Saturday, March 3, 2007

zoids

Zoids

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"Liger Zero", one of the most recognisable Zoids in the Western fandom
"Liger Zero", one of the most recognisable Zoids in the Western fandom

Zoids is a franchise based around a series of plastic toy models designed and produced by Japanese toy company Tomy (now Takara-Tomy). The models resemble a range of creatures (including mammals, dinosaurs, and insects), and depending on the particular continuity are either metal-based lifeforms or are constructed with metal-based lifeforms as the base design. The vast majority of the models are designed in roughly 1:72 scale, with a wind-up or battery motor to power moveable features, and a snap-together construction. The models were first released in 1982, with the most recent line released in early 2006.

The original line of toys, resembling dinosaurs, was released in Japan, Europe and the United States in the 1980s. Initially, the Zoids had a "Battle Story" that was told in text on the back of the model boxes, and in "fanbooks" and catalogues. The Zoids franchise also includes five anime series, three manga series, multiple series of electronic game, most of which inhabit their own unique continuities. The two most recent toy lines have been tie-ins to the anime series.

Zoids fans in the UK were also treated to their own storyline, featured in the comic Spider-Man and Zoids, that differed considerably from the Battle Story and the more recent anime. Planet Zi is not mentioned, and the Zoids are divided into warring Red and Blue factions, with a party of humans caught in between.

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[edit] Model Kit lines

There have been a number of different Zoids model lines over the years, both in Japan and other countries. Between these lines, over 200 different designs have been released, some several times over. For a full list of released Zoids, see the List of Zoids article.

[edit] Mechabonica

Main article: Mechabonica

Released in 1982, Mechabonica was technically not a Zoids line, but is counted by collectors as it consisted of three models that would later be re-released as the first three Zoids, (Garius, Elephantus and Glidoler). The line was not very successful, and quickly dropped by TOMY.

[edit] Original American Release

Main article: Zoids - the OAR

TOMY re-released the Mechabonica line in the United States and Europe in 1983, under the name Zoids. The line was far more successful than Mechabonica, which led TOMY to reintroduce the line in Japan under the new name.

Later, a pair of original Zoids were created exclusively for the European and North American market, the Power Zoids Tank and Serpent which were never released in Japan. Other Zoids like the Bigasaur (renamed to Giant ZRK) were also released. Radio Shack released the Mammoth Zoid in the US at the same time. While not a part of the release, it is generally counted with them.

The Original American Release is commonly abbreviated as OAR by fans and collectors.

[edit] Original Japanese Release

Main article: Zoids - the OJR

In 1983, following the success of the OAR, TOMY reintroduced the Zoids line in Japan. The relaunched Japanese line, now entitled Zoids was a success, running from 1983 until 1990. The Zoids line had its own story that was told on the backs of the model boxes and in catalogues, known as the Battle Story.

Initially, the Zoids were divided into two distinct factions, the Helic Republic and the Zenebas Empire. In 1989, the Zenebas Empire was replaced with the Guylos Empire.

The Original Japanese Release is commonly abbreviated as OJR.

[edit] Grade-Ups

Main article: Zoids Grade-Ups

At the same time as the change from Zenebas to Guylos (1989), TOMY introduced a sub-line of Zoids, called Grade-Ups. These Zoids featured special motorised connection ports on their backs that allowed them to connect to extra weapons systems with motorised features.

[edit] Transfighters

A second sub-line was released alongside the Grade-Ups line. The Zoids in the line were not motorised, but rather were designed to connect to the Grade-Up Zoids. When connected, the Grade-Up Zoid's motor activated action features on the Transfighter. The line was unsuccessful, and only 3 Transfighters were released.

[edit] Original European Release

Main article: Zoids - the OER

Zoids were also released in the UK and Europe, (and to a limited extent in Australia and South-East Asia), from 1984 to 1987 by TOMY. The models in this release were a mixture of ones directly ported over from the OJR, as well as recoloured Zoids, including the rare Ghost Zoids line. Additionally, the Tank and Serpent Power Zoids from the OAR were released. Most of the Zoids in the line were renamed.

