Let's Play Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2

Mad Writter


Now, it's time for "The Transformers" Homage, in the form of the "Transbots", like usually, I'm going to let CCM do much of the talking expect for the characters:

"PC Creation Guidelines

Proof of Purchase Points: P Cs are created using 70 Po P Ps. Maximum Trait Ratings (Regular Traits): 12 Maximum Trait Ratings (Action Features): 12 Miscellaneous:
  • The characters must be Transbots.
  • Most Action Features should be derived from technology (they are robots, after all). There are no “weird powers” in the series.
  • All alternate forms must be vehicular in nature unless the GM gives the player special permission.
  • When Traits representing weapons and similar things are given the “Retained Trait” Bonus, the name of the Trait may be slightly renamed in the alternate form. For example, Lightblade’s Double-Barreled Laser Rife splits into two separate guns when he transforms into a helicopter, so the Trait is retained but is renamed “Laser Rifes”. It’s the same game effect, just with a different name.
  • Physical Traits do not carry over to the alternate form unless the “Retained Trait” Bonus is taken.
  • The “Big Gun” Bonus is modified significantly for the series. Here is the new write-up: This Bonus should be given to Traits that represent a weapon designed mostly to deal damage to extremely large targets (mountains, skyscrapers, gestalt robots, space stations, etc.). In order to be given this Bonus, the Trait must also have the “Enhancer” Bonus. When used against human-sized or smaller targets,
subtract 2 from the bonus given by the Enhancer; if the Enhancer normally only provides a +1 boost, then this will cause a –1 penalty to the Trait being enhanced. When used against a vehicle or most giant transforming robots, use the normal bonus given by the Enhancer. If used against massive targets (see the examples above), add 3 to the bonus given by the Enhancer.


Risingstar Animation Studios (widely known as RAS) was anything but a “rising star.” During the 1970s, the company produced numerous hit cartoons such as Space Justice, Darkstone and the Questers, Little Big Guys and Tom Iron, but as the 1980s rolled around, the business was changing. Cartoons that didn’t readily lend themselves to toy lines were falling by the wayside, and increasingly cartoons were being seen as nothing but half-hour toy commercials. For years, the owner of RAS, Richard Barger, staunchly refused to give in to “blatant commercialism.” He plodded along, doing what he had been doing since he founded the company in 1972, without the aid of toy lines. Unfortunately for him, it was an uphill battle.

Not only had the business changed drastically, but Barger himself lost touch with his audience. He seemed to no longer understand what kids wanted to see, and that the toy lines he rejected as a marketing cash cow were as much an economic response to a demand by the grade-school audience for an increased level of interactivity. By 1983, RAS was in dire straits. Barger was ready to go bankrupt, when he finally decided to cave in and contact a toy company. But first, he needed to create a brand new series.

Barger contacted Bruce Hoy, a Japanese American with a knack for coming up with fresh new ideas. He had done a great deal of work for animation studios abroad, and his creations impressed Barger. Together, they developed the idea of robots that could transform into vehicles. With such an incredible concept in hand, the rest was a piece of cake. Within a month or two, the entire series premise was complete. They were ready to make proposals to toy companies.

The first four companies they approached turned down the property, for various reasons. One company said it would cost too much to make such detailed action figures, but the others merely thought it was a silly idea and that it would never sell. The fifth company, Plasco, was more willing to gamble on this bold series. They signed a short-term contract to produce a single wave of action figures. If it flopped, they would cease production. If it took off, they would agree to sign a long-term contract. Transbots first hit the small screen in the fall of 1984, to rave reviews. Likewise, the action figures few off the shelves as kids everywhere rushed to purchase all of them. This created a holiday sales frenzy not unlike the Stork Babies debacle a couple of years earlier. The mainstream press picked up on the craze and Transbots took on a life of its own.

In early ‘85, KC Comics made RAS an extremely profitable offer that would enable them to produce a Transbots comic book. Strangely enough, though, KC didn’t want to do a straight adaptation of the cartoon. Instead, they wanted to aim for a slightly older audience by tinkering with the concepts and characters from the show. While this made Barger and Hoy uncomfortable, they relented and green-lighted the comic book series, which was to be called War of the Transbots. The comic proved to be a successful venture in its own right. Just as all concerned had hoped, it attracted the teenage to adult crowds, further increasing the property’s sky-rocketing popularity.

Naturally, this success brought about countless imitators. Only two cartoon wanna-be’s surfaced (Carbots and Quest of the Roar-bots), but more than a dozen toy knock-offs competed for aisle space in stores. As was to be expected, none of them were truly able to compete with the original giant transforming robots, but it did cause a number of legal battles, both with the knock-off manufacturers and with Japanese companies that were trying to import their own toys into the American market. In fact, the reason that Spectre was never introduced into the comic book series was due to a particularly nasty legal battle with Nekochan Toys, as the company claimed that Spectre too closely resembled one of their own toys.

