Zoids (ゾイド), short for zoic Androids, is a franchise based around a series of plastic toy models designed and produced by Japanese toy company Tomy (now Takara-Tomy). First released in 1982, the models resemble a range of creatures including mammals, dinosaurs, and insects. The majority are in 72 scale scale with a wind-up or battery-powered motor to power moveable features, and feature snap-together construction and precolored parts.
The original line of toys was released in Japan, Europe, and the United States in the 1980s. While the American line was storyless, Zoids in Japan soon had a "Battle Story" told in text on the back of the model boxes, in "fanbooks", and in catalogues. It described the Zoids as metal-based lifeforms rebuilt into mecha and used in a series of wars on Planet Zi and the lives of the native Zoidians involved. Zoids fans in the UK were treated to their own storyline, featured in the comic Spider-Man and Zoids, which differed considerably, dividing the Zoids into warring Red and Blue factions with a party of humans caught in between.
The Zoids franchise also includes five anime series (the first starting in 1999), numerous manga series, and many electronic games, most of which inhabit their own unique continuities independent of the others. Two of the more recent toy lines have been tie-ins to the anime series.
SZ IV (Garantula), SZ V (Aquadon) and SZ VI (Gorgodos) were supposedly planned as a continuation of the series but their release status is currently unknown.
The models are incredibly rare (even more so than the Japanese Mechabonica) and demand is boosted even further by their unique color schemes.
Later, a pair of original Zoids were created exclusively for the European and North American markets, 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.
The Original Japanese Release is commonly abbreviated as OJR.
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.
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.
The 1:24 Zoids were not a success, and discontinued after a year.
Like the 1/24th Zoids, Zevle was a failure and quickly discontinued.
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.
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.
Zoids 2 is commonly abbreviated as Z2.
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.
The Customise Parts line was abruptly halted in 2001.
The line was rather unsuccessful, mainly due to the high price per unit and the pre-built nature of the models. Only three Zoids were released, one of which was a recolour bundled with the Cyber-Drive video game.
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.
The New Pacific Release also had a Z-Builders sub-line, identical to 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 terrestrial UK television.
The New English Release is commonly abbreviated as NER. It is sometimes referred to as the New European Release (despite never having been released outside of the UK).
The line was abruptly halted in early 2005, with several items unreleased.
Fuzors is commonly abbreviated as FZ.
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.
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.
Two sublines 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. With the cancellation of all unreleased Neo-Blox in early 2007, the line was effectively dead.
The Neo-Blox is abbreviated as either NBZ or NB. Alternate abbreviations are used for the Legends Series (LB) and the Custom Blox (CBZ).
So far, only three have been released, with another three slated for release.
In March 2008 two photos of Denkagi Hobby Magazine were posted on 2chan featuring a number of new design sketches, and mechanism prototypes. Labeled on the design sketches are "Raptor," "Power Up," "Frog," "Futabasuzukiryu" as well as other indistinguishable text. The prototypes seem to be of a crab, frog, lobster, elephant, futabasuzukiryu as well as some sort of battery unit. There seems to also be a sketch of a dragon type.
Upon the release of the magazine, better scans have been made available..
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, Helic Muroa of the Wind Tribe, who had tired of the constant battles, united the fifty tribes of the Central Continent into a single nation. 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. Zenebas favored aggressive foreign policy, preferring to attack first and ask questions later in contrast to his brother's more peaceful approach. Tensions mounted, and he left after a bitter quarrel and framing by the Republic assembly, 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 intensity 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, traveling 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 Death Saurer armies and destroy the Zenebas Empire.
Zenebas fled again, but before he could reach the Dark Continent, the forces of the Guylos Empire ambushed him. His army and its Zoids were absorbed into Guylos', who started a new series of conflicts with the Republic. After a successful landing and a long offensive through the brutal terrain of Nyx, the Republic army faced Guylos' trump card, the incredibly powerful Gilvader. To defend itself, the Republic created the Orudios and finally the King Gojulas, a monstrous Zoid that spearheaded a final offensive.
Before the last battle could take place, a meteor struck one of Zi’s three moons, which shattered, raining meteors down on Zi. The Central Continent was sundered into three sections, while part of the Dark Continent sank into the ocean. Most of the wild Zoids, as well as many of the Zoidians themselves, were wiped out...
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 Geno Saurer. 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 Death Saurer 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.
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 Death Saurer. Unfortunately, the Death Saurer goes berserk and attacks the Zi-Arms forces, destroying the Dekalt Dragon.
The three Tigers join forces to fight the Death Saurer. By using their various abilities, they are able to destroy it, ending the threat. The tigers then vanish, returning "back into legends".
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.
Though the second story arc of Chaotic Century is often called Guardian Force by western fans, the name is not officially recognised and is an example of fanon.
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 organization who is trying to take over Zoid battles and make them more "interesting." The Backdraft attempts to acquire the Liger Zero by any means possible. They eventually unearth the Berserk Fury, 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 a "Class-S" team, the Backdraft Group attempts an uprising against the Zoid Battle Commission (ZBC). But because of the ZBC's strength, the Backdraft was quickly destroyed.
New Century Zero has a number of animation cameos with Zoids from Chaotic Century and Guardian Force, which are the cause of much fan speculation but not explained. Moonbay's Gustav can be seen in the background in one of the later episodes, the Backdraft shoots judge satellites down with a Death Stinger tail, and the Ultrasaurus wreck on which Bit Cloud claims victory carries the Gravity Cannon on its side.
This was the first Zoids series to appear on American television, airing in Cartoon Network's Toonami block.
There's something more sinister lurking behind the sports battles and RD's rivalry with team Savage Hammer, however, and as the series unfolds RD and his friends Helmut, Sigma, Hop, and Sweet get caught up in a plot to take over the city. RD discovers the secret behind the mysterious "Alpha Zoid", however, and with the help of pilots from all over the city defeats the Seismosaurus holding it under siege.
About half-way through the series, the show was removed from America's Cartoon Network, ending on a cliffhanger. This was most likely a result of flagging ratings and toy sales. However, the full series aired in Australia and was later shown in Japan, getting full DVD releases in both countries.
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 darkness. Many cities were destroyed as they were swallowed in large areas, sinking underwater. This was known as "Gods' Fury."
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 searched for Zoids that are buried underground for human use.
The story begins in a village whose most precious item, a giant blade, is worshipped 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 securing the powerful Generator located in the village. The Bio-Zoids are piloted by what appear to be droids, but they are actually humans souls in special pilot suits. Ruuji, despite being unable to awaken any other Zoid before this, awakens Murasame Liger and discovers that the town's sacred blade is actually Liger's weapon. Together, they fight off the mysterious Bio-Zoids, saving the day... at least for now.