Sunday, March 23, 2014

DVD Review: TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)

Transformers: Armada - The Complete Series (2002-2003)
 1140 min 

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The Show

I am very much a product of the 1980s, and as such, I’ve always been aware of Transformers. From the old cartoon, to the toys that it was intended to sell (some of which I owned), the property’s presence was all around me while I was growing up. Yet, as far as I can recall, I was never really a devotee of the alien robot shape-shifters. It’s not that I didn’t think they were neat – as I said, I definitely owned some of the toys – I think I was just caught up in other things (like video games  and  cable channels with movies that I probably shouldn’t have been watching). Still, I understand how someone could get swept up into the phenomenon, and it’s obviously a property that has gone on to spawn a multi-billion dollar film franchise and several different reincarnations/spinoffs on television; one of which is the series TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA, which was recently released on DVD courtesy of one of my favorite home video companies, Shout! Factory.

The series is the kickoff of the Unicron Trilogy – which many fans consider to be the ultimate in Transformers’ many storylines – and the official plot synopsis reads as follows:
The fight between the valiant Autobots and treacherous Decepticons continues, but the fate of the war may lie in the hands of the small, power-enhancing Transformers known as Mini-Cons. With the aid of the Autobots, the Mini-Cons escape Cybertron, but their safety is short-lived after an attack cripples the ship and forces it to crash land in Earth’s solar system. Now, after millions of years in stasis, the Decepticons have been alerted to the Mini-Cons’ whereabouts and it’s up to the Autobots to protect them as well as all of humanity.
When the series showed up for review, I have to admit that I knew little about it. However, after spending many hours digging into the eight discs in the DVD set, I definitely understand why people were so happy when Shout! announced it. It really is a good example of the successful retooling of an older property that both kids and adults can enjoy. How do I know this? Well, I know this because my three-year-old son spent many mornings sitting on the couch with me watching it… And he loved every minute of it.

At first, I was just happy to have something to review that we could watch together. “Daddy, I want to watch The Robots!” became a regular phrase around my house.  I was happy to oblige because, hell, watching robots beat the crap out of each other is much more enjoyable to me than watching some episode of Blue’s Clues for the thirteenth time this month.  However, I soon found myself getting sucked in to the series’ engrossing story line. It wasn't long before I started asking him if we could watch “The Robots.”

I never imagined that a Transformers show could have so much heart to it. Maybe that’s a result of my disdain for the majority of entries in Michael Bay’s live-action film series. Regardless, it was a pleasant surprise, and while I’m not suddenly going to transform (horrible pun definitely intended) into a huge fanboy of the property, I definitely appreciate it a lot more than I ever thought I would. In fact, I am very much looking forward to catching up with the next two installments of the Unicron Trilogy when Shout! Factory releases them (I believe the Energon Series is coming this May).

Series Score



Shout! Factory brings TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA home on an 8-Disc DVD set. The set comes in a clear oversized case that houses the multiple DVDs nicely. This initial release also comes with a slipcover featuring some nice series-related design work. 

Video Quality (4/5)

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA looks great on DVD. The animation is top-notch, and while it would no doubt look better in HD, Shout! has given the series their usual care here. Upscaled on my Blu-ray player to 1080p, the image is consistently pleasing.

Audio Quality (4/5)

The disc features a standard Dolby Digital track. Lows are nicely represented, and for an animated TV show of its time, I think the presentation here is likely the best it has ever sounded.

Extra Features (N/A)

There are no extras on the set, but with nearly 20 hours of content, this is not an issue.

Final Thoughts

I have sung the praises of Shout! (and Scream) Factory here many times. The company consistently does quality work in bringing a lot of great TV shows and films to home video, and they always treat their releases with the utmost care (their FREAKS & GEEKS set is simply amazing). TRANSFORMER: ARMADA is no exception. Though the set has no real extras to speak of, it looks and sounds great, and I can't wait for the next installment of the trilogy. Definitely recommended for fans of the series and newbies alike.


DVD Score


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