Saturday, June 11, 2011

Firemen are great!

I'm back from Japan, and I'll blog about it tomorrow, probably. Anyway, I went to Nottingham today, and as I was cycling back, I noticed that the Royal Children pub was on fire. Not a towering inferno, but smoke pouring out of the upstairs windows and roof. I was wondering if anyone had called the fire brigade, when they turned up and all sprang into action very efficiently, with hoses and masks and things. It was like a movie, only in Nottingham without being Robin Hood!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Krypton Force!

I thought this might be a good time to summarise all the Krypton Force releases of "Force Five" anime - see my previous blogs here and here for more details. There's practically nothing about them on the internet, people keep finding this blog by searching for related keywords, and I've acquired a couple more tapes since I wrote those, so let's put them all together in one post! Comments and additions are very very welcome!

The order in which the videos were released is unknown, there is no date on the inlays or tapes. The trailer seen on one of the Don Quixote videos lists the ones currently available at that time as "Videotoons 1-3, Sci-Bots 1-2 and Formators 1-6".

Judging by the packaging designs, the first ones produced were Sci-Bots 1 and 2 (the 'movie') and Formators 1 (the Gai-King movie/final episodes) - these are the only tapes with the series title at the top and the episode title separated by dots instead of spaces (and 'screenshots' on the back that are actually pictures cut out of Transformers books).

After that must have come Formators 2-6, and probably the rest of that series. Then I would imagine Sci-Bots followed (it uses the same hexagon design on the boxes), then the four Protectors and four Orion Quest tapes, and finally the sole Mission Promete, which has a slightly different design again.

Then, I'm thinking at the moment only in Australia, the same people continued a bit further - two more volumes each of Protectors and Orion Quest, and three more of Mission Promete. The internet is very short of pictures of these tapes, but there's good reason to believe they did exist Down Under.

The wonderful trailer that appeared on the Australian videos boasts that each series has 12-14 episodes "plus the movie" available, and then lists exactly twelve titles for each one. The lists omit some titles that were actually released ("Betrayal" from Sci-Bots and "Birds Of Prey" and "Omicron Ray" from Formators), and include several more that were never actually used.

All the tapes have a series title, episode title (at the top of the page), and sub-title (in a flash at the top-right corner of the picture). They're transcribed below, complete with spelling mistakes and missing apostrophes. The series title and episode title also appear onscreen, replacing the ones originally on the 'Force Five' cartoons. Illustrations are provided by the wonderful "Marc", an artist of limited ability who nonetheless proudly signs his work. The back-of-the-box blurb is transcribed in italics.


Alias "Spaceketeers" - the name used for the team in the dialogue of the actual episodes. Volumes 1 and 2 are the 'movie' compilation of the series. The rest of the volumes are individual episodes - two episodes on each tape, usually but not always consecutive ones, edited clumsily together into one uninterrupted super-episode. The volume numbers bear no relation to the order of episodes.

Unlike the other Force Five series, Spaceketeers/Starzinger had long continuing story arcs rather than one-off stories. It was a late addition to the Force Five lineup, apparently, when Jim Terry was unable to get the rights to yet another giant-robot cartoon, so he chose 26 of the 64 (or 73 if you count the brief "sequel") episodes of Starzinger to fit the necessary length of his series.

The Krypton Force tapes were also released in Germany, dubbed into German but with the Krypton Force titles and Marc's artwork still intact. These can be seen on YouTube, as can translations of Starzinger into Italian, Swedish, Finnish and probably every other non-English language in the universe. If you're lucky enough to own a complete collection of Krypton Force, this is the order to watch them:

Vol 12 (Crystal & The Space Bees) - nearly at the beginning of the series
Vol 11 (Star Point Tantar) - carrying on
Vol 10 (Snark & The Diamonds) - early adventures
Vol 4 (Betrayal), first half - first appearance of Tryax Khan
Vol 9 (Surrender By Force) - the fight against Tryax
Vol 8 (Evil Catyla) - filler stories between Tryax and Dector arcs
Vol 7 (Zalo) - more of the same
Vol 6 (Love And Treasure) - Tryax returns, with Dector
Vol 3 (Battle Of The Flame Dragon) - Tryax Khan and Dector
Vol 13 (Dector the Betrayer) - Dector and Tryax up to no good again
Vol 5 (Death Valley) - end of the Dector story and start of Queen Marla
Vol 4 (Betrayal), second half - Queen Marla again

It looks like they released random episodes in volumes three and four, then worked backwards through the pile of episodes for subsequent volumes, finally noticing with volume 13 that they'd left a chunk out. Spaceketeers also included the first four Starzinger episodes, which don't seem to have ended up released by Krypton Force (as far as I know).

