When TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA launched in the summer of 2002, I missed it completely. While aware of it’s existence, it was a different time in my life, and despite a love of TRANSFORMERS dating back to it’s launch here in the United States back in 1984, ARMADA and the rest of what would become known as “The Unicron Trilogy” mostly escaped me on television. I did, however play the 2004 Playstation 2 game that was based on the show. Eventually, I caught a few episodes in repeats, but have now caught up over a decade later with the new Shout! Factory release of TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA – THE COMPLETE SERIES.
This reasonably-priced box set (sent here for review) packs nearly 20 hours – 52 episodes – of TRANSFORMERS action onto eight DVDs. The series itself, despite some nods to the past, is far removed from the Generation 1 (G1) action that I tend to prefer.
A joint operation between Hasbro here in the ‘States and Takara in Japan, ARMADA settles into a visual style rooted in the Japanese Anime style that was so hot at the time of release. For me, I never dug the anime craze, and just couldn’t get into it at all (weird since I worked for the #1 seller of anime at the time – the now-defunct Musicland Group). Digging into ARMADA here at Rock Father HQ over the past month, it took me a few episodes to get past the “this looks like DRAGON BALL Z” thoughts in my head (I just dislike the anime/manga look overall) and just sink into the story, which was coupled with the fact that Optimus Prime was missing the iconic voice of Peter Cullen, portrayed instead by actor Garry Chalk, who would be Prime for the entire run.
Aesthetics aside, ARMADA reinvents the war between the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS, by adding a new faction called Mini-Cons into the mix, making them the object of battle, as both sides seek to control the Mini-Cons for the end goal of ultimate power. As with most TRANSFORMERS series’, the battle eventually spreads from Cybertron to Earth, where both sides clash, with humanity a crucial pawn. In the end, the mighty Unicron awakens, and thus “The Unicron Trilogy” finds it’s true beginning.
Overall, the series itself is enjoyable, but not at the top of my TRANSFORMERS list. It’s too long and misses that “classic” feel, yet it’s completely representative of where TRANSFORMERS was for the first half of the 2000s, something interesting and historically important as the franchise celebrates it’s 30th Anniversary this year. The DVD set looks good, and is nicely-packaged, as I’ve come to expect with Shout! Factory releases.
The Rock Father Rating: 3/5 Stars
Available now, along with other TRANSFORMERS releases, from (my affiliate) Amazon: