Transformers: Zone Recap – “Enter the New Supreme Commander, Dai Atlas!”

black space in Transformers Zone

Why show when you can tell?

This is the final animated cartoon episode of the original Transformers run. It had 3 seasons in the U.S., then 3 more in Japan, then this episode which seems like it is just setting up a whole new season but it was mid-1990 and interest in Transformers was at its lowest. It looks like the pilot was made but then it was deemed too cost-prohibitive to continue. I’ll recap this final episode and then write a few sentences about how the storyline wrapped up in some promotional story pages. As a warning, this is a LONG post and only for people that are already pretty interested in Transformers. This is how the original storyline ends after going for over six years.

How is this cartoon? It’s “okay.” It throws a lot of new characters at us without really examining any of them in terms of personality. And it uses a bunch of characters going all the way back to season 1 but disposes of them pretty fast. Things kick off with this blank shot of space where we get told a bad guy is assembling Decepticons. His name is Violenjaiger and he seems to be some sort of evil ghost. Seriously.

Decepticons attack Feminia

We start off not on Earth but an Earth-like planet called Feminia. Kup mentioned it back in Headmasters episode 3. It starts blowing up. That’s because a bunch of powerful Decepticons are attacking it. And it’s ones we’ve actually seen before: Menasor (the Stunticons), Abominus (the Terrorcons), and Overlord (a Power Master). A blue-haired weirdo named Cain is hanging out in the middle of nowhere, getting scared. Also, he has a talking pet rabbit that also has wings. It’s called Emusa. He’s basically Snarf.

Victory Saber saves Cain

The ground begins to split as the Decepticons’ attack on the planet causes earthquakes and volcanoes. Just as Cain is about to fall to his death, he’s saved by Autobot leader Victory Saber. Victory Saber reaches over to an Autobot space shuttle and puts Cain in there but is somehow swallowed up by the explosions on the planet. An arm’s length can make a difference.

The Rescue Patrol can't find Victory Saber

So the planet basically explodes. I don’t know how three Decepticons managed to do that. They didn’t have a super weapon or anything. But a single space shuttle of the now-endangered Feminia species escapes along with the Rescue Patrol. And despite billions of Feminians dying, they all cry about Victory Saber not flying away with them, worried that he’s dead now. Very professional.

Cain and Akira are friends

The opening song is your usual Japanese thing of working together to overcome odds. We see some Autobots fighting some weird monsters that never appear in the episode and also aren’t any Transformer toys I’ve ever heard of. I can’t explain it. Also, Cain frolics around with Akira, another boy we’ll meet later in the episode. They hold hands and dance. I think it’s pretty clear they’re gay. I’m not clear on whether Japan was way more progressive than we were in 1990 or what. Chalk it up to a cultural difference either way.

Transformers Zone

The song ends with a hero shot of the two new main character Autobots we’ll meet and Emusa holding a clapboard like they use in movies. That adds a strange meta level to this narrative. Has all of Transformers just been a fictional show that Emusa and his species create?

Violenjaiger assembles Decepticons

Meanwhile, in space… Seriously, the bad guys don’t have a planet or a spaceship or a base of any kind. They just meet in space. Violenjaiger is some sort of ghostly demon that commands nine powerful Decepticons: Devastator, Menasor, Bruticus, Trypticon, Predaking, Abominus, King Poseidon, Overlord and Black Zarak. And I guess he forces them to wear capes. Seems unnecessary for robots but I guess if Violenjaiger has to wear one, so do his troops. So what is Violenjaiger? We’re never told. He only has this appearance and these lines in the whole episode. But following the show there were some manga and some promotional story pages. Apparently he’s some sort of demon composed of Decepticon ghosts. Something like that. Kind of weird, but cool. Violenjaiger announces that Victory Saber is dead and now is the time for the Decepticons to press their attack.

Violenjaiger orders Decepticons to get energy

Violenjaiger has three faces, sort of like the Quintessons. He flips to a new face and tells them they need two things: something called the Zodiac and a new super energy that the Autobots have created. He commands them to go steal the energy from the Autobots. Pretty much de rigueur for the Decepticons, no?

