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  • Scene and Reviewed: My Little Pony–Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders

    My Little Pony

    Every pony is unique! If you lived in Equestria, what would your CUTIE MARK be? The Cutie Marks Crusaders can help you find out! MY LITTLE PONY–FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC: ADVENTURES OF THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS is coming to DVD on February 24, 2015 in the U.S. and Canada from Shout! Factory Kids in collaboration with Hasbro Studios. Offered as a bonus feature is a fun new sing-along and coloring sheets!

    I was ten years old when I got my first My Little Pony doll. Back then, the ponies had sad, dreamy looking eyes with round faces. I collected a number of them, my favorite being the one with shamrocks on its butt; the phrase “cutie mark” hadn’t come along yet. The most exciting thing you could expect to do with your pony was brush its hair. Soon after, a cartoon series premiered. As a kid in the ’80s I can tell you, it was pretty lame. Fast forward 20 years. I was married with a little girl who was in love with My Little Pony. For years, I’ve watched this child obsess over every detail of every pony. The toys evolved in appearance and developed an incredibly in-depth back story. By 2010, animator and writer Lauren Faust (The Power Puff Girls) gave the world My Little Pony–Friendship is Magic, bringing the franchise a commercial success never imagined. Here is some information about the new DVD:

    “In EQUESTRIA, obtaining a CUTIE MARK is an important coming-of-age moment for a young Pony. After all, Ponies acquire their CUTIE MARKS only after they discover a unique characteristic about themselves, setting them apart from all other Ponies. So when Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom meet, they instantly become friends and make it their mission to find their CUTIE MARKS! They are the Cutie Mark Crusaders!”

    My daughter is 16.5 years old now and a Junior in High School. I wish you could have seen her face when I told her that I’d been tasked with reviewing this DVD! We watched it together and she provided detailed commentary during and after every episode. That right there was worth every moment.

    As a family who were long-time fans of The Power Puff Girls, it was easy to fall in love with the Friendship is Magic series. In fact, the characters of Sweetie Bell, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom are essentially a redux of the PPG’s Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup characters. But, the pop culture references don’t stop there. Parents watching this series with their children will be entertained by look-a-like Ponies that pop up in every episode. Any cartoon that can find a way to work in ‘Doctor Whooves‘ gets two thumbs up from me. Keep an eye out on this DVD for the ‘cast’ of The Big Lebowski at the bowling alley.

    These Generation 4 My Little Pony characters are a lot of fun to watch no matter what your age. Each character, as expressed by their Cutie Mark, represents an aspect of friendship. The series offers good moral messages for young children. Though, its most impressive to me how this series has touched so many teens and even adults with its inside humor and positive messages. Having spawned an entire sub-culture of fans across the globe, My Little Pony has united many people in a fandom that will be around for many, many years to come. It is a far cry from the Pony days of my youth. I, for one, am glad to see this franchise re-imagined for a new generation. The target demographic is young girls aged 4-7, however this series is one that is highly enjoyed by every member of my household regardless of age or gender. I would highly recommend this DVD to those interested in joining the Pony movement. With 5 individual episodes and approx. 110 minutes running time, The Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders will win your family over!

    “For even more Pony fun, PlayDate Digital has announced the new Cutie Pox Storybook App. When Apple Bloom becomes impatient waiting for her Cutie Mark, she decides to take things into her own hooves! In this interactive story book, follow Apple Bloom and the fillies as they learn that taking the easy path toward your goals isn’t always the best way. Enter the world of Equestria in this story book adventure full of excitement, humor and friendship! The release of “Cutie Mark Crusaders” marks the first of a series of planned collaborations between PlayDate Digital and Shout! Factory to cross-promote My Little Pony–Friendship is Magic stories and media. In this collaboration, products contain promotional material highlighting a variety of products. In addition, Shout! Factory and PlayDate will host contests and offer value-added bonus material.”

    Episodes: The Cutie Mark Chronicles, The Cutie Pox, Flight to the Finish, Pinkie Pride, and Twilight Time.

    Bonus Features: Sing-Along, Coloring Sheets, and More!

