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Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

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Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Sabrblade » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:40 pm

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The elusive Jason Jansen, who played the human youth Tommy Kennedy during the long-forgotten fifth season of the Generation 1 cartoon, has at long last been found and interviewed.

http://digestmybrain.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/tommy-kennedy-found-an-interview-with-jason-jansen/
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby PrymeStriker » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:58 pm

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Holy crap. They found him.

Who's next, Tupac?
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby El Duque » Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:39 am

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Okay folks we have a bit of a rarity here, an interview with Transformers Generation 1 Season 5's Tommy Kennedy. Many of you may not be aware, but a 5th season of Sunbow's Transformers Generation 1 did air in 1988. It was a retrospective season comprised of reruns from the original series and The Transformers: The Movie cut down into five episodes. The only original content to come out of Season 5 were live action bumpers featuring a stop-motion/animatronic Powermaster Optimus Prime talking to a young boy named Tommy Kennedy. The episodes played out as if Powermaster Optimus Prime were telling a stories to Tommy.

After season 5 Tommy Kennedy virtually disappeared from the fandom, all that was known is that he was played by the child actor Jason Jansen (Jankowski). After all these years he's turned up and was recently interviewed by the Digest My Brain blog. Click here to read the full interview.

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Here's a YouTube clip from the Seibertron.com channel featuring some of the bumper footage.


If you were a fan, how did it feel “talking” to Optimus Prime? Did they have a crew member say his lines off camera to help with timing or was Peter Cullen’s voice prerecorded?

When saying my lines (if i remember correctly) there was mix of things that were going on. At times someone off camera would recite Optimus Primes lines, but I believe it was a member of the crew and not Peter Cullen. Other times, if the scene was shorter and the camera cut away, I would just pause my lines while saying them to account for another voice to be inserted later. I actually just read through the transcripts on the wiki and remember saying every single one of them – I was able to memorize quite a bit – but I my memory serves me correctly I believe I definitely had some large cue cards up there behind the cameras as well. They were color coded to help break up the lines.

Optimus looked great – up close you could tell it was made from wood and plastic, but it was a real dam good job. A little bit of info, we had two puppeteers working Optimus Prime. I believe one guy was inside his head and moving his mouth while another moved his head from side to side. One of the guys was a famous puppeteer and had worked on Sesame Street inside of “Snuffalupagus” not sure if I have spelled that correctly. I remember he was known for his work.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:05 am

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For those curious about the Season 5 episodes, here's a YouTube compilation video of all the new Tommy/Optimus footage created specifically this season:

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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby ausbot » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:17 am

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I've always wondered why do this and the G2 reruns when they could have just re voiced Victory, headmasters and Masterforce? They has 3 perfectly good series already animated, the toys why not use them?
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Fires_Of_Inferno » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:29 am

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Hm, never knew about this lost fifth season.

.... Wh.... Ah.... um...

Is that Terry O'Quinn?
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby PrymeStriker » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:37 am

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Fires_Of_Inferno wrote:Hm, never knew about this lost fifth season.


It's not lost, as in, nobody could ever find it. Rather, very few people remember it.

This season's been on YouTube for years.

Is that Terry O'Quinn?


Jason Jansen.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Fires_Of_Inferno » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:41 am

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PrymeStriker wrote:
Fires_Of_Inferno wrote:Hm, never knew about this lost fifth season.


It's not lost, as in, nobody could ever find it. Rather, very few people remember it.

This season's been on YouTube for years.


Yeah, was making a reference/joke, however...

Is that Terry O'Quinn?


PrymeStriker wrote:Jason Jansen.



Oh, I thought Jason Jansen was the dude with the hair.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Adimus Prime » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:52 am

I remember getting up at 6:30 am every Thursday and recording this on my VCR on some obscure cable channel in Kenosha, Wi. It was the highlight of my week. I kept waiting to see if animated episodes featuring the 1988 toy line would start running- obviously to no avail.

This was refreshing.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby PrymeStriker » Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:56 am

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Fires_Of_Inferno wrote:
PrymeStriker wrote:Jason Jansen.



Oh, I thought Jason Jansen was the dude with the hair.


I thought you meant the dude with the hair. Derped out and forgot who Terry O'Quinn was. :P
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:07 am

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ausbot wrote:I've always wondered why do this and the G2 reruns when they could have just re voiced Victory, headmasters and Masterforce? They has 3 perfectly good series already animated, the toys why not use them?
Well, since Hasbro had nothing to do with those series, maybe they just didn't want to bother.

Not to mention that all three focused on characters Hasbro wasn't selling in their market (Victory, especially), so had they dubbed these three, they'd be advertising a whole bunch of toys kids in the West couldn't buy, instead of the ones that they could.

