4/1/1974 - 1978
|Curricular Machine was the star of a long-running live action educational television series. Hence the counting cards, dice, and other strange props contained in the Bullmark diecast toy. The show was cancelled when it was discovered that Curricular Machine was a regular patron of adult movie theatres. Oh, wait a second. That was Pee Wee Herman. My bad.
|UFO SENSHI DIAPOLON (UFO Warrior Diapolon)
4/6/1976 - 9/28/1976
|This animated series ran for a paltry 26 episodes in mid-1976. Takeshi, a friendly, human-looking visitor from the planet Apolon, helps Earthlings fight against the evil alien "Dazan Army." Everything from the costumes of the five-member team to the Apolon robots themselves featured an oddly-concieved football theme. (In that respect, it's kind of an answer to the live-action Mach Baron, which featured zombie football players as enemies.) The show was later re-edited and re-recorded -- without any new animation -- to make a show called "Diapolon II: Action Series." It tanked.
|GANBARON, THE TINY SUPERMAN
4/3/1977 - 9/25/1977
|Yet another "one season wonder" upon which Bullmark gambled and lost, Ganbaron was a live-action show about a young boy who could "henshin" (transform) into the robotic superhero Ganbaron. It was indended as a sort of lighthearted sequel to the Red and Mach Baron shows, but actually shared almost nothing in common with them (the previous two had focused on the exploits of piloted giant robots rather than individual transforming heroes.) Ganbaron had three mechanical vehicles at his disposal which could be combined into the undisputed king of the show (from a toy standpoint, anyway) -- the multi-purpose super big-ass kung-fu battle robot Daibaron.
1954 - Present
|Does this guy really need any sort of introduction? Bar none, Godzilla is the single most famous and popular Japanese monster ever created. Many people instantly associate Godzilla movies with sleazy dubbing and ultra-cheap special effects, but the inital 1954 Godzilla film ("Godzilla, King of the Monsters") was a scathing criticism of American nuclear policies, filled with dark imagery of death and destruction. (Most of this was edited out for the American release. Go figure.) In contrast to the serious tone of the first film, later entries in the series often degenerated into mindless giant-monster slugfests -- not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Bullmark also produced a prototype of "Jiras," a Godzilla knock-off who appeared in the Ultraman television series, but it never made it into production.
|BLOCKER ARMY IV: MACHINE BLASTER
7/5/76 - 3/28/77
|This show about a special team of paranormally skilled pilots was produced by a splinter company of Tatsunoko. The production firm, called "Ashi Pro," was actually more of a "thinktank" than a full-fledged animation company -- they farmed out the actual animation work to a totally different company. In spite of the fact that Japanese animation fans seem to badmouth this show incessantly, it's actually considered to have been a financial success. (In fact, the producers managed to secure enough cash to greenlight a similar series called "Gingaizer.") The four Blocker Robots are about as ugly as any you'll ever find in the world of Japanese toys, but hey, that's their charm. It appears that Bullmark produced toy renditions of only two out of the four. The late, great toy company Takemi manufactured Machine Blaster toys as well.
|GASSHIN SENTAI MEKANDA ROBO
(Combining Battle-Team Mekanda Robo)
3/3/1977 - 12/29/1977
|The insanely colorful Mekanda Robo character is one of most underrated giant-robot designs of all time, and the star of an animated series featuring the strugle of a five-member team against the alien (of course) Hedoran empire. Although the transforming and combining Mekanda Robo is often thought of as an archetypal "hero robot" character, there's actually more here than meets the eye (pun intended). This show introduced several conventions -- such as the use of mass-production robots and a limit to the amount of time that Mekanda Robo could be used before running out of energy -- that make it a sort of bridge to the more "realistic" giant-robot shows of the early 1980s.
|ROBOKKO BEETON (Robo Kid Beeton)
10/12/1976 - 9/27/1977
|Who's Robo-Kid Beeton? Where'd he come from? Why's he so goopy-looking? Beats the hell out of us. This joint production between the animation companies Tohoku Shinsha and Nippon Sunrise re-defines the term "obscurity." Although many Japanese anime fans fondly reminisce about the show on their websites, nobody seems to have any recollection of what the show was actually about. None of the sites or books we referenced made any comment about the show beyond the airdates and title of the theme song ("Our Beeton." Gag me with a spoon.)
|BOHKEN ROCKBAT (Adventure! Rockbat)
3/31/1975 - 9/27/1975
|A bizarre action-comedy series about "Animal Country," a doppelganger of Earth populated by humanoid animals (actors in suits), Bohken Rockbat didn't feature a single human character. When the town of "Animal Forest" is threatened by the evil Doradanuki, Professor Zuku gets mad -- and builds the robotic duo of Rockbat and Blazer to kick ass and take names. In spite of his name, the silly and careless Rockbat looks like a rotund, masked housecat; his purely mechanical bro Blazer backs him up when things hit the fan. (Okay, I'm exaggerating. This was a kids' series, not COPS.) The relatively organic-looking Rockbat features a chest full of buttons that can be pressed to engage "super powers"; Blazer is one helluva cool-looking mechanical man that can fly through the air and transform into a car. There's a really sinister-looking "anti-Blazer" called Dank, too, but Bullmark never made any toys for him. Too bad.
7/3/1973 - 12/29/1973
|Despite the completely unimaginative monster design (without exception, every single enemy resembled a man in a black leotard "skeleton suit"), Triple Fighter was a show with a twist. Rather than airing in a single thirty-minute chunk, it ran serial-style, with a five-minute scenario broadcast at the same time every day over the course of a week. Each episode chronicled the adventures of three aliens from "Planet M" who could transform into individual superheroes and combine into the massively powerful Triple Fighter. It began a few months after the end of the original Ultraman series in 1973, and utilized the same SFX crew -- the legendary Tsubaraya Productions. Shows like this define the term "obscurity."
4/12/1974 - 3/28/1975
|The sixth installment in the insanely popular Ultraman series. Ultraman Leo followed the adventures of the straightforwardly-named MAC ("Monster Attacking Crew"), and their battles against those giant monsters that so regularly ravage the Tokyo metropolitan area. The MAC was headed up by Moroboshi Dan, previously of of Ultraseven and temporarily bereft of his Ultra-powers. The Monster Attacking Crew, which oughtta be a band name if it isn't already, featured some of the grooviest, craziest costumes of the 1970s. World-famous toy company Takatoku also produced toys for Ultraman Leo.