Planet Zone runs on Energon Z

Speaking of that super energy, Cain is getting that explained to him right now. He’s been taken to Zone, which was previously called the Planet Micro in previous seasons. I guess it’s been built up a lot. Two of the Micromasters, Rabbicrater and Moonradar (yeah, bad names, let’s just roll with it) explain to him that they’re powered by the super energy which they call Energon Z. Great. Lots of the letter Z on this show.

Cain loves Planet Zone

Cain must be our viewpoint character because we still haven’t met Dai Atlas, the guy in the title. But Cain is told that Zone was built by early Transformers pioneers, the Powered Masters. These are not the same as Power Masters, who were the focus of the Transformers: Super-God Masterforce season. They’re some other dudes.

Emusa misses nature

Moonradar drives Cain and Emusa to the Rocket Base, which is the command center at Zone, and is surrounded by a bunch of other bases, like a firestation base, a gas station base, an airport base and a construction base. Each base has four Micromasters that go with it. It’s a lot of characters. We see a bunch of them but don’t get introduced to each by name at this point. Rocket Base appears to be the same as Shuttle Base, the Autobot headquarters from last season. It’s… a lot to take in.

Decepticons invade Zone

Then Zone gets attacked by Overlord, Menasor, Bruticus and Abominus. Overlord appears to be the one calling the shots. We’re about to see a ton of new characters, so… I dunno, it’s a big fight. Enjoy!

Zone Base transforms

The Autobots transform their bases in a decent sequence. All five bases turn to attack mode. This show definitely establishes that bases are the big, cool thing. I don’t know why they can’t just use Metroplex, Grand Maximus, and Omega Supreme. Where the hell are those guys?

Abominus and Menasor fight the Micromasters

The Micromaster Super Car Patrol team and Battle Patrol team shoot at the big guys. They’re 100% ineffective. It’s so weird that the show has to push the Micromasters but they’ve been established as super weak in battle. And now we have tons of them. It’s pretty strange. Also strange? Abominus. He’s the guy on the left. He really does not look like he used to. Completely new model. Also, none of these Decepticons transform even once in this episode. That’s kind of disappointing for a show called Transformers.

Overlord steals Energon Z

Even with the bases shooting all their lasers and rockets and all the Micromasters attacking as well, the Decepticons very easily break right into the base and steal the Energon Z. Overlord grabs it and the Decepticons fly off into space. I do like that the Decepticons appear very dangerous and the Autobots appear to finally be at a disadvantage. Let’s see how long the episode can maintain those stakes.

Micromasters search space for their Energon Z

The Super Car Patrol team and Battle Patrol team hop into Rocket Base’s rocket and blast off into space to give chase. But their way is blocked right away by Black Zarak (Scorponok). So… last time we saw Black Zarak was in the season finale of Transformers: Super-God Masterforce where the evil spirit Devil Z possessed his body and Autobot leader Ginrai blew him up. Now he’s back. I guess Violenjaiger must have resurrected him even though we don’t get told that. But who is in control here? Zarak? Devil Z? I don’t know.

Black Zarak attacks the Micromasters

Black Zarak now dresses like a pirate. He has a hook for a hand and an eyepatch. He shoots the shuttle with some sort of electric net that stops them. But then the Jet Patrol team flies up and shoots the net which makes it go away. Black Zarak escapes, even though I’d think he could easily beat these guys.

Sunrunner uses his radar

Sunrunner flies around because apparently he has a big radar that lets him look through ALL OF OUTER SPACE to find out where the Decepticons are. He can see them in his monitors and overhears (that’s how radar works) that they have handed the Energon Z to Violenjaiger and are now headed to Earth to retrieve something called the Zodiac. More Z letters!

The Rescue Patrol misses Victory Saber

Back on Zone, the Rescue Patrol team are, as usual, doing jack shit. Fixit is carrying around buckets of water. Stakeout is feeling sad about everyone being in danger. He also apparently is really hung up on Victory Saber being missing even though we were told this takes place over 70 days after Feminia blew up. Maybe it’s time to move on.