Sci-Bots 1
The Mutants Lightning Strike

The "screenshots" on the back of the box are cut out of a Ladybird Transformers book. Marc's drawing on the front is really quite atmospheric, although the posing is a bit awkward.

First half of the 'movie' compilation - heavily edited highlights of the Starzinger series, dubbed into English by the same people who made the regular 'Spaceketeers' series but with different scripts and voice acting.

Once, long ago, there was a planet called 'Auron' placed in a far corner of our Galaxy. This planet was attacked and destroyed by the forces of two evil mutants, Dector and Tri-Ax-Con. The sole survivor of the devastation, Princess Aurora fled to Earth to gain help for the coming conflict erupting from planet Decos and so begins the battles of the Sci-Bots

The phrase 'Sci-Bots' was invented by Krypton Force, like all their Transformers-like titles. It's not used in the dialogue of the cartoon itself.

Sci-Bots 2
Strike Back
Sci-Bots Fight On

More Transformers on the back. I suspect that when they made these first three tapes, Krypton Force didn't have the technology to get actual screenshots. That doesn't really excuse their using other more popular companies' copyrighted material, though. There's no visible 'Marc' signature on the cover of this one - I think his original artwork was larger, and was cropped to fit the frame of the Krypton Force boxes.

Second half of the 'movie' compilation. Seven 25-minute episodes cut down into 45 minutes!

The Sci-Bots along with Princess Aurora, corner Tri-Ax-Con during the black hole battle. With the aid of Dector Tri-Ax-Con escapes losing his treasures captured from the colonials. Yet again, the Sci-Bots embark on another campaign to rid our Galaxy of the evil mutants.

Actually, the way this 'movie' is presented, it's all one big campaign. The movie ends with the defeat of Dector, and thus has some kind of ending, although that wasn't the end of the Starzinger series, nor indeed of the American "Spaceketeers" translation, which went on a bit further and then stopped abruptly, leaving the story unresolved.

Sci-Bots 3
Battle Of The Flame Dragon
Web Of Defeat

The cover, signed by Marc, has an extremely well-drawn representation of a flame dragon. The rest of the pictures are not particularly misshapen, either!

There are variant covers of this and the next two volumes - some that say "Sci-Bots 3", "Sci-Bots 4", "Sci-Bots 5" at the bottom, and others that just say "Sci-Bots". I've never heard of any copy of volume 6 or later that had a number, so that must be the point where they gave up on that tiny bit of extra effort. All volume numbers appear on-screen, though.

1) Starzinger episode 27 - "Kin Kin Attacks Again"
aka Spaceketeers episode 20 - "Menace Of The Fire Dragons"
2) Starzinger episode 28 - "The Death Of Queen Cosmos"
aka Spaceketeers episode 21 - "Stitch In Time And Space"

Princess Aurora, with the help of her protectors the Sci-Bots, continues to fight against Tryax Khan and the evil Dector.
The Sci-Bots become trapped in an electric web and the princess risks her life against the evil mutants to save them.

Continues from the cliffhanger ending of volume 6. There are numerous flame dragons involved in the battle, which makes the singular title a little odd. The phrase "flame dragon" is never used in the episode itself, by the way, although I know I've used it to exhaustion in this brief review.

Sci-Bots [Vol 4]
Mutant Deceit

There's no visible 'Marc' signature on the cover, but it's very much his style.

1) Starzinger episode 13 - "The Split Planet"
aka Spaceketeers episode 11 - "Enter Tryax Khan"
2) Starzinger episode 34 - "Cursed Forest Of Glass"
aka Spaceketeers episode 26 - "The Mirror Cracks"

Whilst travelling through another solar system the Sci-Bots come across a strange planet where they find the evil Tryax Khan has been at work causing the inhabitants to fight one another. Once again our heroes try to deal with the mutant's wrong doings.

The first half of this tape ends on a cliffhanger, with Jesse Dart confronting Tryax Khan for the first time (the Force Five version edits out a subsequent bit of fighting, so this cliffhanger isn't the same as the cliffhanger on the original Starzinger series), but if you want to see how it's resolved, you need to stop this tape half-way through and put volume 9 in the machine, because the second half of this one jumps immediately to a much later episode, without so much as a pause.

Sci-Bots [Vol 5]
Death Valley

The big figure in the background is a cut-out of The Beyonder from Marvel Comics' Secret Wars II. The gun, and the hand holding it, are from a Transformers comic.

