The Day the Music Died – When the Classic ‘Mechs Became Unseen

How in the hell do you “unsee” something this freaking iconic?

In digging through my BattleTech archives I came across this gem – when we were told that ‘Mechs and vehicles were to be Unseen.  The day the music died for us as authors was June 5, 1995 when we got a cryptic letter explaining to us that we were not supposed to use these BattleMechs (and oddly enough the Galleon light tank) as images or in scenes that might appear on the cover of books.

Scan_20180318Scan_20180318 (2)

You have to bear in mind, back then, we had no idea what the artwork was going to be for books until it just showed up one day on a cover flat.  So using these ‘Mechs for key characters simply became a no-no for us.  That didn’t mean we couldn’t use these ‘Mechs, but not where they might end up on the cover.

Personally I thought that was more of FASA’s problem than it was our problem.  I remember calling Donna just to clarify.  She wouldn’t tell me much other than it was the result of a lawsuit and the letter pretty much told me everything.

I was bummed, and a little pissed off. Yes, we wrote about characters to tell our stories – but the BattleMechs were characters in the universe too.  Jamie Wolf piloted an Archer.  It was as iconic as the USS Enterprise was to Star Trek.  Having these classic images simply denied to us for main characters just felt like restrictions we didn’t need or desire.  Freaking censorship…

Believe me, I would have preferred the Archer Christifori pilot a Warhammer – but that was denied.  I knew he would have to be on the cover.

You can see that they also gave us an alternate list of ‘Mechs we could use, most of which I have ignored over the years.  A Flea – seriously?  You can see my notes (scribbled) on the Archer.  Really, an Apollo?  No way, Bombardier was the way to go.  I felt it was best to just follow my gut rather than their recommendations.  Treat this as, “Blaine does not follow orders well.”

I thought you fans out there might like to see this little tid bit.  While it offers nothing new or universe changing, it is interesting.


14 thoughts on “The Day the Music Died – When the Classic ‘Mechs Became Unseen

  1. Eric Johsnon

    Thanks for sharing, never understand their push to remove the mechs entirely, artwork sure, but the issues became bigger when we stopped seeing them in novels, which lead folks to state that they could no longer be used in the game at all and no one at FASA would state otherwise at first so folks to it as fact.

    Looking forward to your next book.

  2. fpilotbierce

    I’m glad you shared this history. I’m working on an unauthorized PREHISTORY of both Battletech and Robotech and this evidence improves my information considerably.

  3. William Christianson

    My question here is, how did the Marauder, Warhammer, Archer, and the Rifleman returned to Battletech via Piranha’s MechWarrior Online?

    1. angry

      Short version; there are sufficient cosmetic differences from the previous versions that Herniated Gallstones needs a new lawsuit to take them out

    2. Woolfe

      Not all Unseen’s are unseen. As I understand it the license for many has been acquired or the mech has been changed sufficiently to no longer inspire issue.

      However the specific Mechs you mentioned are the focus of a current legal fight occurring between the company who shall not be named, and PGI/HBS about exactly this issue.
      (Though the HBS inclusion is complete bollucks, presumably in order to pull Wiseman into the lawsuit)

      It is a long involved and convoluted tale.

      It is actually not looking great for the company who shall not be named, as several unrelated things have gone against them in the last few years, and these as it turns out have a direct bearing on the standing of the status of the IP ownership of the Unseens.

      Fingers Crossed!!!!

  4. Richard Conlan

    Mr. Pardoe, I just read your short story Rules of Engagement that went out to the Kickstarter backers. No unseen mentioned there out of maybe 10 Inner Sphere ‘mechs named. Just curious—is the above guidance still in effect, or is it just force of habit after all this time? Will we read about an Archer or Marauder in one of your upcoming works?

      1. Richard Conlan

        Thanks for the reply. I look forward to your next work. And if some unseen appear, so much the better!

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