The Zoids in the release were divided into two distinct factions, the Blue Zoids and the Red Mutants. The line had its own story, told in the UK Zoids comic.

The Original European Release is commonly abbreviated as OER.

[edit] Robo Strux

Main article: Robo Strux

Robo Strux were released in the US and Canada by TOMY, in 1985-86. All the Zoids in the line were recolours of OJR Zoids, however, some were directly copied from OER versions. The Zoids were divided into two factions, the Blue Guardians and the Red Mutants. However, there was no accompanying story or media.

Due to the lack of marketing and the relatively high prices of the models, Robostrux was rather short-lived.

Robostrux is commonly abbreviated as RS.

[edit] 1:24 Scale Zoids

In 1988, TOMY launched a sub-line of the OJR, featuring larger-scale Zoids. The 1:24 line featured Zoids of similar size to existing ones, but scaled for larger pilots. Each kit came with a 3 inch tall action figure of the pilot. Like the regular Zoids line, the Zoids were divided into Helic and Zenebas factions.

The 1:24 Zoids were not a success, and discontinued after a year.

[edit] Zevle

In 1990, TOMY re-released several of the 1:24 scale Zoids in a new line called Zelve. The Zoids were recoloured from the OJR versions, and came with detailed, fixed-pose pilot figures instead of the action figure ones of the OJR. Zelve featured its own "Battle Story" on the boxes, but was unrelated to the Zoids battle story.

Like the 1/24th Zoids, Zelve was a failure and quickly discontinued.

[edit] Technozoids

Main article: Technozoids

Kenner acquired the rights to release Zoids in North America, releasing the Technozoids line in 1995-1996. The Zoids in the line were all recolours of earlier Zoids released in the OJR, although some were directly imported from the Zoids2 line. There were no distinct factions for the Zoids, and no backstory was given.

The Technozoids line was a failure, lasting less than a year before being discontinued. A number of Zoids were left unreleased at the end of the line.

Technozoids is commonly abbreviated as TZ.

[edit] Zoids 2

Main article: Zoids 2

TOMY released another line of Zoids in the UK and Europe (with a re-release in Australia and South-East Asia) in 1996. The Zoids 2 line featured very bright colour schemes, with all the Zoids having at least some chromed parts. The Zoids also had unique stickers with odd swirling designs. The Zoids 2 line did not feature distinctive factions for the Zoids, but did have a backstory loosely based on (but not a continuation of) the UK Zoid comic, with the Zoids invading Earth and humanity's last hope being to turn the Zoids against each other.

Like Technozoids, Zoids 2 was quickly discontinued. A fire was reported to have broken out at the production plant around this time which may have had something to do with it.[verification needed]

Zoids 2 is commonly abbreviated as Z2.

[edit] New Japanese Release

In 1999, TOMY relaunched the Zoids line in Japan, with subsequent releases elsewhere in Asia. Initially, the line consisted of recoloured re-releases of older Zoids, but TOMY quickly began producing new Zoids designs. The Zoids were divided into Helic and Guylos factions, with the Zenebas Empire returning later. The OJR battle story was continued on the NJR boxes, with the Zoids Anime and Manga drawing on alternate versions of the New Battle Story's events.

The line was abruptly halted in mid 2004. By the end of the line, there were still thirty-three Zoids from the OJR that were yet to be re-released.

The New Japanese Release is commonly abbreviated as NJR.

[edit] Customise Parts

Main article: Zoids Customise Parts

Along with the re-launch of the Zoids line, TOMY also launched a sub-like known as Customise Parts or simply CP. The line consisted of additional weapons and equipment that could be added onto Zoids models. The line was a mixture of new parts and re-issues of parts originally included in various OJR models.

The Customise Parts line was abruptly halted in 2001.

[edit] Blox

In 2001, TOMY introduced a new sub-line of non-motorised Zoids called Blox, which featured flexible construction. Blox Zoids can be easily disassembled and combined with each other, as well as with regular Zoids.

