Fascinated Fridays: I heart giant robots
So, I have a three year old son, and among the things he loves deeply are his dog Zuzu, broccoli (I know. I think it’s his mother’s fault), The Nightmare Before Christmas (awesome, right?) and robots. In watching his love of all things robot, from Yo Gabba Gabba’s Plex to that scene from Pacific Rim I let him watch when my wife wasn’t home, it got me thinking about my own personal love for robots. And not just any robots. Big, giant robots.
This seemed like a timely realization too, as just the other day, the nice folks at Bandai announced that a new Mobile Suit Gundam series is coming in October. So for today’s Fascinated Friday, I am going to take you through my personal love affair with giant robots. (No, not that kind of love affair. There are other parts of the internet for that).
It is a widely known fact that those of us who grew up in the heady days of the 1980’s had the best toys the universe has ever seen. There will be a Fascinated Friday one day that will be devoted entirely to the beauty of these toys, but at the top of any list from that time has to be Transformers. I’m not talking about Michael Bay type I-don’t-even-know-what-I am-looking-at Transformers. I’m talking metal and plastic works of art that you could hold in your hand. Transformers were my gateway drug, you see. They gave me a taste of the amazing stuff that was coming out of Japan. It was because of my love for Transformers that I discovered the amazing Voltron.
Now for those of you unaware, there were a couple of different Voltron’s but the only one that matters as far as I was concerned was the one that turned five robot lions into one giant robot dude. Look, when you’re nine, the logic of why they are lions that can fly in space doesn’t figure into the equation. All that mattered was that they were awesome. The cartoon was nothing great, but the toys most definitely were.
But about that same time, I discovered a cartoon that was something great. In fact, it was something different than I had ever seen before. In 1985, Harmony Gold brought Robotech to American television, and I was hooked. The show was strange to my young sensibilities. Often, it felt like the episodes of General Hospital my mother would sometimes watch. But then there would also be giant robots that turned into planes. And then there would be more angst. Robotech was beautiful, like nothing I had ever seen before. From that moment on I was hooked. I watched all the episodes of the series, which actually was constructed from three separate Japanese anime and tied together with a loose narrative thread. I learned to love that angst. And more than anything, I learned to love those robots.
This love has endured from my childhood to my adult life. Along the way, I have discovered the good and the bad that comes with the giant robot genre. I fell in love with William H Keith’s Battletech novels and told myself that Robot Jox was an amazing movie (it actually kind of is, but not for the reasons I used to think). I discovered the various flavors of Gundam that are out there, and began to absorb those. I owned and read all the books that Palladium put out for the Robotech RPG line. And I have already spoken about my love for the majesty that is Pacific Rim.
Recently, as I was taking my son Bryce to get some new books, he came across a display of Mobile Suit Gundam models. He was fascinated with the small, intricately detailed robots, staring at them in their display case. And in his face, I saw all the wonder and excitement, even as young as he was, that I had when I first saw amazing giant robots. So naturally, when he went to go look at the children’s books with my wife, I scored the model. With some great advice from the wonderful folks at Gunpla 101, I built it for him that night, and it was on his shelf when he woke up the next day. He loved it.
My wife says he probably doesn’t need the other five model kits I bought. But she doesn’t understand the powerful love that a Gelineau can have for giant robots. I’m working on converting her though.
So until next time, keep finding things you love. Especially if those things were made in Japan in the 1980’s and transform. I know I will.