrap-Up image as well, it's just not sitting well with me.  Next week's goals are kinda loose - I've got a big thing I'm working on  right now and next week hopefully everything will be revealed.