As a young kid growing up in Guatemala, I didn’t much care for Sesame Street, or The Care Bears. That stuff was boring to me, as far back as I can remember, I was into giant robots. A few months ago I wrote about my love for the Mazinger family, read my post HERE. Mazinger is my all time favorite, but over the years I watched many other shows as well.
Now that “Pacific Rim” is only a couple of weeks away, I’ve been watching the old cartoons and shows I loved as a kid. Some of these shows you may have heard of, some maybe not. First, a quick lesson on giant robots, as Wikipedia puts it:
A giant robot, or mecha, with an arsenal of fantastic super-powered weapons… sometimes transformable or combined from two or more robots and/or vehicles usually piloted by young, daring heroes, and often shrouded by mystical or legendary origins… The Super Robot anime shows are usually named after the title robot, and tend to use a “monster of the week” format in that the villains introduce a single antagonist at the beginning of the episode that the heroes usually defeat by its end. Antagonists tended to come from either outer space or ancient civilizations… Many foes employed robot or cyborg henchmen, whom they often sent against the heroes in their robot. The goals of these antagonists varied, although many were megalomaniacal or outright genocidal in their ambitions.
Got it? good. Now on to my list on robots I enjoyed as a kid, and still do:
Grendizer is a giant robot that interfaces with Spacer (Spaizer), a flying saucer that enables the robot to fly. The robot is piloted by Prince Duke Fleed, who crash lands in Japan after fleeing his homeworld. He is befriended by Doctor Umon, a noted scientist who oversees a research laboratory called the Space Science Lab near a small ranch. The kindly Umon takes in the young humanoid alien as his son, under the assumed name of Daisuke, and assists him in hiding Grendizer. Taking the name Daisuke Umon.
Grandizer has a very similar look to Mazinger, and the two often teamed up. He’s a great looking robot, except when he’s in omni form. I still have my diecast toy figure from the 1980’s, and a few of his adventures on VHS.
Hiroshi Shiba is a car racer who is mortally wounded on a laboratory accident. He’s restored to life by his father, Professor Shiba, a talented scientist/archeologist, who is incidentally investigating the relics of the ancient Yamatai Kingdom. The professor discovers a tiny bronze bell with sorcerous powers, and shortly afterwards he is murdered by the henchmen of Queen Himika, the ruler of the Yamatai (sometimes translated as Jamatai) Kingdom, who wants to seize the ancient bell and its power.
Hiroshi was turned by his father into a cyborg, the bronze bell hidden in his own chest, able to transform into the head of a giant robot, the Steel Jeeg, created by Prof. Shiba with the purpose of stopping the Yamatai invasion of modern Japan. Steel Jeeg is formed by combining the parts released by the jet Big Shooter, piloted by Prof. Shiba’s lovely assistant, Miwa Uzuki.
I liked Steel Jeeg because of the Big Shotter. That thing carried every weapon Steel Jeeg could need, and I always hoped to get it as a toy. Steel Jeeg is however, the ugliest robot on my list. I don’t know what the designers were thinking with this look, but I’m guessing disco was still big.
Pharaoh-like in appearance in that the design of his head resembles the headdresses worn by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, this nearly indestructible humanoid robot is built by captive scientist Dr. Lucius Guardian, who decides to give Daisaku and Juro its control device, a miniature transmitter built into a wristwatch; Daisaku refers to this device as “the control” in the US version, whereas the others call it “the watch.”
The robot can only be controlled by the first voice recorded in his electronic brain; however, he first needs to be charged up by atomic energy. Dr. Guardian helps Daisaku and Juro escape, only to be shot to death himself. But before he is killed, Dr. Guardian triggers an atomic bomb that destroys the base. The resulting explosion activates the giant robot, which moves to Daisaku’s every command. As the controller of the robot (heretofore known as “Giant Robot,” or just simply “Robot” in the US), Daisaku is invited by Juro and his chief Azuma to join Unicorn as its 7th member.
Okay, so Giant Robo is cheesy as hell, but if you like the classic Godzilla flicks, then this is right up your alley. There’s just a charm about this show. I haven’t watched this in ages, or the mis 90’s animated version, but either is worth checking out.
Gigantor, Gigantor, Gigantor.
Gigantor the space aged robot, He is at your command. Gigantor the space aged robot, His power is in your hand.
Bigger than big, taller than tall, Quicker than quick, stronger than strong. Ready to fight for right, against wrong.
Gigantor, Gigantor, Gigantor….
The show follows the exploits of Little Jimmy Sparks, a 12-year-old boy who controls Gigantor, a huge flying robot, with a remote control. The robot is made of steel and has a rocket-powered backpack for flight, a pointy nose, eyes that never move, and incredible strength, but no intelligence (although he started to tap his head as if trying to think in one episode). Whoever has the remote control controls Gigantor.
Gigantor had one of the best theme songs around, and a cool concept to boot. But… I hate the fact Gigantor has zero weapons.
When the world is threatened by alien invaders and giant prehistoric monsters, there is only one agency equipped to handle the situation, The Science Patrol, an ultra-sophisticated police force equipped with high-tech weaponry and spacecrafts. Led by Captain Muramatsu, the team defends the planet from the unknown. Unbeknownst to the team, one of their members, Hayata, has the ability to transform himself into the giant superhero from Nebula M7B, Ultraman, when all their weaponry and skills can’t stop their foes!
Created by special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya (Godzilla, Mothra), the 1960’s television series Ultraman remains one of Japan’s most beloved science-fiction exports. Airing between 1966 and 1967 with a total of 39 episodes.
All right, this one is kind of a cheat, since Ultraman is not a robot. Whatever, I still have Ultrmaan action figures, and this series remains one of my all time favorites.
As you can see, there’s no mention of Voltron or Transformers on the list. For one thing, I always preferred the vehicle Voltron over the lion one. Shocking, ain’t it? And while I liked Transformers, I was never that much into them. Probably because I couldn’t afford the toys I really wanted, ha.