[edit] Cyber-Drive Zoids

TOMY introduced a second sub-line in 2002, known as Cyber-Drive Zoids. This line was centred around partially pre-built Zoids that were remote controlled. Additionally, the Zoids could be operated via an infrared adapter attached to a Game Boy Advance unit.

The line was rather unsuccessful, mainly due to the high price per unit and the pre-built nature of the models. Only two Zoids were released.

[edit] Panzer Tier

In 2003, Panzer Tier began re-releases of some of the 1:24 scale Zoids. These re-releases also featured the box art and model kit pilots from the previous Zelve versions of the Zoids. The line appears to have been unsuccessful, and was halted after only half of the Zoids had been re-released.

[edit] Toys Dream Project

In 2004, Toys Dream Project began a line of limited Zoids releases. The line consisted of a mixture of new recolours of existing Zoids, as well as re-releases of older versions of some Zoids in their OJR colours, as well as some moulds that had not yet been re-released.

[edit] New American Release

Following the launch of the NJR, Hasbro licensed Zoids for release in North America and South-East Asia in 2001. Like the NJR, the line was divided into Republic and Empire factions, with the Anime providing the backstory. Initially, the Hasbro line consisted of just re-releases of Zoids from the NJR. However, they later began developing their own Zoid designs, as well as co-developing others with TOMY. Additionally, Hasbro had planned to re-release several OJR Zoids that had not been released in the NJR.

Although it was initially successful, Hasbro suspended the line in 2004, due to poor sales. The cancellation of the line left a number of Zoids unreleased, including most of those not yet re-released by TOMY. Much of the leftover stock was later released by Hasbro in Australia and the UK. The line is still, however, the largest and most successful non-Japanese Zoids line.

The New American Release is commonly abbreviated as NAR.

[edit] Z-Builders

Any Blox Zoids that were released by Hasbro were sold as part of the sub-line known as Z-Builders. Most of the Z-Builders were re-releases of the NJR Blox sub-line, but the line included several Hasbro-designed Zoids, as well as individual releases of Blox Zoids that did not occur in Japan. The Z-Builders line was based on the Zoids: Fuzors anime, and its cancellation is often attributed as a cause of the failure of the anime series in the United States.[verification needed]

[edit] New Pacific Release

In parallel to the NAR, TOMY began releasing Zoids in Australia and South-East Asia. The Zoids released by TOMY in these countries were identical to Hasbro's NJR Zoids, but were TOMY branded and manufactured. While the line mirrored the NAR, a number of Zoids scheduled for release in the NAR only came out in this line. Similarly, a lot of Zoids released in the NAR were never released in the Pacific region. The line was effectively dead as of 2004, with leftover stock appearing on shelves throughout 2005.

The New Pacific Release also had a Z-Builders sub-line, identical to the NAR.

[edit] New English Release

In 2003, TOMY began releasing Zoids in the UK. Like the Pacific release, the Zoids were identical to Hasbro-released ones, save for the logos on the boxes. The UK release featured several Zoids designs and colour schemes that were not available in the NAR.

The line was cancelled in mid-2004, due to poor sales. This was largely due to very poor marketing, very high prices for Zoids and the Zoids anime never showing on UK television. It is often considered to be the least successful non-Japanese Zoids line.[citation needed]

The New English Release is commonly abbreviated as NER. It is sometimes referred to as the New European Release.

[edit] Fuzors

In late 2004, TOMY launched a new Zoids line to tie into the Zoids: Fuzors anime that was then showing on Japanese TV. The line was composed entirely of recolours of older Blox and Zoids. Some models were altered slightly, or packaged with additional parts, mainly to allow different Zoids to connect (or "fuse"). The line also featured a number of Zoids that were previously only released in North America.

The line was abruptly halted in early 2005, with several items unreleased.

Fuzors is commonly abbreviated as FZ.

[edit] Genesis

In early 2005, another new Zoid line was launched, to tie into the Zoids: Genesis anime. The line consists of a mixture of old designs, new designs and older designs with new parts.