On April 20th, 1988, the aging Richard Barger passed away due to liver failure. His shiftless slacker of a son, Barry, ended up with RAS and quickly ran it into the ground. Convinced that the future was in animated comedy shorts, Barry canned the Transbots in favor of producing such aimless cartoons as Quirky Pig, Doofus Duck, and Lars the Bunny. These shows were panned by critics and kids alike. Within one year, RAS was no more. Fortunately, KC Comics’ contract stipulated that they would be able to produce the still-hot War of the Transbots series until 1992. Bruce Hoy jumped on board to lend a hand with the comic, boosting its popularity even further. When ‘92 rolled around, the comic book series ended in a climactic finale, but the Transbots fever never really died down for long. In 1995, Hoy licensed the movie rights from Barry Barger to produce Transbots: The Movie, which was a stylistic mesh of the cartoon and comic book. Although it featured some of the best Japanese animation and a number of big name stars as voice actors, it was not the box office smash Hoy expected it would be, and it went to moderate video sales.

In 2002, KC Comics worked with Hoy to buy all of the remaining Transbots rights from Barger. Barry was strapped for cash, and quickly agreed to the sale. KC relaunched the license, carried by a unified cartoon and comic release, called Transbots 2: Metal Wars, which detailed the conflict between the Transbots and Warbots after the movie. A new toy line followed, in hopes of helping to draw in the kid market as well as the nostalgia market. Sadly, the relaunch did not catch on due to some drastic alterations to the franchise’s characters and plots. Both the cartoon and comic book were dead within a year’s time. Thus far, there has been no talk of a further revival of the property.

The Genre

Transbots is science fiction. The setting is 1980s-era Earth. Aside from two episodes in which the action took place on the moon, the series keeps its feet grounded on Earth.

The Series

On May 10, 1984, Tech-Corp finished its most ambitious endeavor to date... Project: Transbot, a series of sentient combat robots that were capable of transforming into vehicles. The president of Tech-Corp at the time, Trevor Hasting, planned to sell these war machines to the U.S government for their military defense forces. Unfortunately this plan was not to be – Hasting was removed as president and replaced by Maximillian Mercy, a cutthroat businessman with a passion for power. He ordered the technicians to start programming the Transbots to help take over the world. A the technicians reprogrammed half the bots, the other half saw what was going on and rebelled! The valiant Transbot fought their way past their evil ex-comrades and managed to escape to freedom. Luckily, they met up with Trevor Hasting who was struggling to found a new company, High-Tec Concepts. After hearing about Mercy’s machinations, Trevor agreed to assist them in their battle as well as offer them shelter and repairs. Now the Transbots, along with Trevor Hastings, must defend the planet against the maniacal man machine Maximillian Mercy and his tyrannical Warbots, while protecting themselves against the ever-growing anti-robot hysteria that is gripping the public.


In a series that features giant transforming robots, there no way to deny that technology plays a massive role. The Transbots and Warbots were created with the best, most advanced technology the world has ever seen. By and large, though, the world’s technology level is similar to that of the world during the 1980s. Only corporations and the government have access to bleeding-edge tech.


The following groups play an important role in Transbots.

The Transbots and High-Tech Concepts

When Maximillian Mercy began reprogramming the robots, about half of them became aware of his motives and promptly rebelled. Those robots are known as the Transbots, the name their creator, Trevor Hasting, gave them in the first place.

Once again allied with Hasting and his new company, High-Tech Concepts, the noble Transbots wage war against their erstwhile comrades, the Warbots of Max Mercy’s Tech Corp. This is a painful battle for the Transbots, as their most dangerous enemies are warped reflections of themselves. To them, it’s much like having to do battle with your own sibling. Not an enviable situation, to be certain.

As for High-Tech Concepts, it is still a small fish in a big pond, but it is one of the most promising technology-based companies in the world. They don’t have the astronomical budget of Tech Corp, but their president and founder, Trevor Hasting, makes good use of the funds they do have. Not a penny is wasted, nor a dime spared.

High-Tech Concepts operates from a complex of buildings some ten miles outside Atlanta, Georgia. The architecture reflects the cutting-edge technology the company produces. Made of gleaming steel and reflective glass, the compound looks not unlike a tiny city of the future. The central structure stands twenty stories tall and looms over the smaller buildings like a sentry guarding them from danger. None of the other buildings reach more than five stories.

With the Metal Wars in full swing, Hasting knew he couldn’t leave his company unprotected, nor could he expect the Transbots to be present at all times. It just wouldn’t be possible. To that end, he has designed and installed numerous defenses, including a massive battle cannon that deploys from the top of the main building.