The Powered Masters rescue Victory Saber

Finally, we get to meet that Dai Atlas guy mentioned in the episode’s title. He’s the blue, grey and orange robot on the right. His pal is Sonic Bomber. They’re Powered Masters, whatever that means. And apparently they’ve been searching for Victory Saber and they found him. But he’s a little crinkled, which can happen when you’re standing on an exploding planet.

Victory Saber has an IV bag

But don’t worry, the Rescue Patrol hooks an IV bag of maybe saline solution up to Victory Saber. That ought to fix him right up!

The Powered Masters decide to protect Earth

Somehow the Powered Masters guess that the Decepticons are headed to Earth to get the Zodiac. Wait, so everyone knows about this powerful thing and they never thought to retrieve it before now? Why is it even on Earth? What is it? None of this gets even HINTED at. But somehow Dai Atlas knows that if you combine the Zodiac with Energon Z, you can create an entire planet. I don’t know why anyone would want to bother doing that. Like, the Decepticons started the episode off blowing up a planet for no reason. Why not just take over that planet if you need a planet so badly? This episode just does not explain things very well.

Dai Atlas and Sonic Bomber fly to Earth

Sonic Bomber and Dai Atlas transform into jets and fly to Earth. I’m especially amused at Dai Atlas’ jet form which is a big bulky drill machine with tiny little wings. But it flies! I looked it up and the toy looks even less like a jet. The wings are a total afterthought to his drill form. I love it.

Devastator knocks over the World Trade Center

So, on Earth, the Decepticons are destroying stuff while shouting about wanting the Zodiac. That is no way to go about a planetary search. And in a super-uncomfortable move, we see Devastator knock down the World Trade Center. Yeah, it’s 11 years before 9/11 but it’s never fun to see the twin towers fall. And they do it so casually.

King Poseidon destroys an oil tanker

Meanwhile, King Poseidon destroys an oil tanker, shouting about the Zodiac. I don’t think any of those sailors are going to be able to help you find it since you killed them all.

Trypticon attacks China

And in China, Trypticon (now with dragon horns and carrying a cartoonishly large club) is smashing up the Great Wall and yelling at China’s military to be quiet.

Whisper rescues Akira

Elsewhere on the planet, I guess the Micromasters already arrived because one of the Jet Patrol team, Whisper, saves a boy named Akira while Predaking attacks. He does this in the best way ever: he just flies around as a jet with one gigantic arm sticking out. I love it. Why put Akira in the cockpit when you can freeze him to death outside, right?

Akira meets the Autobots

Akira is taken to the Rocket Base where he meets Cain. They instantly appear to have a strong connection.

Predaking and Trypticon attack Earth

Oh, and the rest of the Micromasters shoot at Trypticon and Predaking which doesn’t even slow them down. The Decepticons are tearin’ shit up, yo. Their attack is on fleek.

Dai Atlas introduces himself

Fortunately for humanity, Dai Atlas shows up. He also announces who and what he is before he gets down to the business of saving anyone.

Sonic Bomber says hello

Sonic Bomber also announces who he is. He talks much more casually. He is probably the Ironhide to Dai Atlas’ Optimus Prime. if I’m being generous.

Cain and the Micromasters marvel at the Powered Masters

And if it wasn’t already clear, everyone thinks these new Powered Masters toys characters are the best. Everyone cheers about their arrival and calls them cool. They sure seem special.

Trypticon and Predaking attack the Powered Masters

However, the Decepticons do NOT think they are cool. In fact, they find the Powered Masters downright rude. Post script, I really do not care for Predaking’s new face design even if it is more closely based on how the toy looked. It looks like he’s constantly surprised and going, “Hmmmmm!”

Dai Atlas knocks Trypticon down

The Autobots beat the crap out of the Decepticons for a while. Trypticon has time to note how much it hurts.