1) Starzinger episode 31 - "The Revolution Of Lephan"
aka Spaceketeers episode 24 - "Truth About Solda"
2) Starzinger episode 33 - "Devil Of Space"
aka Spaceketeers episode 25 - "The Sayleen Solution"

Dr Schnitzel leaves his laboratory to try and rescue Princess Aurora and her protectors the Sci-Bots when their ship crashes into Death Valley.

Sci-Bots [Vol 6]
Love And Treasure
End Game

The hand is, again, cut from a Transformers comic. Marc really didn't like to draw hands.

1) Starzinger episode 25 - "The Bright Planet"
aka Spaceketeers episode 18 - "A Rose Is A Rose"
2) Starzinger episode 26 - "A Terrible Battle"
aka Spaceketeers episode 19 - "Treasure Of Tryax Khan"

The Sci-Bots battle on against Tryax Khan.
Porkos falls in love with Khan's lady and decides to leave the mission while the evil mutant loses his treasure and the Sci-Bots think they've lost Jesse.

Featuring Tryax's return from the black hole he fell into at the end of volume 9. Also featuring Porkos deciding to abandon the mission because he's met a woman who's as attractive as Princess Aurora and also cooks good food and has a lot of treasure.

Sci-Bots [Vol 7]

1) Starzinger episode 19 - "Bye-Bye Captain"
aka Spaceketeers episode 16 - "Heart Of Ice"
2) Starzinger episode 24 - "One Of Two Is A Liar"
aka Spaceketeers episode 17 - "Truth And Consequences"

The Sci-Bots' mission continues but is nearly destroyed when Aramos finds his old friends frozen by a creature called Zalo.
Princess Aurora is on the Cosmos Queen alone when a young boy hijacks it in an attempt to escape from the Racoomoids.

A review of this tape can be found here.

Sci-Bots [Vol 8]
Evil Catyla
Hated Reflection

1) Starzinger episode 17 - "A Shadow In The Water"
aka Spaceketeers episode 14 - "Eye Of The Beholder"
2) Starzinger episode 18 - "Hot Wave"
aka Spaceketeers episode 15 - "Sacrifice To Rorka"

The Princess Aurora is captured by Catyla who hates Aurora's beauty and plans to make her ugly, but Porkos comes to the rescue and is the hero of the day.

Includes the wonderful line "Our planet is floundering under the dominion of a giant fish that grew in the sea!"

Sci-Bots [Vol 9]
Surrender By Force
No Surrender No Return

1) Starzinger episode 14 - "The Fort Planet"
aka Spaceketeers episode 12 - "Reluctant Enemies"
2) Starzinger episode 15 - "The Dark Point"
aka Spaceketeers episode 13 - "Too Much Monkey Business"

The Sci-Bots continue their battle against Tryax Khan, but when he captures Princess Aurora they are forced to surrender to save her life.

Sci-Bots [Vol 10]
Snark & The Diamonds
Carbon Coma

1) Starzinger episode 11 - "Doctor Mud"
aka Spaceketeers episode 9 - "Dr Snark's Chance"
2) Starzinger episode 12 - "Don't Die, Princess!"
aka Spaceketeers episode 10 - "The Galactic Diamond"

The evil Dr Snork raids the Laboratory as a decoy so he can capture Princess Aurora.
The Princess goes into a coma and the Sci-Bots must get the Ajax Diamond away from General Siluri to save her, but they are 10 minutes too late.

Dr Snark is animated in the most ridiculous comic-relief way, but his voice actor delivers his lines in the most deadly serious evil-villain voice. It's a strange combination, especially in a series where almost everyone else has a silly squeaky voice or some other weird vocal tic.

Sci-Bots [Vol 11]
Star Point Tantar
Flap Point

Those floating eyes on the cover freak me right out. There are floating space eyes like that in the cartoon, too, and I'm surprised that Marc has somehow reproduced them so accurately. He normally steals his backgrounds from other sources. And what, exactly, does "Flap Point" mean?

1) Starzinger episode 7 - "The Bravery Of Haka"
aka Spaceketeers episode 7 - "The Panther Bat"
2) Starzinger episode 8 - "The Nightmare Of Energy"
aka Spaceketeers episode 8 - "All For One And None For All"

The Sci-Bots are drawn to the Star Tantar but the Panther Bat tries to stop them from continuing their mission.
Porkos and Jesse are hypnotised and turn against each other leaving Aramos to defend the Princess from the Spidermoids.

