Rhino Home Video released new information about some key DVD releases of retro cartoons that are now slated to hit retail in April.  Originally scheduled for January, the Transformers Season One Box Set will now ship on April 18.  Rhino has managed to get all sixteen episodes from the first season on four DVDs rather than the five that were announced originally (see 'Transformers Season I Set Out in Jan.'), and the good news is that the suggested retail price has dropped from $89.95 to $49.95.  But the price cut reflects the increasingly competitive DVD marketplace, not any scaling back of effort or features by Rhino. The new DVDs take advantage of a state-of-the-art digital transfer from the original 35mm films.  And Rhino didn't spare the extras either, including a mini-documentary from the 2001 Botcon Convention along with outtakes, alternate sequences, promo bumpers and an original Transformers series script.  To sweeten the package even further, each DVD boxed set includes two limited-edition animation cels. With a revival of the Transformers comic series (see 'Dreamwave Gets Transformers License'), trade paperback collections of classic Transformers comics from Titan (see 'Titan Takes Transformers'), a new Transformers CCG from WOTC (see 'WOTC to Launch Transformers CCG'), and a major push from Hasbro (see 'Licensing is Back At Hasbro'), this is one property that has some heat and presents some excellent opportunities for cross-merchandising. 


Like the Transformers, Battle of the Planets is a retro property with loads of heat (including a Top Cow comic series supervised by Alex Ross, see 'G-Force Back With a Vengeance') and Rhino is planning an April release for volumes 5 & 6 in its Battle of the Planets DVD series.  Each volume contains two remastered, uncut episodes plus bonus episodes of G-Force and Gatchaman.  With the Top Cow comic due out this summer and toys from Diamond Select, the Rhino DVD series (srp $19.95 each) makes perfect sense.


Rhino also announced its plans for Art Clokey's Gumby (see 'Rhino Gets Gumby') with two major releases in April.  The Gumby Collection Box Set includes seven disks that can't hold all 214 episodes of Gumby but do collect selected shorts ranging from the Gumby Show in 1956 to syndicated episodes in 1967, along with an interview Clokey, the original pilot episode, storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage of the animation process and a miniature Gumby figure.  The Gumby Collection has a suggested retail price of $99.95.  A single DVD Gumby Highlights disk will retail for $19.95.


For an overview of the retro cartoon merchandising phenomenon, see 'Top Movie/TV Merchandise Stories of 2001.'