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Over six hours of yummy Transformers goodness!
on 5 January 2003
The considerable increase in quality Maverick have displayed with their compilation box set, "Transformers: The Complete Original Series Deluxe Edition," has upped the standard that they're going to have to attain in the future.
Three discs of the four-disc set collect all sixteen episodes of Transformers season one, previously released in three separate volumes as Maverick's "Original Series" set. While the original discs released the episodes out-of-order, this set organises them into their correct running order, and each of the discs contains an episode guide that gives viewers synopses. Mercifully, Maverick refrained from "restoring" the episodes like the American company, Rhino, did with their unrelated release of season one. While this does mean that Rhino's version has a superior picture quality, it also means that Maverick's version - which is still of a fine video quality and perfectly watchable - is blissfully devoid of bizarre reversed scenes and added footage that Rhino inserted into their episodes.
However, Maverick has apparently purchased Rhino's 5.1 audio track, which contains sound effects that Rhino themselves added, which sometimes feel out of place, and can be quite annoying when you know that they shouldn't be there. Though to be fair, a number of the sounds ARE quite cool.
And speaking of things that feel out of place, some episodes have the second season opening animation, rather than the first - a result of combining the new audio track with the alternate opening the episodes already had. Also, most of the credits are text-less, and some are even from season two - I wish Maverick had pasted in the correct sequences for both these. While it's totally unimportant for the episodes themselves, it would create a greater sense of unity within the box set.
It would take too long to go through all the episodes here, but suffice it to say that the quality fluctuates in both animation and story. "More Than Meets the Eye" is the quintessential Transformers story, while episodes such as "War of the Dinobots" and "Heavy Metal War" stand out as some of the best in the set. In contrast, "Roll For It" and "SOS Dinobots" are two of the weaker episodes, while the "Ultimate Doom" trilogy could have been a great story, had it not been spoiled by treating the mind-controlled humans as a more important story aspect than the destruction of Earth. That said, the episodes are still a great nostalgia trip for anyone looking to relive their wasted youth and a must for Transfans.
It is the extra features that are the real selling point, however. No features were included on any of the previous separate volumes, but the fourth disc of this set proves that Maverick have been sitting on a mountain of extras.
The first two extras are the set's "bonus episodes," "Five Faces of Darkness," Part One and "The Rebirth," Part One, both included primarily to advertise the fact that the complete FFoD and Rebirth miniseries were Maverick's next DVD releases. The episode guide on this disc also gives synopses for the other parts of FFoD and Rebirth.
But there is much more to be seen here, by going to the Special Features menu. First in line is "Character Profiles," which gives you data on important characters from season one.
Next we have "Bumpers and Adverts," a containing original commercial bumpers and television adverts for Transformers toys. Bumpers included are from season one, "Five Faces of Darkness," "The Rebirth," the "Generation 2" series, and the Japanese "Headmasters" series, all included either in accordance with the set's content, or previous Maverick DVD releases. Adverts, of which there are many, are for Pretenders, Micromasters, Actionmasters, and a large selection of Generation 2 toys, as well as a small number of Japanese ads for season one and two toys.
Next on the list is "Classic Quotes," where you can play a short video clips containing characters delivering famous and/or defining quotes. After that you'll want to check out the "Fan Art Gallery," a vast selection of pictures from Transformers fan artists, from the website, TheTransformers.Net.
Next is the Japanese trailer to "Transformers: The Movie" - actually a four minute promo reel used to advertise the movie to some countries before it was completed. It features additional scenes not used in the finished film, and is a rare piece of footage - a very welcome addition.
Another rare item is Sunbow's "Original Synopsis" card for the Transformers series, used to advertise it back during the 80's. You can view and read the card in a pre-set scrolling show. After that comes the "Transformers Trivia Quiz" - five questions that hardcore Transfans will have no problems with, decorated with the art of popular fan artist, Dan Khana, which, when all answered correctly, will unlock some bonus footage - but I'm not telling you what it is. ;)
Finally, there is the DVD Rom feature of this disc, the original episode scripts to all three parts of "More Than Meets the Eye," viewable through Adobe Acrobat Reader. Dated 1985, they are simple dialogue transcripts of the episodes, interestingly containing a few lines that didn't make it to the finished versions.
Maverick has redeemed itself beyond belief for its past flaws with this box set. Undoubtedly, though, fans who had bought all three previous volumes were annoyed when this set was released, given it's large number of extras, and it's price - *two thirds* of what it cost to buy the original three extra-free discs. I know I was, but I'm not sorry that I went on to obtain this set. I - and pretty much all other fans - hope that Maverick will release season two in a similar manner, though I'd pray that they will do away with the tedious process of releasing the weak individual discs, and move straight to box sets like these (or at the very least, release them simultaneously). With the number of episodes season two contains, that would undoubtedly be a smart move.