I have done a lot of research for this week’s posts.
By “research”, of course, I mean that I have played with Team Bullet Train’s toys and watched a bunch of Robots in Disguise episodes on Youtube. First thing I thought to myself: I had forgotten just how much this show was trying to emulate the Japanese Super Sentai series.
The heaviest use of the “Calling Your Attacks” T.V. trope I have ever seen in Transformers, this show rivals Dragonball in overused attack names. Of course, as a show meant for the Japanese, this is completely understandable.
Which led to my second thought: why in the heck has this not been subtitled from the original Transformers: Car Robots series?!? Now, I intensely disliked trying to watch Cybertron, which is why I gave up two or three episodes in and instead watched a fan-subtitled download of the Japanese version, Galaxy Force, — which I liked a lot. There are three series I desparately want subtitled: Beast Wars the Second, Beast Wars Neo, and now, Car Robots. The first two because I have never seen them at all, and the last one because if I found the U.S. version so damned charming, I’m sure the original Japanese version would be even better.
In the cartoon, Team Bullet Train is a bit of an enigma. First, when combined, the result isn’t a mindless gestalt. Rail Racer is one of those rare breed of Combiner that actually retains all of his mental capacity when combined. Second, instead of merging into one, singular entity; Rail Racer occassionally refers to himself as “we”, alluding to the three members of Team Bullet Train, rather than an individual personality.
After having driven off the Decepticons from a power plant in episode 19, “The Fish Test”, Rail Racer comments to the late-arriving Autobot brothers,
“We just sent them all on their way.”
All of Generation 1 and 2, and subsequent comic book continuations are positively obsessed with Combiner teams forming one, coherent, cohesive personality. Rail Racer seems to forgo that concept and replaces it with team members that, though they have distinctily different personalities, are actually made stronger by combining those personalities into a single, more powerful body.
Rail Racer’s toy also manages to do something better than almost every other Combiner toy in the history of Transformers: there are no combiner pieces. None; hands, feet, connectors are all integrated into the bodies of the individual members of Team Bullet Train. Even the three different weapons are used: Railspike and Midnight Express’ guns combine to form a large cannon, and Rapid Run’s “grenade launching” shield can be held by Rail Racer.
Along with this, all of Team Bullet Train’s articulation is transferred to Rail Racer. He has an wonderful range of motion.
Of course, this level of articulation comes with drawbacks; ratcheting and telescoping knees on a ‘bot this big tend to collapse rather easily. Posing Rail Racer, much like his fellow exceptionally large castmate RiD Omega Prime, is all about a perfect level of balance mixed with slight twists of joints here and there to help distribute weight. Of course, it’s an easy sacrifice for a Combiner that is this amazingly fun.