Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Action > Robots > Science Fiction > Toys > Transformers: The Complete First Season – 25th Anniversary Edition + G.I. Joe – Season 1.1 (Animation/Shout! Factory DVD Sets)

Transformers: The Complete First Season – 25th Anniversary Edition + G.I. Joe – Season 1.1 (Animation/Shout! Factory DVD Sets)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B



Two of the greatest animated series from the 1980’s finally return to DVD with better picture quality, better sound quality, better extras, and finally a price once again that we can all afford.  After years of sitting on the vault shelves both Transformers the original animated series and G.I. Joe return in all their glory.  There is no disguising how great these series were; surly a bit campy and crudely animated AT TIMES, but overall a wonderful viewing experience that still holds up today.


With the great success of the recent Michael Bay film series Shout! Factory would have been insane to not release Transformer: The Animated Series; especially in the wake of the 25th anniversary.  Transformers is one of the most successful animated series in television history; with its highly successful toy line, films, television series, and every other kind of merchandise the series was a creative cash cow from day one.  Some confusion is seen among the general public when the topic comes up; but truth be told, the Hasbro Toy Line of Transformers came before the animated series.  Once the FCC lifted the ban that prohibited companies from airing animated series based on products the cascade that would be Transformers hit with full force.  This especially became true after Marvel Comics released their own take on the series, which in turn lead to more merchandising, a 1986 animated film, and much, much more.  In the end everyone male (and maybe female) from 5-35 years old has some connection or memory of the colossal franchise that is still transforming today.


Transformers was never the deepest of concepts for an animated series, but for whatever reason it worked all too well.  The 1984 kicks off on the Transformers home planet of Cybertron 4 million years in the past where the Autobots (lead by Optimus Prime) protect their world from the deceitful Decepticons (lead by Megatron).  The ongoing battle seems to have no rhyme or reason, like a religious or land war, and has been going on forever.  Soon into the series the Transformers crash land on earth and awaken some time later; supposedly in modern day.  The battle between the Decepticons and Autobots resumes as (initially in a 3-Part pilot) they clash to obtain the energy required to return to their home planet (Cybertron).  The initial animated series lasted a fair bit (at 4 Seasons), but various spinoff series would follow later on to make the official Transformers catalog huge.  Besides the initial 3-Part Pilot the 1st Season consisted of 13 more great episodes and no other Transformers series quite accomplished the level of greatness that the original brought to the robotic table.


The 1985 Season of Transformers consisted of (as previously mentioned) a 3-Part opener and 13 additional episodes.  They are broken up with 8 episodes appearing on each disc and arranged are as follows:


  1. More than Meets the Eye, Part I
  2. More than Meets the Eye, Part II
  3. More than Meets the Eye, Part III
  4. Transport to Oblivion
  5. Roll for it
  6. Divide and Conquer
  7. Fire in the Sky
  8. S.O.S. Dinobots
  9. Fire on the Mountain
  10. War of the Dinobots
  11. The Ultimate Doom, Part I
  12. The Ultimate Doom, Part II
  13. The Ultimate Doom, Part III
  14. Countdown to Extinction
  15. A Plague of Insecticons
  16. Heavy Metal War


Besides the original pilot the other 3-Part Episode “The Ultimate Doom” stands out as a classic; as does the season closer “Heavy Metal War.”  Both of those episodes just had that something extra that made the short 16 episode season classic.  Granted the television series was directed at small children and selling toys (having little true depth), but somehow (before the storylines got too diluted) it had a great sense of self, entertainment, and action like no other series at the time had.  A classic 1980’s animated series for sure; that will always be on this reviewer’s top rated list.


