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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Space Opera > Puppets > Japanese TV > Star Fleet X Bomber - The Complete Series (aka Ekkusu Bonba/1980/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Four/4/PAL)

Star Fleet X Bomber - The Complete Series (aka Ekkusu Bonba/1980/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Four/4/PAL)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Episodes: C+



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region 4 PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



The team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson produced an amazing cycle of TV shows featuring two levels of advanced puppets know as SuperMarionation.  The commercial peak of the original shows with more obvious puppets was the amazingly successful Thunderbirds, but soon, Captain Scarlet introduced even more advanced variants that looked more like humans and what we now think of as action figures.  It was all downhill for me after Scarlet and the Andersons stopped making the shows.  Then two shows we might consider the “next stage” arrived in the early 1980s.


One was the Anderson’s collaboration with Jim Henson known as Terrahawks and the other is the less-known-in-the-U.S. hit Star Fleet X Bomber from 1980.  This was not made by The Andersons, but by a Japanese company who were convinced that with Scarlet-like puppets, a Star Wars-like TV show could be made for a relatively reasonable budget and the greenlight produced 24 half-hours and the show was a hit.  If the sets and most of the puppets had not burned down in a fire, there would have been more seasons.


Combining elements of Star Wars, Flash Gordon, SuperMarionation series, Ultraman, Shogun Warriors, Japanese Animé, Japanese Manga and the original Speed Racer, the show played like a Saturday Morning movie serial and pits the evil Doctor Benn against the loyal fighting members of Earth Defense Force led by Shiro Hagen.  From there, it is comedy scene, followed by a battle, followed by another scene and another battle.  Though not as good as what it imitates, it does it with such energy and amusement that it is a one-of-a-kind show that was ahead of the 1980s curve and seems like a newer show based on the content.


The great TV producer Michael Sloan wrote the English-language script that set up the show and the series was additionally lucky to land some great character actors to do the new voices including Peter Marinker, Garrick Hagon, Kevin Brennan, Jay Benedict, Constantine Gregory, Liza Ross, Mark Rolston, Denise Bryer, John Baddeley, Jacob Witkin and Sean Barrett.  They were having fun making this show over in English and the work shows it.


Yes, some of the effects look dated, but I liked the model work and though their version of SuperMarionation is not as good as Captain Scarlet, a few ways they make up for it is in the visual character they get into some of puppets, many of which will remind you of the darker side of Speed Racer in the best possible way.  I also thought it nostalgic for a time when everyone wanted to imitate Star Wars, a Star Wars that is lost to its various digitally overloaded makeovers and sequels.  The effects might remind one more of Galaxina or Laser Blast, but this shows’ ambitions are the number one thing that hold it together on what is coming up on its 30th Anniversary.  If you have never seen the show and especially like these kinds of productions, Star Fleet X Bomber is required viewing and this set is loaded with extras to boot.



The 1.33 x 1 image is soft throughout the set, likely older transfers of the original film material.  Though watchable, it reminded me of the older transfers on the now out-of-print BCI Eclipse editions of Ultraman.  When this happens in a pre-digital visual effects outer space production like this, it makes the models and other things look phonier than they were intended to be.  The case states that these are restored, but they need more work.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 English Mono is also a generation down and some harmonic distortion can be heard, but the original Japanese audio is not in this set.


Extras include a full color 56-page comic book in the case, plus all four DVD have extras.  Text synopsis are included on all shows, DVD 1 adds an overall series synopsis, background and English dubbing cast list, DVD 2 adds character and machine profiles, DVD 3 has a really good making of featurette where even Gerry Anderson himself is interviewed and we get the Music Video for Brian May of Queen’s solo vocal theme song to the show, then DVD 4 adds several still galleries, my favorite of which is of tie-in memorabilia.



For more on the SuperMarionation shows, try these links:


Supercar/Fireball XL-5/Secret Service









Captain Scarlet



Joe 90








As noted above, you can order this PAL DVD import exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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