Going Retro23 Jul, 2009 By: John Latchem
Shout! Factory is bringing complete-series DVD sets of classic 1980s cartoons “G.I. Joe” and “The Transformers” directly to the fans.
“There’s a distinct difference in quality between these and other cartoons, which don’t hold up as well,” says DVD producer Brian Ward.
Fans can go online to order each set, with free shipping and handling, or pick up copies at the Shout! Factory booth at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International. The 16-DVD Transformers: 25th anniversary Matrix of Leadership Edition Collector’s Set is available for $140 at www.transformerscollectorsset.com. The 17-DVD G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero — The Complete Series Collector’s Set is available for $145 at www.gijoecollectorsset.com. Shipping is included with the price of each set. Fans who buy the sets at Comic-Con will receive an exclusive lithograph.
Ward says his primary task on the “Transformers” set was correcting minor animation defects that appeared on DVDs previously released years ago by Rhino, mistakes which caused some fan backlash.
“The Rhino masters were very good,” Ward said. “So I took those, and we found the original broadcast masters. So we went through the Rhino versions and put the correct animation in.”
Ward also restored the original broadcast audio, and used it to create a new stereo track.
The “Transformers” complete-series set comes in boxes styled after the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, and includes a collectible 60-page book, Autobot and Decepticon magnets, and two exclusive bonus features, Ward says. One is a conversation with writer Bob Budiansky, who created much of the “Transformers” mythology for the comic book. The other is a roundtable discussion with eight original members of the voice cast, including Frank Welker (Megatron).
“We found as many people to talk about the creation of the TV series,” Ward says. “It’s very clear they love the series, even today.”
Other extras include content available with the season sets, such as featurettes about the origins of the Transformers, the creation of the TV series and the original toy commercials; printable scripts and rare PSAs that never aired in America.
For the “G.I. Joe” boxed set, Ward says he didn’t have to clean the episodes as much. But he did restore some edits made for the Rhino releases and added the correct opening title sequence to the first-season episodes.
The “G.I. Joe” set comes in a foot-locker case and includes a booklet (with introduction by Seth Green), temporary tatoos and a 2GB “dog tag” flash drive containing digital "Silent Interlude" comic books. The set includes only the two seasons created by Sunbow Productions, which leads to the animated movie. The set doesn’t include the DIC animated series that followed-up the movie.
Extras include the famous “Knowing is half the battle” PSAs, classic toy commercials and several featurettes, including a look into how the marketing efforts for the toys evolved into the animated series.
Exclusive to the “G.I. Joe” complete-series set will be a reunion of eight cast members and a conversation with Larry Hama, who crafted much of the “G.I. Joe” lore in the action figure biographies and the comic book.
For those looking to collect the individual season sets, Ward says Shout! Factory’s release strategy will differ from Rhino’s, with three first-season volumes, which include the original miniseries, and a single volume for the second season to complete the series.
Rhino had a separate release for the original miniseries, two first-season volumes, and had released the first half of the second season before losing the DVD license.
Neither boxed set includes each franchise’s respective animated movie. Ward says Shout! Factory also is preparing a future release of the “G.I. Joe” animated movie but is not putting it out at this time to avoid confusion with the upcoming live-action movie. However, Ward says the “G.I. Joe” boxed set has an empty slot designed to hold the movie DVD.