Transformers Generation 1 Season 5 Actor Jason Jansen Talks About Tommy Kennedy
Jack - Saturday, January 05, 2013
Transformers Generation 1 ended with a 5th season in 1988. It wasn't an actual season of new cartoons as one would expect. Segments from previous seasons were edited together with clips from The Transformers: The Movie into a sort of look-back that spanned 5 episodes. New intermission segments were made featuring an animatronic Powermaster Optimus Prime telling Tommy Kennedy the story about the Transformers. Jason Jansen, who played Tommy was interviewed by Digest My Brain blog. Shres some insights on working on the final season.
How was it filmed, from your point of view? How realistic did the stop motion Optimus Prime look up close? Was there much green/blue screen used for the background?
The filming was as professional as any production at the time would have been. You are correct when you excuse me for the memory lapse (which is over 20 years) but I can recall a couple of things if I concentrate. First off Tim Speidel, when I read the blog and saw the name I definitely recognized it – I actually sent him a note after finding him on FB but haven’t received a response yet. During the filming my mother and I stayed with a girlfriend of hers on the Upper East Side of Manhattan – simply to make the commute easier, and to deal with the schedule of being at the studio by 8am in some cases. Everybody was super cool during the filming. I remember I thought the Key Grips, and Gaffers were younger guys who always were making me laugh. They were “New York City Fahgeddaboutit” type guys. To this day I see Gaffer and Key Grip during credits but have no idea what their real jobs are – basically I think they are a Jack of all Trades type men/women on the set.
On set, I remember filming some scenes on a large, constructed out of wood, Optimus Hand. I remember being instructed to only sit on a certain portion/ or spot as this was the strongest to support me. I was a normal sized kid so nothing strange there. Other scenes were filmed on the shoulder of another larger constructed portion of Optimus’ shoulder. Same deal, watch your step! Other random scenes were built (running through a vast wasteland) backgrounds were usually green screens, claymation for my flipping onto shoulders, and HUGE fans blowing on my face for when Optimus was launching and taking me home.
If you were a fan, how did it feel “talking” to Optimus Prime? Did they have a crew member say his lines off camera to help with timing or was Peter Cullen’s voice prerecorded?
When saying my lines (if i remember correctly) there was mix of things that were going on. At times someone off camera would recite Optimus Primes lines, but I believe it was a member of the crew and not Peter Cullen. Other times, if the scene was shorter and the camera cut away, I would just pause my lines while saying them to account for another voice to be inserted later. I actually just read through the transcripts on the wiki and remember saying every single one of them – I was able to memorize quite a bit – but I my memory serves me correctly I believe I definitely had some large cue cards up there behind the cameras as well. They were color coded to help break up the lines.
Optimus looked great – up close you could tell it was made from wood and plastic, but it was a real dam good job. A little bit of info, we had two puppeteers working Optimus Prime. I believe one guy was inside his head and moving his mouth while another moved his head from side to side. One of the guys was a famous puppeteer and had worked on Sesame Street inside of “Snuffalupagus” not sure if I have spelled that correctly. I remember he was known for his work.
Read the complete interview with Jason Jansen at Digest My Brain. You can see him in action as Tommy in the video clip below.
About a year ago, Toys Alliance revealed MAS-01, a licensed, large-scale figure of G1 Optimus Prime. Recently they've posted a teaser on Facebook showing off what will be the second entry in their Mega Action Series. Probably coming as no surprise, Optimus is followed by Megatron. The image now is semi-obscured, and only shows the upper half of the figure's body clearly, but it's easy enough to see that the design basically follows what MAS-01 was doing, using the G1 design with some reimagining. No further details are revealed, but we expect to see more soon. Click through for the full image!
Gizmodo is reporting on a new licensed Transformers product. Winning Solutions is produced a Transformers-themed version of Monopoly, based around common concepts of G1, like using popular characters in place of properties, or making game pieces shaped like Unicron and the Matrix instead of a hat. With a very attractive styling and mapping of the game to Transformers-relevant elements, this seems like an ideal themed edition of Monopoly. Until you discover the price in excess of $500. But don't worry, you can fold it up into a framed art piece to hang on the wall! Find mirrored pictures and link to the article below!
In partnership with Kabam, check out the latest trailer for the new mobile game TRANSFORMERS: Forged to Fight. Realities collide in this all-new, epic 3D action-fighting game. See the exciting teaser trailer now and sign-up for game updates! Check out the special edition Toy Fair trailer just up on YouTube.
Following the Rodiums Statue from Imaginarium Art, we have a first look at their next project that is to be a Coronation Starscream sculpture. The digital rendering is pretty slick, showing the Seeker leader wearing his crown, sitting on his throne, and surrounded by rockets. With the caption reading: "Starscream Coronation WIP! Get The Ceremony Going!" Read on to see the image for more details.
2017 is a landmark year for Hasbro, as we’re delivering record innovation, and telling more stories than ever within our brands across toy, game, entertainment and digital experiences,” said John Frascotti, President, Hasbro, Inc. “In addition to releasing two major motion pictures inspired by our globally popular brands, TRANSFORMERS and MY LITTLE PONY, we’re adding exciting innovation into our NERF and HASBRO GAMING brands, as well as introducing entirely new brands such as HANAZUKI to our fans and families around the world.