Thursday, 1 January 2009

Transformers - Scramble City 2

As all good Transformer fans know (the bad ones don't get a look in nowadays) the Japanese didn't get Transformers as the Western world did. Instead of the movie there came to bridge the gap between the second and third seasons an Original Video Animation - Scramble City.

Using the theory of "Pay-For-This-30-Minute-Video,-Scum" they decided they'd make millions from selling it to little kids. Unfortunately all those Japanese were actually sane, and so there was only one Scramble City. Of course, since it ended in a cliffhanger, this could be seen as a problem... How would the world (well, Japan) find out how Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus would escape from Trypticon?

Nothing.. until Scramble City 2 was made. The original Scramble City showcased the combining teams (ie the Stunticons who merge into Menasor) as well as introducing characters such as Ultra "open dammit, open" Magnus who were otherwise introduced in the movie. But Scramble City 2 was... different...

Scramble City had a budget. Scramble City 2 had £1.50 and a half-eaten Mars Bar.

The Japanese animators were worried - they only had a few reels of stock footage that they could dub - how could they fill up the action... and where would they get the script? The second one was easy - instead of writing an original script as a sequel to the original, as the '2' in the title would casually hint at, they just copied the original

The first thing that's different about the Japanese cartoon is the music. Not for the Japs the bombastic Transformer theme, no, instead a woman sings loudly "ooooh WAKE UP dum de dum MYSTERIOUS MIND" over scenes of battle and carnage. Interesting... Oh yeah, and Powerglide is in the credits, thus pulling the production down no end.
We open on a landscape more insanely realistic than any my half-arsed efforts could create. They even afforded the right colours for the ground! But that planet overhead looks scarily close... Whoops, gravity alert! Dramatic music plays, and then the Constructions arrive… but wait, what's this...

Oh dear god, that's the answer to question number one. They've got no budget, so instead they raid their kid's toy boxes and nick their Transformers. And film themselves playing with them. For 15 minutes. Oh kill me now.
Luckily the Japanese find some footage of Prime pointing at things, so that's okay then. Probably he's pointing at Devastator... no, look at that. He points at all the Autobots, then is magically transported outside. The power of the finger, people...
But what are the Decepticons up to? Well, Megatron has a /plan/. He sends out Laserbeak to fly about and then spy on himself, so Megatron knows what Megatron is up to. Either fiendishly fiendish cunning, or else dodgy editing. I prefer cunning, myself.
Back at the Autobot camp, we're shown amazing 'new' footage not ripped from another episode, no-siree. In an attempt to convince the audience that this belongs to Scramble City, the script has been slightly... tweaked...

WHEELJACK: (Holding a weird device) Hmm, Scramble City...
CLIFFJUMPER: Scramble City?
IRONHIDE: Scramble City!
CLIFFJUMPER: Ahahahaha Scramble City
WHEELJACK: Shh - Scramble City

You think I'm making this up, don't you. Well, I'm not. Sadly.
Back to Prime... or at least cheaply animated toy Prime. And he's moving! His arms, at least since that's all he can move. Well he can kneel too, but this is U rated. And look, he commands the Arielbots to attack! Drama! Excitement! Toys held just out of camera shot! Whoever thought this is exciting needs to die slowly and horribly, but whatever the case they decide to sellotape two planes to the bottom of the camera and pan about the landscape for a few awe-inspiring hours.
Oh, it's Menasor! Although some cruel person seems to have stuck his arms on wires and is whizzing them about his head at a few miles an hour. Poor chap. And now Superion! And to think Transformers was dismissed as just being a toy advert!

And they fight! In my experience having had both these toys as a kid, the battle would end either when Menasaur topples off the sofa and breaks something, or both Superion's legs buckle backwards due to a design fault. Not here, however. The art of 'throwing one toy against another' is reproduced faithfully on the tv screen. Not exciting enough? Then this WAVY LINE will make it exciting!
To an exclamation of 'oh!' from the narrator, one of Superion's legs is swopped for one of Menasor's. This causes 'surges' in Superion's crotch, or so it appears. And so Defensor and Bruticus enter the fray! Oh no! Oh GOD! Zooming in and out of toys for 10 minutes does not make an action-adventure!

Suddenly a shadow falls over the combiners - it's Metroplex who is pretending to be in scale by being bigger. Gee, I hope Blaster doesn't stand next to him and embarrass him. Yes, that's Blaster, who in the cartoon cowers under Prime, but as a toy is shoulder to shoulder with Omega Supreme. Scale and playability - watchwords...
Oh goody - Ultra Magnus turns up - now hopefully he'll get everyone killed and thus end this abomination. But Megatron has found out about his presence, and is sending... well, can you guess?
Yup, he sends GALVATRON after Magnus. Yes, that's Galvatron, Megatron's future self. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just pick up the phone book and call your evil self from the future? Galvatron's tactics too are the 'lobbing yourself from a great distance at your enemy' one. Oh boy.
Then, of course (of course!) the ground cracks open and Trypticon emerges! Obviosuly since this toy has a motor and can walk by itself, the camera crew can leave it to get on with it while they have their coffee. For the next five minutes until the end, we're TREATED to' character profiles' of each toy (not an advert, not an advert...). So what happens next! Time.. for Scramble City 3!

Or not.

Ten things to do that are more enjoyable than Scramble City 2:

1 - Having your limbs sawn slowly off with a plastic comb, before having your bleeding torso dipped in honey and placed in a bee farm

2 - Becoming a member of a Parish Council and spending the rest of your life listening to old people moaning about the terrible state of today's youth, as well as being forced to read several-hundred-page documents written by the government designed to destroy freedom. But in a FUN way.

3 - Slicing open your wrists and scrubbing out your veins with pipecleaners. Then scrubbing something else out with a pipecleaner

4 - Writing many, many poems declaring Chase the Throttlebot's superiority.

5 - Reading this website

6 - Watching all Star Trek episodes and series, then bemoaning the lack of continuity, spending the rest of your life making insane websites devoted to the most inane details available. ("Captain Kirk's Shoes - Online!")

7 - Making passionate love to Chase the Throttlebot. Difficult, but not impossible...

8 - Starting a focus group designed to bring the inane inadequacies in the Original Series of Star Trek to the attention of the government, who will need to pass a special law to change this situation (probably involving time travel)

9 - Introducing your genitals to "Mr Cheesegrater"

10 - Covering yourself with concrete and brown paint to become a tree.

Have I dissuaded you? If not, feel free to destroy your mental state and download it...erm, can't remember where actually. Shouldn't be too hard to find though. Just don't come crying to me when your brain turns to mush and leaks out of your ears. Although if you're looking at this site, that condition would have probably struck you down already...


  1. 'Scramble City 2' is apparently just 'Scramble City' done using the toys and Galvatron.

    Either way, it was a pretty bad idea considering the articulation of G1 toys wasn't exactly enough to make them move in exciting ways.