I’m going to do something a bit silly tonight.
When I was a kid my Cliffjumper figure didn’t come from the regular toy release but was packaged with an audio cassette called Listen ‘N Fun. The cassette featured an audio drama called Sun Raid, and seems writer Merrill Farnsworth knew nothing about Transformers beyond some names. For example, Cliff Jumper (how his name is said) transforms into a red truck, despite coming with a toy that turned into a red compact car. (Although the image used for the video shows that some came with a yellow compact car. Mine was the usual Cliffjumper red.) Ravage has a robot mode and this isn’t even Beast Wars. Megatron has a laugh that reminds me of Dishonest John from the Beanie And Cecil show. (They remade the cartoon in 1988, which was my introduction.) It’s good only if you want something to laugh at as a Transformers fan. None of the famous songs or cast appears but for some reason they do have the transformation noise.
In this story Optimus Prime leaks that the Autobots have found a new energy source when really they haven’t. I’m guessing the plan was to keep the Decepticons away but instead Megatron is sending Starscream to attack. (Cliff and Optimus think it’s to get Starscream destroyed, which is odd on so many levels.) Luckily Dr. Heath Blazedale (I didn’t know Heath could be a woman’s name) has perfected solar energy, which means that solar battery calculator may actually be useful from now on. Cliff’s is sent to recruit her which he does…through kidnapping. He’s the hero, right? Also, a cameo from a mediocre Ronald Reagan impersonation. It’s a race to raid the sun, and I haven’t listed all the errors. See if you can find the others. And if that wasn’t enough for you we have a different audio drama called Sun Raid that had nothing to do with this story, and even though I didn’t grow up with this one it’s a two for one sale here at Saturday Night Showcase.
Well they got one thing right. Congress spending more time debating that doing anything useful, unless it could hurt the citizens in the long run. Meanwhile Starscream is actually the voice of reason when it comes to not killing off one of his energy sources. Despite all the jokes I make at the expense of Megatron’s increasingly stupid plans, this may be his dumbest yet. And he once thought using a giant flying griffon fortress as part of a jet parts smuggling operation was a good use of limited resources. The seekers (what fans call Starscream and the Decepticons with his mold) get the name Deceptiplanes. Also, Snarl now leads the Dinobots apparently, or at least it’s because he can be solar-powered, which surprisingly is mentioned in his tech spec. Considering how much this story gets wrong I’m surprised this and Cliffjumper’s “glass gas” show up.
Optimus is an odd one. Not wanting to use the sun as a power source because it’s one of Earth’s resources and he feels they need permission is rather odd given the sun is just a ball in the sky anyone can use. It’s not like using other natural resources…which leads me to ask what they’re using for power right now. He does have some of the best lines though. “You don’t have time to be sick.” The theme song isn’t too bad.
This is only one of a bunch of “Listen ‘N Fun” Hasbro figures. I don’t know how many others there are but there was one for G.I. Joe as well. Meanwhile, Colorforms, which for a time was doing more than their classic Colorform sets, had their own “Sun Raid” story as part of their “Listen ‘N Play” series. The story had none of the same cast and the story has nothing to do with raiding the sun. It also left the other side blank for kids to record their own Transformers adventures or whatever they wanted to, totally not because they ran out of story but not cassette tape. And lookie what I found! RetroRobotRadio (10/14/2021: the previous version I had up went down) gives us a tale of the Decepticons stealing planes to hold the passengers hostage. It’s a shorter story, but actually a better one.
So this one uses a version of the classic theme and the origin story is part cartoon and part comic but is also its own continuity and isn’t using the classic transformation sound. It also seems to be based in Arizona rather than the usual Oregon of the comics. The acting and story seem to be better than the other Sun Raid even if it doesn’t actually involve the sun. The Transformers’ ignorance of Earth is worked well into the story, Megatron is smarter and so is Starscream. The vocal effect on the robots was an interesting idea and outside of a few lines worked rather well. I do wonder why they didn’t take Steve for their hostage collection. I would also like to know how putting an F-14 into a passenger plane shell works in fooling people when they’re inside the plane. Then there’s Jazz’s groanworthy pun at the end. Geez.
If you found either of these interesting, or that Star Trek one from a couple of weeks ago, let me know. Maybe I’ll track down a few more of these for Saturday Night Showcase.