The Transformers The Complete Series

The Transformers The Complete Series
Despite the resurgence in interest from a new generation of children, The Transformers remains one of the most iconic pieces of pop culture from the '80s. But while it's remembered best as one of many kids' cartoons based on a popular toy, the shape-shifting robots stand out from contemporaries like G.I. Joe and He-Man for the bold decision to eliminate the bulk of the characters kids had watched for two seasons and shift the setting ahead 20 years. While ultimately the series floundered towards the end of its 98-episode run, as plots became increasingly preposterous, even for a cartoon about alien robots, it's those later episodes that stand the test of time better than the more iconic early ones. The demarcation point is easy to pinpoint ― the theatrical movie that was released in 1986 (sadly not included here) introduced a slew of new characters while killing off many old ones, including main rivals Optimus Prime and Megatron. The subsequent third season picked up where the film left off, upping the ante on all fronts. The improved animation (although still laughably poor), heavily influenced by Japanese anime, is immediately obvious. But the season took an incredibly dark turn for a children's cartoon, presenting war-ravaged planets populated by more violent foes. While the change created a backlash from kids and parents, and led Hasbro to rethink a similar move with G.I. Joe, the series would persevere and a truncated fourth season was produced. This 16-DVD set, housed in an oversized box shaped like the Matrix of Leadership, includes some generous bonus features, including short docs on the evolution of the toys from a divergent group of Japanese robots to North American phenomenon, the making of the animated series and a surprisingly interesting series of interviews with the voice actors. Of course, with nostalgia being the leading marketing tool for such a behemoth set, vintage toy commercials are also included. (Shout! Factory)