[9 December 2009]
If there is any indication that Gen-X is slowly overtaking the baby boomers in terms of nostalgia branding, look no further than these two gargantuan-sized box sets of two of the most iconic cartoons of the ‘80s: G.I. Joe and Transformers. Sure, both of these box sets offer a quick, convenient exit to memory lane, for a pretty price. But if you grew up with these two cartoon series and hold the characters near and dear, it’s going to be tempting to give in and reach for that credit card.
The design case for each set is fantastic and aptly fits in with a central theme for each show: for The Transformers, the design is that of the matrix of leadership, which was primarily carried by Autobot leader Optimus Prime; for G.I. Joe, the design is a rugged footlocker. The sets include interviews from the creators, vocal talent, and feverishly-devoted fans. In addition to these ample extras, commercials and the beloved cautionary PSAs are also included.
If you are a hardcore fan of either show, no coaxing is needed. These sets are probably already part of your collection. For fans who can still recall their favorite episodes, these sets give you the entire series whereas earlier releases, fans had to pick up individual seasons and in some cases, half-seasons.
It would be easy to dismiss both shows as nothing more than 30-minute toy commercials. But the fact that the characters in both series continue to show up in pop culture today indicate that there was enough quality vocal talent and even some fine writing in these cartoons to make these characters resonate today. At best, each show had some single and multi-part episodes that blew away the storylines for their live action movie counterparts. And at their worst, well, let’s just say one G.I. Joe episode featured a terror plot that basically consisted of defacing the moon (which was repeated in a great episode of The Tick), and one Transformer episode had a Hollywood producer try to make a movie star out of an Autobot. Each set, intentional or not, shows both the good and the bad sides of toy-based cartoons. Have fun.