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TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED SERIES / CARTOONS

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Scramble City

| Main Title | Scramble City (toys) |

“Scramble City”

Release Date: April, 1986 (Japan only)
Animation: Toei Studio

Synopsis: After a brief recap of the events of “Fight! Super Robot Life Transformer”, we are introduced to the Autobots’ current goings-on. They have begun construction of “Scramble City”, a massive city Transformer that can also transform into the powerhouse Metroplex. Megatron discovers a suspicious amount of energy waves emanating from where the Autobots are building Metroplex and orders Soundwave to send his cassette troops to investigate. Blaster attempts to fight the Decepticons off with his own new cassette force, but Ratbat manages to slip by and discovers Scramble City.

Not wishing for the Autobots to complete their new battle fortress, Megatron sends Starscream, the Seekers and the Constructicons to tear it up. Optimus Prime rallies a group of Autobots to oppose them but they are quickly overpowered by Devastator. Ultra Magnus deploys the Aerialbots as back-up who send the Decepticons into a hasty retreat. Megatron is not pleased and sends the Stunticons in to clean-up Starscream’s mess. The Autobots clash with the Stunticons who are quickly defeated once the Aerialbots form Superion. The Stunticons counter by combining into Menasor. The two combiners go at it, showing off their new combination technology, Scramble Power: the ability to swap limbs in order to maximize strength, power and skill at the most opportune times. Superion is doing alright until, during a Scramble Power swap, Menasor launches Wildrider who latches onto Superion’s leg instead of Fireflight and immobilizes the massive Autobot.

Optimus shoots Wildrider off of Superion’s leg and Fireflight moves in. Superion counters but is quickly caught off guard by the sudden arrival of the Combaticons. The Combaticons immediately combine into Bruticus and gang up on the out-matched Autobots. Finally complete, Ultra Magnus deploys Scramble City into action in mobile fortress mode. The Protectobots arrive first and combine into Defensor but before they can save the day, that glory hound Metroplex arrives and sends the Decepticons packing. Prime and Magnus shake hands over a job well done and then holy crap, Trypticon rises from the ocean and everyone freaks! The End. No, really.

Notes: The opening sequence for this OVA was brand new (to the Japanese), featuring animation from the second US opening combined with episode clips. It took 20 years for this OVA to be released in the United States, via a special feature on Sony’s 20th Anniversary Transformers the Movie DVD. However, the audio track didn’t make it across the ocean, resulting in the OVA being “talked over” with fan commentary. No sequel to “Scramble City” was ever produced, leaving the story rather unresolved. A remake was made shortly afterward, featuring the actual toys via stop-motion animation. The only notable difference between the two is that Scramble City-Toys introduced Galvatron. It was revealed in the “Fight! Super Robot Life Transformer” manga that Trypticon was constructed using information stolen from the then-under-construction Metroplex.

Errors: The animators at Toei could not for the life of them keep straight what limbs on Menasor went where. During his fight with Superion his limbs are switching back and forth at random, and trust me, it is NOT Scramble Power.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Ultra Magnus (first Japan appearance), Grapple, Bumblebee, Streetwise, Blades, First Aid, Groove, Hot Spot, Megatron, Soundwave, Ravage, Ratbat (first Japan appearance), Laserbeak, Blaster, Steeljaw (first Japan appearance), Ramhorn (first Japan appearance), Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Mixmaster, Bonecrusher, Longhaul, Hook, Scrapper, Scavenger, Optimus Prime, Jazz, Tracks, Warpath, Smokescreen, Ironhide, Devastator, Silverbolt, Air Raid, Fireflight, Slingshot, Skydive, Motormaster, Drag Strip, Dead End, Wildrider, Breakdown, Superion, Menasor, Vortex, Blast Off, Onslaught, Swindle, Brawl, Bruticus, Defensor, Trypticon (first Japan appearance).

Notable Others: Spike, Carly, Chip, Sparkplug.

Review: Wow, for something that introduces so many new characters it really is entirely skippable. I mean, most American Transformers fans didn’t even know this “lost episode” existed until decades after the fact, and they didn’t miss a beat. The entire OVA is shamelessly empty in the story department and is more an animated toy commercial than even the worst episodes of the American series. On the bright side, save for that Menasor limb insanity, the animation is really good. Not on par with Toei’s work on the Movie, but if it had been a TV episode it would’ve been the prettiest. Trypticon’s arrival at the end was an alright cliffhanger, though it goes totally unresolved. Still, I mean, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what happened next. Metroplex *always* wins. Hell, in an issue of the manga, his hologram beat Trypticon. I’m not too worried about the outcome. As far as “bridging the gap between season 2 and the movie” goes, I guess it sort of does that. It features the last appearances of Chip and Sparkplug, the introduction of Autobot City, Ultra Magnus and a few others, but it’s nothing that terrific. Still, it might actually be a better note to end a season on than “B.O.T.”.

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“Scramble City (toys)”

Release Date: April 1986 (Japan only)
Animation: Toei Studio (animated segments only, obviously)

Synopsis: The narrator introduces us to the exciting world of the Transformers as well as the current state of combiner technology via stop motion toy footage of Devastator combining. Everything then switches to stock footage from “More than Meets the Eye part 1” as Optimus Prime instructs the Autobots during a role call to be careful about keeping Scramble City a secret. From the Decepticons temporary base of operations (via stock footage from “A Prime Problem”), Megatron orders Soundwave to eject Laserbeak.

