3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Talk about the most awesome show in the world, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron.
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by Tarnish » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:40 am

QueenSimia wrote:At the end of the day, I think a lot of SWAT Kats' appeal was just how '90s XTR33M and unexpected it was—if you tried to pitch it today, it'd have to be as an ironic pastiche. You couldn't play it straight like it originally was, or you'd be laughed out of the pitch meeting. If you angled for the focus on unique gadgets and vehicles, you'd have to tone the violence way down to sell to a younger audience; the assumption would be that you're trying to sell toys, and almost no cartoons aimed at audiences older than 11 are merchandise-driven anymore. Same with the anthro angle—you rarely see series with non-human casts anymore that aren't either for young children or stoners. And if you try to write for a modern preteen-to-young adult audience, I don't think modern kids are willing to suspend disbelief for long enough to enjoy the same setting we did.

With all that stacked against it, I don't think SWAT Kats could be rebooted into the current animation climate, at least not in a satisfying way. The most plausible route I could see would be a comedic Adult Swim run, which honestly I don't think any of us would want. It was just such a weirdly unique show at just the right time, that I don't think it could survive a modern run, Kickstarter or no.
There was an interview where Lance Falk was asked about the music in SWAT Kats Revolution, whether it would be the same guitar driven rock style or different. He said something along the lines of "although he likes that style, maybe it was a product of its time". But really, IMO that's true for SWAT Kats as a whole..it was a product of its time.
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by QueenSimia » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:09 am

Echo wrote:After seeing the most recent posts on this thread, I've started asking myself:

Is this really worth it? Should we just keep SWAT Kats in the past? KittyEyesChanceIcon RazAfraid
As far as hoping for a revival? Maybe. As far as enjoying it and participating in fandom? Heck no. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, another weird product of its time and a critical failure, still has a huge following and regular showings 43 years later. Gargoyles has a decent-sized fandom that's been around for about the same amount of time we have. Even Starlight Express still has its diehard fans.

We may be a niche fandom, but we're here. Even if SK can only continue in fan works, I think that's just fine.
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by marklungo » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:47 am

QueenSimia wrote:Thundercats tried the same thing only 5 years earlier, but it bombed spectacularly.
From what I've heard, the 2011 Thundercats series got decent ratings, but was canceled since the toys didn't sell, which tells you where Cartoon Network's priorities were/are. RazSad

And now they're about to try again with Thundercats Ho!, which will be a wacky comedy in the mold of Teen Titans Go!, complete with an art style similar to Adventure Time and Regular Show. As QueenSimia has mentioned, that format might be the only realistic option for bringing SWAT Kats back. But would it be close enough to the show we love to be worth it?
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by Kooshmeister » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:38 pm

marklungo wrote:But would it be close enough to the show we love to be worth it?
I can't speak for everyone, but I vote a big fat "no." MadkatDownIcon
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by QueenSimia » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:54 pm

marklungo wrote:
QueenSimia wrote:Thundercats tried the same thing only 5 years earlier, but it bombed spectacularly.
From what I've heard, the 2011 Thundercats series got decent ratings, but was canceled since the toys didn't sell, which tells you where Cartoon Network's priorities were/are. RazSad
Ah, that's slightly less disappointing. I remember mostly the online reaction, which was largely negative (or at least in the corners I frequented at the time). Still. I kinda wish it got the same support Voltron has, but whaddaya gonna do.
marklungo wrote:And now they're about to try again with Thundercats Ho!, which will be a wacky comedy in the mold of Teen Titans Go!, complete with an art style similar to Adventure Time and Regular Show. As QueenSimia has mentioned, that format might be the only realistic option for bringing SWAT Kats back. But would it be close enough to the show we love to be worth it?
Yeeeaaah... *sigh* I get that it's not for me, and I really hope it lands with the kids the current team is making it for! Just... Thundercats Ho! really... does not look good. *rubs temples and mutters "it's not meant for me, it's not meant for me" repeatedly*
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by Mikazo » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:15 pm

These are some really great points. Trying to restart a show is very tricky business, and it would be very easy to botch it and get it wrong.
QueenSimia wrote: And, as Tarnish mentioned, these were all cartoons with proven track records.
Did the Swat Kats have a proven track record though? It aired for two seasons and fizzled out. For probably most people who watched it at the time, it is a distant memory. That could work to the show's advantage, since it wouldn't be so constrained by its past. There is comparatively little it has to live up to, and you could breathe new ideas into it without upsetting the apple cart too much.
QueenSimia wrote:At the end of the day, I think a lot of SWAT Kats' appeal was just how '90s XTR33M and unexpected it was—if you tried to pitch it today, it'd have to be as an ironic pastiche. (snip)
The question of who to market the show to is an interesting one and illustrates part of the difficulty in bring the show into 2018. (2019? 2020? Let's just say 20XX, Mega Man style. :) ) In its inception it may have been intended as a vehicle to sell toys to sugar-addled eight year olds, but today it could be repurposed to other audiences. Maybe the show could mature in a way it previously couldn't. Or maybe in today's climate it doesn't have to sell toys to be successful. Could the show succeed if it were allowed to just be itself, and not be modified in any way to target a particular audience?

Anyone remember Sam and Max? It was a comic book that also got a video game adaptation. Fans of the series got their revival about fifteen years later in the form of another series of video games made by a completely different company. The latest ones were nonetheless largely praised by fans of the earlier series. They were different in a lot of ways, but they kept much of the characteristic humor and were able to incorporate a lot of new stuff. There were new characters, like the paranoid convenience store clerk and the giant talking cockroach that works as a restaurant chef. It seemed overall like the new series made the mark it was looking for and didn't clash with the older material too much. I wouldn't rule out Swat Kats being able to do the same thing.