Reactions to the line were mixed; the re-releases (which included several Zoids not previously re-released) were well received. The new designs have not done so well, having been plagued by quality control issues and production errors. There has also been a lot of criticism of the substantially "pre-built" nature of a lot of the new models.[verification needed]

The line has suffered from poor sales, and was effectively cancelled as of November 2005, although a small number of models were released after this date.

Genesis is commonly abbreviated as GZ. An alternate abbreviation, GB, is used for the Bio-Zoids released as part of this line.

[edit] Neo-Blox

Released in May of 2006, the Neo-Blox are an improvement on the previous Blox line, primarily due to the greater range of poseability the 'Blox and peg' connection system has.

Two subline have also been released. The first is the Legends Series, which features Zoids from previous releases, but redesigned to be the same size as the Neo-Blox Zoids, and modified to use the same connector system. The second are the Custom Blox; small Zoids that use more traditional Blox, and which can be combined together or to the larger Neo-Blox.

By the end of 2006, the main line appeared to be on hold, with Tomy instead focusing on the Legend Blox sub-line.

The Neo-Blox is abbreviated as either NBZ or NB. Alternate abbreviations are used for the Legends Series (LB) and the Custom Blox (CBZ).

[edit] Battle Story plot summary

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

[edit] Original Battle Story

The planet Zi and its ion-rich oceans gave birth to a large number of metal lifeforms. Some went on to become the humanoid Zoidians. Others became the creatures known as Zoids, mechanical living beings with a core as a central lifeforce.

For centuries, the Zoidians lived in small tribes with an emphasis on survival, as their planet was wreaked with earthquakes and volcanoes. As the tectonic instability quieted down, their numbers grew, and people had time to squabble over territory. They took and modified the wild Zoids of the planet, eventually altering and changing them into massive war machines. In ZAC 1955, the fifty tribes of the Central Continent were united into a single nation by Helic Muroa of the Wind Tribe, who had tired of the constant battles. He managed to convince his rival Guylos (of the Earth tribe) to ally with him as well.

Helic's two sons, Helic II and Zenebas Muroa, inherited his nation after his death in ZAC 1978. However, Zenebas plotted to take control of the entire continent. He was cast out - or perhaps left - splitting the continent into two groups; the Helic Republic in the east and the Zenebas Empire in the west. The two nations went to war in ZAC 1980, beginning a series of low-scale conflicts.

In ZAC 2029, a ship from Earth, the Globally 3, crashed on Zi in the middle of the Central Continent. The survivors joined both the Empire and the Republic, using advanced Earth technologies to increase the war potential of the Zoids. The force of the war increased, as new Zoids like the Gojulas and Iron Kong were deployed. The two sides battled for nearly a decade, until the Republic deployed the super-heavy Ultrasaurus. With the Ultrasaurus, the Helic Republic was able to defeat the Zenebas Empire.

Emperor Zenebas himself fled, travelling to the Dark Continent of Nyx. Once there, he made a bargain with the emperor of the Guylos Empire to rebuild his army. In ZAC 2042, he returned, invading the Republic with a force of new Zoids. The Zenebas forces quickly advanced with the rollout of the Death Saurer in ZAC 2042, crushing the capital of the Republic.

The Republic's government survived, and planned a counter-offensive in the midst of guerrilla warfare in the mountain ranges. In ZAC 2048, they deployed a new Zoid, the Madthunder. With the new Zoid, they were able to defeat the Deathsaurer armies and destroy the Zenebas Empire.

Zenebas fled again, but before he could reach the Dark Continent, he was ambushed by the forces of the Guylos Empire. Zenebas was killed, while his daughter Elena was captured by Guylos soldiers, who used her to force Störmer, a top Zenebas ace, to serve the Guylos Empire.

In ZAC 2051, after two years of peace, strange events begin occurring on the Central Continent. Plants withered, animals fled, and the ground itself became dry and cracked. The source of these events was revealed to be strange energy from the Dark Continent by Shuu, a scientist and son of one of Helic's generals.

