Robotech II: The Sentinels was an attempt by Harmony Gold USA to continue the original 1985 Robotech television series. Only three episodes were ultimately animated before the project was cancelled in 1986, and a feature-length film was released from footage taken from the completed episodes. The aborted 65-episode Sentinels series would have followed the ongoing adventures of Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes and the rest of the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) during the events of The Robotech Masters and The New Generation series.
The feature-length pilot is composed of the first three (and only) episodes that were produced for the series. It introduces the SDF-3, along with its crew, and gives an overview of their new mission. The title refers to the Sentinels, an alien resistance movement encountered by the Robotech Expeditionary Force (REF) that consists of races subjugated by the Robotech Masters or the Invid. The significant events in the film include Lynn Minmei making peace with Admiral Lisa Hayes well enough to sing at her wedding to Major General Rick Hunter and the Invid's brutal invasion of the Robotech Masters homeworld of Tirol.
Being a sequel/spinoff to the combined series, The Sentinels featured characters from all three Robotech sagas, including Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes (later Lisa Hayes-Hunter), Max Sterling, Miriya Parina Sterling, Exedore and Breetai from The Macross Saga, Dana Sterling and Bowie Grant from Masters, and Jonathan Wolff, Scott Bernard and the Invid Regis of The New Generation. Among the newly-created characters were young cadet rivals Jack Baker and Karen Penn, whose early love-hate relationship mirrored Rick and Lisa's; Vince Grant, brother of Claudia Grant, and father of Bowie Grant; and the Invid Regent, the villainous leader of the Invid. Dr. Emil Lang, a supporting character in the Macross Saga, would return as a main character. The story also introduces a human adversary in the form of T. R. Edwards, who was first introduced in Comico's Robotech: The Graphic Novel.
The Pioneer Expedition was a mission to confront alien forces in space to prevent interplanetary war on Earth. It took place concurrently with the 2nd and 3rd Robotech wars. The expedition was led by Lisa Hayes aboard the SDF-3 which was launched in 2022 in search of the Robotech Masters. The mission soon became preoccupied with the liberation of worlds under the control of the Invid Regent. In June 2030, the final battle of the Second Robotech War caused a release of the spores of the Invid flower of life across Earth, which soon attracted the Invid. In 2031, the Invid under the control of the Regis, invaded Earth. The United Earth Forces (including the elite Army of the Southern Cross) had been severely weakened by the Second Robotech War and were only able to offer limited resistance. In less than a week, the Invid seized control of the planet, and began utilizing the human population for slave labour and scientific experiments. In 2038 and 2042, the REF sent the 10th and 21st Mars divisions to try and retake the planet, but both ended in complete failure. It was only with the third attempt in 2044, which involved all available REF forces (now equipped with new technology obtained from the Haydonites) that the Invid were dislodged from Earth.
The Tatsunoko Production animation studio assigned the first script drafts to writers Sukehiro Tomita (Macross, Mospeada) and Hiroshi Oonogi (Macross). According to director Carl Macek, the Japanese animators initially tried to relate the project to the original versions of Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada, until Harmony Gold explained the differences made in Robotech's adaptation with diagrams and charts. When the animators focused on new characters instead of Rick Hunter and the other characters derived from the original Macross series, Macek ended up reassigning the scriptwriting to American writers, headed by script supervisor Kent Butterworth to refocus the project.
Macek blamed the cancellation of the series on the crash of the Dollar/Yen exchange rate in the mid-1980s, which caused toy partner Matchbox to withdraw from the project due to the increased cost. Since Harmony Gold lacked the funds to produce the series on its own, production ceased after only three episodes.
Home video release
Macek collected the usable footage from the aborted Sentinels project into a feature film that was first released on VHS in 1987 by Robotech RPG publisher Palladium Books. Macek's own Streamline Pictures released it again in 1992.
The Sentinels feature was included on DVD as an extra with the third volume of the Robotech Legacy Collection and the complete Protoculture Collection, from ADV Films. The disc includes the option of a voiceover commentary by Macek (mostly read directly from the comprehensive Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels), in which he discusses some of the aspects of the production.
