For the microscopic lifeform, see Zooid.
Zoids (ゾイド Zoido?), short for Zoic Androids, is a franchise based around a series of plastic toy modelsdesigned and produced by Japanese toy company Tomy (now Takara-Tomy). First released in 1982, the models resemble a range of creatures including mammals, dinosaurs, and insects. The majority are in 1:72scale with a wind-up or battery-powered motor to power moveable features, and feature snap-together construction and precolored parts.
The original line of toys was released in Japan, Europe, and the United States in the 1980s. While the American line was storyless, Zoids in Japan soon had a "Battle Story" told in text on the back of the model boxes, in "fanbooks", and in catalogues. It described the Zoids as metal-based life-forms rebuilt into mecha and used in a series of wars on Planet Zi and the lives of the native Zoidians involved. Zoids fans in the UK were treated to their own storyline, featured in the comic Spider-Man and Zoids, which differed considerably, dividing the Zoids into warring Red and Blue factions with a party of humans caught in between.
The Zoids franchise also includes four anime series produced by Sho-Pro and TV Tokyo (the first starting in 1999) , numerous manga series, and many electronic games, most of which inhabit their own unique continuities independent of the others. Two of the more recent toy lines have been tie-ins to the anime series.
Model Kit lines
There have been a number of different Zoids model lines over the years, both in Japan and other countries. Between these lines, over 200 different designs have been released, some several times over.
Released in 1982, Mechabonica was technically not a Zoids line, but is counted by collectors as it consisted of three models that would later be re-released as the first three Zoids, (Garius, Elephantus and Glidoler). The line was not very successful, and quickly dropped by TOMY.
Starzeta was the Spanish version of the Mechabonica line. Since Tomy had no direct marketing power in Spain during the 80s the models were released under licence by a smaller company (Feber) but unfortunately the line performed even worse than its Japanese counterpart. The same 3 models were released but bizarrely they were given new color schemes; grey parts became silver and the dark blue caps became bright blue. The models were not given names but are listed as Starzeta I, II and III.
SZ IV (Garantula), SZ V (Aquadon) and SZ VI (Gorgodos) were supposedly planned as a continuation of the series but their release status is currently unknown.
The models are incredibly rare (even more so than the Japanese Mechabonica) and demand is boosted even further by their unique color schemes.
Original American Release
TOMY re-released the Mechabonica line in the United States and Europe in 1983, under the name Zoids. The line was far more successful than Mechabonica, which led TOMY to reintroduce the line in Japan under the new name.
Later, a pair of original Zoids were created exclusively for the European and North American markets, the Power Zoids Tank and Serpent which were never released in Japan. Other Zoids like the Bigasaur (renamed to Giant ZRK) were also released. Radio Shack released the Mammoth Zoid in the US at the same time. While not a part of the release, it is generally counted with them. The Original American Release is commonly abbreviated as OAR by fans and collectors.
Original Japanese Release
In 1983, following the success of the OAR, TOMY reintroduced the Zoids line in Japan. The relaunched Japanese line, now entitled Zoids was a success, running from 1983 until 1990. The Zoids line had its own story that was told on the backs of the model boxes and in catalogues, known as the Battle Story.
Initially, the Zoids were divided into two distinct factions, the Helic Republic and the Zenebas Empire. In 1989, the Zenebas Empire was replaced with the Guylos Empire.
The Original Japanese Release is commonly abbreviated as OJR.
Original European Release
Zoids were also released in Europe, (and to a limited extent in Australia and South-East Asia), from 1984 to 1987 by TOMY. The models in this release were a mixture of ones directly ported over from the OJR, as well as recoloured Zoids, including the rare Ghost Zoids line. Additionally, the Tank and Serpent Power Zoids from the OAR were released. Most of the Zoids in the line were renamed.
The Zoids in the release were divided into two distinct factions, the Blue Zoids and the Red Mutants. The line had its own story, told in the UK Zoids comic.
The Original European Release is commonly abbreviated as OER.