Plus, Hasbro also didn't have an anime dubbing studio back then. Who would have dubbed the three show's for them?
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Shadowdodger » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:09 am

OK, I watched a little bit and I don't remember this at all.
But let's talk about how awesome the kids acid-wash denim jacket with the huge Autobot symbol on the back is. Epic jacket is epic.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Springer » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:18 am

Sabrblade wrote:Not to mention that all three focused on characters Hasbro wasn't selling in their market (Victory, especially), so had they dubbed these three, they'd be advertising a whole bunch of toys kids in the West couldn't buy, instead of the ones that they could.


Yeah, Hasbro would never do that in a series! Cough, cough... TFP Breakdown, Smokescreen, Unicron, Winged Vehicon... :lol:
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Megatron Wolf » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:21 am

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wait that was actually considered season 5? I always thought that was just how season 3 aired on tv. But anyway thats the transformers i started out with, would watch that then gobots. Cant believe i actually remember that. But ever since i was a kid i wondered why it was power master prime & not the prime from the show, Now i finally realize it was just a marketing ploy to get kids to buy that figure.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby PrymeStriker » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:23 am

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Springer wrote:
Sabrblade wrote:Not to mention that all three focused on characters Hasbro wasn't selling in their market (Victory, especially), so had they dubbed these three, they'd be advertising a whole bunch of toys kids in the West couldn't buy, instead of the ones that they could.


Yeah, Hasbro would never do that in a series! Cough, cough... TFP Breakdown, Smokescreen, Unicron, Winged Vehicon... :lol:


Hasbro is gearing toward entertainment more than toys now. Prime is a TV show first and foremost. The original cartoons existed to promote the toys. They weren't going to release a cartoon where their main characters are guys they couldn't release as toys.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby ausbot » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:06 am

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Well they were selling the Headmasters toys when Headmasters was produced, Masterforce basically had the same characters as the west (very few difference) And Takara still had to get the rights from hasbro so my question still stands why did they never use perfectly good cartoon to sell their toys!
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby jamarmiller » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:42 am

its something I always wondered too

especially Headmasters

Why make up a 3 episode miniseries, when they had the JP Headmaster series

It looks more like a continuation that rebirth and had characters from all the previous seasons too.

If I ever win the powerball, I am going to pay for the original actors to voice/dub it and have whoever owns the dvd rights release it LOL
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Blackstreak » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:38 am

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I remember watching those. I didn't care for the Matrix editing of the series.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby bvzxa » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:07 am

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Well one thing you have to remember is transformers in Japan were dubbbed from the US version for seasons 1 - 3. Also they were aired one year later than ours. Though I still don't know the reason they stopped airing episodes my guess is Hasbro saw declining sales in the line itself.
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:51 pm

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Springer wrote:
Sabrblade wrote:Not to mention that all three focused on characters Hasbro wasn't selling in their market (Victory, especially), so had they dubbed these three, they'd be advertising a whole bunch of toys kids in the West couldn't buy, instead of the ones that they could.


Yeah, Hasbro would never do that in a series! Cough, cough... TFP Breakdown, Smokescreen, Unicron, Winged Vehicon... :lol:
Not back then, they wouldn't have.

Like PrymeStriker said, nowadays, Hasbro's become more focused on media than toys. But back during the days of G1, the toys were the highest priority.

