Considering that the Transformers were created by taking a bunch of disparate Japanese toys with no connection – but kinda looked like they might belong together – and given unique identities and a backstory by a group of guys at Hasbro®, they’ve certainly managed to hold the public’s interest.
With the second Transformers movie about to hit theaters, here comes the 25th anniversary release of the first season of the [dare I say it?] iconic animated series that forever etched the phrases “robots in disguise” and “more than meets the eye” into the cultural consciousness. Sure, there are some really goofy concepts [Megatron, the Decepticon leader turns into a gun? That has to be fired by some other Decepticon? Really?], but it’s easy to see why the series – and the toys, for that matter – caught on in such a big way.
It’s the same kind of thing that works for us when it comes to characters like Bruce Banner aka The Incredible Hulk. Being able to change from thing to another is just cool – and Transformers has it all over the Hulk because the physical changes don’t change the personality. Optimus Prime is Optimus Prime whether he’s a big rig or a big robot. The sixteen first season eps of the series are, in many cases, somewhat expanded in this edition. Cuts were made and Shout!Factory has found the missing shots/scenes and edited them back into the series. That’s kind of cool, too. Of course, that won’t be noticed by anyone who hasn’t see the series before [like me], but hardcore fans will likely be aware of every second of the reconstructed footage.
What matters to me is that Transformers is not just a cartoon that’s constructed to sell toys – it’s also a lot of fun on its own terms. From the three part More Than Meets the Eye – which provides the origin and backstory for the whole Autobot/Decepticon war – to the season finale, Heavy Metal War, the show rockets along at an unexpectedly fast pace. The characters [at least the metallic ones] are interesting and the sheer scope of the concept [a civil war between two species of thinking, feeling robots from an alien planet] is never less than intriguing.
Features: Triple Changer: From Toy to Comic to Screen – The Origins of the Transformers; Archival Hasbro Transformers Commercials; A Transformers Public Service Announcement, and a Printable Script. Physical additions: Transformers Fridge Magnet and 12-Page Episode Guide.
Transformers – The Complete First Season – 25 Years: B+
Features – C+
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