Sci-Bots [Vol 12]
Crystal & the Space Bees
A Forgotten Warrior

1) Starzinger episode 5 - "Friendship Is The Strongest"
aka Spaceketeers episode 5 - "The Crystal Palace"
2) Starzinger episode 6 - "The Astrobat"
aka Spaceketeers episode 6 - "Swarm Of Space Bees"

The first episode involves crystals, and the second involves space bees. But wouldn't "Crystal and the Space Bees" be an awesome name for a pop group?

The Sci-Bots are drawn to a crystal palace where an evil mutant kidnaps the Princess Aurora and our heroes come to her rescue.
Jesse's Astrobat saves the day when their ship is later attacked by the Space Apaches.

Sci-Bots tapes seem to become more scarce as the volume numbers get higher - perhaps Krypton Force overestimated the appeal when they first started churning them out.

Sci-Bots [Vol 13]
Dector the Betrayer

1) Starzinger episode 29 - "Fort Goldstar"
aka Spaceketeers episode 22 - "An Enemy Betrayed"
2) Starzinger episode 30 - "The Three Brothers"
aka Spaceketeers episode 23 - "The Three Brothers"

The Princess Aurora befriends her enemy Captain Solda and reveals that Dector has betrayed him, but Dector destroys Solda and the Sci-Bots find themselves fighting the three brothers avenging his death.

These episodes fill the gap between volumes 3 and 5. I mean, naturally, that's where you'd expect to find volume 13, isn't it? There is a wonderful attempt to make the story more palatable to children by changing the 'Tryax kills the three brothers' father' plotline to 'Tryax pretends to kill the three brothers' father' - which makes the whole episode really not make any sense.

The Formators

The first 'Formators' tape is the end of the GaiKing series, which was otherwise packaged as 'Protectors'; the subsequent Formators tapes are Starvengers episodes. Krypton Force seem to have chosen Starvengers as their first foray into distributing an entire Force Five series - I don't know why, I think GaiKing is much better, but perhaps they just grabbed the first tapes that came to hand. On the other hand, maybe it's because Starvengers has the highest number of giant humanoid robots.

Starvengers is the American translation of Getter Robo G, which was a sequel to the original Getter Robo series. In accordance with their usual practice, Krypton Force black out the "Starvengers" title and replace it with their own really awful computer-generated "Formators" title. There were 39 episodes of the original Japanese series, once again Force Five only used 26, and only 18 of those seem to have found their way to Krypton Force.

The Formators
Attack Of The Xelans
Dragon Slayers Are Go!

Transformers again on the back cover, masquerading as screenshots. And the front cover, proudly signed by Marc as if it's his own work, is dominated by another cut-out.

1) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 26 - "Pegasus In Outer Space"
aka Gaiking episode 18 - "An Android With A Heart"
2) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episodes 43 & 44 - "A Phantom Castle On Mars" & "Go! The Last Great Battle For Earth"
aka Gaiking episodes 25 & 26 - "The End of Zela" & "The Battle For Earth"

The Heroic Warriors, The Formators, guardians of the Earth's defences, come under attack from the evil Xelans who have formed an attack base on planet Mars. The Formators fight against their enemies with the aid of Pala, Pegusus and Space Dragon.

It should really say 'Pegasus' there, it's a flying horse.

The second half of this is a compilation of the final two episodes, cut down to just over half the original length.

The Formators Vol 2
The New Starvenger
Attack Force Posiden Begins

The central figure here is another Transformer - Marc's contribution to the artwork was drawing a different head on it and adding a single other giant head in the sky. On the other hand, the back cover now contains two genuine screenshots! They're not screenshots of the episodes on this tape, they come from episode 3, but they're a step in the right direction...

1) Getter Robo G episode 1 - "Revive, Getter Robo!"
aka Starvengers episode 1 - "Who'll Fly Poseidon?"
2) Getter Robo G episode 2 - "Mystery of the Fearsome 100 Demon Empire"
aka Starvengers episode 2 - "Dragon Formation ... Switch ON!"

The Formators, heroic warriors who guard the Earth's defences are under attack from a new enemy 'The Pandemonium Empire'.
With the aid of their new ultra robots, Star Posiden, Star Erin and Star Dragon, they battle with the evil Pandemoniums to protect the Earth.

That makes it sound like these Formators are the same ones as in volume 1. They aren't. And this and the next volume both refer to the Star Arrow robot as 'Star Erin', and misspell 'Poseidon'.

On screen, the Krypton Force title calls it "Formators volume 2: the story continues", but this is the first episode of Getter Robo G. It starts with extensive references to the plot of Getter Robo, which must have been confusing for people who bought this expecting a sequel to the GaiKing episodes in the first volume.