Robo Strux were released in the US and Canada by TOMY, in 1985-86. All the Zoids in the line were OJR Zoids, however, some versions of the same model retained their original (OJR) color scheme, whereas other versions of the same model received a distinctive Robo Strux color scheme. Thus, the Robo Strux line had two differently colored releases of several models. Based on their color schemes, the Zoids were divided into two factions, the Blue Guardians and the Red Mutants. However, there was no accompanying story or media.
Due to the lack of marketing and the relatively high prices of the models, Robostrux was rather short-lived.
Robostrux is commonly abbreviated as RS.
1:24 Scale Zoids
In 1988, TOMY launched a sub-line of the OJR, featuring larger-scale Zoids. The 1:24 line featured Zoids of similar size to existing ones, but scaled for larger pilots. Each kit came with a 3 inch tall action figure of the pilot. Like the regular Zoids line, the Zoids were divided into Helic and Zenebas factions.
The 1:24 Zoids were not a success, and discontinued after a year.
In 1990, TOMY re-released several of the 1:24 scale Zoids in a new line called Zevle. The Zoids were recoloured from the OJR versions, and came with detailed, fixed-pose pilot figures instead of the action figure ones of the OJR. Zevle featured its own "Battle Story" on the boxes, but was unrelated to the Zoids battle story.
Like the 1/24th Zoids, Zevle was a failure and quickly discontinued.
Kenner acquired the rights to release Zoids in North America, releasing the Technozoids line in 1995-1996. The Zoids in the line were all recolours of earlier Zoids released in the OJR, although some were directly imported from the Zoids2 line. There were no distinct factions for the Zoids, and no backstory was given.
The Technozoids line was a failure, lasting less than a year before being discontinued. A number of Zoids were left unreleased at the end of the line.
Technozoids is commonly abbreviated as TZ.
TOMY released another line of Zoids in the UK and Europe (with a re-release in Australia and South-East Asia) in 1996. The Zoids 2 line featured very bright colour schemes, with all the Zoids having at least some chromed parts. The Zoids also had unique stickers with odd swirling designs. The Zoids 2 line did not feature distinctive factions for the Zoids, but did have a backstory loosely based on (but not a continuation of) the UK Zoid comic, with the Zoids invading Earth and humanity's last hope being to turn the Zoids against each other.
Like Technozoids, Zoids 2 was quickly discontinued. A fire was reported to have broken out at the production plant around this time which may have had something to do with it.[verification needed]
Zoids 2 is commonly abbreviated as Z2.
New Japanese Release
In 1999, TOMY relaunched the Zoids line in Japan, with subsequent releases elsewhere in Asia. Initially, the line consisted of recoloured re-releases of older Zoids, but TOMY quickly began producing new Zoids designs. The Zoids were divided into Helic and Guylos factions, with the Zenebas Empire returning later. The OJR battle story was continued on the NJR boxes, with the Zoids Anime and Manga drawing on alternate versions of the New Battle Story's events.
The line was abruptly halted in mid 2004. By the end of the line, there were still thirty-three Zoids from the NJR that were yet to be re-released.
The New Japanese Release is commonly abbreviated as NJR.
Along with the re-launch of the Zoids line, TOMY also launched a sub-line known as Customise Parts or simply CP. The line consisted of additional weapons and equipment that could be added onto Zoids models. The line was a mixture of new parts and re-issues of parts originally included in various OJR models.
The Customise Parts line was abruptly halted in 2001.
In 2001, TOMY introduced a new sub-line of non-motorised Zoids called Blox, which featured flexible construction. Blox Zoids can be easily disassembled and combined with each other, as well as with regular Zoids.
Toys Dream Project
In 2004, Toys Dream Project began a line of limited Zoids releases. The line consisted of a mixture of new recolours of existing Zoids, as well as re-releases of older versions of some Zoids in their OJR colours, as well as some moulds that had not yet been re-released.
New American Release
Following the launch of the NJR, Hasbro licensed Zoids for release in North America and South-East Asia in 2001. Like the NJR, the line was divided into Republic and Empire factions, with the Anime providing the backstory. Initially, the Hasbro line consisted of just re-releases of Zoids from the NJR. However, they later began developing their own Zoid designs, as well as co-developing others with TOMY. Additionally, Hasbro had planned to re-release several OJR Zoids that had not been released in the NJR.
