TFormers.com has reviewed Shout! Factory’s “Matrix of Leadership” DVD box set containing the entire 98-episode run of the original Transformers animated series, and includes images of the artwork and product as well as a detailed list of the content and bonus materials.
And in regards to how the audio/video quality compares with the original releases from Kids Rhino, TFormers says, “If you were hoping for any better video quality, don’t do it. The quality of the video is exact to the Rhino releases. However, the sound gaffes that Rhino left in have been pulled out of this run. No more random booms! Also, the audio has been updated to stereo sound from the original source, so goodbye mono!”
Further details about the audio/video for this release were discussed in a Q&A with DVD producer Brian Ward on ShoutFactory.com back in April which addressed all the major complaints fans had about the original Rhino releases, and the efforts Shout! was making to correct them:
– On the original masters:
Hasbro provided us with the same masters Rhino used for their releases. HOWEVER… There have been changes made. I, personally, went to New York, where the original broadcast one-inch masters are housed, and found each of the problem areas, in regards to animation.
The one-inch masters have not physically held up well over the years. In some cases, they’re nearly unwatchable. Therefore, instead of simply transferring and using masters of the one-inches, we found every instance of faulty animation demonstrated on a YouTube video or mentioned in a rundown we could find online (and even found some of our own) and corrected them, replacing the faulty digibeta master material with the best-quality one-inch source material.
Finally, we color corrected everything to match–as best we could–the shots before and after. Surprisingly, unless you know specifically what you’re looking for, you won’t even notice many of the instances of slightly softer picture. It looks REALLY good.
– On the promos/commercials included in the bonus features:
Hasbro never kept high-quality masters. They kept VHS screeners of their commercials, strictly for reference later. So when you say, “why couldn’t they get the original copies from Hasbro?”, we actually did. Still, there are some pretty cool commercials here and I’m looking forward to having them included.
– On the audio:
We chucked the Rhino audio. You will no longer hear additional sound effects or music, not previously heard in the broadcasts. We went back to the original source mono and created a nice stereo track to even out the audio. It sounds really nice.
– On why you won’t hear any of the voice actors providing episode commentary:
As much fun as it would be to listen to folks talk about the episodes, one thing I’ve learned over the years–and definitely over the last couple months–is that the voice actors know the least about the series.
It’s not a slight on them. It’s simply a fact that most of these guys (and girls) were voicing multiple characters on multiple shows at the same time and were so busy that they never even really got a chance to sit down and watch the shows themselves until much later.
And of course what will be of great interest to readers here is one of the exclusive extras for this box set: a documentary (filmed and edited in hi-def) featuring a TF G1 voice cast reunion, entitled “Headmasters: Voicing The Robots In Disguise.”
According to Shout! Factory’s official site for the release — TransformersCollectorsSet.com, the reunion includes video of a roundtable discussion between key members of the original voice cast: Jack Angel (Ramjet), Michael Bell (Prowl), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), Aurthur Burghardt (Devastator), Corey Burton (Spike Witwicky, Shockwave), Richard Gautier (Rodimus Prime), Neil Ross (Slag), and Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave, and several others).
And while it’s still disappointing that they couldn’t have involved other core cast members, such as Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime, Ironhide), Susan Blu (Arcee), and Dan Gilvezan (Bumbleee), or series voice director Wally Burr, Shout Factory is still worthy of props for bringing this great group of talented individuals together as a bonus feature for the fans. At a time when other studios and distributors are pushing Blu-Ray over DVD and cutting back on bonus content (or simply not bothering to produce any at all), Shout Factory’s efforts are commendable and I am appreciative of them for it.
TFormers doesn’t give the exact runtime for this feature, except to say that you should “allow 20-30 minutes for each documentary or interview,” and adds that it cast reunion is their “favorite extra” on the release.
The official site states that this release (which began shipping pre-orders today, July 13th) will be “sold while supplies last,” so if they happen to sell out, your alternative is to wait for the individual releases to reach stores. Season 1 released in June, but the next two releases to follow aren’t expected until September.
Rhino’s original releases, for all their faults and flaws, were still in high demand and difficult to come by due to limited stock and later when they all when out of print after Rhino lost the distribution rights. So I would highly encourage my fellow Transformers fans to order this magnificent box set while it is currently available.
(And to my wife, if you’re reading this, this is what I want for my birthday this Friday.)
Related post: 7.07.2009 — Optimus Prime Guests on Letterman.