EXCITING TRANSFORMERS (with Video!)

“EXCITING TRANSFORMERS (with Video!)”
Article and A/V: Might Gaine
Translation: Hydra

Most hardcore G1 fans know the “Scramble City” story through the original animated video and the stop motion video.  But in fact there’s a promotional Scramble City video that predates both of those–it is called “Exciting Transformers”.  The video tells an abridged Scramble City storyline through a hodgepodge of recycled animation, early concept art, and storyboards from a then-upcoming toy commercial.

Watch the Youtube video below to check out our English-subtitled version of EXCITING TRANSFORMERS!

Might Gaine’s comments

Exciting Transformers is a rare glimpse into concept art and preproduction materials that Takara used in late 1985 as it prepared to launch their Scramble City subline.  The Scramble City storyline is much more bare bones at this point as well, missing the other two combiners, the introduction of Ultra Magnus, and the rivalry between Metroplex and Trypticon.  Also missing is any mention of “Scramble Power” (the ability to swap limbs), which would become a key gimmick of the Scramble City subline.

But for me, the highlight of Exciting Transformers is all the amazing pre-production art.  Let’s take a look!

Metroplex

There are several early concept drawings of Metroplex in the video.  Although the black and white copies of the art have been published elsewhere, these three color versions of the images are only available in the Exciting Transformers video.

Note the many small details that did not make the final cut: a parking sign, a crane arm, several small radar dishes, and so on.  Metroplex’s legs changed significantly as well–they were originally conceived as being very thin and transforming differently, creating a neat asymmetrical look in city mode.  Also, note the small wings near the shoulders–a subtle reminder of his Diaclone roots.  These early drawings of Metroplex went on to influence the first TV Magazine artwork of Metroplex as well as the design for one of Kabaya’s Metroplex decoys.

This action scene drawing is particularly interesting.  Note the combiner launching from Metroplex–it is none other than Motormaster as the core, but with three Aerialbots and the Combaticon Vortex as limbs!  This is because when Scramble City was originally conceived, it was going to be part of Diaclone, with all the combiner robots on the same side.
Although the resolution of the picture makes the identities of the core body and the limbs a bit hard to make out, this illustration was also printed in a Japanese Laserdisc booklet, where they were identified in a text comment as Motormaster, three Aerialbots and Vortex.

Blaster’s Cassettes

This image, showing the concept of Blaster’s cassettebots, is noteworthy in that… well… it fails to show any of them.  Instead, they took Ravage, Laserbeak, and Rumble/Frenzy’s tape modes and recolored them red and black, serving as placeholders.

Superion and Menasor

Lastly, there’s Superion and Menasor.  Most of the illustrations for them are actually storyboards for the Superion/Menasor toy commercial!

Apparently, without completed Superion/Menasor commercial footage, Takara went with what they had: the storyboards.  These high detail, full color images look almost better than the final commercial:

Exciting Transformers also has two early concept sketches of the toys:
Although several details have been changed, these concept drawings remain surprisingly faithful to the final designs.  One of the biggest changes is that they lack the standard Scramble City “feet plates”.  Instead, the feet are formed on Superion by jet wings, and on Menasor by two “toes” on each leg.  The heads and colors have also been changed.

As a special treat, I’m going to end this article with a couple cool related images, namely more pre-production Superion images courtesy of TheSpacebridge.  It’s even clearer in these images how the designers were initially trying to stay away from extraneous combiner parts.

The End…?

That’s it for Exciting Transformers!  Well, sort of.  There are actually two more Exciting Transformers videos!  One is called “Exciting Transformers 1986” and the other is “Exciting Transformers Summer 1986”.  Unfortunately, they’re not packed with pre-production art like this one, but they are still a neat peek into Takara promotional marketing.  Let us know if you’re interested in seeing them, and we might translate those as well!

Special Thanks:

Hydra, for translating the video

TheSpacebridge, for letting me borrow the great Superion pre-production images
walruslaw, for providing the Superion/Menasor commercial footage
BermudaMohawk, fangwing, lonergamer8 and Powered Convoy, for helping me research the Metroplex artwork.
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