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Transformers Armada - Season 1 Part 1

Warner Music // Unrated // November 9, 2004
List Price: $49.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeff Paramchuk | posted January 27, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

How could any male who grew up in the 1980s not love the Transformers; Giant robots from another planet who fight one another, and to top it off they can change form to suit their needs, ranging from the humanoid form to a tractor trailer or even a boom-box! But that was back then.

To try and bring Transformers back into the limelight would either severely taint the memories of thousands of fans, or it could possibly create a new found fascination with these enormous robots in disguise. What was attempted here with Transformers Armada is the latter; create a new mythology but use some of the same design as Transformers Generation one, and even use some of the same character names but roll it up into an unique story.

The premise for Transformers Armada is an uncomplicated one; Eons ago, a mysterious ship crashed on Earth and scattered a race of smaller transformers called Mini-Cons. The Mini-Cons are human sized transformers who are highly sought for their power, as they aid whoever finds them first. How they help varies as well, when the humans in Armada find the Mini-Cons, they turn into a high powered mode of transportation, but when an Autobot or Decepticon find the MC, they attach themselves to the founder and either boost weapon power, or add an entirely new weapon. Some Mini-Cons can also be combined together to form other super weapons as we learn as the season progresses. Naturally, since the Autobots and Decepticons are always fighting each other for domination, they both view the MCs as exceedingly important allies in their cause, and thus we have the story line for Transformers Armada which sounds really familiar…find and collect all the Mini-Cons!

As you might expect, this can be a little monotonous for the older crowd, so to help break the monotony we have some human characters to add some side story to the episodes. Not only side story, but also some nice morals and common sense to go along with it, such as saving the environment and teaching the benefit of working as a team instead of individuals. The core group of humans are three kids, Rad – the white kid from the burbs, Carlos – the stereotypically voiced Latino, and Alexis – the token female in the show. Personally, I don't find the inclusion of the humans worth while, I'd much rather see the show without the kids. I think a much better show could be made if it was all robots, all the time.

As a whole, I didn't find myself enjoying this season as much as I had hoped. I think the main reason for my dismay was (aside from the fact I'm about twenty years older thank the target market) the repetitiveness of it all, as each episode had the same main idea, just in a different location. However, I feel that the target market would really enjoy this, I mean what kid wouldn't love to see giant robots, shifting shape and firing lasers out of their fists?

The DVD set contains the first half of the first and only season of Transformers Armada, which equates to 26 episodes. However when the series first started, it was a 90 minute movie that first aired. The first three episodes are actually slightly edited portions of the TV movie. It's a little disappointing that it's been edited though, because it's obvious that some things had to be skipped out. The set is divided onto four discs, each in a thin plastic case then all are contained in a cardboard slipcover similar to the other Transformer season sets that are currently available. Each disk lists the episodes contained within, along with a short synopsis on the back. The following episodes and original air date are as follows:

1. Movie First Encounter Aug 23, 2002
2. Movie Metamorphasis
3. Movie Base
4. Comrade Sept 21, 2002
5. Solider Sept 27, 2002
6. Jungle Oct 4, 2002
7. Carnival Oct 11, 2002
8. Palace Oct 18, 2002
9. Confrontation Oct 25, 2002
10. Underground Nov 1, 2002
11. Ruin Nov 15, 2002
12. Prehistory Nov 22, 2002
13. Swoop Nov 29, 2002
14. Overmatch Dec 13, 2002
15. Gale Dec 20, 2002
16. Credulous Dec 27, 2002
17. Conspiracy Jan 10, 2002
18. Trust Jan 17, 2002
19. Vacation Jan 22, 2002
20. Reinforcement Jan 23, 2002
21. Decisive Battle Jan 24, 2002
22. Vow Jan 27, 2002
23. Rebellion Jan 28, 2002
24. Chase Jan 29, 2002
25. Tactician Jan 30, 2002
26. Link Up Jan 31, 2002

How's it look:

Transformers Armada is presented in its originally aired full screen format. While throughout the season the colors are quite sharp and bright, I can't say as much for the actual animation. The initial episodes looked of quite high quality, the transformers themselves all had a nice robotic shine to them, and small details were apparent like dust from footprints, and twitches in faces. But as the season moved forward, the animation quality dropped ever so slightly as the episodes past. Characters began to look different, the metal of the robots didn't glisten in the sun, and even the character models looks different such as the head of Megatron, it changed size all the time.

The transfers were nice and crisp however, as the source material is in good shape, so the DVD set looks quite nice throughout.

How's it sound:

All episodes played in two channel stereo sound, no remix into surround was done. The quality of most voices was quite high, with some Transformer veterans reprising their roles from earlier transformer series.

The music, although fitting, was suspect. A bad mix of metal and techno (Mechno) that does fit the theme, while not as good as the old Thundercats theme as far as guitar work, it did fit here. Of course the classic guitar riffs from the first generation made it back in this incarnation and are as catchy as ever, you know how it goes.



Closing Thoughts:

Now this is a much better collection for Transformer fans than the smaller episode packs that were released recently, but does it make it that much better of a deal? As mentioned earlier, the target audience would more than likely really enjoy seeing something like this, but realistically someone who is that age wouldn't really care about seeing the entire season (or part of it in this case) sitting on the shelf next to other DVD sets. On the other hand, I can't really recommend this set to the adult collector who is looking to try and revisit some memories of the first generation Transformers, because you'll be disappointed. As a DVD set, it's got what it needs: a decent transfer, adequate sound quality, and the majority of the season in one spot. But it's really lacking on the extra content, as there is absolutely none. While not worth skipping completely, it's not really worth the purchase in my opinion, and thereby gets the suggestion of a rental.
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