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Western Animation / Space Racers

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Space Racers is a CGI show for young children about a group of young, personified spacecraft - Eagle, Hawk, Raven, Robyn, and Starling - who are all cadets at Stardust Bay Space Academy. Each episode sees the young spacecraft learning about exploring in space, with guidance and assistance from Headmaster Crane.

The show debuted on PBS Kids on May 2, 2014 (distributed by American Public Television, which means it can air on select PBS stations as well as non-PBS ones), and was announced in June 2016 to have been picked up for a second season, which premiered on October 31, 2016 on Sprout. Science and technology content is supplied for the series by NASA.

Space Racers contains examples of:

  • Animal Theme Naming: Most of the characters' names are based on birds.
  • Anti-Villain: Vulture's rap sheet includes an attempt to secretly manufacture extremely sugary soft drinks.
  • Background Music Override: The credits at the end of the episodes "Goodbye", "The Happiest Rocket in the World", and "Remember the Past, Discover the Future" had this.
    • "Goodbye" has a sad, acoustic version of the theme song.
    • "The Happiest Rocket in the World" has a wacky original song.
    • "Remember the Past, Discover the Future" features "Like Yesterday" by the edge rock band Eyeshine, used with permission.
  • Birthday Episode: The episode "When the Envy Bug Bites" had a plot point for Hawk's birthday, where he received a Captain Cosmos Collector's Set as a birthday present from his grandmother.
  • Character Catchphrase: Almost everyone had at least one. Some examples include:
    • Eagle says, "Za-za-zoom!" and "The Eagle has landed!"
    • Hawk says, "Breaking orbit!" and "Lug nuts!"
    • Starling saying "Hey guys!" and "Hey, wait for me!"
    • Headmaster Crane says at the beginning of a sentence, "As a wise rocket once said..."
  • Clip Show: The episode "Ships in a Bottle" had this when Eagle and Hawk were both locked in the storage room. They remember their blunders from 10 previous episodes until they find a way out. note  All 10 episodes mentioned were from Season 1.
    Hawk: Gotta clean up the school for the Rooster Rockets' big performance today! Oh. I can't wait to see 'em again!
    Eagle: Yeah, they're so awesome! Remember the last time they were in town?
    (clip from Total Eclipse plays)

    Hawk: ...Remember the time I was goofing around and broke the lunar elevator?
    (clip from Satellite Starling plays)

    Eagle: ...But you've gotten us stuck in a lot of places. Like that old abandoned space station.
    (clip from A Simple Re-Quest plays)

    Eagle: Or that cave? Remember that one?
    (clip from Mine, Mine, Mine! plays)

    Hawk: ...All-time worst mistake has gotta be when I was working as a fuel taste tester.
    (clip from Careering Off Course plays)

    Eagle: ...What about the time Robyn ignored our warnings and flew right into a hurricane?
    (clip from Space Racer Storm Chaser plays)

    Hawk: Or, remember when you put a mini-moon in orbit over the Earth? And all the trouble that that caused?
    (clip from Election plays)

    Eagle: ...We can, like the time we got lost on Mars with that bogus map. You remember what happened?
    (clip from Mars Map Mystery plays)

    Eagle: And what about the time we were cleaning up all that junk on Mars?
    (clip from Dome Grown plays)

    Eagle: How about when you thought the moon was made of cranberry rocket fuel?
    (clip from Cranberry Crater plays)

