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23rd March 2013, 08:00 PM: 1950 Formula One Season Review

 

Long time no update once again... With a kid on the way there's been less time and less money for new stuff anyway (I'm actually selling a lot of my GI Joe figures as I type...), though I will try to catch up on some of the maintenance and emails you lovely people have been contacting me with. Until then updates are likely to be based around Grand Prix stuff as 1) it's free, as I already have the piles of research materials needed to do the stuff 2) it isn't particularly time-consuming and 3) I can hammer it out pretty easily whenever I do manage to scavenge an hour or so. To this effect as well as the section here I now also have a blog on the subject, A Second A Lap, which will carry less structured articles (I'll be transferring non Season Reviews over there in time, though Blogger's system isn't up to actually taking race reports.
Many thanks for reading, for emailing and for commenting. Even if I don't get back to you it's always appreciated.

4th January 2013, 08:00 PM: Machine Robo - Revenge of Cronos Episode Guide

 
Three months? Wow. Happy Christmas and New Year. Time's been a bit difficult to find recently for various reasons. However I finally finished this beastie, which has been literally years in the making (I started it immediately after the Challenge of the Gobots guide).

After finally slogging through the opening 15 or so episodes (which are terrible and - ironically - the only ones with an official Western release) this got much easier when the show turned out to not actually be all that bad. It's not great - and I'd still question whether it's really all that much better than Challenge even if it is a lot prettier - but at least there are a wider mix of characters and things get slightly less formulaic in the second half of the series.

Anyway, there are summaries and reviews of all 44 proper episodes (and a brief overview of the three clip shows), character guides and lots of screencaps.

However, I will say this is a bit of a beta work. As mentioned above only the first third of the series actually has an official English language translation (there was a French dub but its' central conceit - that the anime is a direct sequel to Challenge, with Rom as Nick for starters - is colossally stupid). The rest are done from a dodgy Hong Kong pirate set of subs so episode names, character names and - on occasion - some of the nuances are very much open to correction.

- Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos Episode Guide

15th October 2012, 07:00 PM: G.I. Joe - Cobra round-up

 
A trio of G.I. Joe reviews. Firstly there's the 25th Anniversary versions of the H.I.S.S. Driver and Eel figures which I've had ages and not reviewed. I thought I had reviewed the Eel but I couldn't find it anywhere on the site so there we go. The third review is of the updated 2006 Interrogator, a super update of a forgotten character who surely deserves a 'G3' update.

- G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary H.I.S.S. Driver review

13th October 2012, 07:00 PM: Transformers - The Special Teams

 
I got these files from the now-defunct www.mdp156.com, which had MP3 copies of lots of 1980s toy tie-in 'books on tape' and thought I'd slap them up on RS just in case they aren't online anywhere else.

It's basically an advert for the 1986 Special Teams using a mish-mash of storylines from the comic ("Second Generation") and cartoon ("The Key to Vector Sigma") - rather bizarrely read by Don 'Gavrok off of Delta and the Bannermen' Henderson, not exactly known for his clear, lucid tones.

- Transformers - The Special Teams (Side 1)
- Transformers - The Special Teams (Side 2)

11th October 2012, 07:00 PM: Thunderbirds 2086

 
Thunderbirds 2086 was one of my favourite childhood cartoons mainly because being a little bit like Thunderbirds meant Dad tended to watch it with me (though he's more of a Supercar man). I've long been intending to do something on the site about the show but faced with some resources consisting of the 1983 Grandreams annual and about half of the episodes I've never felt particularly confident doing much.

I'm not even sure why the show is set in 2086 when it was broadcast in 1982 (Japan) and 1983 (UK).


For one thing I'm not sure of the origins of the series. Oh, I know that it's a dubbed version of Scientific Rescue Team TechnoVoyager (the last often Romanised as TechnoBoyager). But I've heard two completely different origins of the dub. One is that Jin Productions basically ripped off Thunderbirds, which was shown in Japan; indeed, the initial import of diecast Dinky toys to support the thing inspired the Japanese toy industry to eschew tin and vinyl in favour of diecast and ABS, thus leading to basically the entire content of this site in a chaos theory way. The original show itself was probably a considerable influence on the likes of X-Bomber (brought to the UK as Star Fleet). That the vehicles carried 'TB' was a pure coincidence due to the Romanisation thing. Incidentally, diecast wizards Popy did plan to release combining toys of the TB vehicles but unforgivably only got as far as a prototype - a drool-inducing picture of this beautiful unicorn can be seen to the right. 24 episodes were made, though the show was cancelled after only 18 were screened. ITC then found out and presumably by hook or by crook acquired Western rights, did an English dub, slapped the Thunderbirds trademark all over it and broadcast it in the UK in 1983 - I'm guessing it was shown elsewhere but it only seems to be in Blighty that it made any sort of impact.

The other option is that it was made completely with the co-operation of ITC (but not Gerry Anderson) as a co-production with being an update of Thunderbirds being planned from the start. To me that would have the advantage of passing Occam's Razor if it wasn't for wondering why Jin didn't use the Thunderbirds brand in Japan. Maybe someone else had already licenced the name and they had to broadcast it, or maybe they wanted to distance themselves from an old show. Could be anything, I'm no scientician.

Anyway, the series itself - beyond the chest-pounding title sequence which used early computer animation and employed the single greatest voice over in the history of anything - isn't actually great shakes. The starring players are pretty off the shelf types, including the head of International Rescue Organisation's nephew Skipper fulfilling the child association role (read as: you'll really hate him) and the usual touchstones for this sort of thing (impossibly good looking hero, crazy black guy, grumpy but fair team commander, spunky girl, space cowboy). Mainly they face the same sort of ecological and man-made disasters as the Tracy family did back in the sixties while there are also some genuine bad guys in Star Crusher and his Shadow Axis. Their arc was cut short with the show's cancellation, however, and in the dub at least there's very little sign of a real over-arching storyline.
 
The show has never been released on DVD, possibly for copyright reasons or just as likely due to a lack of interest. Various episodes were issued on VHS in the UK during the late 1980s through to about the mid-1990s, though never systematically and often jumbled on budget compilations with pukka Anderson stuff. 

Thus the episodes below are VHS (or maybe even TV) rips that have done the rounds on YouTube and the like that I've downloaded and stitched together as DIVX files. As you can guess from this and the ~100MB file sizes quality is not so good.
As mentioned Grandreams did put out an annual for the Christmas market in 1983. It's pretty cobbled together. The strips look like they were lifted from a Japanese manga while most of the colour images are clearly grabbed from colour spreads in the same books and often blown up far too much - the incredibly grainy, fuzzy character models being the prime victim. It's main plus point is that it can be found cheaply if you shop around.

So that's about the extent of my knowledge on the show. Here are all the episodes I have. If anyone has a complete set please let me know, though I suspect that's only likely if the whole lot (it seems ITC did dub and broadcast all 24) did get a video release.


Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 01: "Shockwave"

Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 02: "Cloudburst"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 03: "Firefall"

Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 04: "Fear Factor"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 05: "Fault Line"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 06: "One of a Kind"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 08: "Shadow Axis"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 09: "Computer Madness"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 10: "Kudzilla"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 11: "Nightmare"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 12: "Snowbound"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 15: "Guardian"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 16: "Space Warriors"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 17: "Sunburn"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 18: "Star Crusher"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 20: "Metal Head"
Thunderbirds 2086 - Episode 23: "Mindmeld"  

And here's the annual: -


Thunderbirds 2086 Annual (1983)


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