Although it was initially successful, Hasbro suspended the line in 2004, due to poor sales. The cancellation of the line left a number of Zoids unreleased, including most of those not yet re-released by TOMY. Much of the leftover stock was later released by Hasbro in Australia and the UK. The line is still, however, the largest and most successful non-Japanese Zoids line.
The New American Release is commonly abbreviated as NAR.
Any Blox Zoids that were released by Hasbro were sold as part of the sub-line known as Z-Builders. Most of the Z-Builders were re-releases of the NJR Blox sub-line, but the line included several Hasbro-designed Zoids, as well as individual releases of Blox Zoids that did not occur in Japan. The Z-Builders line was based on theZoids: Fuzors anime, and its cancellation is often attributed as a cause of the failure of the anime series in the United States.[verification needed]
New Pacific Release
In parallel to the NAR, TOMY began releasing Zoids in Australia and South-East Asia. The Zoids released by TOMY in these countries were identical to Hasbro's NJRZoids, but were TOMY branded and manufactured. While the line mirrored the NAR, a number of Zoids scheduled for release in the NAR only came out in this line. Similarly, a lot of Zoids released in the NAR were never released in the Pacific region. The line was effectively dead as of 2004, with leftover stock appearing on shelves throughout 2005.
The New Pacific Release also had a Z-Builders sub-line, identical to the NAR.
New English Release
In 2003, TOMY began releasing Zoids in the UK. Like the Pacific release, the Zoids were identical to Hasbro-released ones, save for the logos on the boxes. The UK release featured several Zoids designs and colour schemes that were not available in the NAR.
The line was cancelled in mid-2004, due to poor sales. This was largely due to very poor marketing, very high prices for Zoids and the Zoids anime never showing on terrestrial UK television.
The New English Release is commonly abbreviated as NER. It is sometimes referred to as the New European Release (despite never having been released outside of the UK).
In late 2004, TOMY launched a new Zoids line to tie into the Zoids: Fuzors anime that was then showing on Japanese TV. The line was composed entirely of recolours of older Blox and Zoids. Some models were altered slightly, or packaged with additional parts, mainly to allow different Zoids to connect (or "fuse"). The line also featured a number of Zoids that were previously only released in North America.
The line was abruptly halted in early 2005, with several items unreleased.
Fuzors is commonly abbreviated as FZ.
In early 2005, another new Zoid line was launched, to tie into the Zoids: Genesis anime. The line consists of a mixture of old designs, new designs and older designs with new parts. The line is most notable for the much-anticipated reissues of Houndsoldier and Gilvader)
Reactions to the line were mixed; the re-releases (which included several Zoids not previously re-released) were well received. The new designs have not done so well, having been plagued by quality control issues and production errors.
Genesis is commonly abbreviated as GZ. An alternate abbreviation, GB, is used for the Bio-Zoids released as part of this line.
Released in May 2006, the Neo-Blox are an improvement on the previous Blox line, primarily due to the greater range of poseability the 'Blox and peg' connection system has.
Two sublines have also been released. The first is the Legends Series, which features Zoids from previous releases, but redesigned to be the same size as the Neo-Blox Zoids, and modified to use the same connector system. The second are the Custom Blox; small Zoids that use more traditional Blox, and which can be combined together or to the larger Neo-Blox.
By the end of 2006, the main line appeared to be on hold, with Tomy instead focusing on the Legend Blox sub-line. With the cancellation of all unreleased Neo-Blox in early 2007, the line was effectively dead.
The Neo-Blox is abbreviated as either NBZ or NB. Alternate abbreviations are used for the Legends Series (LB) and the Custom Blox (CBZ).
High-end Master Model
Released in late 2006, the High-end Master Model line, commonly abbreviated HMM, is a joint effort between Tomy and Kotobukiya. The line consists of high-quality, highly detailed, poseable 1/72 scale model kits of existing Zoids.
