Here is the review I did for Convention Scene.
TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE COMPLETE SERIES! Relive the Adventures of this Classic Animated TV series in One Complete Set featuring all 52 Action-Packed Episodes! Bring home this Collectible 8-DVD Set on March 11, 2014 from Shout! Factory.
Once again, I have found myself watching hours of Transformers cartoons. It’s not a bad gig, really. And it was interesting to watch a series that was much older than the last one I reviewed, making them two entirely different beasts. Here is the lowdown on the new DVD set:
“Brace yourself to relive some of the most astonishing TRANSFORMERS battles between the AUTOBOTS and the DECEPTICONS through the complete series release of TRANSFORMERS ARMADA. This is the unforgettable chapter of TRANSFORMERS lore and the first part of the rare UNICRON Trilogy–consisting of ARMADA, ENERGON, AND CYBERTRON. Valor, deception and unexpected twists unfolded in these captivating adventures, leading to an unlikely alliance between natural enemies in the face of a genuine evil known as UNICRON. Our heroes, the AUTOBOTS and their nemesis, the DECEPTICONS are at it again in this complete series of the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA. This series opens to a war between the two factions of TRANSFORMERS on their home planet of Cybertron over MINI-CONS, a race of smaller, power-enhancing TRANSFORMERS. This struggle will bring AUTOBOTS, DECEPTICONS and MINI-CONS to earth, where they continue to battle, even after two humans get involved. Through the course of this series, the TRANSFORMERS face mysterious mercenaries, mighty MINI-CON weapons and even time travel as they fight for control or freedom.”
The collection is neatly packaged in a fat box with flip trays that house the 8 DVDs, making storage much easier than some box sets. Unfortunately, though, for a “collectible” set, there are no booklets or inserts included. The set is also lacking any bonus features of any kind. I find that unfortunate, as I think it would have been a nice touch to explore and expand upon this particular incarnation of the Transformers. The lack of new information–a missed opportunity to educate younger viewers–makes me feel that this set serves no purpose other than to satisfy pure nostalgic cravings for those who may have watched this series growing up.
As I’ve said, I was a child when the Generation-1 series began. I’m sure if I went back and watched those episodes now–or any of the myriad other 1980s cartoon series I was obsessed with–I would find them antiquated. Living in a world where whole generations of people have never seen animation that was not CGI in some form, it’s hard to go back and watch older cartoons. I know 2002-2004 doesn’t sound old (that’s when Transformers Armada originally aired on Cartoon Network’s Toonami) but from a technological standpoint, that’s downright ancient! When I reviewed the Bumblebee episodes from the Transformers Prime series (air dates 2010-2013) I could actually see myself watching a show like that. Robots and CGI go hand in hand. Seeing them drawn in “old school” animation styles as compared to the nearly fully CGI series of late, makes the Transformers look….well…flat. I can’t imagine that a kid who has already been introduced to CGI Transformers is going to seek out these episodes. Unless, of course, that kid is a die hard fan and collector. However, the Armada series could be a great way to introduce the Transformers to younger children! Have them start on a series like this one and work their way forward to the more advanced in the series. And, of course, for those who watched Armada during its original run, this DVD collection will bring back a lot of memories–over 19 hours worth, to be exact!
During a number of the episodes, I thought my DVD program was experiencing a glitch. After a little research, I discovered the glitch wasn’t on my end, rather it was the series itself. Here’s a history lesson for you: Hasbro and Takara (their Japanese partner) intended to do a reboot of sorts for the Transformers in order to reintroduce the characters to a new audience. Due to some contractual issues and demands made by Cartoon Network, the American version of the Armada series was rushed through production. This caused a number of problems. Some of the scripts were incomplete and scenes had multiple types of animation, giving it a very schizophrenic feel. In some spots, the screen would go all black, but dialogue would continue. There were other dubbing issues, such as characters being called–repeatedly–by the wrong names and voices and animation sequences not lining up. Takara didn’t release their version in Japan until 6 months later, allowing them time to try and fix some of the errors. Personally, I only noticed a few dubbing issues and blackouts. There were a few spots that felt like “dead air” time where pauses between character’s actions were a tad longer than warranted. Given its infamous reputation, however, I think that anyone who knows the back story of the series will definitely want to own this collectible set, if for nothing more than kitsch value and comic relief. I will say, the animation does improve between disc 1 and disc 8, showing that they took a little more care as the series progressed. The animation becomes crisper with sharper colors and contrast, and the transitions become smoother, making viewing more enjoyable. Again, it’s interesting to watch if all you’ve seen is the newer CGI series. It’s a definite trip down memory lane that fans of the series will love!
“On March 11, 2014, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Hasbro Studios, will unleash TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE COMPLETE SERIES on home entertainment shelves everywhere. For the first time ever, the entire series is collected on one deluxe 8-DVD set, featuring all 52 memorable episodes. Whether reliving the childhood memory or discovering this series for the first time, this is an essential home collection for every fan, collectors and entire family to complete their TRANSFORMERS home entertainment library. This complete series 8-DVD set is priced to own at $44.99 [suggested retail price]“
Pre-order is available now at Amazon.
About Hasbro Studios:
Hasbro Studios is the Los Angeles-based entertainment division of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS). The studio is responsible for entertainment brand-driven storytelling for the company across television, film, commercial productions and short-form. It develops, produces and distributes TV shows based on Hasbro’s world class brands, including TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, LITTLEST PET SHOP, and FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Many of these shows air on the Hub Network, a U.S. television network for kids and their families, that is a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Hasbro Studios shows can also be seen on networks in more than 180 territories globally. Since its formation in 2009, the studio has received seven Daytime Emmy wins and 16 nominations. On the film side, the studio is developing and producing a number of features based on Hasbro’s brands, including TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount), G.I. Joe 3 (Paramount) and CANDY LAND (Sony). The studio team also oversees the production of commercials that feature Hasbro’s brands as well as production of short-form content that can be seen on all of the major digital and social media platforms globally.
About Shout! Factory:
Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blue-Ray offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music, and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY nominated “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California.