Davastator is ordered to get the Zodiac

After brawling for a while, the Decepticons remember that they’re actually here for a reason and Predaking tells Devastator (or, as he says it, Devastar) to go find the Zodiac. 1) I don’t think Predaking should be telling Devastator what to do. 2) Why is finding the Zodiac this easy?

Dai Atlas finds the Zodiac

When the Autobots notice Devastator has left, they guess he’s after the Zodiac so Sonic Bomber tells Dai Atlas to go ahead and go get it while he holds off the Decepticons. Dai Atlas turns into his weird drill tank thing and goes into the ground and pretty much instantly finds the Zodiac, which seems to be a crystalline object in a cave.

Davastator threatens Dai Atlas

Before Dai Atlas can retrieve the Zodiac, Devastator shows up and fights him. He actually does a pretty good job of kicking Dai Atlas’ ass. He holds him in a reverse choke and announces that he’ll create a wind tunnel in Dai Atlas’ back. I don’t know if that’s a thing but since Devastator also holds a huge drill, it sounds like a pretty good threat to me.

Devastator is covered in lava

But Devastator forgot that Dai Atlas has rocket powered roller skates in his feet. So Dai Atlas turns those on and smashes both of them through a cave wall. A stream of molten lava erupts and Devastator is carried along the wave, eventually beginning to melt apart and seemingly be destroyed by the lava. Wow. I don’t know why Dai Atlas can deal with the lava but he can. King Poseidon shows up in the cave and grabs the Zodiac, flying away.

The Powered Masters catch the Zodiac

Above ground, Sonic Bomber shoots King Poseidon who drops the Zodiac. By the way, the Zodiac looks like a heart. That’s kinda gross, huh? Trypticon and Predaking both say they’ll catch it but don’t bother to fly up to it or anything.

Dai Atlas calls on the power of the Zodiac

Instead, Dai Atlas catches it and holds it aloft, calling on it to grant him “the power that created the universe.” Wow! It’s kind of like the Matrix but way, way more cosmic.

King Poseidon, Predaking and Trypticon attack together

King Poseidon, Predaking and Trypticon decide to attack all at once. Not a bad plan at all!

The Zodiac defeats King Poseidon and Trypticon

But then Dai Atlas uses the power of the Zodiac and he and Sonic Bomber transform into bases. I told you this show loves bases. I don’t know if the Zodiac let them transform into new modes or just increased their firepower. Either way, they each shoot King Poseidon and Trypticon and I think kill them. They seem to blow up. Predaking is suitably freaked out and decides to retreat.

Dai Atlas says he is amazing

The Autobots take time to marvel at how cool they are. Dai Atlas announces he is “amazing.” If they didn’t already have huge egos, the new Zodiac power sure gave it to them. They really are quite powerful warriors for being pioneers that built Zone.

Dai Atlas has a Z sword

They decide Predaking needs to be murdered to. Dai Atlas rides Sonic Bomber and pulls out a sword that’s basically a gigantic letter Z. Yeah, things are getting even weirder.

Predaking is cut in half

Dai Atlas cleaves Predaking right in half. Perhaps the strangest thing about it is that Predaking sure seems to have an organic brain! I guess it just helps everything become a bit more violent. So out of the nine Decepticon generals we had at the start of the episode, we’re now down to five. Literally half of the Decepticon army is murdered within moments.

Dai Atlas has the power of the Zodiac

So the Autobots call it a day and Dai Atlas holds the Zodiac, now transformed into an orb containing an entire universe, and tells everyone that it’s the power that created the universe itself! Wow, that is actually a terrifying amount of power for ANYONE to control.

Akira says his father was a space scientist

Akira announces that he already knew all that about the Zodiac because his father was some sort of space doctor! What?! But he says he doesn’t know anything about Transformers so Cain says he’ll teach him about them, even though he’s only known them for a couple months.

Moonradar thought he was a space expert

Moonradar says he feels bad because knowing about outer space and Transformers was his area of expertise. Oh, it was? Nice to know just as the episode ends.