Evo Drive Zoids
Miniature Zoids that are either wind-up or motorized. So far there are only two different molds, with four kits being released.
Original Japanese Reissues
Released in Summer 2007 onward, the OJR are reissues of the original model kits released in the 1980s. They feature the model kit in special windowed packaging along with bonus materials and a booklet with battlestory information, now including parts of the Rebirth Century story.
Zoids 25th: Rebirth Century
Starting in 2008 as part of the line's 25th anniversary, this new Zoids line contains both rereleases of 80s Zoids and entirely new designs. The backstory is set between the end of the original line and the start of the new Japanese release, covering the Zoidians' efforts to rebuild after the meteor disaster and the conflicts that come with it.
Zoids Anime 10th Anniversary
Starting in 2009, as a tribute to both the NJR Zoids Release and the Chaotic Century Anime series, the Anime 10th Anniversary is a limited line of correctly colored model kits based on those piloted by characters in the Anime series. It appears that they are being released at one Zoid per month.
Zoids are fictional mechanical life-forms, found on the planet Zi. A Zoid is essentially a mechanical animal formed around a techno-organic 'core' (known as a "Zoid Core"), which serves as its heart and mind. The Core is considered to be 'alive', making the Zoid a living creature. Otherwise, its body is an artificial mechanical construct like any other mecha.
Original Battle Story
Beginning fairly early after the start of the original Japanese Zoid releases, the battle story first introduced the conflict between two rival nations: the Helic Republic and Zenebas Empire. Their main weapons were Zoids, living war machines built from metal-based lifeforms native to planet Zi. The Zenebas Zoids were mostly red and silver and more armored, the Helic more skeletal and favoring blue and grey.
The line expanded and drew in fans, and was thus given a proper ongoing story, with the creators wanting to appeal to fans of science fiction and animation. The two nations' conflict turned into an ongoing series of stories included on the boxes and published in various magazines and books . History of Zoids, published in 1985, covered Zi's history as a planet wracked by natural disasters and conflict, King Helic's uniting the original tribes and formation of the Republic, the Empire's bitter splitting off after his son Helic II took over and the younger Zenebas was betrayed by the era's politicians, and much of the earlier battles in the resulting war over territory on the Central Continent. 
As more advanced model kits were added to the line, a human element was added to the story: mainly, a ship from Earth (the Globally 3) crashlanding on Zi. Earth technology made its way to both sides, accelerating the arms race and making for many stronger Zoids.
In 1986, the Ultrasaurus was released, and billed in-story as the machine that would defeat the Empire. It nearly succeeded, but Zenebas and his forces fled to the Dark Continent Nyx, soon returning with new-model Zoids like the Death Saurer. The Republic was driven back and forced to hold the Empire off with guerrilla warfare in the mountains, paving the way for the brief 1/24 scale line (notable for featuring the Battle Rover as the winner of a fan design contest ). The Republic's counterattack came in the form of the Mad Thunder, and as Zenebas again turned to the Dark Continent for help, he was betrayed by Guylos, whose new "Dark Army" Zoids  attacked and absorbed the Empire Army.
1989 thus marked a drastic change in the line's focus, the first catalogue even calling it "Zoids New Century" (a title unrelated to the anime series Zoids New Century /Zero). The more ambiguous conflict became more "good versus evil", with Guylos described as having a "merciless, cruel fighting style [...] beyond imagination" in Tomy's material , and Shogakukan's version of the battle story abandoning telling things from both sides to give only the viewpoint of a Republic soldier portrayed as a hero. There were no windup kits released after the Cannonfort in April of 1989, the toys instead focusing on "Gradeups", curvy techno-organic designs with vacuum metalized parts, build-it-yourself motor boxes, and interchangeable custom parts.
The line ended in the late months of 1990, King Gojulas and Descat marking the final designs. Battle story Zi came down to a final showdown between the nigh-unstoppable King Gojulas and various Dark Army Zoids (including Gilvader), only to have the conflict cut short as a comet struck Zi's third moon, raining down meteor destruction and leaving the entire planet in disarray. 
