The success of Gundam on the Cartoon Network (see 'Bandai America Unveils New Line'), the video revival of the Transformers (see 'There's Gold in Them Thar Cartoons'), and the surprising interest in Comedy Central's Battlebots (see 'Robot Wars') have created something of a 'robot trend,' which has inspired a slew of robot-themed TV series and toys coming this fall. Chief among the newcomers are the Medabots (see 'Medabots to Debut This Fall on Fox Kids'), a conveniently enormous horde of some 387 different robots, each with their own special powers, who will make their collective debut this fall on the Fox Kids Network. The toy licensee for this Pokemon-like profusion of potential moneymakers should be announced in conjunction with the licensing show, which gets underway in New York later this month. Medabot's packager Nelvana (Card Captors) has 100 episodes of the Japanese anime series Medarot, which it is currently adapting for U.S. television.
Meanwhile Pokemon packager 4Kids Entertainment has its own robot series -- Cubix--ready to debut on the Kids WB in the fall. Cubix is a computer-animated series with vast potential for gender-differentiated robot characters. Trendmasters has the Cubix toy license and will have an elaborate line of Cubix robots in stores by this August. The Cubix robots include programming cards that are basically interchangeable and can actually transform the robots from one mode to another.
Cubix robots will have some competition on store shelves this fall from Battlebot toys manufactured by Jakks Pacific, the company that makes the popular WWF action figures. Variations on the popular Battlebots TV show have appeared in numerous television venues, even including public TV. Toy giant Hasbro is creating a line of radio controlled Battlebots that will have kids emulating the nerdy inventors who compete on Comedy Central, while Jakks Pacific will supply relatively inexpensive wind-up versions of the dueling automatons.
Another example of the 'robot trend' is the futuristic Z-G Game (see 'Z-G Game Combines Action Figures With CCG'). Created by Mark Rein-Hagen, one of the original founders of White Wolf Games, Z-G is a collectible action figure game, which combines elements of collectible card games with warring robots, which are clearly influenced by the classic anime mecha from Gundam, Macross, and especially Evangelion. Though it is more dependent on actual cards in its gameplay, Z-G follows the hybrid path blazed by the popular Mage Knight collectible miniatures game (see 'December Product of the Month'). Z-G debuts this July.