The 1980s was truly the era of the half-hour toy commercial. In the brief interim between the times my generation got home from school and the local news broadcast commenced, there were a few blissful hours of cleverly targeted content. Between this and those lazy Saturday mornings when all four television networks vied for our attention, we were routinely exposed to our favorite—or, in some cases, our new favorite—cartoons/toy franchises/comic book series/breakfast cereals.
Still, for all that clever marketing and our obvious drive toward conspicuous consumption, not every property could be a He-Man or a Transformers. For every M.A.S.K. there was a COPS. For every G.I. Joe there was an Inhumanoids.
Even from the earliest days of the consumer internet, dedicated hobbyists have attempted to preserve the memories of these otherwise lost jewels of the pre-cable television age, but many still rarely get the kind of recognition diehard fans feel they deserve. That’s what makes Mill Creek Entertainment’s new DVD release, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors: The Complete Series, so notable.
Situated somewhere between the universal reverence of SilverHawks and the throwaway mediocrity of Air Raiders, this DIC Entertainment produced animated series was the companion piece to Mattel’s Wheeled Warriors modular toy vehicle line. And, much like the other crossover products of the day, the cartoon bridged the narrative gap with a classic tale of good versus evil.
Jayce and the Lightning League drive their color-coordinated vehicles across dangerous worlds plagued by the Monster Minds. Lead by the diabolical Saw Boss, the Monster Minds are a collection of plant-based vehicles, corrupted creations originally spawned from the experiments of Jayce’s father, Audric. However, Audric created a failsafe, a Magic Root that can ultimately destroy the Monster Minds, sending half to his son before disappearing with the other half.
Join the adventures of Jayce and his motley crew of heroes—including an ancient wizard, a telepathic plant girl, a space pirate, and his father’s old squire—across all 65 episodes in this 6-disc collection. Visually, it’s on par with other DIC productions of the era, meaning some scenes are clean and balanced while others… aren’t.
Similarly, while the voice cast doesn’t exactly include the biggest names in ’80s animation, it’s important to note that nearly a quarter of the episode were penned by the one and only J. Michael Straczynski. Straczynski had also planned a feature-length finale that finally saw Jayce and company defeat the Monster Mind menace, but, unfortunately, that project was never put into production.
As such, this boxed set, while complete, leaves you hanging after episode 65, “Final Ride at Journey’s End.” But that’s not to say there isn’t some nostalgic fun to be had along the way.
Also, while this collection is a no-frills affair with regard to extras and packaging, it is at least available at an appropriate price point. At it’s $19.99 MSRP, it’s a solid recommendation for geeks of a certain age who have fond memories of the show itself or its companion toys, but Amazon is currently selling it for under 12 bucks—making it an enticing investment for even the more curious among us.
So bleach a skunk stripe down the middle of your mullet, duct tape a couple of Nerf guns to your old station wagon, and get ready to ride into the sunset leaving a trail of shattered vegetables in your wake!
Review materials provided by: Mill Creek Entertainment