The biggest challenge I see is that, while the show previously gained its audience by occupying a specific time slot on TV (usually a time when people got home from school), now it would have to jockey for the attention of an audience that has so much other entertainment available at its fingertips already.
Last edited by Mikazo on Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by Kooshmeister » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:17 pm

QueenSimia wrote:At the end of the day, I think a lot of SWAT Kats' appeal was just how '90s XTR33M and unexpected it was—if you tried to pitch it today, it'd have to be as an ironic pastiche.
What's wrong with ironic pastiches? TboneLaughCait
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by marklungo » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:37 pm

Kooshmeister wrote:What's wrong with ironic pastiches? TboneLaughCait
Nothing, as long as you do them right. Sure, SWAT Kats has elements that are dated and silly--we talk about them all the time here and on Discord, and the podcast frequently pokes affectionate fun at the series. However, we honestly, non-ironically love it anyway because the characters hold up and, more often than not, the show really was awesome. An ironic pastiche of SWAT Kats would have to have fun with the show, not make fun of it. If the creators have a condescending attitude of "Look how clever we are for ridiculing this stupid old cartoon", they'll just turn everybody off.

P.S. I was going to go into a lengthy rant about how the 1990s revival of The Outer Limits was technically more successful than the 1960s version (original=49 episodes, revival=154 episodes), but still ultimately failed because most fans of the original don't like it (including me) and it doesn't seem to have had anywhere near the first series' cultural impact. It's off-topic, so I decided against it. Let me know if you want me to write it anyway!
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by QueenSimia » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:03 pm

Mikazo wrote:
QueenSimia wrote: And, as Tarnish mentioned, these were all cartoons with proven track records.
Did the Swat Kats have a proven track record though? It aired for two seasons and fizzled out.
That's kinda the opposite of what I was saying. What I meant to imply was that the three rebooted shows I cited—DuckTales, Samurai Jack, and Powerpuff Girls—were already set up for success since they had proven track records (in the form of long original runs and thousands of dedicated fans with fond memories), and yet only one of them could be said to have had a successful reboot. Thus it's really hard to reboot a series successfully even when your chances of landing a hit are really good. In SWAT Kats' case, the deck's already stacked against it, so a real stab at a reboot would be extremely risky.
Mikazo wrote:The question of who to market the show to is an interesting one and illustrates part of the difficulty in bring the show into 2018. (2019? 2020? Let's just say 20XX, Mega Man style. :) ) In its inception it may have been intended as a vehicle to sell toys to sugar-addled eight year olds, but today it could be repurposed to other audiences. Maybe the show could mature in a way it previously couldn't. Or maybe in today's climate it doesn't have to sell toys to be successful. Could the show succeed if it were allowed to just be itself, and not be modified in any way to target a particular audience?
Therein lies the question. I don't know if I'd really like a "mature" update for this show, for the same reason I put "clever banter" in scare quotes in my first post re: DuckTales. While I do like peeks into characters' lives, I don't like when a show that started out as action/adventure starts prioritizing talking head character deep dives over plot. Part of what I like so much about SK is that it goes straight from point A to B, all acceleration and no brakes until we've hit our allotted 22 minutes. The old Disney Afternoon standbys and other cartoons of the '80s and '90s did the same (though not quite at SK's breakneck pace).

Today's shows are much slower, with much more focus on dialogue and character interaction. Action shows have fallen by the wayside, largely replaced by anime (which has its own pacing issues, i.e. "are they still on Namek?" I tried watching Hunter x Hunter recently and gave up after literally three episodes of super-powered characters sitting around waiting and doing nothing). While I love Steven Universe and its softer take on identity and relationships, I don't want everything to be Steven Universe.
Mikazo wrote:Anyone remember Sam and Max? It was a comic book that also got a video game adaptation.
Also a cartoon! RIP FOX Kids. FelinaSalute
Mikazo wrote:Fans of the series got their revival about fifteen years later in the form of another series of video games made by a completely different company. ... It seemed overall like the new series made the mark it was looking for and didn't clash with the older material too much. I wouldn't rule out Swat Kats being able to do the same thing.
Sam & Max benefits from having a very specific brand of humor, and as long as that's intact, it shines. Tackling an action show is a totally different beast, one that I'd argue is much more difficult. Plus, so much of American animation gets redirected toward humor, so much so that I can't think of any adult-targeted animated shows in the past decade that weren't at least partly billed as a comedy. I like jokes too, but c'mon, can't we just have a story or some 'splosions once in a while?

That's what I'm afraid of if SK were rebooted now. It'd be a hard sell in today's animation climate since it doesn't really fit into any predictably profitable slots, which scares away producers. Animation overall still faces huge editorial roadblocks because it's so work-intensive, and therefore a not-insignificant investment. Humor's easy, you can excuse a lot with jokes, and everyone loves to laugh. Irony's in right now. But if you want to do purely plot- or action-driven shows, hope you've got plenty of morals-of-the-day ready and a direct line to BS&P. I think it's more than likely that what we'd get would be SWAT Kats Lite at best, with less advertising and a confused reception this time around. RazSad
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Re: 3 Years Later: Evaluating the Kickstarter Phenomenon

Post by Rusakov » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:28 pm

Considering everything, I feel like some of this might be my fault. The Kickstarter campaign was probably too much too early (assuming of course that animation would actually get out of its current "lolrandom comidee!11!!" phase in the near future...). But maybe I forced the issue back when I was running the blog?

I was trying to get a revival moving but it ended up being at the worst time possible. And with all of this said, I'm going to put my SK interest in sleep mode for now, including posting on this forum.

And so soon after I came back. RazSad
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