    YouTube Preview Image

    Also available on DVD from Shout! Factory Kids: My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks; My Little Pony Equestria Girls; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: The Keys of Friendship; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: A Dash of Awesome; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: A Pony for Every Season; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Princess Twilight Sparkle; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Pinkie Pie Party; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Adventures in the Crystal Empire; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Season Three; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Season Two; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: Season One; My Little Pony-Friendship is Magic: The Friendship Express; My Little Pony The Complete Series (Classic); My Little Pony: Escape from Catrina and Other Adventures; My Little Pony: Classic Movie Collection; My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas; My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure.

    About Hasbro Studios:

    Hasbro Studios is responsible for entertainment brand-driven storytelling for Hasbro across television, film, commercial productions and short-form content. It develops, produces and distributes TV shows based on Hasbro’s world class brands, including TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, LITTLEST PET SHOP and FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Many of these shows air on Discovery Channel Family Channel and on networks in more than 180 territories globally. Since its formation in 2009, the studio has received nine Daytime Emmy wins.

    On the film side, the studio has developed and produced a number of features based on Hasbro’s brands. In addition to partnering with leading studios, the company intends to make movies based on new and existing Hasbro brands for audiences globally through Allspark Pictures film label. Films in development or planned for release include OUIJA (Universal), CANDY LAND (Sony), GI JOE 3 (Paramount), JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS (Universal and Allspark Pictures), MAGIC: THE GATHERING (21st Century Fox), and an animated feature based on MY LITTLE PONY (Allspark Pictures).

    About Shout! Factory:

    Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blu-Ray offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY nominated box sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com

     

    Scene and Reviewed: Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series

    Transformers Cybertron

    Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series! Relive the Adventures of This Classic Animated TV Series in One Complete Set! Own This Collectible 7-DVD Set on August 5 2014 from Shout! Factory.

    I have to admit, I was eagerly awaiting this series release from Shout! Factory. After reviewing the Armada and Energon series, the completionist in me was actually excited to see the arrival of this Transformers collection. Here is the scoop on Cybertron:

    “This summer, relive some of the most astonishing classic action battles of ROBOTS IN DISGUISE and complete your home entertainment collection of the rare UNICRON Trilogy. In 2005, TRANSFORMERS fans were introduced to the animated series TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON, the third installment of the rare UNICRON Trilogy–consisting of ARMADA, ENERGON and CYBERTRON. UNICRON has been defeated, but his destruction has created a black hole, which is threatening the AUTOBOTS’ home world of CYBERTRON. It’s up to OPTIMUS PRIME, his team of AUTOBOTS and their new human friends–Coby, Lori and Bud–to secure the four mystical Cyber Planet Keys, in order to destroy the black hole. Unfortunately, MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS are always lurking. And if the Cyber Planet Keys fall into their hands, it could mean the end of life as we know it. The race is on!”

    As I said of the Energon series, “None of the Transformers series have ever been perfect. It’s all in what you choose to take away from the experience.” That same philosophy applies when watching the Cybertron series. The CGI was on par with, if not slightly better than, its predecessor. I wish that they had developed the animation a little more, rather than reusing some of the same footage over and over for many of the transformation and fight sequences. But that is easily forgivable. Remember, He-Man was practically the same shots in every episode. If they can get away with it, so can the Transformers. But I digress. The English dubbing was greatly improved over previous efforts. I guess after the harsh criticisms that were received for the shortcomings of Armada and Energon, a little extra care was taken this go round. The noticeable efforts paid off.

    As for the plot….meh. I mean, it’s the Transformers. I wasn’t wholly enthralled by the story lines of the previous two series, so why should this one be any different? It takes a few episodes for the story to really pick up. Then mid-series, Cybertron becomes somewhat repetitive with the racing (fans of the show will know what I’m talking about). Eventually, they get back on board with the original plot and the pace of the series really gains momentum. It’s always fun to see fan favorites like Starscream, Galvatron and Wing Saber in action. And, who doesn’t love it when Optimus Prime yells “Roll Out” to the Autobots?