Petition to finish the series
In 2001, an online Petition to Finish The Sentinels was started by a Canadian fan for Harmony Gold to animate the rest of the planned episodes. In spite of Harmony Gold's statements about not planning to do so, the petition had received 6,911 signatures, as of September 29, 2007.
Despite its cancellation, Harmony Gold provided the unfinished Sentinels source material for adaptation by several different parties, resulting in several different versions of the same continuity. Macek's original outline and notes for the series were published in Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels.
- Robotech #13 - The Sentinels: The Devil's Hand
- Robotech #14 - The Sentinels: Dark Powers
- Robotech #15 - The Sentinels: Death Dance
- Robotech #16 - The Sentinels: World Killers
- Robotech #17 - The Sentinels: Rubicon
Robotech #18 - The End of the Circle, although not technically a Sentinels novel, did wrap up all of the outstanding issues from both the Sentinels and the first 12 books.
The Waltrip brothers adapted the novels into comic books, though they diverged from the novels as the story progressed. The Sentinels comics were published by Eternity Comics, then Academy Comics. The storyline abruptly ended when Academy was unable to renew their license with Harmony Gold. The comics license passed to Antarctic Press, who published The Sentinels: Rubicon, which draws its name from the title of the fifth Sentinels novel. However, the Rubicon comic, instead of completing the Sentinels story, is set years after the end of the Sentinels Campaign, and was not illustrated by the Waltrips. It was not popular with fans, due to the poor artwork and the lack of connection to The Sentinels. It was cancelled after only two issues.
The Waltrips returned in 2005 to adapt elements of the last McKinney Sentinels novel into Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles, a comic book miniseries which also serves as a prequel to the animated 2006 feature film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. This prelude miniseries, while picking up roughly where the previous Sentinels comics ended, also acknowledges the official 2003 rebooting of the Robotech Universe. While the events of Sentinels are still seen to have happened, it is now agreed that certain events and situations have been retconned both before and during the events in Prelude.
The "Sentinels Curse"
Because of the consistent problems plaguing new Robotech releases, especially animation, there has been a joke among fans regarding a "curse" towards further Robotech projects. The curse has also applied to Sentinels-based works that ended prior to completion. Not included on this list are projects that were planned but never reached any stage of production, such as Robotech III: The Odyssey, which only existed as a vague idea in Carl Macek's personal notes during The Sentinels' production. Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles broke the curse in November 2006, when it was released in US theaters, and on February 6, 2007, when it was released on DVD. However, there is concern among fans that the curse may have revived itself with the announcement in mid-2008 that production of Robotech: Shadow Rising, a planned sequel to The Shadow Chronicles, has been indefinitely postponed. The proposed live-action adaptation of Robotech, which is to be produced by Warner Bros. and actor Tobey Maguire's production company, is speculated to face the same fate.
- The Sentinels animation (aborted after three episodes)
- The Sentinels comic series (cancelled in 1996 when 80% complete, continued in 2005 through Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles)
- The Sentinels: Rubicon comic series (unrelated to The Sentinels story, aborted in 1998 after two issues)
- Robotech: The Movie (wider release aborted in 1986 after failed test-screening in Texas)
- Robotech: Crystal Dreams video game (cancelled in 1998, when developer GameTek went bankrupt)
- Robotech 3000 (cancelled in 2000, after negative feedback towards trailer and bankruptcy of developer Netter Digital).
- Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles (several delays in release, released February 6, 2007 by Funimation).
- Robotech: Shadow Rising (production has been postponed indefinitely).
- ↑ "Lisa Hayes". Robotech.com. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- ↑ "Pioneer Expedition". Robotech.com. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- ↑ Carl Macek (1988), Robotech Art 3: The Sentinels, The Donning Company
- ↑ From June 1985 to December 1986, the Dollar/Yen exchange rate dropped from 1-250 to 1-160. By the end of 1987, the rate had further dropped to 1-120
- ↑ "Macek Training". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
- ↑ "FAQ - Sentinels & Continuity". Robotech.com.
- Robotech II: The Sentinels at the Internet Movie Database
- Robotech Museum - A historical archive of Robotech collectibles.
- Robotech Timeline - Sentinels at Robotech.com
- Robotech 2 The sentinels (Spanish)