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“I hate that hedgehog!”

Of course there’s a Robotnik Day. He just declared it one minute ago! I have to thank YouTube for this one. Not for the first time, its recommendation algorithm is responsible for this post. You see, amongst all the cute cat, husky and Timothy Dalton videos, an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog appeared. At the time it was seen as a bit crap and, let me assure you, it is rather – and that might explain why only one series was made. It may also explain the cult following online. Needless to say, I loved the show as a youngster, getting up at stupid o’clock on Saturdays to watch it and collecting several of the video tapes and watching them repeatedly. You can understand why I had to click that recommendation and watch. It’s mindless silliness.

Naturally, the chief villain, Dr. Robotnik, was my favourite character for he was responsible for most of the laughs. Voiced by Long John Baldry and flanked by his two haplessly hopeless henchmen in Scratch (robot chicken) and Grounder (robot… erm?), it was hard not to side with them against a Sonic so cocky and obnoxious you were relieved he never spoke in the Mega Drive games.

Other than Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine – a surprisingly addictive puzzle game – this version of Robotnik never appeared in a video game, so I thought I’d have a go at converting him to pixel art. I did consider recreating some of the Mega Drive boss battles with him, but that didn’t turn out well, sadly. So, we just have some poses with some animation chucked in to make up for it. At the top, we have Robotnik’s frustration at Sonic foiling his latest scheme. Below was a bit of experimentation and perhaps a little tame for a super villain; maybe he’s waiting for his “metallic morons” to arrive.

How about a static pose for us to finish, ‘Botnik?

There we are. And once again I have to mention that his name is Robotnik and not “Eggman”. Thank you.

grounder-1cIt’s been quite some time since I did any vectors, and indeed as virtually all (if not totally all) of my past efforts with paths have been of a Sonic the Hedgehog bent, I thought to carry on the tradition and revisit surely one of the best villains in the entire franchise: Grounder. Such acclaim should not be taken as if Grounder is a calculating, monstrous beast. He isn’t. He is quite adorable though, don’t you think?

Although created by Robotnik in the very first episode of the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series – which I used to adore as a child, and would get up at six o’clock on Saturday mornings to watch on Channel 4 – to work alongside fellow henchman, Scratch (a giant robot chicken, natch) the mid-90s cartoon series is not his debut. Grounder is actually inspired by a robot villain that appears in 1992’s Sonic 2, patrolling (and destroying) parts of the Aquatic Ruin Zone. The original Grounders were quite menacing in appearance – not nearly adorable or amusing.

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Grounder in Sonic 2, before he became cute.

What perhaps caps off Grounder’s affability is his ineptitude. Built to supposedly be a super robot, Grounder is markedly slow-witted and gullible. A shame really, as he apparently has every weapon, tool and item conceivable inside that turquoise chassis, which he can brandish at will as the situation demands. He even has a telephone in his gut somewhere, which he can reach in and pick up to receive a bollocking from Robotnik when the latest scheme ends in utter failure with (the hugely, infuriatingly irritating) Sonic getting away unharmed.

This being said, there was one particular episode where Grounder mistakenly had a ‘genius chip’ inserted into his brain and, as you’d expect, became super smart, even overruling Robotnik himself. He spoke with uncharacteristic eloquence and kitted himself out in a monocle, mortar board and smoking jacket. This served only to make him more endearing. I believe he lost it clashing with Scratch, where even his genius couldn’t have predicted that he would come to help defeat Sonic.

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Grounder the Genius – surely one of the best characters ever created.

I feel the rest of Grounder’s involvement in any of the wafer-thin plots of these, by and large, pretty terrible cartoons could be summed up with ‘spectacular failure’. The good guys never go down. Loss and being somehow smashed to smithereens may have been a given, but the watchword of ‘The World’s Largest Paperweight’ was perseverance –  he never stopped trying, bless him. And have I mentioned he’s adorable?