A year ago, I posted a blog about the infamous Toon Makers video. I re-rendered it in HD, posted it on one of my YouTube accounts, and just left it there.
For those of you who don't know, let me catch you up.
Sailormoon is my favorite anime and manga series.
I am also a purist when it comes to comics, meaning that I despise any production that tries to "re-in-vision" a comic's original story. (Let's make Spider-Man EMO! Let's not and say we did. >_O) The Sailormoon anime that ran from 1992-1997 in Japan, the first TMNT cartoon and a few of the Batman series' are the ONLY things I will actually give any leeway to when it comes to story.
With that said, you can imagine my utter shock and horror upon seeing that in 1994, a company called Toon Makers/Toonmakers tried to re-make Sailormoon for an American audience.
That looks NOTHING like Sailor Moon at all!!! It's freaking SHE-RA!!!
I don't know what offended me more. Seeing my beloved characters completely re-designed into sexualized stereotypes, (Mercury would no longer be the "smart one in this, as she was degraded into being into parties and boys in this version, also, Sailor Venus in the Toon Makers script threatens to kill a man over makeup) seeing the plot completely ripped to shreds, no wait. I have what offends me most right here:
Yeah, for trying to be racially sensitive, they managed to draw probably the most racially insensitive thing imaginable. >_O
Now I've been chronicling the whole mess on Moon Sisters, and I recently added a new sub-page, devoted to this ungodly mess: Toon Makers Sailor Moon ~ The Saban Moon Never Seen! Why is it called Saban Moon when Saban had nothing to do with it? Simple. It looks like they would have done it. Worse? Three of the companies that helped Saban birth Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Renascence, BanDai and Toei) would have been a part of it, had it not been for the people at Toei Animation throwing the world's biggest conniption fit. (And thank God for it.)
But just to show you my own, personal Hell, here it is:
Now when I wrote that first blog, I didn't think anything of it. I had the entire back story of how it was made posted on a revised blog, and that was it. I just wanted to keep the history alive, and then run as fast as I could from it. I wound up putting a Sailormoon DVD on loop on the DVD player, just to wash this memory away.
But then came the news I dreaded hearing. Two words that shook me to my core.
Somewhere on VHS exists a full, 17 minute pilot. It has yet to surface, but I fear that day is coming quite soon.
Well if you took a gander at my website just now, you probably noticed an asinine number of Toon Makers Sailor Moon cels. GAH!?!?!
Now the cels are being sold by several, different eBay sellers. But almost all of them are coming from California.
The sellers all have armloads full of "NOT" Sailor Moon, as well as She-Ra, X-Men, Archie, BraveStarr and a whole catalog of other 80's-90's animation cels. ALL of them are drawn exactly the SAME.
This made me curious. Did Toon Makers die? Are they folding?
A visit to the Toon Makers website: Toon Makers Inc. didn't turn up anything new. In fact, the last site update was in 2008, and that was just to add a copyright date.
Their last known project is probably from 2003, but I can't actually verify that.
What I can verify is that they've done a great job of patting themselves on the back. Mostly for things they either did NOT do or should not be posting.
They falsely claim to have been behind the production team of two, very funny anime titles: Flint: Time Detective and Mon Collie Knights.
For the record, Sanrio created Flint, Enoki Films animated Flint, and Saban distributed it in the US. Toon Makers had zilch to do with Flint.
Mon Colle Knights was brought to us by Studio DEEN and Saban. Again, Toon Makers had NOTHING to do with Mondo, Rockna or anybody else on the show.
(By the way, if you can find them, let me know! I want the DVDs. ^_^)
Toon Makers also takes credit for a Darth Vader knock-off, called "Darth Vapor". Not exactly what I'd be advertising if I was my own company. If you scroll left to right on their page, you'll notice a few other designs that look suspicious.
But outside of a few cartoon ads that I can verify existing, I can't find anything they've legit done or finished after 2003. You know something's wrong when Google turns up empty handed. The only thing I got was their current contact information:
Rocky Solotoff On LinkedIn and on Facebook
17333 Ludlow St.
Granada Hills , CA 91344
Phone: (818) 832-8666
Their Toon Digital page has been shut down. The page would have been the hub for their CGI goods. The main "About" page has them touting work they claim to have done for FOX, including Fern Gully, the first Tom & Jerry movie, The Pagemaster and the top movies from Don Bluth. I've rented all of them and have read the credits. Toon Makers is 100% ABSENT from mention. Matter of fact, another film they take credit for (Fievel Goes West) is in my video cabinet. I've seen the film 22 times and still have the VHS box. Toon Makers is not mentioned.
This leads me to question if Toon Makers is a fraudulent company, save but for this one video. Outside of my other blog post, ALL mentions of them working on these films are solely on their About page. The credits they claim do not exist anywhere else but on their own website.
Founder Rocky Solotoff did work as one of the many "producers" for the FOX, Saban and Don Bluth projects, but not Toon Makers, as each of these films had their own stock of animators, editors and the like. There wouldn't have been a need for Toon Makers.
There is one Art and Design entry where they lifted a Power Ranger drawing, and then lied, claiming it to be their own "Gladiator" sketch, and then there's a blank Facebook page, and an article about home-made animation studios from Creative Planet with the date missing, but nothing more.
A post from Crunchyroll in 2009 proclaimed the company "defunct" which offers little in the ways of an explanation. There's no timetable for when this could have mercifully happened, and doesn't explain why the website is still up, there are LinkedIn accounts for the founder and one other person ~ both claiming that Toon Makers Inc. is still open for business ~ and it also does not explain why they are still listed by various art schools and business websites as viable, active portals for job-seekers.
(Though admittedly, most of these job listings are a farce, but that's another story.)
Most of the business sites just copy-paste from Toon Makers's page.
But in concurrence with Crunchyroll's story, Rocky Solotoff's Facebook states that we was there until 2010, though he pops up again in a 2011 article, linking to the Toon Makers page. Then recently in 2012, an article from Corporation Wiki proclaimed the company "active" in the state of California and Solotoff as it's owner.
But no sooner had the article been posted was the internet flooded with these lost cels.
So which is it? Is Toon Makers Inc. dead or alive?
Is this all just now coming out because a second anime is on the way?
I fear the answer to these and the location of that lost, 17 minute pilot are not that far behind...