Akira gives everyone flowers

Akira offers him a flower and says they can all share their knowledge. Wheeee…

Victory Saber has a throne

Back on Zone, Victory Saber gets to sit on a throne now. That’s new. I’ve never seen the Autobots have much of a grand hall or anything. Behind him, for a brief moment, you can see some Autobots from previous seasons: Road Caesar, Grand Maximus, Landcross, the Godmasters and Pretenders.

Victory Saber appoints Dai Atlas the new Autobot leader

Victory Saber randomly just appoints Dai Atlas as the new leader. It’s not like Victory Saber is still injured or anything. I guess it’s just time to hand the reins over to a new guy.

Cain and Akira frolic in flowers

Cain and Akira toss flowers in the air and laugh and celebrate. And that’s how the animated Transformers episodes finally wrap up. This episode introduces a lot of ideas but there were no more episodes to wrap it up. However, there were “story pages”, promotional comics that told the story for that year’s wave of new toys. Since there’s no other way to recap how the story wraps up, I’ll briefly summarize what happens with Zone:

powered masters vs Metrotitan

ViolenJaiger keeps trying to steal the Zodiac. At one point he seduces Metrotitan, who is basically the same as Metroplex. So Metrotitan and his Micromasters attack Lunar Base on Earth’s Moon. While the Powered Masters fight back, they are joined by a third Powered Master, Road Fire, and they stop Metrotitan. It’s also revealed that Road Fire or Sonic Bomber can combine with Dai Atlas for powered up forms Land Powered or Sky Powered, respectively.

violenjaiger

Violenjaiger at one point succeeds in stealing the Zodiac himself. The Powered Masters cannot stop him and Violenjaiger kidnaps Akira, Cain and Moonradar in Rocket Base’s rocket, taking them to The Tenth Planet. We learn that Violenjaiger is a combination of dead Decepticon spirits, somehow united on the Tenth Planet and given form. The Powered Masters arrive there to battle him and Violenjaiger splits into three forms, Vion, Lenja and Igern. The Powered Masters defeat each form but somehow Violenjaiger’s spirit reassembles for one last battle. The Powered Masters take control of the Zodiac and its power allows them to merge into Big Powered and they destroy Violenjaiger with the Powered Rainbow Attack. Then the Zodiac transforms the ruined Tenth Planet into a new paradise.

powered masters revive the tenth planet

That leads into the final wave of toys and story pages, Transformers: Return of Convoy. Convoy was what Japan called Optimus. It was the final G1 wave of toys both in Japan and here in the U.S. before the G2 rebranding. Just when everything seems fine, a new Decepticon leader, Dark Nova, emerges. His power is such that the Autobots realize the only one capable of stopping him would be Optimus Prime. So the Battlestars, an elite set of warriors, are assigned the task of retrieving Optimus’ dead body and reviving him.

dark nova

The Battlestars are Sky Garry, who is given temporary custody of the Zodiac, which can revive Optimus, and Grandus, an absolutely massive battle station guy. Dark Nova creates armies of drones called Galaman warriors and Novaroids. Sky Garry and Gradnus are joined by Sixliner, a combiner formed from Micromasters. But Dark Nova beats them to finding Optimus and creates an evil clone called False Convoy that temporarily fools the Autobots and allows him to hold Sixliner hostage. The Battlestars overcome him anyway.

super megatron

The Battlestars fight their way to Planet Lucifer where they find Optimus’ body. Sky Garry puts the Zodiac in Optimus’ chest where the Matrix once was and it not only revives him but powers him up. He renames himself Star Convoy. But Optimus is back! To counter this, Dark Nova revives Galvatron’s body from his icy tomb and upgrades him to Super Megatron.

star giant

They fight back and forth over several battles until Dark Nova loses patience and upgrades Super Megatron to Ultra Megatron and joins him in battle. When even that doesn’t work, Dark Nova absorbs Ultra Megatron and becomes the Star Giant, with Ultra Megatron trapped in the head. Star Convoy holds Star Giant’s mouth open and the Battlestars fly in and destroy him from the inside out. He blows up and only his head (containing Ultra Megatron) is left, floating through space.

star convoy grandus and sky garry attack star giant from the inside

That’s it!