Transform! ...Head On!Transformers: The★Headmasters
is an anime
series which aired in 1987, continuing the story after the end of the third season of The Transformers
and ignoring the events of "The Rebirth". The evil Decepticons, supposedly defeated at the end of G1
, attack the Autobots' home planet of Cybertron, aided by new allies, the Headmasters. Just when things look their bleakest, a group of Autobot Headmasters suddenly appear to turn the tide.
The show concerned the continuation of the war between Autobot and Decepticon, focusing on the Headmasters and, later, their Targetmaster allies. As time went on, most of the original characters were phased out until to allow the new toys to take centre stage.
The majority of the new characters were members of two subgroups of Transformer, who were fairly evenly split between the two main factions.
- Headmasters are a group of small Transformers who left Cybertron in the distant past to avoid the Great War. Settling on the planet Master, they built themselves larger bodies in order to survive. The small Headmaster units transform into larger heads which attach to the robot form of the larger Transtector. The Transtector itself transforms into a vehicle or an animal, which can then be piloted by the Headmaster.
- Targetmasters result from the fusion of standard-size Transformers with Headmaster-sized bots. The smaller bots transform into guns which can then be wielded by their partners. The Targetmasters' ability to select targets independently of their wielders allows the wielders to use to guns separately.
After a three episode pilot (during which Optimus Prime died yet again
), the show settled back into the generally episodic format of its predecessor. Continuity was much stronger in Headmasters
than in Generation 1
, with the result that even though the majority of episodes are self-contained, they still have to be watched in the correct order. Unfortunately, Pacing Problems
are present throughout, with long stretches of time spent with the characters standing around doing not very much, and the fight scenes generally aren't as exciting as those of other continuities.
On the other hand, the animation was taken back by Toei, which resulted in a considerable improvement in quality. Animation and continuity errors
were rarer, albeit still present on occasion.
This show was somewhat darker than G1
. Several episodes included on-screen deaths (mostly robots, but also some aliens encountered along the way), and the Autobots lost battles as often as they won. This all meant that Scorponok didn't suffer Villain Decay
, and Galvatron regained a good deal of the threat he had lost in G1
The show received a hilariously bad
English dub by Omni Productions in Malaysia, which gained notoriety after being broadcast on StarTV in Singapore. While the dub was perfectly comprehensible, it did contain some "Blind Idiot" Translation
, which spawned a few short-lived memes
The first episode of the dub was included as a bonus
on the DVD edition of the animated Transformers
movie. DVDs containing both the dub and the original Japanese with subtitles were released in Australia and the U.K. in 2005, and both versions were shown in the UK on Anime Central in 2007. Shout Factory released the series in the U.S. on July 5, five days after Dark Of The Moon
opens. The dub was not included, due to Hasbro's apparent concerns about content.
Currently the fan group "Prime Productions" is working to create a proper dub of the series, with completely new voice overs and a new team of writers. Information on the project can be found on the group's Youtube page
Followed by Transformers Masterforce
The Battle Beasts in the series ended up getting a Spiritual Successor
called Beast Saga
Provides examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Among names like Fortress, Chromedome, Highbrow and Hardhead, there's also robots called Jack and Abel.
- Action-Hogging Opening: perhaps the most blatant out of the G1 sequels by far.
- Taken to its logical extreme after episode 14 - where even you could take part in the action.note
- Anyone Can Die: Optimus Prime (after four episodes of resurrected life), Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Atlantis, sort of. Part of the last two episodes concern metal found on "Lemuria", which became Atlantis in the English dub. However, this was better than the subtitles, which mangled it into 'Demonia' and 'Libelia'
- Back from the Dead: A number of characters who should be dead just... appear. Hi, Prowl/Ironhide/Wheeljack! This is due to Japan not getting Transformers: The Movie until much later. The appearances are largely of the blink and you'll miss it cameo variety, so it's not too bad.
- Also notably Soundwave and Blaster, who kill each other in battle but are later rebuilt
- Badass Crew: The Targetmasters, on both sides.
- Banjō Ginga: Scorponok/Mega Zarak
- Bastard Understudy: Scorponok
- BFS: Fortress Maximus' master-sword.
- Big Bad: Galvatron from episodes 1-10 & 16-25, Scorponok from episodes 11-15 & 26-35.
- Big Damn Heroes: This is how the Headmasters and Targetmasters are introduced.
- Bittersweet Ending
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: The hilarious Malaysian dub, so beloved amongst comedy anime enthusiasts it was included in the 2008 DVD release as an audio option.
- This little bit from the Malaysian dub:
Scorponok: "Huh huh huh huh, what's wrong with the Headmasters? Couldn't they fight without Chromedome? Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay, then I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me. Huh huh huh huh."
- Canon Discontinuity: This series completely ignores the entirety of the short-lived 4th Season of Transformers and instead picks up where Season 3 left off.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whatever happened to Grimlock? Disappears with no explanation.
- And the rest of the Dinobots. And Wreck-Gar. And Hound.
- Combining Mecha
- Compelling Voice: Mindwipe is a hypnotist, so this comes with the territory.
- Continuity Snarl: One of the biggest issues in the series. Optimus in the film dies from his battle with Megatron. Here... he gets randomly shot by a Decepticon laser fire. Though you can't blame Toei Animation or Takara for that due to the No Export for You issues regarding the movie
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Scorponok, at times.
- Darker and Edgier: Sort of. On the one hand, characters die on screen, and the tone is at times somewhat grim or tragic. On the other hand, it also has a fair amount of light-hearted and silly comic relief, Daniel and Wheelie are prominent characters throughout the series, and overall it's evident that the series is still aimed at children. The fact that it can come off as Darker and Edgier at times can probably be attributed to cultural differences regarding shows aimed at kids.