In response, the Helic army launched a scout mission-slash-invasion of the Dark Continent. The Helic forces landed in ZAC 2053, and fought their way through to the Godcry, an immense canyon. Once there they became bogged down in an eighteen month stalemate with the Guylos Empire, battling back and forth in the Devil’s Maze, a massive network of canyons.

Finally, in ZAC 2055, the Helic army broke through using the new Salamander F2 and the Madthunders. However, they soon faced Guylos' trump card, the incredibly powerful Gilvader, piloted by Störmer. Having wiped out the invading force, Störmer led a force of Gilvaders in a series of attacks on the Central Continent.

To defend itself, the Republic created the Orudios. A force of Orudios attacked the Gilvaders, and were able to defeat them, apparently killing Störmer. With the Gilvader force defeated, the Republic deployed the King Gojulas, a monstrous Zoid that decimated the Guylos forces. The King Gojulas advanced on the Guylos capital, with only a few units left to hold it off.

Before the final battle could take place, a meteor struck one of Zi’s three moons. The moon was shattered, raining meteors down on Zi. The Central Continent was sundered into three sections, while part of the Dark Continent sunk into the ocean. Most of the wild Zoids, as well as many of the Zoidians themselves, were wiped out.

[edit] New Battle Story

The human descendants of the Globally 3 crash survived the destruction, and set about rebuilding the nations of Zi. In ZAC 2096, after decades of peace and recovery from the devastation, Emperor Guylos died. As his grandson, Rudolph, was too young to rule, his chief minister, Gunter Prozen was named regent. In ZAC 2099, Prozen declared war on the Helic Republic, and launched an invasion of the Western Continent of Europa to attack the Republic. The Republic’s forces launched a counterattack, but were overwhelmed.

The Empire found the ruins of an ancient civilization containing a Deathsaurer, as well as other technologies. The Guylos Empire began work on restoring the Deathsaurer, as well as deploying new Zoids like the Genosaurer. The Republic also developed new Zoids and reproduced older Zoids like the Shield Liger, and began to slowly turn the tide against the Empire.

In ZAC 2100, the Republic reactivated the Ultrasauruses that had survived the devastation, and used them to attack the Empire’s forces on Europa. The Empire countered with their newest creation, the Death Stinger. However, the Death Stinger went berserk and attacked both sides, destroying all in its path. Eventually, the Death Stinger was defeated, but not before causing massive damage.

The Empire’s troops retreated to the Dark Continent in ZAC 2101, followed by the Republic army. Once there, however, the Republic Army were attacked by a new elite Guylos unit, the Eisen Dragoons, and suffered horrible losses. The Republic’s forces battled their way through to the capital, where they found that Prozen’s personal unit had launched a coup. Prozen, the son of Emperor Zenebas, tried to overthrow the Guylos Empire. The Guylos units loyal to Rudolph joined forces with the Helic Republic, and engaged those loyal to Prozen. The combined forces managed to defeat Prozen, but the Deathsaurer Prozen was piloting overloaded, and destroyed the majority of the Zoids in the city.

In the aftermath, the Eisen Dragoons took over the Guylos Empire and re-formed it as the Neo-Zenebas Empire, under the rule of their leader, Wolff Muroa. They invaded the Central Continent and, with the new Seismosaurus Zoid, conquered the entire continent in ZAC 2106, forcing the Republic to retreat to the Eastern Continent

However, in ZAC 2109, the Republic’s forces returned from their exile on the Eastern Continent. They drove the Empire’s forces back using the newly developed Liger Zero Phoenix, Jet Falcon, and Gairyuki. The battle ended with the Republic reclaiming their capital, and forcing the Zenebas Empire back to the western half of the Central Continent.

[edit] Three Tigers Battle Story

By the year ZAC 2230, there have been no wars in decades, instead Zoids are owned by private citizens and fight each other in arena battles. Two large Zoid manufacturing corporations, ZOITEC and Zi-Arms, have become considerable powers on Zi.