Laserbeak deploys and everything gets “real” again as he swoops through the desert and spies Metroplex. Using more stock footage from “More than Meets the Eye”, Laserbeak videotapes Metroplex and reports back to Megatron. At Autobot HQ, (footage from “The Immobilizer”), Hound reports that Laserbeak has discovered Scramble City. Things get “real” again, as Blaster deploys his new cassettes to guard the base. Optimus Prime deploys the Aerialbots into action as Megatron arrives accompanied by the Stunticons. The Aerialbots form Superion, the Stunticons form Menasor and both combiners “clash” (though they might be making out, it’s kind of hard to tell). Both start going crazy with the Scramble Power to maximize their skill, until Menasor deploys Wildrider who latches onto Superion’s leg and immobilizes him.

Via stock footage from “More than Meets the Eye part 1”, Optimus Prime orders Jazz to summon the Protectobots to battle. Back to “reality”, the Protectobots leave Scramble City to come fight. Not to be outdone, Awesome Stock Footage Megatron (also from “More than Meets the Eye part 1”) orders Soundwave to summon the Combaticons into action…LIVE action. The Combaticons and Protectobots arrive on the scene at the same time and combine to Defensor and Bruticus and then tag team with Superion and Menasor. The narrator tells us all their names *again* and the four toy super robots stare at each other. “More than Meets the Eye part 1” era Optimus Prime then decides not to take any chances and orders Scramble City to transform into mobile fortress mode and enter the fray/staring contest. Using state of the art stop-motion that would make Gumby blush, Scramble City transforms into fortress mode, arrives on the scene and then turns into Metroplex. Towering a staggering couple of inches over his enemies, everyone stares at Metroplex’s shoulders because their necks can’t swivel upward.

Just to make absolutely sure they win, a ball of light crashes through the sky (well, less “crashes through the sky” and more “floats around awkwardly on fishing line”) and heralds the arrival of Metroplex’s City Commander, Ultra Magnus. Now with 100% more stock footage from “More than Meets the Eye part 3”, Megatron gets ticked and orders his own City Commander to enter the skirmish: Galvatron! (Wait, what?) Back in reality, Galvatron arrives in the same fashion (floaty light thingy) and, in cannon mode, fires his crazy wriggly laserbeams at Ultra Magnus who is in vehicle mode. Magnus and Galvatron both transform and go at it. The battle finally kicks in full throttle as both factions clash in a massive all-out brawl. Well, I use the term “massive all-out brawl” loosely, as nobody moves yet everything around them completely explodes (abandoned minefield?). Then, without warning, the earth quakes and the battlefield cracks in two as the menacing Decepticon City, Trypticon, emerges from the ground with Real Motorized Walking Action!

The End.

Notes: This is a loose remake of the animated “Scramble City” OVA released around the same time. It was made using a combination of stop motion animation and clips from various episodes of the TV series. It does not recycle the audio track from the animated “Scramble City” and features an entirely new dub. This is not canon with Japanese continuity. I can’t stress this enough. Galvatron may technically make his first appearance here, but don’t take it too seriously. Outside of early TV Magazine artwork, this is the only piece of Japanese media where Galvatron is a separate character from Megatron. Also, neither Galvatron nor Ultra Magnus speak. After the OVA ends, the audience is treated to a painfully long segment where the narrator shows us each and every toy featured along with their individual prices.

Errors: My head hurts.

Transformers featured (in rough order of appearance): Scrapper, Hook, Bonecrusher, Mixmaster, Scavenger, Longhaul, Devastator, Optimus Prime, Prowl, Cliffjumper, Wheeljack, Mirage, Trailbreaker, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Jazz, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Hound, Megatron, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Metroplex, Huffer, Gears, Blaster, Steeljaw, Ramhorn, Silverbolt, Slingshot, Skydive, Air Raid, Fireflight, Motormaster, Wildrider, Dead End, Breakdown, Drag Strip, Superion, Menasor, Hot Spot, Blades, Groove, Streetwise, First Aid, Onslaught, Blast Off, Vortex, Swindle, Brawl, Defensor, Bruticus, Metroplex, Ultra Magnus, Thundercracker, Starscream, Skywarp, Galvatron (first Japan appearance), Trypticon.

Review: This is actually a thousand times more entertaining than the animated “Scramble City” OVA. I’m not entirely sure what the point of this was, or what kids would beg their parents to rent this thing for them, but it’s pretty awesome in an absolutely horrible kind of way. I’ll give them credit on the stop-motion segments, as they did pretty good with what they had. I mean, the G1 toys were essentially inarticulate bricks, so visually stunning action sequences were out of the question from the get-go. Galvatron’s arrival is a serious WTF moment if there was one. And seeing the Megatron toy in the background shaking his sword (yeah, sword) up and down and barking orders makes you scratch your head until you’re bald. The reality behind this is that Hasbro wanted to keep Galvatron’s identity a secret so it would be a surprise in the movie (just read his totally ambiguous tech spec bio). Takara apparently wasn’t let in on the secret. Still, this is entirely out of continuity, as in both the manga and the animated series, Galvatron is the reformatted version of Megatron. Anyhow, the entire OVA amounts to little more than a humrous footnote, so don’t go out of your way to find it or anything.

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| Season Two, Part 2 | Transformers Episode Guide | The Movie (1986) |

 
 
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