Countdown to the 12th Doctor: #4
For the bulk of the fandom, this is the least liked version of Robotnik — which is why it’s so surprising that it’s the most prolific. In addition to starring in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, this design went on to appear in over 25 children’s books, his own video game, and numerous toys — regardless of what story canon was in use. He even went on to become one of the main characters of the famed Sega World amusement park in Sydney, Australia.
First Appearance: 9/6/93, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog #1, “Super Special Sonic Search & Smash Squad”
Noted Companions: Scratch, Grounder, Coconuts
This is about as much of a villainous stereotype as you can get. The Dr. Robotnik we’re greeted with in the Adventures cartoon series is depicted as oafish, bumbling, easy to outwit, and one of the more over-the-top versions of Robotnik we’ve seen. (Remember, this is the guy that has a giant statue of himself outside of his own home base. We wouldn’t see that level of vanity again until modern Eggman took the reigns.) Most depictions paint him as incompetent, but I think that’s going a few steps too far. AoStH Robotnik does come up with some very good plans, and in several cases, they even work out correctly.
In many ways, this version of Robotnik gave the audience its most in-depth view of the character that had ever been seen for its time. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog focused more on comedy than action or drama, allowing for more relaxed storytelling. This meant that we got to see what Robotnik was like outside of his interactions with Sonic, and surprisingly enough, he’s actually sort of relatable. He listens to the radio, watches the news, reflects on his past, enjoys a good meal, and tries to please his mother. Few of us could say that we don’t have similar experiences in our day-to-day lives.
Another noteworthy detail about this Robotnik is that he’s impressively comfortable with his bulky body. He’s never been shy about wearing different outfits, and furthermore, his lackeys often praise him in terms of his size (ex. “Your roundness,” or “Your largeness.”) Considering that body image is such a hot topic in most cultures, and Sonic himself even uses it to lash out at him, I find it refreshing that there’s at least one character that doesn’t mind being fat in the slightest.
As for the robots, I think Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts fit the description of “companions” more than any other sidekicks that any version of Robotnik has ever had. Despite the fact that he often loses his temper with them, Robotnik consistently rebuilds (and occasionally improves upon) his three favorite robots over and over and over again, because he wants those specific robots in his company. It’s clear that this isn’t a universal habit in this canon, because throughout the series he made dozens of other robots that were tossed aside once they’d served their purpose. Robotnik even remarked himself once that the reason he keeps repairing Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts is because he’s “sentimental.” He speaks casually to them when they’re not in the middle of a plan and he allows them a degree of independence and free time. They’re more than just robots to him; they have their own minds and personalities, and apparently, he likes that about them enough to keep them around.
First Appearance: 4/1/94, Sonic the Comic #22
Noted Companions: Grimer
Even though this Robotnik looks exactly the same as the one above, make no mistake that they are nothing alike. When the first Fleetway Robotnik’s design changed from the in-game look to this one, the appearance was the only thing altered. Robotnik was just as diabolical afterward as he’d been before, and it now had the added shock of coming from a face that had only been known for slapstick comedy up until that point. The transition of Fleetway’s Robotnik to his second design proved that a well-written character can instill any emotion in its readers, regardless of how it looks.
Despite the fact that he now looked less like his in-game counterpart, the new Fleetway Robotnik was perhaps the truest to his origins out of any of the media available at the time. In particular, he was known for maintaining his focus on obtaining the Chaos Emeralds, which some continuities only grazed upon while others ignored them all together. This Robotnik is also noteworthy for being the only one making use of this design that not only wasn’t a bumbling oaf, but he was in fact too good sometimes; on several occasions, Robotnik’s robotic minions were programmed with his goals so thoroughly that many of them turned rogue, hoping to take over the world for themselves instead of their master.
Grimer, Robotnik’s companion, is without question the most effective and dedicated of any canon. It really is a remarkable relationship, as it seems that no matter how much abuse Robotnik dealt him or how many opportunities he had to defect to other sides, Grimer remained obstinately loyal. It’s unclear if Robotnik ever really realized or appreciated just how good of an assistant he was, but I’m sure he’d proudly announce it from the mountains if he spent a day with some of the other doctors’ companions.
Dr. Robotnik, Dr. Eggman, and whatever other forms of this character I managed to dig up for this thing are all © Sega one way or another, with lesser rights going to companies such as Archie, Fleetway, DiC, and whoever made that fan film. The inferences and summaries written throughout this piece are my own and my not be reproduced without my permission.
Posted on November 23, 2013, in Analysis, Books, Game Characters, Humor, Journalism, TV, Video Games and tagged Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Doctor Who, Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, Eggman, Fleetway, Robotnik, Sonic the Comic, Sonic the Hedgehog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.