The two corporations discover the cores of three ancient tiger Zoids, and recreate them as new machines. ZOITEC creates the first one, the Whitz Tiger. Zi-Arms countered with their own new Zoid, the Dekalt Dragon. The two corporations clash over the ownership of the remaining two cores. ZOITEC succeeds in creating another Zoid from the second core, the Rayse Tiger.

Zi-Arms responded by recreating the third core as the Brastle Tiger, and launching an attack on ZOITEC. With the data they gain from the attack, they combine the three cores and use them to recreate a Deathsaurer. Unfortunately, the Deathsaurer goes berserk and attacks the Zi-Arms forces, destroying the Dekalt Dragon.

The three Tigers join forces to fight the Deathsaurer. By using their various abilities, they are able to destroy it, ending the threat. The tigers then vanish, returning "back into legends".

[edit] Anime plot summary

The five anime series pertaining to Zoids are: Zoids: Chaotic Century, Zoids: Guardian Force, Zoids: New Century Zero, Zoids: Fuzors, and Zoids: Genesis. All of these series take place on the planet Zi, and in all series the Zoids are metallic lifeforms which are used by people as workers and weapons.

[edit] Chaotic Century

Zoids: Chaotic Century follows a boy named Van Flyheight (more correctly romanised as Freiheit in the Japanese version); the series starts with him being chased by bandits into some old ruins, where he finds a girl named Fiona (Fine in the Japanese) and a small silver Zoid, which he names Zeke (Sieg), in old capsules. Zeke, who is later found to be an Organoid, helps Van and Fiona escape the bandits by reactivating a broken Shield Liger and helping Van pilot it out. As the series progresses, Van meets various opponents, such as Raven, and friends, like Moonbay and Irvine, and eventually ends up helping Fiona in her quest to regain her memory and to find the Zoid Eve.

As well as the anime series, there was a manga published in Japan. It was later reproduced in English in North America by Viz Communications, and in Singapore in English by Chuang Yi. There are significant differences between the anime and manga, becoming more striking in the later issues.

Despite featuring a lot of similar situations and characters, the Chaotic Century Anime and the Battle Story are nothing alike, and have completely different backstories. The Anime and Battle Story are generally accepted to occur in parallel realities.

[edit] Guardian Force

Main article: Zoids: Guardian Force

Zoids: Guardian Force is the sequel to Chaotic Century, officially taking place 2 years after Chaotic Century (As stated in pilot databases in Zoids Saga II), however this fact is disputed, some stating it to be 4 years. Van has been training for the past few years under the direction of an officer in the Helic Army. Due to several events and assumed terrorists arising, the Helic Republic and Guylos Empire form a joint military task force, which is called the Guardian Force. Van soon meets up with Fiona, who has been searching for Zoid Eve along with Dr. D., a seemingly insane and childish genius. They set out to find Zoid Eve together again, and, along the way, meet up with both old and new friends and foes.

While the last series to be screened in the United States (before Fuzors), Guardian Force was for a long time the most popular. Despite this, the series has been heavily criticised for its somewhat nonsensical plot, its rather one-dimensional characters and that the romance between Van and Fiona wasn't touched upon, leaving it up to the fandom.

[edit] New Century

Zoids: New Century Zero takes place several centuries after Guardian Force, where Zoid battles have become a tournament-based league of sorts. The main character is Bit Cloud, a junk dealer, who runs into the Blitz Team. As Bit interferes in a match with the Blitz Team he comes across the Liger Zero, a Zoid possessed by the Blitz Team which no one can pilot. Bit and Liger form a partnership and end up joining the Blitz Team in their various league matches. He is aided by his teammates, Leena Toros, Brad Hunter, and Jamie Hemeros, as well as their leader, Dr. Steve Toros.

The Liger Zero is revealed to be a unique Zoid, an Ultimate X; it contains an "Integrated Organoid System", or "black box" - a self-supporting artificial intelligence program that allows the Liger Zero to learn and adapt on its own. Only special "chosen ones" can pilot an Ultimate X.

Along the way, Bit's unique Zoid gets the attention of the Backdraft Group, an organisation who is trying to take over the Zoid battles. The Backdraft attempts to acquire the Liger Zero by any means possible. They eventually unearth the Berserk Führer, a powerful Zoid that also contains an Integrated Organoid System.