The Warbots and Tech Corp

The Warbots are manifestations of Maximillian Mercy’s own twisted dreams of conquest and power. He re-programmed them to lust after all the things that he does. Unfortunately for him, when the robots gained complete sentience, these goals and ideals became muddled and soon mingled with their newly formed personalities. This meant that, while they still maintained Mercy’s original programming, these mental characteristics became personalized. Such is the price of sentience and Mercy was more than willing to pay it.

Tech Corp was founded in 1980 by Cornelius Bennett, who conveniently disappeared in 1984 — exactly one week before Maximillian Mercy took over. Of course, Bennett had very little direct contact with his multinational company, preferring to let Trevor Hasting run the show. Once Mercy came into power, Hasting was out on the street, so to speak.

Although Tech-Corp has branches all over the world, the main headquarters is located in Manhattan, New York. The building itself is among the tallest in the city and is without a doubt the most intimidating. Constructed of jet black steel, the architecture shows a very strong gothic favor, with gargoyles perched atop its four corners, contoured windows and huge arched doorways. It’s rather ironic that such a high tech corporation would utilize an architectural style that hasn’t been in prominence in over one hundred years.

Unlike the High-Tech Concepts compound, the Tech Corp HQ doesn’t have any overt defense weapons. It’s located in a densely populated area and Mercy knows that any attack on the building would result in many lost civilian lives. That alone is protection enough, as Hasting and the Transbots would never risk such a thing. Still, the building has plenty of interior defenses — force fields, alarms and even hundreds of highly equipped troops in light power armor."

Next are the first season Transbots as the followed

We get a Hound in the form of Crusader, who transforms into Land Rover

Lightblade, our helicopter version of Leader-1/Optimpus Prime is next.

Quasar is next who is the team's Smart Guy, a sciencist. He transforms into a spaceship.

We get The Big Guy, Sentinel, who transform in police car.

Skimmer is a Bumbleebee/Seaspy merger. Bumbleebee for "little brother" of the team and Seaspy for the hovercraft formation Skimmer transforms into.

Spectre is a motorcycle version of Mirage with more cowardly personality and missing Mirage's invisible tricks.

We get a strange one, I let CCM explain this one:

"Titanos “Egotistical Warrior”

Quick Bio: Using an undeveloped design to transport armed troops or military vehicles into hostile urban areas for immediate deployment, Titanos was one of the first Transbots to be built by Trevor Hastings after the revolt, as the other Transbots needed a strong warrior and protector to help them against the Warbots. Titanos has proven to be an enthusiastic warrior. His own biggest fan, Titanos is a legend in his own mind. The fact that it is often Titanos who retrieves, repairs, and transports his damaged comrades to safety does nothing to discourage his megalomania. Due to his heavy armor and massive body, Titanos has no fear wading into battle with most any Warbot, but his cockiness has sometimes caused him to end up in Trevor’s repair bay. Secretly, Titanos is wondering what’s so great about protecting life, and is starting to wonder if he is on the wrong side.

Factoids: “Subject to his own vanity”, “Knows no fear”, “Quick-tempered”

Subplots: Mental Hang-Up (his massive ego), Mental Hang-up (tends to get overenthusiastic and careless)

Traits: Fighting Spirit 4, Frighteningly Strong 8 [Enhancer +4, Specialty], Smash and Crush 6, Aim 5, Evasive Moves 4, Tough Armor Plating 9 [Enhancer +5], Persistent 3, Mechanical Repairs 2, Bulky 1X, Slow 1X, Flamethrower 4 [Advantage: fire/ heat; if the target hit has no armor and no Traits that can be used to directly oppose fire, they take 2 Setback Tokens instead of one, Area, Big Gun, Enhancer +2, Accessory], Semi-Truck Form 2 [Transform (Self, Vehicle), Retained Trait (Frighteningly Strong), Retained Trait (Tough Armor Plating), Retained Trait (Aim – renamed in other form), Retained Trait (Flamethrower – renamed in other form, same effect)]

Stats: Threshold 10, Battle Rating 8

Semi-Truck Form: Road Speed 4, Extra Storage Space 2, Universal Intercom-System 3, Solid Build 7, Frighteningly Strong 8 [Enhancer +4, Specialty], Tough Armor Plating [Enhancer +5], Fire Ranged Weapon 5, Twin Heat Lasers 4 [Advantage: fire/heat; if the target hit has no armor and no Traits that can be used to directly oppose fire, they take 2 Setback Tokens instead of one, Area, Big Gun, Enhancer +2, Accessory]"

Next up are stats Transbots's allies for Trevor Hasting, his son Billy, and the comic relief, Draggy, a dragon.

The next two characters are Transbots addition durning the second season. A Hot Rod character in the form of Slapdash, which transform into muscle car.

