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15 February 2012 @ 10:36 am
So much for the unspoiled heroes of our childhood  
I like to argue against the flood of all the senseless and consumption inducing cartoon series of today with those series that I grew up with. Sure, they often did not have much of a storyline themself, but at least they taught us children some values. Don't take drugs, don't bully the weak but rather help them... such basic rules were recited to us at the end of many an episode of for example He-Man. Much better than "catch 'em all" - i.e. buy them all. My basic explanation for today's series is this:
Someone has an unpopular toy and in order to sell it, they come up with a fancy name for it and produce a TV series. This way you make boring spinning tops into cool Bayblades with lots of accessories and it all sells like crazy. (One almost has to admire the marketing guys a little bit for the latter part - I mean, who ever woud come up with accessories for spinning tops?)
To sum it up: The series today are crappy and only made to make the kids buy stupid toys.
Anyway, let's get back to those childhood heroes of ours. Their immaculate conception is put into question by a recent Spiegel article. Therein we are told about the toy producing company Mattel at the beginning of the 80's and its frantic search for some new action figure. Its boss had turned down an offer by a new regisseur to market his new movies' toy figueres... The regisseurs name: George Lucas. I don't think we even need to mention his "new movie". That one must have hurt Mattels boss a great deal!
So now, they were searching for something new action figure to market and they found it in "bodybuilder-barbarians with high tech weapons that were put together by the developer out of bodyparts of older dolls.
For the first sample of what his figures were to look like he enhanced the mountains of muscle of his dolls by adding lots of clay. The barbarians armor for one of the figures was made out of plastic tablecloth, the helmet for another one was a broken off and repurposed top of a tank. Another models helmet was had been stolen from a Boba Fett figure.
The boss liked the idea and Mattel produced a first batch of cheap figures: He-Man got some friends and together they fought evil Skeletor, a blue muscleman with a green-yellow skullface. Basically, only the heads and the colors of the figures differed, as there were only two different casting molds for bodies - to keep the production costs down. Some of the figures were simple recycles from other series. Thus the tiger from the unsuccessful Big Jim series, which was basically to large scaled for the smaller Masters figures, was given a new paint job and a saddle and became He-Mans mount.
(Here is the link to the Spiegel article, in German though.)
Wow, He-Man, a cheap plasic viking, produced not to entertain children and teach them values, but to sell toys? It'll take time to wrap my head around that one, but unfortunately, it sounds all to pausible. The 6-year old girl inside of me is crying!
Let's hope she'll never have to hear anything the like about her favorite Star Sheriffs. Imagine that: Sci-Fi Cowboys, Bandais new Cash Cow... Storyline cheaply copied from Star Wars. This would explain the large amount of merchandise though, that still keeps surprising me... *groan* Oh God!
Let's just not go there.
J.J. Blue: Messyjjblue1 on February 16th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm not sure about SRATSS but Bismark apparently had birth because at the time robot shows were popular. However, in order to get enough money to create such a series usually you had to get the support of a toy model company so when they decided to make Bismark, toys were already part of the deal.

Bismark however had an odd destiny. He had birth when robot shows were switching from series like Great Mazinger where basically the robot would beat the evil robot of the week in each episode to series with a more complex plotline like Gundam and Macross. Plus it was the first robot experiment for Studio Pierrot. So though it wasn't a complete failure (they managed to make 51 episodes after all... they would have cut it sooner if the show wasn't successful enough) it likely wasn't popular enough and from here the small amount of gadgets (though back then they likely didn't make as many gadget as now), the selling to USA and the long lack of retrasmission on Japanese television.

Note then back there anime were made to give a certain message (be it friendship or 'work hard and you'll be rewarded' or 'cooperation is the key to success') so Bismark already had some positive messages though some of them were likely tied to Japanese culture and others might have been laced to violent scenes so they were cut from Bismark.

WEP might have thought as well they would sell Bismark/Ramrod figures so they bought SRATSS however they heavily changed the show to adapt it to an American audience. Bismark's messages were changed here and there as the story lost its dramatic part but I'll say it was still a story that was trying to teach some values.

However they too likely though they would gain something from SRaTSS merchandize but that's how many anime/cartoon producers get the money to make their work.
I guess even teaching values doesn't came to a cheap price nowadays... -_-