During the Royal Cup, an event in which the top teams in the world fight one another for the honour of becoming an "S-Class" team, the Backdraft Group attempts an uprising against the Zoid Battle Commission (ZBC). However due to the strength of the ZBC, the Backdraft was quickly destroyed.

This was the first Zoids series to air on American television, in Cartoon Network's Toonami block.

[edit] Fuzors

Main article: Zoids: Fuzors

Zoids: Fuzors is not a direct sequel to New Century Zero, but rather is set in its own continuity. Technology is more advanced compared to the other series, as it is discovered near the beginning of the series that Zoids can fuse with each other to create more powerful combinations.

The story follows Team Mach Storm as they fight against opponents on the ever-changing battlefield. This series follows the story of R.D., a novice pilot for Team Mach Storm. His teammates are Helmut, Sigma, Hop, and Sweet. R.D. commands the Liger Zero also and eventually meets up with the Fire Phoenix. When they combine they form the Liger Zero Phoenix. R.D.'s main rival is Blake, a pilot on Team Savage Hammer.

About half-way through the series, the show was removed from America's Cartoon Network. It was claimed by fans that the plot, character development, and battles for the first part of the series were disappointing and without substance, resulting in the show's cancellation. However, the full series aired in Australia and was later shown in full in Japan, and fans believe the show redeemed itself in the latter half of the series.

[edit] Genesis

Main article: Zoids: Genesis

Zoids: Genesis is a new series that began in April 2005. As yet, the continuity between it and the previous shows is unclear, although it is believed that, like Fuzors, it is a separate continuity.

At a certain point in time, there was a great quake on Planet Zi, An enormous crack ran through the planet, stretching as far as the seabeds to the high mountains. Volcanos erupted with fire, and the sky was covered in many layers of clouds. Many cities were destroyed as they were swallowed in large areas, sinking underwater. This was the Great Flood.

Before this large series of natural disasters, all civilizations were at their peak. All were destroyed by the disasters, and it was several thousand years before the inhabitants of Zi were able to re-establish themselves in any meaningful form. Survivors of the disasters gathered together and formed new civilizations; these groups searching for Zoids buried underground to use in territorial wars.

The story begins in a village whose most precious item is a giant sword which they worship as a holy symbol. Ruuji, a teenage boy, discovers an ancient Liger-type Zoid,the Murasame Liger, while on a deep water salvage operation. His village is suddenly attacked by skeletal "Bio-Zoids" intent on stealing a powerful generator located in the village. The Bio-Zoids are piloted by what appear to be robots, although in later episodes it appears that these are merely humans in special pilot suits. Ruuji, despite being unable to awaken any Zoid before this, awakens the Liger and discovers that the town's sacred sword is the Liger's weapon. Together, they fight off the mysterious Bio-Zoids, saving the day. At least for now.

The reactions to the show so far have been very mixed. Its animation and style are substantially different from the other Zoids anime series. Also, the plot of the first episode has been derided as rather cliché, and has drawn comparisons to the start of Chaotic Century as well as Turn A Gundam.[citation needed]

[edit] UK Zoids Comics Outline

The Zoids were created by a blue-skinned humanoid race native to the planet Zoidstar, who used these mechanical behemoths to conquer and enslave other worlds in a Zoidarian Empire. Most powerful of these war machines was the Giant ZRK.

However, the Zoidarians were a warlike species, and delighted in battle. Thus, once this Empire was pacified their lust for the fight remained unsated, and so they used their battle machines in epic duels to the death.

This was the era of Heroic Combat, considered a golden age by the Zoidarians. But, this combat led to the dwindling of Zoidarian numbers, as ever more succumbed during duels. So it was decreed that henceforth androids should pilot the Zoids, and the Zoidarians would sate their battle-hunger vicariously. Thus the golden age ended.