Got to get tough? Then go Joe!  For the first time on DVD since 2004 G.I. Joe: Season 1.1 (or Season 1- Volume 1) returns in all of its glory to kick butt and take names later.  The series that (like its Transformers counterpart) was made highly successful due to its link with a popular toy line.  G.I. Joe toys had been around for years (since the 12inch “action figure” line was launched in 1964 by Hasbro), but it was a new television series (along with new hard plastic 3&3/4inch action figures) that took the classic creations to a whole new level.  The animated G.I. Joe television series ran for 2 Seasons between 1985-1987; starting out as a 5-Part miniseries.  All 3 original 5-Part miniseries are included in this set; which are A Real American Hero (or The MASS Device), The Revenge of Cobra, and The Pyramid of Darkness.  Collectively the three 5-Part miniseries account for 15 of the 22 episodes (those are on discs 1-3) and disc-4 contains 7 additional episodes from the 1985 G.I. Joe season.  The seven episodes featured are Countdown for Zartan, Red Rockets Glare, Satellite Down, Cobra Stops the World, Jungle Trap, Cobra’s Creatures, and The Funhouse.  The miniseries are totally self contained and have great story arches; whereas the individual episodes are also self contained with gripping action and fun battles full of infiltrating and smashing.


The technical features of both Transformers and G.I. Joe are pretty much the same as they look good (especially compared to other 1980’s series), but are by no means at their best.  It is completely evident that Shout! Factory went above and beyond to ensure that both series were presented in the manner in which they should appear.  After a great number of inconsistencies appearing in the form of color mishaps and video discrepancies on previous releases Shout! Factory was taking no chances upsetting fans this time.  The video and sound (whereas not perfect) are astoundingly better than they were on the older sets.  The video is presented in a clean and clear 1.33 X 1 full screen as it was originally aired.  The image has solid colors and better blacks, but dirt and debris still bring down the picture’s quality and fans will notice it.  The sound is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Mix that gets the job done on both sets; as nothing is fancy but everything can be heard clearly without any additional noise to much things up.


Each set has a number of extras.


Transformers includes a featurette entitles “Triple Changer: From Toy to Comic to Screen” that discusses for approximately 20minutes how the series evolved into the pop-culture goliath it is today.  Executive Producers Tom Griffin & Joe Bacal stop by to give some input as well as a plethora of others (sadly the voice cast does not).  It is a nice featurette that allows us to look back at the evolving creative process as well as many promotional items and designs.  Also included is “Archival Hasbro Toy Commercials” which made this reviewer just gasp in amazement (though some faces are blurred) and a Bumblebee promotional spot entitled “Bumblebee: Running Away from Home” where he shows that there may be other ways in a mere 31 seconds (aaaawwww!).  Finally the 25th Anniversary Collection offers fans a chance to print out the Transport to Oblivion script with the DVD-Rom option.


G.I. Joe: Season 1.1 has a part of the “Looking Back with Ron Friedman” featurette on each disc (for a total of about 30minutes) in which the script/song writer divulges how he created such inspirational moments throughout the series and how he felt it was important to connect with both adults and children.  The fourth disc contains some of the cheesy (and often mocked) Public Service Announcements in which “Knowing is half the Battle” was the take home message.  Whereas the PSAs were as corny as heck, I am also certain that those TV moments saved or helped more than one child along the way.  The original 1963 G.I. Joe Toy Fair Presentation is also found on this set (lasting a total of 9minutes) and makes this reviewer shake with excitement as the surreal experience contains more nostalgia than most fan boys care to handle.  In the same vein as the 1963 Toy Fair the set also offers a couple 1980’s G.I Joe toy line commercials that focus on the first 12 GI Joes to be released as well as a GI Joe motorcycle; once again being salivating worthy.  The last extra is a printable script (once again via DVD-Rom) of the episode “Jungle Trap” that some fans may wish to print and reenact with their collection of toys; I kid (or do I?).


Overall, this reviewer highly recommends both sets and says run right out and get them.  The picture/sound have both greatly improved and we don’t want to miss out on having the rest of the seasons hit DVD shelves across the world.  Revealing robots in disguise and getting tough with Joe again was amazingly fun.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com