The "RTM 1 dub" is the most correct name that can be given to the hilariously bad English-language dubs of the Japanese Generation One animated series, The Headmasters, Super-God Masterforce, and Victory. The name comes from the Malaysian TV channel, RTM 1, on which the dubs originated, but they gained greater notoriety when they were later shown on the Singaporean channel STAR TV, leading to the more popular (but somewhat misleading) monikers that fans refer to the dub by, the "Singapore dub" or the "Star TV dub".
The dub has gone down in infamy for a combination of reasons. Clearly produced by a small number of people with little knowledge of the source material and even less talent, the English translation is...rudimentary at best. Although it is often touted as being wholly inaccurate, it actually manages to render the intent of the dialog correctly more times than not. It is, however, the way in which it proceeds to mangle the translation so much with clumsy English, run-on sentences, non sequitur lines and just generally inappropriate language that creates its distinctively surreal, not to mention hilarious, qualities.
Generally speaking, the dub employs American names and terminology, but in some instances, the scriptwriter(s?) were apparently unable to find the correct equivalent, leading to the dub's single most famous attribute: its collection of new names for various characters and concepts. Some of these names are based on a misinterpretation of the Japanese pronunciation of the names, and some are just pulled straight out of thin air. These ludicrous instances include:
- Blaster as "Billy"
- Metroplex as "Phillip"
- Jazz as "Marshall"
- Blurr as "Wally"
- Spike Witwicky as "Sparkle"
- The Matrix as "The Power Pack"
- Energon cubes as "Power Packs"
- Fortress's battleship, Maximus, as "Spaceship Bruce"
- Hot Rod as Rodimus Prime (pronounced Roadimus Prime)
- Sixshot's title "Ninja Commander" as "Ninja Consultant"
- Cybertron is pronounced as "Cyberton."
The process proved especially difficult for the writers when the characters had no American equivalents. This only affected a few members of the Headmasters cast, who all wound up with new names. The Super-God Masterforce cast, on the other hand, were all renamed as their American toy-equivalent characters (Ginrai as Optimus Prime, Minerva as Nightbeat, etc.), while the Japanese-exclusive characters either managed to retain their original names (Overlord, Metalhawk) or followed tradition by winding up with loony new ones. The Victory characters, meanwhile, mostly managed to keep their Japanese names, but a few still managed to slip through the cracks. Wacky examples include:
- Soundblaster as "New Soundwave"
- Twincast as "Blaster"
- Raiden as "Grimlock"
- Both Sixknight and Greatshot as "Sixshot"
- Browning as "B.M."
- Jean Minakaze as "Meekon"
- Dashtacker as "Batchtaster"
- Holi as "Fixit"
- Deathsaurus as "Deathsanras"
- Grand Galvatron as "Unicorn"
We could go on like this.
Despite a cast of noticeably untalented voice actors, the actors were nonetheless professionals and have dubbed such other high-profile pieces of foreign media as the Heisei era Godzilla movies, Jackie Chan's Police Story, and Dragonball: The Magic Begins.
"The planet's going to blow up in fifteen minutes? Wow!"
"Don't worry Billy. I'll get those dirty scum for 'ya."
"I'm going to betray you. Goodbye."
"I'd like to teach that Ninja Consultant a lesson."
Ownership and releases
Sunbow legally acquired ownership of the RTM 1 dubs at some point, branding every episode with the Victory opening sequence (with the English word "Transformers" masked in over the title card) and English-language closing credits. These credits were rendered in the traditional font of the Generation One cartoon series, and even featured the Generation One closing theme tune. All 115 dubbed episodes are included in this Sunbow-modified form as part of the Transformers rights package for licensees.
After circulating in the fandom for years via bootleg VHS tapes, the RTM 1 dubbed episodes of The Headmasters have been officially released on DVD in several forms, starting in the UK. Maverick Entertainment included "The Four Soldiers From the Sky" on their release of the movie, and later released the first six episodes of the series on a single DVD (albeit with cover art of Star Saber, thanks to the Victory opening confusing them). The next rights-holders, Metrodome, included the same episode on their "Generation One: Season 2, Part 2" box set, and subsequently released a box set of the entire series in dual-language format. Madman Entertainment later released Metrodome's dual-language version in Australia. Metrodome did not release the dubs of Super-God Masterforce and Victory, but Madman met the challenge, including the dub audio of select episodes of their Masterforce set, and releasing the whole of Victory as a dual-language set.
Additionally, all three RTM-dubbed series aired in a late-night slot on the UK channel Anime Central, and footage from the Masterforce dub (mainly the episode recaps) were used as special features for Rhino's Transformers season 1 DVD set.