ausbot wrote:Well they were selling the Headmasters toys when Headmasters was produced, Masterforce basically had the same characters as the west (very few difference) And Takara still had to get the rights from hasbro so my question still stands why did they never use perfectly good cartoon to sell their toys!
Alright. I'll try to break it down as best as I can.
  • The Japanese cartoons went in very different directions with very different concepts from what Hasbro was trying to market. for example, Nebulans were a key aspect of the Hasbro continuity, while Takara did away with them completely. Pretenders were giant suits of flesh-based armor in Hasbro canon, while Takara changed them to small, quasi-mystical organic modes. Powermaster tech was just technology, while Godmaster tech was godlike magic. Brainmasters and Breast Animals were key aspects of Victory, yet those did not exist in the Hasbro market.
  • The Headmasters only came about once Takara found out that "The Rebirth" would only be as short as it was. If it weren't for them making "The Rebirth", The Headmasters might not have come about as it did, leaving us without it anyway.
  • Since Hasbro was pretty much done with the Transformers as a cartoon, having broke ties with Sunbow Productions, it's no wonder Hasbro didn't bother to reach out to the Japanese cartoons if they didn't care to have a Transformers cartoon airing at the time.
  • And since Sunbow lost the rights to the Transformers, who would have even dubbed the Japanese shows even if Hasbro did want to bring them over? They would have needed an anime dubbing studio and that would have costed money.
  • And such dubbing would have taken time to complete, thus delaying the releases of the JG1 cartoons on TV, maybe even as long as a year. The Headmasters advertises 1987 toys, but might not have made it to broadcast until 1988. Same might have applied for Masterforce and Victory, puching the 1988 and 1989 cartoons back until 1989 and 1990, respectively, making them all promote the toys of the previous year instead of the then-current year. The only way to possibly have avoided such a delay would have been to rush the production, which would have decreased the dubbing quality from the level that it already would have been, which, being done in the 1980s, would have already been pretty low to begin with.
  • Speaking of anime dubbing in the 1980s, outside of a few examples like Robotech and Voltron (both rivals to Hasbro and the Transformers), anime dubbing wasn't exactly the most common practice back then.
  • And since it wasn't that common, any attempts of a dub being reasonably faithful to both the original Japanese versions and the Hasbro canon would have been a nigh-impossibility due to just how different the JG1 cartoons were from the Hasbro cartoon. In addition to the conceptual differences listed above, there would have been cultural difference and ethical differences to filter through, which would have put whoever was interested in dubbing them in over their heads.
  • Regarding the ethical differences, there are a lot of things that most definitely would have had to have been changed, edited, or outright cut out to make them fit for air on 1980's American television. Like when Wilder murdered a puppy on screen in front the little girl who owned it. Or every single time Killbison transformed, since he always stuck out his middle fingers in the stock footage of the sequence. Or the very nature of the Breastforce itself. And all the character deaths and torture scenes would most certainly be not permitted, even for those who get healed or revived later.
  • And let's still not forget how many Japanese-only characters get such prominent focus in these shows when Hasbro was trying to sell other characters' toys. The Trainbots, Ginrai, Metalhawk, Minerva, Grand Maximus, Sixknight, Godbomber, Overlord, BlackZarak, Browning, the Brainmasters, the Multiforce, Galaxy Shuttle, Greatshot, Victory Leo, the Breastforce, etc. all were toys Hasbro didn't make and didn't have back then, so it would have been bad business to air cartoons for toys that they didn't own at the time.
  • And as for those toys that Hasbro and Takara did share at the time, many of them were nothing alike in terms of character and color scheme. Nearly half of the Masterforce toys were redecos of Hasbro toys in all new non-Hasbro-owned color schemes, and ALL of them were portrayed as different characters than what Hasbro was trying to sell. Minerva was not Nightbeat, Ginrai was not Optimus Prime, Cancer was not Squeezeplay, easygoing Lander was not the adventure-seeking Landmine and so on and so forth. This is not something that a mere dialogue re-scripting could reasonably believably fix.
  • Not to mention those who are definitely the same character were still portrayed very differently in the JG1 cartoons. Arcee's a secretary, Galvatron's not insane, Cyclonus and Scourge are bumblers, Daniel acts like a toddler, Wheelie's a punk, Chromedome's a hotheaded youth, Soundwave/Soundblaster is shifty in his allegiances, many Decepticons are just comedic thugs instead of soldiers who just lose, et cetera. Again, this cannot be fix by a simple dialogue rescripting.
  • And most importantly, since Hasbro gave Takara the creative permission to do with the cartoons as they pleased, the JG1 cartoons were made with the intention of not having to be released to Hasbro markets, and so were free to contradict as much as they did from Hasbro's continuity. Takara was able to make these shows and all their supplementary material because of the freedom Hasbro gave them and lack of any real need to rely on Hasbro's version of the story. They were made by Japan FOR Japan, not for international release.
THAT's why.

tl:dr - Hasbro didn't import them because they didn't fit the mindset that Hasbro was in at the time.

jamarmiller wrote:its something I always wondered too

especially Headmasters

Why make up a 3 episode miniseries, when they had the JP Headmaster series
The Headmasters only came about because of how short "The Rebirth" was.

And technically, Hasbro didn't "have" the Japanese shows at the time becuase they had nothing to do with them. The rights were all Japanese-owned.

jamarmiller wrote:It looks more like a continuation that rebirth and had characters from all the previous seasons too.
Mostly only in cameos and eye-candy battle scenes. While watching the series, it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that all of the Headmasters take the center spotlight and shift nearly the entire 1984-1986 cast into either the background, the sidelines, or just outright out of the picture.