    All in all, Transformers Cybertron was exactly what you’d expect from a Transformers series. The show improved with each installment of the trilogy. Cybertron was a fun way to close out the Unicron epoch. Shout! Factory did a wonderful job putting these series together in a DVD collection any fan will enjoy. The Unicron series is a great way to introduce younger children to the wonderment that is the Transformers. All three installments have been reasonably priced and are an affordable way to expand your Transformers collection. Reviewing all three series has indeed been entertaining. Honestly, I would rather watch the Transformers Cybertron series over any of the Michael Bay films.

    “On August 5, 2014, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Hasbro Studios, will release TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON: THE COMPLETE SERIES, featuring all action-packed episodes collected in one deluxe 7-DVD box set. Whether reliving the childhood memory or discovering this series for the first time, this is an essential home collection for every fan, collectors and entire family to complete their TRANSFORMERS home entertainment library. This complete series 7-DVD set is priced to own at $44.99 SRP.”

    About Hasbro Studios:

    Hasbro Studios is the Los Angeles-based entertainment division of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS). The studio is responsible for entertainment brand-driven storytelling for the company across television, film, commercial productions and short-form. It develops, produces and distributes TV shows based on Hasbro’s world class brands, including TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, LITTLEST PET SHOP, and FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Many of these shows air on the Hub Network, a U.S. television network for kids and their families, that is a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Hasbro Studios shows can also be seen on networks in more than 180 territories globally. Since its formation in 2009, the studio has received seven Daytime Emmy wins and 16 nominations. On the film side, the studio is developing and producing a number of features based on Hasbro’s brands, including TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount), G.I. Joe 3 (Paramount) and CANDY LAND (Sony). The studio team also oversees the production of commercials that feature Hasbro’s brands as well as production of short-form content that can be seen on all of the major digital and social media platforms globally.

    About Shout! Factory:

    Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blue-Ray offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music, and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY nominated “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California.

    Scene and Reviewed: Transformers Armada: The Complete Series

    Transformers Armada

    TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE COMPLETE SERIES! Relive the Adventures of this Classic Animated TV series in One Complete Set featuring all 52 Action-Packed Episodes! Bring home this Collectible 8-DVD Set on March 11, 2014 from Shout! Factory.

    Once again, I have found myself watching hours of Transformers cartoons. It’s not a bad gig, really. And it was interesting to watch a series that was much older than the last one I reviewed, making them two entirely different beasts. Here is the lowdown on the new DVD set:

    Brace yourself to relive some of the most astonishing TRANSFORMERS battles between the AUTOBOTS and the DECEPTICONS through the complete series release of TRANSFORMERS ARMADA. This is the unforgettable chapter of TRANSFORMERS lore and the first part of the rare UNICRON Trilogy–consisting of ARMADA, ENERGON, AND CYBERTRON. Valor, deception and unexpected twists unfolded in these captivating adventures, leading to an unlikely alliance between natural enemies in the face of a genuine evil known as UNICRON. Our heroes, the AUTOBOTS and their nemesis, the DECEPTICONS are at it again in this complete series of the TRANSFORMERS ARMADA. This series opens to a war between the two factions of TRANSFORMERS on their home planet of Cybertron over MINI-CONS, a race of smaller, power-enhancing TRANSFORMERS. This struggle will bring AUTOBOTS, DECEPTICONS and MINI-CONS to earth, where they continue to battle, even after two humans get involved. Through the course of this series, the TRANSFORMERS face mysterious mercenaries, mighty MINI-CON weapons and even time travel as they fight for control or freedom.”

    The collection is neatly packaged in a fat box with flip trays that house the 8 DVDs, making storage much easier than some box sets. Unfortunately, though, for a “collectible” set, there are no booklets or inserts included. The set is also lacking any bonus features of any kind. I find that unfortunate, as I think it would have been a nice touch to explore and expand upon this particular incarnation of the Transformers. The lack of new information–a missed opportunity to educate younger viewers–makes me feel that this set serves no purpose other than to satisfy pure nostalgic cravings for those who may have watched this series growing up.

