Mobile Suit Gundam is a whopping 40 years old this year. When the original TV series first debuted all the way back in 1979, absolutely nobody knew it would grow to be the ever-evolving worldwide phenomenon it’s become today. In fact, the initial run of the series was actually cut from a planned 50 episodes to 43 due to low ratings. However, after the series ended, due to word of mouth and the introduction of plastic model kits, the Gundam franchise would eventually thrive, blossoming into what it’s become today. For the series’ 40th-anniversary, there’s been a whole lot of celebration in the form of merchandise, animation, and naval-gazing at its history. With that being said, there’s one piece of lost Gundam media that certainly wasn’t invited to the celebration; Doozy Bots, the Gundam cartoon that never was.
The year was 1991; somewhere in a hospital room I was being delivered, and somewhere else a handful American businessmen and Japanese businessmen met somewhere and said: “Yeah, this is how to bring Gundam to America.” Doozy Bots was a proposed American cartoon in a similar style to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The premise involved the wacky ‘Professor Doozy’ turning an appropriately diverse group of kids into robots to battle some older robots of his that started causing havoc. These ‘Doozy Bots’ were actually just a bunch of SD Gundam designs cartoonified. You had your OG Gundam RX-78-2, Guntank, and Gun-cannon, as well a few other novelties including a skateboarding generic mobile suit. There was even a robotic turkey who laid eggs which other mobile suits would hatch out of. Believe me, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
Japan’s original Gundam show was an iconic ‘horrors of war’ story with compelling characters and a real sense for world-building. Apparently, American audiences wouldn’t have been able to handle the twists and turns of Amuro and Char duking it out. Despite being an adaptation for America, the production has actually handled in Japan by Sunrise who handles all Gundam. ‘Doozy Bots’ was originally slated to air in fall of 1991 but no networks decided to pick it up. There’s never been an official line as to why that’s happened, but it’s theorized that the Japanese creatives behind ‘Doozy Bots’ misunderstood what the United States would’ve wanted. Unfortunately, when you go an look at this pilot footage, I’m inclined to agree. ‘Doozy Bots’ looks like nothing more than a pastiche of all sorts of cartoon cliches from the time. Tropes that you’d see in a Captain Planet or even a show like Power Rangers; we may be nostalgic about these things but actually going back and watching these toons would be torture. This said, apparently some ideas for ‘Doozy Bots’ were eventually used in Superior Defender Gundam Force, a Japanese American Gundam co-production that actually came to light.
Thankfully over the years, the idea that the 90s were superior for pop-culture and the phrase ‘only 90s kids will remember’ have become a joke. Sure, there was a lot of excellent cartoons and games that came out in the 90s like Batman The Animated Series and Super Mario 64 that were not only extremely influential but absolutely hold up to this day. However, there was a whole lot of shlock as well. Remember Street Sharks, a particularly atrocious Ninja Turtles rip off? How about Cow & Chicken or Superman 64? Even in the anime side of things, for every Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, and Serial Experiments Lain, there was 10 Cyber Team In Akihabaras and Papuwas. Forgettable and unforgivably generic. If Doozy Bots had come into fruition it wouldn’t have even been a stain on the legacy of Mobile Suit Gundam because it would’ve been forgotten just as soon as it aired, lost in a web of cartoons so dull that not even Boomerang would re-air it.