While the old battle story and the 1999 revival left nearly thirty years post meteor disaster undetailed, Tomy's Rebirth Century revival  (2008-present) picks up where the old story left off. After retelling the final battle with King Gojulas, it moves on to a Zi torn by magnetic storms and faction tensions, using it as a reason to rerelease both old kits (Gilvader and King Gojulas included ) and new designs.
New Battle Story
The Zoids revival in 1999 included both an anime  and a new battle story. After decades of peace, the current Emperor died, leaving only the young Rudolph as his heir. His regent, Prozen, took the opportunity to resume the conflict between the Guylos Empire and the Republic. Early on, both sides used their past Zoids, the model line focusing entirely on reissues of popular past kits. 
As technology advanced, entirely new designs were produced, the first being the Rev Raptor and Geno Saurer . Many of them were also tie ins to the Chaotic Century anime, including special pilot figures of characters who used them while the Zoids did different things in the battle story. The accelerating arms race came to a head with the Death Stinger, which proved an uncontrollable berserker and only served to further the Guylos Empire's gradual loss.
Their retreat to the Dark Continent was not as it seemed, and in 2004 (four years after the first anime series finished its run), Prozen was revealed to be Zenebas' son...and the current ruler of the Republic his daughter under the alias Louise Elena Camford. The entire war until now had been a ruse to weaken both nations, and in a bitter coup ending with his own death Prozen engineered the rise of Neo Zenebas. His son took over the reins, driving the Republic forces back to the Eastern Continent.
The toyline shifted to match, introducing the new posable "Blox" kits (first sold in 2002) as the creation of humans who had fled there to remain neutral in the original conflict. They sold their work to both sides during the Republic's bid to regain their homeland. The ensuing battles—and the battle story portion of the toyline—ended with the Republic reclaiming their capital, forcing the Zenebas Empire back to the western half of the Central Continent. 
Providing a glimpse into Zi's future and released in 2004 , the Three Tigers line consisted of all of six kits: three legendary Tiger-type Zoids (one formed via a combination of two separate kits) and the Dekalt Dragon (also a combination). It was very closely followed by the Fuzors line and its direct anime tiein (also in 2004), and featured a similar setting: Zoids are owned mainly by private citizens, with fightworthy ones restricted to peacekeeping forces and licensed sports battlers.
Two large Zoid manufacturing corporations, ZOITEC and Zi-Arms, became considerable powers on Zi. Discovering the cores of ancient tiger Zoids, they set out to create their own versions. Part of Zi-Arms proved to have an ulterior motive: seizing power and reviving the glory days of the Empire with the Dekalt Dragon, Brastle Tiger, and a Mega Death Saurer. The two ZOITEC Tigers (Whitz and Rayse) team up with a rebelling Brastle to stop the Saurer, however...and then vanish, the story booklet included with the Brastle Tiger kit describing them as "disappearing back into legend".
Anime plot summary
The four anime series pertaining to Zoids are: Zoids: Chaotic Century, Zoids: New Century Zero, Zoids: Fuzors, and Zoids: Genesis. All of these series take place on the planet Zi, and in all series the Zoids are metallic life-forms which are used by people as workers and weapons.
Main article: Zoids: Chaotic Century
Zoids: Chaotic Century follows a boy named Van Flyheight (romanised as Freiheit in the Japanese version); the series starts with him being chased by bandits into some old ruins, where he finds a girl named Fiona (Fine in the Japanese) and a small silver Zoid, which he names Zeke (Sieg), in old capsules. Zeke, who is later found to be an Organoid, helps Van and Fiona escape the bandits by reactivating a broken Shield Liger and helping Van pilot it out. As the series progresses, Van meets various opponents, such as Raven, and friends, like Moonbay and Irvine, and eventually ends up helping Fiona in her quest to regain her memory and to find the Zoid Eve.