    As I’ve said, I was a child when the Generation-1 series began. I’m sure if I went back and watched those episodes now–or any of the myriad other 1980s cartoon series I was obsessed with–I would find them antiquated. Living in a world where whole generations of people have never seen animation that was not CGI in some form, it’s hard to go back and watch older cartoons. I know 2002-2004 doesn’t sound old (that’s when Transformers Armada originally aired on Cartoon Network’s Toonami) but from a technological standpoint, that’s downright ancient! When I reviewed the Bumblebee episodes from the Transformers Prime series (air dates 2010-2013) I could actually see myself watching a show like that. Robots and CGI go hand in hand. Seeing them drawn in “old school” animation styles as compared to the nearly fully CGI series of late, makes the Transformers look….well…flat. I can’t imagine that a kid who has already been introduced to CGI Transformers is going to seek out these episodes. Unless, of course, that kid is a die hard fan and collector. However, the Armada series could be a great way to introduce the Transformers to younger children! Have them start on a series like this one and work their way forward to the more advanced in the series. And, of course, for those who watched Armada during its original run, this DVD collection will bring back a lot of memories–over 19 hours worth, to be exact!

    During a number of the episodes, I thought my DVD program was experiencing a glitch. After a little research, I discovered the glitch wasn’t on my end, rather it was the series itself. Here’s a history lesson for you: Hasbro and Takara (their Japanese partner) intended to do a reboot of sorts for the Transformers in order to reintroduce the characters to a new audience. Due to some contractual issues and demands made by Cartoon Network, the American version of the Armada series was rushed through production. This caused a number of problems. Some of the scripts were incomplete and scenes had multiple types of animation, giving it a very schizophrenic feel. In some spots, the screen would go all black, but dialogue would continue. There were other dubbing issues, such as characters being called–repeatedly–by the wrong names and voices and animation sequences not lining up. Takara didn’t release their version in Japan until 6 months later, allowing them time to try and fix some of the errors. Personally, I only noticed a few dubbing issues and blackouts. There were a few spots that felt like “dead air” time where pauses between character’s actions were a tad longer than warranted. Given its infamous reputation, however, I think that anyone who knows the back story of the series will definitely want to own this collectible set, if for nothing more than kitsch value and comic relief. I will say, the animation does improve between disc 1 and disc 8, showing that they took a little more care as the series progressed. The animation becomes crisper with sharper colors and contrast, and the transitions become smoother, making viewing more enjoyable. Again, it’s interesting to watch if all you’ve seen is the newer CGI series. It’s a definite trip down memory lane that fans of the series will love!

    “On March 11, 2014, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Hasbro Studios, will unleash TRANSFORMERS ARMADA: THE COMPLETE SERIES on home entertainment shelves everywhere. For the first time ever, the entire series is collected on one deluxe 8-DVD set, featuring all 52 memorable episodes. Whether reliving the childhood memory or discovering this series for the first time, this is an essential home collection for every fan, collectors and entire family to complete their TRANSFORMERS home entertainment library. This complete series 8-DVD set is priced to own at $44.99 [suggested retail price]”

    Pre-order is available now at Amazon.

    About Hasbro Studios:

    Hasbro Studios is the Los Angeles-based entertainment division of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS). The studio is responsible for entertainment brand-driven storytelling for the company across television, film, commercial productions and short-form. It develops, produces and distributes TV shows based on Hasbro’s world class brands, including TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, LITTLEST PET SHOP, and FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Many of these shows air on the Hub Network, a U.S. television network for kids and their families, that is a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Hasbro Studios shows can also be seen on networks in more than 180 territories globally. Since its formation in 2009, the studio has received seven Daytime Emmy wins and 16 nominations. On the film side, the studio is developing and producing a number of features based on Hasbro’s brands, including TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount), G.I. Joe 3 (Paramount) and CANDY LAND (Sony). The studio team also oversees the production of commercials that feature Hasbro’s brands as well as production of short-form content that can be seen on all of the major digital and social media platforms globally.

    About Shout! Factory:

    Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blue-Ray offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music, and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY nominated “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California.