The Formators Vol 3
The Havoc Symbol
Star Force Erin Is Go

The front cover illustration was clearly far too big to fit in the space available. Part of it is obscured by the subtitle flash, and there's just the top of Captain Fuehrer's head visible at the bottom.

1) Getter Robo G episode 3 - "An Insidious Trap! The Flying Fleet"
aka Starvengers episode 3 - "Sky Tankers Away!"
2) Getter Robo G episode 4 - "Benkei! Victory Of Tears"
aka Starvengers episode 4 - "Tip Gets The Needle"

The heroic warriors, The Formators, once again find their enemy 'The Pandemonium Empire' trying to destroy the Earth's defences.
Will Star Posiden, Star Erin and Star Dragon, be able to stand up to the Pandemoniums' deadly Robots Anorro and Silver Hair...?

I'm quite impressed that they got the apostrophe on "Pandemoniums'" correct, considering the rather random allocation of capital letters and commas in these blurbs.

On the tape this time, instead of a black screen, the "Force Five" and "Starvengers" titles are replaced by the picture from the cover of Formators volume 1 - a Quintesson cut from a Transformers book, and a bad guy from GaiKing - overlaid with the "Formators" name in BBC-computer-generated text.

The Formators Vol 4
Star Energizers
Fate Of The Star Energizer

The back cover, strangely, uses the cover of volume 2 as one of the "screenshots". Marc's rendition of Star Arrow on the front cover seems to have a moustache, for some reason.

1) Getter Robo G episode 6 - "The Dream Shredding Hyakki Empire"
aka Starvengers episode 6 - "The Star Energiser's Gone!"
2) Getter Robo G episode 9 - "SOS! Getter Robo, Please Respond!"
aka Starvengers episode 7 - "A Deserted Laboratory"

The Pandemoniums are back trying new tactics to capture the Earth and destroy the heroic warriors, The Formators.
When the Star Energizer, vital to The Formators for strength, is stolen, The Formators must get it back or it will be the end of the Earth as we know it.

The American adaptations usually chop out the most violent or non-kid-friendly moments from the Japanese originals - Peter's death on the first episode of this tape, for example. His absence in the final scene is explained by some awkward-sounding changed dialogue.

The Formators Vol 5
Earths Defence
Captain Fureher The Evil

The spelling should really be 'Fuehrer', and there should also be an apostrophe in 'Earth's'. And after two Transformers-free covers, Marc cuts out some more pictures, this time from the comic rather than the Ladybird books (perhaps he'd already cut his entire collection to pieces and had to find new material). The image at the bottom-right comes from the cover of the comic dated 24 October 1987, which gives us a helpful clue as to when these tapes were created.

1) Getter Robo G episode 10 - "Attacking the Demon Island!"
aka Starvengers episode 8 - "The Island Fortress"
2) Getter Robo G episode 11 - "The Hyakki Empire! The Road to the General"
aka Starvengers episode 9 - "Honor Redeemed"

The Pandemonium Empire begin evil operations out of a well fortified base in the Pacific Ocean. From here they plan to steal the Star Energizer which is the main source of power for The Formators. Yet again the evil Captain Fureher attempts total annihilation over our heroic warriors.

It's interesting to note that the blurbs steadfastly avoid mentioning that the robots in this series are vehicles piloted by humans, as opposed to the sentient robots who starred in Transformers.

The Formators Vol 6
Joey & The Pup
Fate Of The War Dogs

Another cover where Marc doesn't take those stars and triangles into account. His signature is also obscured somewhere - he must have been disappointed.

1) Getter Robo G episode 17 - "Koro, Bark For Tomorrow"
aka Starvengers episode 11 - "Joey Finds A Friend"
2) Getter Robo G episode 22 - "Jumbo Jet Disappears On The Ocean Floor"
aka Starvengers episode 15 - "Free Trip To Danger"

Joey finds a puppy who seems to be a perfect playmate. However, the pup is under the Pandemoniums spell and with the help of other dogs they attack The Formators headquarters.
The enemy use more android dogs to capture the computer tapes which control the Star Energizer. Unable to function The Formators find themselves under a deadly attack.

It doesn't get more 1970s-Japanese than giving a dog-themed episode the title "Bark For Tomorrow".

The Formators Vol 7
Birds Of Prey

Thanks to blog-reader Deano for sending me a scan of this one before I finally found my own copy!
Note that from this volume onwards, the middle screenshot picture is uppermost (pasted on last) - on previous volumes it was the one on the right.