  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original 2011 web series Space Race had earlier models of Eagle, Robyn, Headmaster Crane, Vulture, Coach Pigeon, and Coot. As of 2014, only the trailer can be seen here, and the first episode can be seen here.
    • Characters from the original 2011 series never made it into the 2014 reboot, such as Sabia and Condor (unless they were introduced in the 3rd season if possible).
    • The characters' last names (Eagle Wingstrong, Robyn Egger, Vulture Albatross, Colonel Coot, and Pigeon Pirelli) were never mentioned in the 2014 reboot.
    • Coot and Crane were played by different voice actors in the 2011 web series.
    • Vulture had Coot as his sidekick in the 2011 web series, but Dodo was his sidekick in the 2014 reboot.
    • Also, the characters' new models were introduced in 2013, along with new characters for the 2014 reboot, such as Hawk, Raven, Dodo, Sandpiper, etc.
    • Nine of the Season 1 episodes animated by Genoma Animation (Where Are We?, Total Eclipse, Star Signs, Mars Canyon Race, Above and Beyond, Lunar Base Blackout, Sick Day, Trail Blazers, Dome Grown) never included Vulture and Dodo.
  • Hates Being Alone: At least one cadet was absent from a mission.
    • Eagle in "Sick Day", where he is sick for the entire episode, and "Three's a Crowd", where Hawk and Robyn go on a mission without Eagle knowing.
    • Hawk had two injuries in two episodes. One in "Above and Beyond", where he ended up injuring his wing from an Orb-O match, and another in "Goodbye", where his booster rockets got damaged by an asteroid.
    • Robyn in "Robyn's Winter Break", where she injures her wing and ends up staying home for the entire break and episode.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: In "Above and Beyond", Starling said Eagle's catchphrase which Eagle didn't want to let her use. But seconds later thanks to Robyn, it resulted Eagle to allow Starling to use his catchphrase. However, Starling came up with her own version of Eagle's catchphrase. This doubles as a Borrowed Catchphrase.
  • How We Got Here: In the episode "Grounded", the cadets flash back what happened during a class trip to Venus before they ended up in Headmaster Crane's office.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A facsimile of Latios appears in one episode.
  • Locked in a Room: The episode "Ships in a Bottle" has Eagle and Hawk trapped inside the storage room for the most of the episode while remembering their past accidents and discoveries. The duo were freed from the storage room near the end of the episode, eventually.
  • My Little Phony: Starling is a fan of My Lunar Pony.
  • No Ending: This happens at the end of "Vulture's Statue", when another comet approaches Earth within 3 weeks, with the episode ending with Eagle, Hawk, Raven, and Robyn blasting off to space to stop the comet.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: At the end of every episode, just before the credits, there's a disclaimer that reads "Based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number: NX16AE29A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."
  • Pluto Is Expendable: Pluto is notably excluded from the cadets' maps and flight plans.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: The show was rated TV-Y when it premiered on PBS Kids and Universal Kids, as the show was originally intended to attract preschool audiences. In 2023, the show was re-rated TV-Y7 despite the content being very tame. This is likely because the series actually attracts both preschool and school-aged audiences. Amazon Prime and Tubi retain the TV-Y rating.
  • Save the Villain: In "Vulture's Volcano", Headmaster Crane saves Vulture and Dodo from a volcanic eruption.
  • Shout-Out: The water helmets in the episodes "Starling, D.S.V.", and "M is for Meteorite" look very similar to the head of DJ Yellow, a character who appeared in Rhythm Heaven in the rhythm game DJ School, which did not return in Rhythm Heaven Megamix.
  • Sick Episode: Eagle had one in "Sick Day". Coot got sick at the end.
  • Theme Naming: The spacecraft are all named after birds.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Female cadets Robyn and Starling.
  • Wink "Ding!": This happened a couple of times (including some endings of episodes). A "ding" was heard rarely.
    • There were two in "Election", one in the first few minutes, where Eagle winks at Starling while saying "The Eagle has landed!", and another at the end, where Eagle looks at Robyn and winks at her when he chose Robyn instead of himself to run as class president.
    • Coach Pigeon winks at Robyn at the end of the episode "Ace Space Reporter".
    • The episode "Robyn's Winter Break" ends with Robyn looking at the camera and winking at the audience.
    • Coot winks at the cadets at the end of "Asteroids, Platinum Edition".
    • Eagle gives Hawk a thumbs-up (or wings-up for spaceships) and winks at him in the middle of the episode "Dome Grown".
    • At the end of the episode "Starling Discovers the Moon", Starling's doll Mr. Rocket Baby winks with a twinkle in his eye when Starling fell asleep. This doubles as a Shout-Out to Barney (the dinosaur).
    • Eagle winks at Hawk while commenting after Hawk's paint color of himself was restored in "Paint Your Rocket".
    • Headmaster Crane winks at Eagle during his last line at the end of the episode "That'll Teach You!".
    • Later minutes of "Ships in a Bottle" had Eagle winking at Hawk once again after Hawk found a way for he and Eagle to get out of the storage room.
    Eagle: Hawky, you're a genius! If it works. Otherwise, you're just another goofy space cadet. (Eagle winks at Hawk while finishing his sentence) Like me.
  • You Mean "Xmas": The show's second winter holiday episode is about the winter solstice. Justified, since Space Racers is about astronomy, and the science behind the event is discussed.