On the outer rim of the Zoidarian Empire, battlefleets still patrolled their subdued populations, periodically returning to the home system. One such battlefleet miscalculated its return, and crashed onto the Blue Moon of Zoidstar. There was a single Zoidarian survivor, pulled from the wreckage by android technicians, and given a protective exoskeleton to restore his crippled body.

On the icy moon, the marooned Zoids were incapacitated by the frigid temperatures, and the androids set about converting them to more resilient forms. It was the conversion of heating up the Zoids for survival that turned them from their original blue to red, thus the Red Army was born. Eventually, the surviving Zoidarian returns to Zoidstar to find that his people have apparently been wiped out, and that automated factories have produced legions of Zoids that continue to battle on, even though their creators have disappeared.

Realizing that he is the last of his kind, the Zoidarian adopts the moniker "Namer", and gives each of the warring machines an apt title to describe its capabilities, for example: "Small and fleet of foot, yet cunning and deadly in battle; thus I name you Spiderzoid." With his naming, the Namer issues a stark prophecy, that when the remodelled Zoids from the Blue Moon return, there will be an ultimate battle.

Into this melee crashes the Celeste, a human prison ship filled with convicts in "sus" (suspended animation), which is knocked out of orbit by a huge fireball. The survivors of the crash led by Captain Drew Heller band together and are joined by the Namer, and they attempt to survive the rigors of Zoidstar.

While the Blue and Red Zoids clash, a third force is looming over them. The renegade red Zoid, Krark, is building his own army of Zoids from both the Red and Blue armies. While the two armies are content to beat each other to oblivion, Krark wants to leave Zoidstar behind and build a new Zoid Empire, ruling over the entire Galaxy.

This story has no continuity with any Japanese anime, as it was created a number of years before the five anime series were first created. It was created to go along with the original UK (and subsequently Australian) release of model kits. The comic is notable for featuring early work by Grant Morrison, including the epic and apocalyptic Black Zoid storyline.

In the Black Zoid storyline, the Celeste's Chief Warden, Silverman, is revealed to be an android, in much the same vein as The Terminator, and leaves the crew after a heated series of arguments which culminates in his unveiling, much to the horror of the crew and convicts. A fight between Heller and Silverman in an abandoned Zoid production facility see's the Captain overcome the murderous android. After a few more adventures (infiltrating the Blue HQ for spare parts being one) the Celeste crew come across the Blue leader, the mighty Zoidzilla taken down and out by an unknown assailant of unknown power.

The Blue army is in disarray without their leader so the Celeste crew help to rebuild Zoidzilla. As this happens the Black Zoid attacks the base where the repairs are being made and shortly thereafter it is discovered that Silverman is the pilot of the huge monstrosity. It seems that even though Captain Heller beat the android in the abandoned factory it was not destroyed and has spent the time building its own Zoid (which was about twice the size of Zoidzilla). The Blue army defend their base but the Black Zoid is much tougher than anything imagined, and it's only the firepower of Zoidzilla piloted by Hellers son that initially stops the Black Zoid. Unfortunately, its metal skin ruptures, and splits to reveal a smaller but equally well-armed flying Zoid inside. It is this smaller Black Zoid that takes down Zoidzilla and also destroys the massive King Kong-like Gore by decapitation with the large blade attached to its arm. At this point, Krark turns up with the remaining Blue and Red Zoids to form an alliance. More fighting ensues, and when the smaller Black Zoid finally succumbs, the head section detaches and continues the assault.

Yet more Zoids are smashed, and when the head section is brought down, the cockpit opens, and Silverman emerges - half psychotic android, half-Spiderzoid, and he attacks Captain Heller directly. And finally, when Silverman's body is destroyed, his head sprouts small legs (similar to the monster in The Thing (film)) and lunges for Drew with murderous intent. In the closing scenes, Drew smashes the deranged head with one of Silverman’s own arms.

It's at this point that Zoids was planned to be released as a monthly stand alone comic, one of the three '3 panel' epilogues shown at the end of Issue 51 in preparation for the monthly changeover is one of Silverman’s arms still active and moving and the speech bubble reading "I... hate you.... Heller".

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