1) Getter Robo G episode 13 - "Bat Bombs Crisis!"
aka Starvengers episode 10 - "Tip's Falcon"
2) Getter Robo G episode 37 - "Approaching Crisis In Japanese Waters?"
aka Starvengers episode 24 - "The Mother Quail's Strategy"

Tip is training a falcon who warns The Formators, guardians of the Earth's Defences, that a colony of bats have invaded the launch tubes at the laboratory.
Their evil enemies the Pandemonium Empire attack the large capital cities of the world and The Formators must fight back.

The Formators Vol 8
Omicron Ray
Night Raiders

1) Getter Robo G episode 23 - "Moonlight Dancing Clown"
aka Starvengers episode 16 - "Send Out The Clowns"
2) Getter Robo G episode 24 - "Boy Screaming Into The Sea!"
aka Starvengers episode 17 - "A Boy Crying To The Sea"

Joey gets a free pass to the circus, so The Formators, guardians of the Earth's Defences, take time off to go with him. Meanwhile back at the laboratory a Pandemonium agent steals the designs for the Omicron Ray Amplifier and the Star Energizer.

If all the references to the Star Energizer are getting a bit repetitive, well, that really is what happens in every episode, I'm afraid.

Volume 8 has the episode immediately following the last one on volume 6 - it even starts with a reprise of the end of that episode. Volume 7 features the second-from last story - for some reason, Krypton Force never released the two-part grand finale.

The Formators Vol 9
Star Fire
Galactic Energy

1) Getter Robo G episode 20 - "Major Battle! Mecha Fortress"
aka Starvengers episode 13 - "Star Fire part 1"
2) Getter Robo G episode 21 - "Final Battle! Shinespark"
aka Starvengers episode 14 - "Star Fire part 2"

The Pandemoniums bomb the Capernicus laboratory and their super battle robots defeat The Formators.
With the laboratory apparently destroyed the Pandemonium Empire plan to become rulers of the Earth but they haven't reckoned on The Formators new weapon STAR FIRE.

"Copernicus" is spelt wrong on the back cover. This two-part episode actually comes between the two episodes on volume 6. Unlike Sci-Bots there's no real story progression from one episode to the next, so it doesn't really matter, but this episode introduces the new secret weapon that also shows up in volumes 7 and 8.

The Formators Vol 10
Fear Of Imagination
Enter The Evil

Everyone looks a bit cross-eyed and deranged on the cover of this one, don't they?

1) Getter Robo G episode 32 - "What's Up With That Healthy Girl?"
aka Starvengers episode 20 - "A Girl Named Maria"
2) Getter Robo G episode 34 - "Showdown! Hyakki Three Brothers"
aka Starvengers episode 21 - "Triple Play"

Joey makes a new friend and helps her overcome her fear of the Pandemonium Empire, but a visiting baseball player causes problems for our heroes The Formators.

These are the two most unintentionally hilarious episodes in the whole series. The first episode features a small girl who has a screaming fit if anyone "gives her anything shiny or round" and the second involves a tough baseball player who makes friends with one of the heroes in an extremely macho way, following which the two of them go to bed together.

Also, the second episode of this one starts with a reprise of the ending of the episode that was supposed to come in between the two on this tape, which makes it look really strange when the two are edited together into one continuous cartoon in the Krypton Force style.

The Formators unused titles (from Australian trailer)
Center Battle
Silent Warrior
Plutonium Incident

The Protectors

We now return to GaiKing, and Krypton Force seem to have run out of titles that sound a bit like 'Transformers' by this point. I wish they'd used a less generic name, though, because it makes this series harder than the others to search for on the internet.

The Japanese version of GaiKing ran to 44 episodes, but as usual the Force Five release was only 26 of them. Krypton Force might have intended to put out all 26, but for whatever reason they only produced four "Protectors" tapes - plus of course "Formators volume 1", as we saw earlier. There seem to have been two further volumes released in Australia, but as I mentioned above, evidence for them is very slim...

The Protectors Vol 1
Vital Element
Enter The Dragon

A very distorted GaiKing robot on the front cover by Marc.

1) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 1 - "Mysterious Black Holes"
aka Gaiking episode 1 - "Aries Joins The Team"
2) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 2 - "A Necessary Fight"
aka Gaiking episode 2 - "Right Down The Middle"

The Protectors battle against the evil Darius and his Black Horror Corps, but something vital is missing. Aries, a baseball player is recruited to The Protectors team and it seems HE was the vital element, but their troubles are not over yet.

The blurb fails to mention that this is the first episode of the series. Okay, it's labelled as 'volume 1', but that doesn't usually mean anything with Krypton Force.

A review of this tape can be found here.

The Protectors Vol 2
Yongard The Terrible
Sagiterror Attack

Wow, everyone's had their heads chopped off!

1) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 15 - "Miracle Drill!"
aka Gaiking episode 11 - "The Coach Comes Back"
2) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 17 - "Nesser's Big Underwater Challenge"
aka Gaiking episode 12 - "The Threat From Beneath The Sea"

The Protectors are under attack from the evil Yongard piloting his new Sagiterror Robot. Later both an American and Russian fleet mysteriously disappear and The Protectors must attempt to stop the start of World War III.

"Our enemy has applied the reverse space cross technique to some sort of space bazooka!"
"Aries, this time let's try the new Miracle Drill!"

The Protectors Vol 3
The Great Swamp
Flying High

1) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 30 - "A Dinosaur in the Jungle"
aka Gaiking episode 19 - "The Last Dinosaur"
2) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 32 - "The Ghost Ship Which Came From Space"
aka Gaiking episode 20 - "The Flying Dutchman"

The Protectors of Earth go in search of a dinosaur said to be hiding in the Great Swamp of Mexico.
Before returning to base they take a holiday in Hawaii where Bobby has trouble with the myth of the Flying Dutchman.

The Protectors Vol 4
Moon Plane
Zap Speed

The middle screenshot on the back cover is upside-down. It's a picture of Darius, who has a mouth in his forehead, and whoever was pasting the screenshots onto the background clearly didn't realise this.

1) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 23 - "Infernal Moon"
aka Gaiking episode 15 - "Encounter on the Moon"
2) Daiku Maryu Gaiking episode 24 - "The Gods of Easter Island"
aka Gaiking episode 16 - "Guardians of Easter Island"

Aries gets into trouble on the Moon. Could the discovery of iron ore save him?
After a plane is shot down and people are attacked by giant statues, The Protectors rush to investigate.

The first episode on this tape is the second part of a two-parter. I don't know what logic Krypton Force used when they were choosing which episodes to release...

The Protectors Vol 5
The Oriental Empress

Australia only, as far as I know.

The Protectors Vol 6

Australia only, as far as I know.

The Protectors unused titles (from Australian trailer)
Unexpected Action
Sahara Devils
Archaeological Adventures
Kaicord & the Kingdom
The Battle for Peace

Orion Quest

Flying saucer fun with Grandizer! Not my favourite of the Force Five series, but it's interesting that Krypton Force finally chose a title relevant to the series - he actually is called Orion Quest.

This was the longest of the five original Japanese series - 74 episodes in length. The Force Five translation only got as far as episode 37 (skipping eleven along the way to make the usual total of 26), and Krypton Force seem to have just presented us with the first eight (in Britain, anyway), in four very rarely spotted tapes.

Orion Quest [Vol 1]
Triple Triangle
Ranch Attack

None of the Orion Quest boxes has a volume number, but they are shown onscreen and written on the labels on the tapes themselves. The cover design changes with this one - the words 'Orion Quest' obscure another big chunk of Marc's artwork (if indeed it is Marc doing the drawings, because his name doesn't appear on any of these).

1) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 4 - "The Island Of Fear"
aka Grandizer episode 3 - "The Southern Cross"
2) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 5 - "The Pitfall Of Death"
aka Grandizer episode 4 - "General Ding"

Orion Quest, a refugee from another planet, is under cover at the Triple Triangle Ranch. The evil Vegans, his deadly enemies, attack the ranch whilst searching for Orion and his amazing robot Grandizer. Lance, a UFO investigator, enters a plane competition and is also attacked by Vegan saucers.

This may be 'volume 1', but it doesn't contain the first episode of the series. First-time viewers have quite a tough task on their hands working out who is who.

Orion Quest [Vol 2]

1) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 7 - "The Feast of the Wolves"
aka Grandizer episode 5 - "No Honor Among Thieves"
2) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 8 - "The Radars Are Off"
aka Grandizer episode 6 - "Blinded By The Fog"

The Strongs bodyguard takes command of the so-far inefficient Vegans who are trying to destroy super alien, Orion Quest. An unknown gas is released into the stratosphere and whilst Lance is investigating he makes a strange sighting out in space, before he is able to tell anyone, Orion is off in his robot Grandizer... and into a trap.

Orion Quest [Vol 3]
Red Moon
Blown Cover

Thanks to blog-reader Gilby for pointing me to the eBay auction that completed my collection!

1) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 1 - "Brothers Of The Universe"
aka Grandizer episode 1 - "Robot Back To Action"
2) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 2 - "Prince Of The Other World"
aka Grandizer episode 2 - "Beware The Red Moon"

Lance, a UFO investigator, arrives at Professor Valconians Institute and is full of himself, but he soon finds out he needs super alien Orion Quest's help against the evil Vegans. When orders are given to attack Earth, Lance finds out Johnny's true identity.

