Monday, March 29, 2010

Get Ready With Your Finger Missiles And Robot Punch! The Shogun Warriors Are Coming To The Big Screen!

Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Ain't It Cool News / Avery Guerra

If you were a pre-teen in the late 1970s, and you didn't at least have one "Shogun Warrior" toy, you were a social outcast.........at least in the circles I ran in.....way back then.

With the success of the "Transformers" movies, and the pending "Robotech", "Voltron" and "Battletech" films, I was honestly counting the days until this giant robot franchise was going to be snatched up by some Hollywood studio.

Indeed, Mattel's classic line of giant robot toys, called "Shogun Warriors" is going to be developed into a live-action film by Jules Urbach, and as you may have guessed, is going to be in 3D.

Tentatively entitled "Gaiking", the film is being slated for a 2012 release. If it ends up being a hit, then Urbach already has ideas for a sequel, titled "Shogun Warriors".

According to Urbach, the film will not take place on Earth, but on several alien worlds, and unlike "Transformers", will not be a GCI cluster-f**k. Instead the film maker and his staff intend on using life-sized robots.

Yes, you read that right, life-sized "Shogun Warrior" robots. I don't know quite how they intend to pull that off, but Urbach insists that the only way to get the 'true feel' of these titanic machines is to use life-sized props.

I can't say that I disagree with that idea, if they have the skill, and funding, to make it work properly, without it looking ultra-cheesy.

The project originated as a 7-minute short called "Gaiking / Shogun Warriors" which was produced for Cameron and David Fincher's "Heavy Metal" project. After the completion of that film, Urbach began securing the rights to the other robots from the toy-line (the Shogun Warriors were a collection of giant robots from various Japanese animated series), and now, according to the film maker, his film will feature more of the robots, than the Marvel Comics series did.

Now, I know exactly what you are thinking. The "Shogun Warriors" line of toys featured a few very prominent names from Japanese pop-culture, including, The Great Mazinger, Godzilla, and, unofficially, Rodan.

Was Urbach able to secure the rights to use any of these characters in his film? Will we see Mazinger (called Mazinga in the toy line) in the movie? Could the film maker have been able to cough up enough dough to get Toho to let him use two of their prize properties, namely Godzilla and Rodan?

Urbach isn't saying, yet, which robots are going to be in his movie, except Gaiking....and that's kinda a given. Though, he does plan to reveal all at this years Comic Con, which I will be attending.

Don't think for a second that I won't be pushing people aside and stepping on children to get into that panel.

Could Godzilla and Rodan be making cameos in "Gaiking" or the sequel "Shogun Warriors"? My money says no, but wouldn't that be freaking awesome if the were!

Here is some history, for those of you young people who weren't lucky enough to have been around in the late 70s:

(From Wikipeadia)

Shogun Warriors were a line of toys, licensed by Mattel during the late 1970s that consisted of a series of imported Japanese robots all based on then-popular giant robot anime shows. They were originally manufactured in three sizes, the 24-inch (610 mm) plastic versions, the 3.5-inch (89 mm) diecast metal versions and the slightly taller but much more detailed and articulated 5" diecast versions. There were also several vehicles offered and a set that could be put together to form Combattra (Combattler V).

The most attractive features on these toys were the spring loaded launcher weapons such as missiles, star shuriken, and battleaxes. Some robots were able to launch their fists. The later diecast versions of these toys were also attractive for the ability to transform into different shapes. Raydeen, for instance, was changeable into a birdlike spaceship. These "convertible" editions were the precursors to the "Transformers" line of toy robots but unlike the later toyline it was not unusual for minor dissasembly to be required to achieve the secondary form. There was even a robot named Megatron in issue #18 of the comic, then the name was used multipe times for the leader of the evil Decepticons from Transformers. Also, the second form was not always an apparently useful one, a "giant skull" for instance.

Like certain other toylines of the 70s, the Shogun Warriors came under pressure due to safety concerns regarding their spring loaded weapons features. Children would launch the weapons and hit other children or pets in the eye, or else they would swallow the plastic missiles. Toy manufacturers were facing new regulations due to reported child injuries as a result of playing with these toys. Consequently, many toy companies were forced to remodel existing toylines with child safe variations (such as spring loaded "action" missiles that would remain attached to the toy). For this reason, as well as decreasing sales, the Shogun Warriors toyline disappeared by 1980.

Several of the anime from this toyline were seen in the 80s as part of Jim Terry's Force Five series.

Shogun Warriors was licensed in 1979–1980 for a 20-issue series by Marvel Comics, which was written by Doug Moench and featured art by Herb Trimpe. In the comic, the Shogun Warriors were created by a mysterious group called the Followers of the Light. Human operators were chosen from all around the world to operate the massive robots in order to battle evil.

The series is firmly rooted in the Marvel Universe, as evidenced by their interactions with Doctor Demonicus in issues #12-14 and the Fantastic Four in the last two issues of the series. Issue #15 was a fill-in issue written by Steven Grant with art by Mike Vosburg. The series took a dramatic turn with issue #16, as the Shogun Warriors' mentors were destroyed by the Primal One and his followers. This alien force decided that Earth's technology had outpaced its morality, and so it was their duty to destroy the Shogun Warriors as well as other powerful humans, including Reed Richards and Tony Stark.

Though he never appeared in the comic series, Red Ronin (a robot created for Marvel's Godzilla comic) was mentioned occasionally and was frequently talked about in the letters pages.

Speaking of Godzilla & Rodan:


2 comments:

  1. Some days you wake up to news that changes your whole outlook on life. Monday March 29, 2010 is now officially one of those days! Finally, my favorite toys of all time will reach the big screen! And best of all, that means new toys!!!!

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  2. I'd say the announcement of Legendary Pictures' Godzilla film pretty much precludes the Big G appearing in SHOGUN WARRIORS. As for Rodan, I'm with you - I wish, but I highly doubt it.

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