Video game spin-off series Heavy Gear, slated for a fall 2000 debut on BKN, is the latest Sony Pictures Family Entertainment (SPFE) series to receive a 40-episode order from the kids net, following an equivalent BKN order for Roughnecks: Starship Troopers. The Heavy Gear video game franchise from Dream Pod 9 and Target Games was launched in 1994, and the new series, which borrows heavily from the game’s story lines, is slated to be produced for approximately US$400,000 per episode. No final determination has been made as to the type of animation that will be used for the series, says David Palmer, VP of marketing at SPFE. ‘We’re looking at different options-2-D, 3-D or a combination of the two,’ Palmer notes.
Set 4,000 years in the future, the story line for the series centers around heroic fighters who struggle to save Terra Nova, their embattled colony. Heavy tanks and battle gear in the series lend themselves well to development of a toy line, says Palmer, and Bandai has already signed on as master toy licensee. The series targets a similar audience as the video game-boys ages six to 11, plus a smattering of teens up to 16. Over 100 Web sites already exist for the franchise, says Palmer.
In related SPFE news, Rusty the Boy Robot was pulled from the time slot in which it debuted in September, due to a Pokémon defensive initiative undertaken by Fox Kids that’s designed to win back viewers who have strayed to Kids’ WB’s Pokémon (which airs in the same time slot as Rusty). The cel-animated Rusty and Saban’s Spider-Man Unlimited have been replaced by additional time slots for anime offerings such as Digimon: Digital Monsters and BKN’s Monster Rancher, produced by Toei Animation and TMS-Kyokuichi respectively, and for Saban’s The Avengers. ‘We’re working with Fox on a relaunch strategy,’ says Palmer, who expects Rusty to be back on the air this month.