Three to four years after the defeat of the Death Saurer, the second story arc, Zoids: Guardian Force, begins. Van has been training for the past few months under the direction of Colonel Kreuger in the Helic Republic Army. Because of several events and assumed terrorists arising, the Helic Republic and Guylos Empire form a joint military task force called the Guardian Force. Van soon meets up with Fiona, who has been searching for Zoid Eve along with Dr. D., a seemingly insane and childish genius. They set out to find Zoid Eve together again, and, along the way, meet up with both old and new friends and foes.
As well as the anime series, there was a Chaotic Century manga published in Japan. It was later reproduced in English in North America by Viz Communications, and in Singapore in English by Chuang Yi. There are significant differences between the anime and manga, becoming more striking in the later issues.
New Century Zero
Main article: Zoids: New Century Zero
Zoids: New Century Zero takes place several centuries after Guardian Force, where Zoid battles have become a tournament-based league. The main character is Bit Cloud, a junk dealer, who runs into the Blitz Team. As Bit interferes in a match with the Blitz Team he comes across the Liger Zero, a Zoid possessed by the Blitz Team which no one can pilot. Bit and Liger form a partnership and end up joining the Blitz Team in their various league matches. He is aided by his teammates, Leena Toros, Brad Hunter, Jamie Hemeros, as well as their leader, Dr. Steve Toros.
The Liger Zero is revealed to be a unique Zoid, an Ultimate X; it contains an "Integrated Organoid System", or "black box"—a self-supporting artificial intelligence program that allows the Liger Zero to learn and adapt on its own. Only special "chosen ones" can pilot an Ultimate X.
Along the way, Bit's unique Zoid gets the attention of the Backdraft Group, an organization who is trying to take over Zoid battles and make them more "interesting." The Backdraft attempts to acquire the Liger Zero by any means possible. They eventually unearth the Berserk Fury, a powerful Zoid that also contains an Integrated Organoid System.
During the Royal Cup, an event in which the top teams in the world fight one another for the honour of becoming a "Class-S" team, the Backdraft Group attempts an uprising against the Zoid Battle Commission (ZBC). But because of the ZBC's strength, the Backdraft was quickly destroyed.
New Century Zero has a number of animation cameos with Zoids from Chaotic Century and Guardian Force, which are the cause of much fan speculation but not explained. Moonbay's Gustav can be seen in the background in one of the later episodes, the Backdraft shoots judge satellites down with a Death Stinger tail, the three Geno Saurers that attack Berserk Fury, and the Ultrasaurus wreck on which Bit Cloud claims victory carries the Gravity Cannon on its side.
This was the first Zoids series to appear on American television, airing in Cartoon Network's Toonami block.
Main article: Zoids: Fuzors
Zoids: Fuzors follows the adventures of team Mach Storm and RD, a novice Liger Zero pilot. They live in the technologically advanced Blue City, competing in Zoid battles . When a top team is wiped out by a pair of Zoids able to combine, it leads to a series of discoveries relating to special "Fuzor" Zoids and combinations: RD's Liger Zero ends up partnered with the Fire Phoenix and later the Jet Falcon.
There's something more sinister lurking behind the sports battles and RD's rivalry with team Savage Hammer. As the series unfolds RD and his friends Helmut, Sigma, Hop, Sweet and Matt get caught up in a plot to take over the city. Eventually RD discovers the secret behind the mysterious "Alpha Zoid" and with the help of pilots from all over the city, defeats the Seismosaurus holding it under siege.
About half-way through the series, the show was removed from America's Cartoon Network, ending on a cliffhanger. This was most likely a result of flagging ratings and toy sales, although its timeslot didn't help matters. However, the full series aired in Australia and was later shown in Japan, getting full DVD releases in both countries.
UK Zoids Comics
Main article: Zoids (comics)
In the 1980s, a Zoids tie-in strip was published in the Marvel UK title Secret Wars. On the back of this, it gained its own weekly title, Spider-Man and Zoids. This story has no continuity with any Japanese anime (which didn't exist at the time) and it was created to go along with the original UK (and subsequently Australian) release of model kits. The comic is notable for featuring early work by Grant Morrison, including the epic and apocalyptic Black Zoid storyline.