- Defeat Means Friendship happens with Sixshot
- Detachment Combat: The Duocons are unique from the usual Combining Mecha in that Battletrap and Flywheels are each a single robot that separates into two vehicles controlled by one mind. And they're actually pretty effective against the Autobots, too.
- Dub Name Change: Some rather hilarious ones in the Omni dub. You can find the name changes on the Omni entry on TFWiki.
- Of note: Blaster -> "Billy"; Jazz -> "Marshall", Blurr -> "Wally", and Spike Witwicky -> "Sparkle". Then, there's Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, who was called "Rodimus Prime" (with a long O, sounding like Roadimus) in both forms. Bear in mind, these are all characters from the original series, which was shown in Singapore in its original American broadcast form.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Galvatron, who previously survived being at ground-zero of a planet destroying explosion, is killed when the headmasters... drop an iceberg on him.
- Dubtitle: The subtitles on the "Shout! Factory" DVDs (the only ones available in the US) replace all of the characters' Japanese names with their English ones, or the nearest equivalent (Convoy becomes Optimus Prime, Fortress becomes Cerebros, etc.). They also occasionally try to work in Transformers-specific terms that hadn't actually been coined yet when the series was created (Soundwave and Blaster's Cassettes are called "Deployers," "scrap" is used in place of any sort of rough language, Transformers' lifes/hearts/souls are now "sparks"...).
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Cybertron and Mars. Scorponok's goal is to do this to Earth as well.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Several episode titles, notably "The Dormant Volcano Mysteriously Erupts!" and "Ultra Magnus Dies!!"
- Extreme Doormat: Arcee goes from being The Chick in the movie to being the House Wife.
- Face Framed in Shadow: Zarak's entire body manages this, remaining concealed no matter where or when he is. Once he even manages it while surrounded by flames. It stops after episode 15.
- Final Battle
- Five-Man Band
- Good Bad Translation:
- "Alright listen up, I'm the ninja consultant for the Decepticons, my name is Sixshot!"
- "I can feel the heat!"
- "Hahaha, Fortress Maximus has come himself. Okay then! I shall get Fortress Maximus to fight me!"
- "That's strange... how come a robot should feel sleepy?"
- Grand Finale
- Gratuitous English: "Transform! Head on!"
- His Name Is...: In Find Mega Zarak's Weak Spot!!, the Autobots discover an ex-slave of Scorponok who knows the weakness to his transtector. Just before he reveals it, he is fatally shot by Weirdwolf.
- Humongous Mecha: What Headmaster technology basically is. Except here the mecha is piloted by another mecha.
- Killed Off for Real: Optimus Prime, Cybertron itself, Galvatron, Ultra Magnus, and the planet Mars.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The first three episodes have over a hundred separate characters appearing in various roles. Once the Headmasters show up, both forces seem to lose a lot of their soldiers.
- Losing Your Head: Duh.
- Lucky Charms Title
- Man-Eating Plant: Big enough that it prompts the first appearance of Fortress Maximus in order to defeat it.
- Merchandise-Driven: Besides Transformers, the show also plugs other Takara products like Battle Beasts and Video Challenger
- The Mole: Punch / Counterpunch, for the Autobots. His job is helped by the fact that the Decepticons have the collective brainpower of rice-pudding.
- Multiple Headcase: Doubleheader, the Monsterbot, has two heads in his dragon mode. These heads have their own personalities, and tend to bicker with each other during fights.
- Ninja: Sixshot
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Sixshot, again. He's a robot ninja with superpowers.
- On The Next Episode Of Catchphrase
- Noble Demon: Sixshot
- Precision F-Strike: Chromedome:Fucking Destrons (Decepticons). He says it at around the 0:56 mark.
- Plant Aliens: Used in one of Scorponok's schemes.
- Put on a Bus: Rodimus Prime, who pretty much quits when Cybertron is destroyed. He takes Blurr and Kup with him.
- The Power of Friendship
- Quirky Miniboss Squad
- Religious Robot: Brainstorm crosses himself, implying some sort of Christianity-based belief.
- Shout-Out: In one episode, when Fortress is trying to wield the Master Sword, there's the distinctive sound of the TARDIS in the background.
- Spoiler Opening: "The Return of the Immortal Emperor!" gives away the climax in the first ten seconds.
- Spoiler Title: Ultra Magnus Dies!!
- Theme Music Powerup
- Theme Tune Cameo Hard Head sings karaoke to the closing credits theme.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Several, actually. Transformers Headmasters inexplicably changed Cyclonus and Scourge from genuinely menacing and formidable warriors into mentally-retarded Dirty Coward Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain comic reliefs who manage little more than cheap childish slapstick whenever they appear.
- Trypticon, previously portrayed as nigh-unstoppable to the average 'bot, gets taken out by frikken Wheelie tricking him into stepping on a rope-bridge.
- Transformation Is a Free Action: Subverted in Explosion on Mars!! Maximus Is in Danger. When Fortress is about to transform into Fortress Maximus, the Decepticons launch a bomb in his face and immediately stop his Transformation Sequence.
- Transformation Sequence: Fortress Maximus and Scorponok have them
- Transforming Mecha
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The year 2011
- Unexplained Recovery: Outside of the characters mentioned above in Back from the Dead, Galvatron somehow survives being at ground zero of a planetary explosion. No explanation is given to how he escaped.
- Villain Decay: Trypticon, who was previously able to level the Ark, is here reduced to a common Mook, capable of being taken out by a rope bridge and gravity.
- Wham Episode: Cybertron Is in Grave Danger, Part 2. Scorponok blows up Cybertron, Galvatron is presumed dead, Rodimus, Kup and Blurr leave to find another planet to call home, and Rodimus makes Fortress the new leader of the Autobots.