Orion Quest videos are much harder to find than the other series (except for the super-rare Mission Promete, of course). They were probably the last one that Krypton Force turned their attention to, and made in smaller quantities.

Orion Quest [Vol 4]
The Youngest Eclipse

"The Youngest Eclipse"? One of the episodes on this tape involves a young boy, the other involves an eclipse. Note the Grandizer episode titles below.

1) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 10 - "Vega's Spy"
aka Grandizer episode 7 - "The Youngest Spy"
2) UFO Robot Grendizer episode 11 - "The Day When The Sun Will Stop"
aka Grandizer episode 8 - "A Vegan Eclipse"

Peter, a young boy, starts telling everyone fantastic stories about riding in an alien flying saucer, but is he really a spy? The Evil Vegans discover a way to use the Solar Eclipse as a means to get rid of Orion's super-robot Grandizer, but will they succeed?

Orion Quest [Vol 5]
Light Energy

Australia only, as far as I know.

Orion Quest [Vol 6]
Meteor Blizzard

Australia only, as far as I know.

Orion Quest unused titles (from Australian trailer)
The Gravity
Life Battle
Radient Rock
The Mirage
Noble Stand

Mission Promete

Danguard Ace - This isn't even on the BBFC website, I have no evidence that it was released in Britain other than that I own it.

It's a series with a slow start, the giant robot hasn't even been built by the time we get to the end of the two episodes on this tape. Jim Terry obviously thought so too - of the 56 episodes in the original Japanese series, the Force Five incarnation cut out a much higher proportion of early episodes than in the other four. However, like Spaceketeers and Grandizer, Force Five also didn't show the final episodes, so the American series has no real ending. Still, 26 episodes is better than the two that Krypton Force presented us with...

Mission Promete
The Mask
[no sub-title]

There is no volume number either on the packaging or on-screen. The number-stickers on the spine and the 4 on the back were stuck on the cardboard box by the previous owner, for some reason. Unlike every other Krypton Force release, this tape comes in a cardboard sleeve, and lacks the characteristic corner-flash with meaningless subtitle. The cover is classic Marc, though it isn't signed.

1) Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace episode 2 - "The Masked Man: Captain Dan"
aka Danguard Ace episode 1 - "Enter Captain Mask"
2) Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace episode 3 - "The Crimson Sunset Vow"
aka Danguard Ace episode 2 - "Down From Mach 2"

A masked man escapes from the evil Krel's slave station.
He manages to get to Earth & find the World Space Institute.
He says he has no memory of his past life & this must be proved.
Captain Mask soon becomes pilot instructor for the DANGUARD ACE (an amazing robot ship)

Mission Promete [vol 2]
[no sub-title]

Australia only, as far as I know.

Mission Promete [vol 3]
[no sub-title]

Australia only, as far as I know. This one does have a volume number on screen and on the tape label. To read the 'comic' on the back cover in the right order, it looks like you need to start in the top-right and go anti-clockwise. Perhaps that's how they read comics in Australia.

1) Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace episode 11 - "A Father's Mask of Shadows Disappears Into Space"
aka Danguard Ace episode 5 - "Captain Mask Remembers"
2) Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace episode 12 - "Shine! Danguard Ace!"
aka Danguard Ace episode 6 - "Mission One Remembered"

He regains his memory and realises he is Captain Blackstar.
An explosion losens the Captains mask.
Then he remembers how the mutants made him a masked slave.
Meanwhile Krel's forces deliver their next attack.

If volumes one and three have episodes 1-2 and 5-6 respectively, maybe volumes 2 and 4 followed the same logical order. But knowing Krypton Force, they probably didn't.

Mission Promete [vol 4]
[no sub-title]

Australia only, as far as I know.

Mission Promete unused titles (from Australian trailer)
Sky Arrow
The Trap
The Octon

Sunday, June 05, 2011

She asks me why, I'm just a hairy guy

What do Wayne Rooney, Jimmy White, Elton John and John Cleese have in common? They've all never been the undisputed world's best in their chosen profession, that's what. And they've all had hair transplants. I'm just saying.

What's wrong with being bald? It should be something to be proud of! It makes you look cool! It's amazing how many fashion-conscious people have suggested I should disguise my baldness in some way, like by shaving the rest of my head so that people assume I could grow a full head of hair if I wanted to, but I've just chosen to be stylishly hairless.

Incidentally, my contempt for things like hair transplants extends to cosmetics of all kinds, and also any kind of shaving. Men or women. This is probably why I have so few friends.