In August 2014 Harmony Gold, the people who created Robotech, announced that a new entry in the series was underway. Robotech Academy. Unlike the films Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and Robotech: Love Live Alive, Robotech Academy was going to be a brand new TV series.
Set in the world of Robotech II: The Sentinels, the series would have centered on the children of the Expeditionary Force at the titular Robotech Academy. Two of the main characters would have been the child prodigy Wally and the swashbuckling teen pilot Lindsay.
The Academy would fall under attack by alien fanatics calling themselves the Childen of Zor. Activating an experimental spacefold drive, the cadets would have ended up in an uncharted, distant region of the galaxy. Discovering the path that Zor’s ship took before it crash landed on Earth, the cadets try to get back home or at least rendezvous with the Robotech Expeditonary Force.
Based on an idea by series creator Carl Macek, Harmony Gold turned to Kickstarter to secure funding for the project.
“There was a perception of an opportunity there at one point because it had worked for another campaign,” remembers Tommy Yune, President of Animation at Harmony Gold. The campaign Yune is referencing is the now famous Veronica Mars Kickstarter project that raised nearly six million for a movie based on the cult favorite series. After the success of that campaign, numerous cult franchises turned to Kickstarter for funding.
“There was this kind of gold rush mentality.”
As the campaign got underway, characters and mecha designs were unveiled along with returning cast members. Tony Oliver, Greg Snegoff, and Greg Finley would reprise their roles as Rick Hunter, Dr. Emil Lang, and General Anatole Leonard respectively.
About half way through the campaign however, Harmony Gold realized Kickstarter wouldn’t nessarily be a good fit for what they wanted to do with Robotech Academy. Yune describes the team’s thought process.
“There was actually a way we could market the hell out of it and we could get the minimum level funded. But then all fans would end up with was just the pilot and that’s the funds that would be raised for it. We were really concerned we’d end up with another Robotech II: The Sentinels scenario.”
Robotech II: The Sentinels, a planned sixty five episode series, was infamously never finished and all fans were left with was a movie compilation of the first three episodes.
“Fans would be excited by the potential of the new (Robotech Academy) story but they end up with another stub again,” Yune explains.
But that doesn’t mean Robotech Academy or future attempts at an animated Robotech series are completely dead. Yune teases, “There is tremendous opportunity in the traditional route of approaching it.”
Yune confirms that cancelling the project was more about the viability of Robotech Academy in the future. Billy Davis, Executive Vice President of Harmony Gold, adds that there’s limitations in a business model that uses Kickstarter, “We think it’s a better idea not to be limited.”
So canceling the project wasn’t about the funds that had or hadn’t been raised?
“It’s making sure we can put out a good product. There are many factors involved in that, not just one. We are committed to telling a good story in the most complete kind of way that we can.”
Vice President of Marketing at Harmony Gold, Kevin McKeever adds, “There is tremendous interest in animated Robotech right now but there are larger issues we have to work out.”
In a previous update, McKeever stated that one of their approaches to continuing the Robotech story was, “we want to look at the gaps that are in the series. That’s part of what Robotech Academy was about, to fill in those gaps.”
While that doesn’t guarantee that Robotech Academy will see the light of day anytime soon, it’s good to know that the team is committed to bringing fans more complete Robotech.
Shamus Kelley has that touch to lead the way to love. Follow him on Twitter!