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`80s universe defender gets cybermakeover

In keeping with a trend that's currently sweeping the kids animation industry, producers and programmers alike are increasingly reviving decade-old cartoon characters in order to capitalize on a dual audience of die-hard adult fans and contemporary kids of the 90's. However,...
September 1, 1998

In keeping with a trend that’s currently sweeping the kids animation industry, producers and programmers alike are increasingly reviving decade-old cartoon characters in order to capitalize on a dual audience of die-hard adult fans and contemporary kids of the 90′s. However, it’s a tricky business to attract and satisfy a target demographic that spans two completely different generations; nostalgic grown-up viewers seeking to relive their youth want the show to be exactly the same as it was on Saturday mornings those many years ago, while today’s kids are quick to lose patience with the fuzzy-around-the-edges look of 80′s-style animation.

World Events Productions believes it has found a compromise that will appeal to everyone. This month, the St. Louis, Missouri-based company, along with Mike Young Productions and Netter Digital Entertainment, is launching a 13-episode follow-up series to Voltron: Defender of the Universe, an Emmy Award-winning traditional animation series that debuted in 1984. Aired in 80 countries around the world, Voltron starred the Voltron force, a team of young heroes who piloted lion-shaped spaceships that, when connected, could transform into a giant robot the size of the Empire State Building.

Ted Koplar, president and CEO of World Events, says the new show, Voltron: The Third Dimension, won’t stray much in terms of content from its predecessor. ‘We’ve tried to stay true to the original show as much as possible to attract the 12- to 24-year-old demographic,’ he says. ‘The storylines and characters will not change at all. But we need to bring the show up to year 2000 technological standards, so we decided to change the production look to 3D-CGI.’ Koplar believes this will make the show stand out in the sea of traditional cartoons.

The series has been cleared in over 90% of the U.S., including WPIX (New York), WFLD (Chicago), and KTTV (Los Angeles). Another 26 episodes will be available internationally by mid-1999, and the show will make its market debut at MIPCOM next month.

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