Monday, July 11, 2016

Maschinen Krieger

[From Wikipedia]

Maschinen Krieger (Ma.K ZBV3000) is a science universe created by Japanese artist and sculptor Kow Yokoyama in the 1980s.

The franchise originally began as the science fiction series SF3D which ran as monthly installments in the Japanese hobby magazine Hobby Japan from 1982 to 1985. To develop the storyline, Kow Yokoyama collaborated with Hiroshi Ichimura as story editor and Kunitaka Imai as graphic designer. The three creators drew visual inspiration from their combined interest in World War I and World War II armor and aircraft, the American space program and films such as Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Road Warrior. Inspired by the ILM model builders who worked on Star Wars, Yokoyama built the original models from numerous kits including armor, aircraft, and automobiles. He mostly concentrated on powered armor suits, but later included bipedal walking tanks and aircraft with anti-gravity systems.

In 1986, there was a dispute with Hobby Japan over the copyright of the series. The magazine dropped SF3D from its line-up of articles and Nitto ceased production of various kits of the series. The matter was tied up in the courts for years until Yokoyama was awarded the full copyright to the series in the 1990s. Yokoyama and Hobby Japan eventually reconciled and restarted their working relationship, ditching the old SF3D name in favor of Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000, otherwise known as Ma.K.

 Much confusion surrounds the details of the franchise's background story, partly because the original Japanese source material has never been officially or skillfully translated.
A nuclear World War IV in 2807 kills most of Earth's population and renders the planet uninhabitable. Fifty-two years after the war, a research team from an interstellar union called the Galactic Federation is sent to Earth and discovers that the planet's natural environment has restored itself. The Federation decides to repopulate the planet and sends over colonists to the surface. Cities and towns are eventually reformed over the next 20 years, but this growth attracts the attention of criminals, military deserters, and other lawless elements who wanted to hide on Earth--away from the authorities. A few militias protect the colonists, but the new interlopers often defeat them.
Fearing civil unrest and the colonists forming their own government, the Federation gives the Strahl Democratic Republic (SDR) the right to govern the planet in the late 2870s. The SDR sends three police battalions and three Foreign Legion corps to Earth and uses heavy-handed tactics such as travel restrictions and hard labor camps to restore order, which creates resentment amongst the colonists. In response, the colonists create the Earth Independent Provisional Government and declare independence from the SDR. The SDR immediately establishes a puppet government and attempts to quell the uprising. The wealthy colonists hire mercenaries who are descendants of WWIV veterans to form the Independent Mercenary Army (IMA), which is bolstered by the presence of SDR Foreign Legion defectors. They attack the SDR forces and the battle to control Earth begins in 2882.
Over the next four years, the SDR and IMA fight each other at several locations worldwide while developing new technology along the way. The war turns up a notch in June 2883 when the IMA deploys a new weapon - the Armored Fighting Suit powered armor - to devastating effect. The SDR eventually builds their own AFS units.

In the last SF3D installment published in the December 1986 issue of Hobby Japan, the IMA successfully defeats the new SDR Königs Kröte unmanned command-and-control mecha using a computer virus that also creates a new artificial intelligence system on the moon.

Model kits:  Fan interest from the installments in Hobby Japan resulted in a small Japanese model company, Nitto, securing the license and quickly released 21 injection molded kits from the series during its entire run in the magazine. Most of the Nitto model kits are in 1:20 scale, while others were made in 1:76 and 1:6 scale. Production of the kits stopped with the end of the Hobby Japan features in 1986, but Nitto reissued many of the original kits under the Maschinen Krieger name, albeit with new decals and box art. Some of the original Nitto kits such as the Krachenvogel are highly sought after by collectors. The Nitto models were also the basis for similar offerings from Japanese model companies Wave and ModelKasten. Wave, in particular, is currently producing original-tooled kits of various subjects in the franchise, such as the Armored Fighting Suits powered armor. Smaller companies such as Brick Works and Love Love Garden have made limited resin pilot figures to go with these model kits.

