I was watching Transformers: Armada the other day (*cringe*).
A show I have seen very little of.
It was a rainy sleepy day and I managed to watch ten episodes in a row.
Quite the achievement I’d say.
It’s not a good show, but then it’s not a bad show. Transformers Armada is a fine show for kids. The thing that really struck me about it is how old school the character designs are, and that to me is the thing that most appeals about the show and the toys.
The whole Unicron Trilogy era of shows and toys are not terribly popular these days and while the shows are a bit rubbish, I think most of the toys are fantastic.
They are big and chunky and made of super strong plastic like the later phase Generation One and Generation Two toys of my youth. But they have some improved articulation, being post Beast era toys.
However, compared to the ball jointed Beast Wars era toys from ‘Wars to ‘Neo the Armada toys are kind of bricks by comparison. Bricks with articulation, but still bricks none the less. The characters have some cool redesigns and new looks, like the ever *fabulous* and stylish Starscream here below. But the toys are like taking a step back a decade or so, and then bolting on a couple of modern features post surgery as an afterthought.
And I have to admit that is what I love about the Armada toys. Big strong clackety-clack ratchets that make you go a little bit deaf when you hear them. Satisfyingly chunky proportions and large alt modes for main cast / character toys. Toys that really felt like toys, that you could hurl at a wall in a hissy fit or bludgeon to death your enemies with – and they would still work just fine afterward, battle damage and all.
For me Tidalwave, Megatron and Starscream are the stand out toys in the line in their design, transformation and overall aesthetics. Overload, Demolishor and Jetfire are also great fun. And just look at the color clash and that practically nothing in the entire line has any kind of scale to it. It’s just mental sizes and proportions, but I love it’s technicolor madness and flipping the bird to any sort of coherency in the line.
They are such fun toys. But they are stark raving MAD, just look at them! It’s like Generation Two never ended.
Some of the modern Transformers toys are very pretty and poseable in comparison. But build wise they feel like delicate European Ballerinas, always just one chicken leg away from breaking something. They are not made of “Sterner Stuff”.
Another thing I love about Armada, it continues the very Japanese Super-Robot-Anime tradition of super modes for old Convoy Pants Prime himself.
The super mode for Armada Optimus Prime looks absolutely horrible to me, both in the show and the toy. But it’s still basically a cool toy in design and the play pattern. The toy is more centred around the base mode, and the super mode.
With the “action figure” aspect basically dropped as his legs are not just giant bricks, but bricks that have been built into an impenetrable wall of immobility (for the sake of his trailer gimmick). The little cute Prime on his own (the truck cab) can still move about, and is still somewhat an action figure – but his robot super mode is just a joke. Fine for kids to play with though. And a very strong robust toy that stands up to being played with. But pretty damn ugly to my eyes.
God do I hate the head on that thing. The grill pipe face bits nightmare. Sweet Primus! The super mode’s ugliness is somewhat hypnotizing, but it’s alt mode (which is also fugly) kind of entices you in with the option to have Jetfire on the trailer. It brings to Mind Star Convoy and his fun various combinations with others toys in the line. And Armada Prime’s Super-Pants Super-Modes are undeniably goofy with odd proportions, but it’s still a fun toy despite these issues.
I love that each of the Optimus Primes from the Armada / Energon / Cybertron toy lines and shows have a fun super mode, as well as the Robots in Disguise(2001) Prime, making them the most Super-Robot-Anime flavored Transformers shows that have ever existed in Transformers media. Yes yes Dear Nerdbot 2.0’s… I’m not forgetting the JG1 Trilogy of shows. Ginrai and Star Saber got there first, as did Star Convoy – but they were not the Proud American Optimus toys most of are familiar with, they are more like exotic foreign delicacies you might see once in your lifetime, rather than something you could accidentally find down at the local chain store on a lazy weekend out and about and buy on a whim for the price of a cheap meal, and ramble on to your mates about it afterward.
No doubt I’ll be watching more Transformers Armada this week. (Sweet Zombie Jesus WHY?)
I don’t love it. But I don’t hate it.
It’s part of my mad quest to watch every Transformers TV show ever made in a row. Well it’s a marathon but a slow one over a year or so. I’m thinking of doing diary style posts now and then of the various shows I’m watching. Now here’s a simply horrid Transformers Armada cartoon picture that’s been bizarrely stretched from 4:3 to widescreen on the Youtubes kids love these days to leave you with Phat Bot Nightmare Syndrome. UGH!
Get on a low Energon diet already Fatimus Prime.
Wait, that was Energon Prime’s nick name. What can we call this mucle bound beefcake one then? Roid Rage Prime? Why not, that’ll do.
*Scavenger and Armada Starscream art by DareFi
*Star Convoy Triple combination image from Brr Icy Blog
*Armada mainline toys group shot from TFW2005
*Animation screen capture of “Transformers Armada” from youtube
*Additional Armada toy photos courtesy of Seibertron Photo Galleries