Blackstreak wrote:I remember watching those. I didn't care for the Matrix editing of the series.
"Matrix editing"? :???:
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Bouncy X » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:06 pm

everytime i read about this "season" they mention how the movie aired in 5 parts. but nobody seems to mention the fact they did air the movie whole one saturday morning. it wasn't multiple parts just airing back to back, it was the entire movie along with all the tommy segments. they even aired the "touch" video after the movie ended. i still have that thing on 2 VHS tapes. i miscalculated how much room i had so i got to the scene of Hot Rod and Kup in prison and my tape ran out. i scrambled quickly and found another to tape the rest. amazingly i only missed maybe 20 seconds of the movie.

before it became widely available on VHS around here, thats all i had to watch so i watched it a lot. and it has all the commercials so it was always nostalgic watching that. filled with toy commercials for transformers, gi joe, my little pony and potato head kids. lol

anyway...i never see anyone ever mention this airing of the movie, i guess many people missed it. lol amazingly its the reason i love the movie today. when i saw it in theaters i was sooo disappointed and didnt like it. then this airing happened just a year later and i thought it was awesome...i guess i matured between 9 and 10yrs old. lol
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby NTESHFT » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:12 pm

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i remember this. Powermaster Optimus Prime telling the stories to that blonde kid. I even remember the episode where the kid wanted to become a headmaster and Prime was telling him the story about Daniel being one.......good times.....
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby jamarmiller » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:23 pm

Sabrblade wrote:.....................

jamarmiller wrote:It looks more like a continuation that rebirth and had characters from all the previous seasons too.
Mostly only in cameos and eye-candy battle scenes. While watching the series, it becomes pretty clear pretty quick that all of the Headmasters take the center spotlight and shift nearly the entire 1984-1986 cast into either the background, the sidelines, or just outright out of the picture.
...............



Ummmmmm................thats kind of the point though

Its the slow changing of the main cast ( from old to new ) and not a sudden change, say like Victory.

We could enjoy the new cast take the spotlight while still seeing the old cast make lots of cameos and such. WE could enjoy seeing the cast standing next to the old cast.

I mean Hasbro went with Sunbow then on to DIC with GI JOE and it was the same continuity but seriously dumbed down. way more than the JP Headmasters series was. As a kid , I would have loved the Headmaster series just for the sheer amount of new episodes. As a kid I was seriously disappointed we got 3 eps and only 3 eps

I remember ( like a previous poster stated ) just waiting and waiting for new eps to show with the new toys and nothing ever happened ( until I grew up and found the JP series existed )

It was a serious wasted opportunity IMVHO
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:35 pm

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jamarmiller wrote:Ummmmmm................thats kind of the point though

Its the slow changing of the main cast ( from old to new ) and not a sudden change, say like Victory.
It wasn't really that slow. It was pretty much just as immediate as the changeover from the 1984/1985 cast to the 1986 cast as seen in the Transformers: The Movie. Or the changeover from the 1986 cast to the 1987 cast in "The Rebirth". Once the Headmasters appeared, they became the stars right then and there.

The only thing gradual was the shifting of the old cast out to make room for the new cast.

jamarmiller wrote:We could enjoy the new cast take the spotlight while still seeing the old cast make lots of cameos and such. WE could enjoy seeing the cast standing next to the old cast.
But even then, as the series went on, the cameos became less and less occuring, with many of the 1984-1986 cast just up and disappearing. Some of which even vanish after only one or two appearances early on in the series.

jamarmiller wrote:I mean Hasbro went with Sunbow then on to DIC with GI JOE and it was the same continuity but seriously dumbed down. way more than the JP Headmasters series was. As a kid , I would have loved the Headmaster series just for the sheer amount of new episodes. As a kid I was seriously disappointed we got 3 eps and only 3 eps
That I can understand. But unlike the DiC Joe cartoon, The Headmasters wasn't so much dumbed down as it was increasingly more violent and crueler in tone compared to the U.S. cartoon. character would get murdered, tortured, brutalized, and just mauled to an extent far greater than what had come before outside of the 1986 movie.

jamarmiller wrote:I remember ( like a previous poster stated ) just waiting and waiting for new eps to show with the new toys and nothing ever happened ( until I grew up and found the JP series existed )

It was a serious wasted opportunity IMVHO
I can see how one would feel like that, but it just wasn't a feasible idea back then. Toy sales were declining, so less money was being made, so the funds for cartoon material were decreasing lower and lower. If Hasbro couldn't afford to produce their own cartoons at the time, how would they have afforded importing three more cartoons that they didn't have the necessary resources to Americanize for?
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Re: Tommy Kennedy, Found – An Interview with Jason Jansen

Postby gothsaurus » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:25 am

Nice of this guy to do the interview. I found his comments really interesting about the puppetry. Passing on the thanks Mr. Jansen for the time and insight.

As for the fifth season chatter, it is too bad Headmasters couldn't make it over here... or have seen a release on VHS at the time (given the violence was too much for TV). Just getting those dubbed by the original USA voice actors would have been amazing. It could have drifted over to a DVD release now.

Ah well, pie in the sky dreaming. We should just appreciate that we can get an affordable copy on DVD in the USA now!!
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Transformers Podcast: Twincast / Podcast #106 - McCarthyism
Twincast / Podcast #106:
"McCarthyism"
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Posted: Thursday, December 4th, 2014