The Film: 
Yokoyama collaborated with Tsuburaya Productions to create a live-action SF3D film using miniatures in 1985. Directed by Shinichi Ohoka from a script penned by co-producer Hisao Ichikura, the 25-minute SF3D Original Video opens with wreckage left from a battle in the Australian desert on Christmas Day 2884 before focusing on a badly damaged IMA SAFS unit. The pilot, Cpl Robert Bush (Tristan Hickey), who is still alive, seeks to get his armored suit back and running and leave the battle area, which is under heavy jamming. Seeing two of the SDR's new Nutrocker (Nutcracker) robot hovertanks arrive nearby, Bush tries to hide, but bodily functions give him away. One Nutcracker gives chase and the SAFS AI points out to Bush how to defeat it. He eventually clambers on to the tank, which passes through the rubble of a town and randomly shoots at high places to bring down objects that could snag him. With the SAFS' right arm sheared off by the Nutcracker's laser blasts and snow settling in, Bush is knocked unconscious all night long from the fall while the tank breaks down under the cold. The next day, the SAFS AI wakes up Bush because the Nutcracker is active again and is preparing to kill him. Bush gets up and faces the tank as it charges towards him. However, the Nutcracker gets too close to a cliff that buckles under its weight and Bush fires his laser into the tank's underbelly. The tank plunges into a ravine and explodes. Bush walks away and reestablishes radio contact with his base. It is revealed that the battle was a field test of the SAFS, Bush's machine being the only survivor out of four deployed that day.

After the end credits roll, two other Nutcrackers arrive at the scene of the battle.

I couldn't find the video to paste it here, but if interested in watching the video, go here. 


At 11:13 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I realize there is a lot of money involved when a franchise takes off, but far too often there is more drama in the courtroom than on page or screen. The early fight over Superman comes to mind. Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in 1938 received a $130 check from DC for for the first issue and for the rights to the character. They sued DC in the 1940s but DC's right to the character was reaffirmed in the settlement. Joe and Jerry lost their jobs as a result but I'm glad that these guys worked it out eventually. Cool model.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yes, the whole lack of acknowledgement from Marvel concerning Jack Kirby, and DC's lack concerning Siegel and Shuster is concerning and a bit depressing at the same time. You'd think surely they could or would offer them even just 1% of the franchise, but that's how large companies operate, and particularly that's how they operated back then when they signed contracts. So they essentially gave up their rights. Things have changed throughout the years for the better in that regards, but it's still a reason too why some creators prefer to go it independently.

I'm glad however that DC finally gave Siegel & Shuster heirs a small slice of the copyright of the character: And the same is true for Jack Kirby's heirs.

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

Yeah, I've never heard of this series either, but I could tell from the design that it was mecha from the 1980s. There is just a look about Japanese robot designs from that era that stands out. I think that "Neon Genesis Evangelion" really changed the way mecha looked in the 90s. But we got some interesting stuff in both decades.

I watched an interesting series called "Armored Trooper VOTOMS" back when I was reviewing for The mecha were all designed to be fully functional and realistic for current tech (which was the 80s at that point). The plot was pretty interesting too, as you followed a super soldier who falls out with his current command and tries to find out why the wars are taking place. He goes Jason Bourne on them and it was a pretty good ride. The final series had him coming face to face with his creators who ended up being super intelligent beings who made him to be the next step of human evolution. Kind of went into Lensman territory there. A very long series (over 40 episodes if memory serves) but one that enjoyed.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I think I watched a bit of the Votoms series online. Lol about the Jason Bourne line. The only criticism, which extends into other genres and movies, is that once something gets hot either they want to extend it (and tend to water it down) and don't know where to end it or create endless sequels or prequels, and then there's the copycat syndrome. I guess that's just the way commercialism works. But mecha has its only subgenre just about. I did watch a good anime the other day, which I may review here though not about robots or mecha.


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