Like the above, Rumbleseat, has a muscle car form, but he's acts more like Kup.

We know start on the Warbots:

First up is the cowardly repair artist of the Warbots, Backfire. He turns into a jeep.

We follow up with the stats of Firestorm and it's evil take on the Airelbots parts: Dead Air (Left Arm of Firestorm), Freefall (Right Arm of Firestorm), Turbulence (Left Leg of Firestorm), Jetlag (Right Leg of Firestorm) and Stormbolt (Head and chest of Firestorm)

We finally get the stats on Vandal, the Warbots' leader.

For Transbots allies, we get stats on the hostile taker cover artist, Maximillian Mercy and his body, Ms. Dannica.

Then for the next season's Warbots, two more robots are added. A female robot called Deepsea that transform into submarine and Shockwave, a mad musician that can transform into a sport car.

Now back to CCM, for episode seeds,

"Episode Seeds

“Mass Production of Destruction”

Maximillian Mercy captured Trevor Hasting and has used his new machine, the Brain Scanner, on him to search through his mind and obtain all of his knowledge. He has stored the knowledge on a computer and is currently sifting through it all. There is something specific he’s looking for and he is determined to find it at all cost. You see, a few days prior to the abduction, Mercy stumbled across an old journal of Hasting’s. In that journal, Hasting vaguely suggested that he found an economical and practical way to mass produce Transbots.

Mercy is now fired up about creating an entire army of Warbots using this method of Hasting. Unfortunately for him, it’s going to take some time to search Hasting’s memories for it. In the meantime, the megalomaniac has begun designing the blueprints for these new robots.

This general set-up gives you, the GM, a lot of paths you can take to flesh the episode out for the players:

The first route would be to allow Mercy to find the information he so desperately wants and immediately starts the manufacturing process. The P Cs would have to devise a way to stop production. This could be as straightforward as blowing up the factory they’re being built at (after clearing out any innocents, of course) or as complicated as infiltrating the factory and stealing the plans and replacing them with faulty ones. This would be a great chance to let the players set the pace of the episode, giving them a good amount of control.

Another route would be to let Mercy build his metal army and try to take over the world with them. The P Cs and their fellow Transbots would be forced to dream up a way to halt the invasion, possibly with the help of the world’s governments (just be sure that the P Cs don’t get lost in the shuffle; they are the stars after all). Perhaps Trevor Hasting (if rescued in time) has to create his own army of robots to counteract the threat. This is probably too ambitious for a single episode, but it would be fantastic if you want to run a mini-series or animated movie. The story has the potential to be quite epic in scope.

“The Invisible Foe”

Transbots have been coming up missing, one after another in recent days. Yet after a disappearance, there’s no enemy to be found. It’s as if they are vanishing into thin air. Now, the P Cs are the only Transbots remaining. Can they get to the bottom of what’s going on before they, too, are gone?

The truth of the matter is that Maximillian Mercy has been approached by a ninja armed with the art of invisibility and a weapon that can paralyze robots before teleporting them away to a holding cell.

There could be other explanations for the disappearances if you want some alternatives.

One idea doesn’t even directly involve the Warbots, which could make for an interesting change of pace for the P Cs. In this alternate explanation , the problem is being caused by the equivalent of a computer virus that affects robots and turns them into a spectral form. While in this form, robots can’t interact with the world or its inhabitants. So, they quite literally become like ghosts that cannot even be seen. The P Cs will have to solve this elaborate mystery and then find a way to reverse the virus so that the “missing” Transbots will be able to return to their normal selves.

“One Nation”

The Warbots have wrested control of a South African nation (you can use a real nation or a fictitious one) from a despotic ruler. The people of that country are thankful and revere the Warbots as heroes. The problem is that Maximillian Mercy has his own plans... plans that don’t necessarily include the welfare of his subjects. He has found a previously undiscovered type of fuel called Jadex in the nation and plans to exploit it, using the citizens as slave labor. Being the smart guy that he is, however, he spins it so that it looks to his subjects like he’s trying to make the nation prosperous.

The P Cs will have one heck of a time undoing Mercy’s plan, especially considering that the people of the nation revere him and his Warbots and will do anything to protect them.

The P Cs could try to expose Mercy for the villain that he is, but it’s going to take quite a lot of solid evidence to sway the people. After all, Mercy freed them from the iron rule of the tyrant that came before him. Or at least that’s how they see it.

The P Cs could always take a stealthy approach, deftly sneaking around to thwart the Warbots without the citizens finding out about their activity. That won’t be an easy task.

In the end, there should be a perfect “moral of the story” sequence, where the message is that you shouldn’t just automatically trust people without viewing them analytically. The whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” bit seems appropriate here.”