Why is there so little SatAM animation art?
SatAM production art and animation cels are notoriously hard to come by. Why? SMS staffer, Elisto Dragonwings, may have found the answer. In her own words:
"Last year at Otakon, I bought the last SatAM cel available from the dealer Art-Toons. This year, I went back to talk to them and they told me how they got the cels and actually partially confirmed a rumor that I thought was made up.
A while ago, DiC emptied their vaults and sold a lot of their animation cels from many of their series. This I think most of us already knew. However, relatively few SatAM cels and backgrounds were sold before SEGA issued a cease and desist to DiC because SEGA was not getting any of the profits even though Sonic and the others are legally their characters.
So where are the rest of the cels, since they weren't still in the vault when Brian from Shout! Factory went looking for material for the box set? They're in Japan, taken back by SEGA, since technically it is theirs. The rumor I'd heard years ago was that SEGA took the cels to Japan to hide SatAM, but this is not true (not that it entirely made sense... after all, how would hiding the cels of an already-produced and aired TV show have any impact?) It was simply a copyright issue.
So presumably, the art does still exist, but right now, SEGA doesn't seem to have any plans to sell it off. I know the animation dealers would love to get their hands on it though, because they know we the fans do too.
However, some animators and writers, like Ben Hurst already had some production material themselves, so much of what's out there comes from them."