Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
||This article may contain original research. (October 2011)|
|Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors|
|Genre||Sci-fi / Animation|
|Created by||Jean Chalopin|
|Developed by||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Voices of||Darrin Baker
|Country of origin||France
|No. of episodes||65|
|Running time||22 min.|
USA Network (1995-1996)
Sky Channel, The Children's Channel, Channel 4 (UK)
|Original run||September 16, 1985 – December 13, 1985|
Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors is a French/North American animated TV show which was first broadcast on September 16, 1985. It was produced by DIC Entertainment (originally distributed for syndication by SFM Entertainment) and animated by the Japanese animation studios Sunrise, Shaft, Studio Giants, Studio Look and Swan Production. The show, which extended to 65 thirty-minute episodes, was created to support Mattel's Wheeled Warriors toy line. The show has an ongoing plot. However, like many shows made at the time, it does not have a finale, and thus the plot was left unresolved.
The show featured two duelling forces. The heroes are humans, called the Lightning League. They drive white and silver vehicles with assorted weaponry, and are led by Jayce. The villains are organic green vegetable-based creatures called the Monster Minds, who tend to take the shape of black and green vehicles. They travel via large green organic vines which can grow in and across interstellar space, and sprout seeds that rapidly grow into further Monster Minds. They are led by Saw Boss.
The opening title includes the phrase:
Thundering across the stars to save the universe from the Monster Minds. Jayce searches for his father to unite the Magic Root and lead his Lightning League to victory over the changing form of Saw Boss. Wheeled Warriors explode into battle – Lightning Strikes!
Most of the episodes were written by the French writers Jean Chalopin and Haskell Barkin. Writers at DIC also included Larry DiTillio, Barbara Hambly and J. Michael Straczynski. Straczynski wrote about a quarter of the episodes attempting, in his words, to "hijack a dopey concept and make it into something more." Haim Saban and Shuki Levy provided the music for the show, as well as the opening and ending theme songs (as the two have done for many of DIC's productions).
In the United Kingdom, it was screened on Sunday mornings on Channel 4 and Sky Channel. In France, a French language version of the show titled Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière (lit. "Jayce and the Conquerors of Light") was broadcast on Les P'tits Loups, a children's show on TF1, beginning on September 9, 1985. Its first showing in the US was seven days later. Nearly a decade later, it was rerun on USA Network's USA Cartoon Express block from July 3, 1994 to August 25, 1995.
Unlike He-Man, no backstory was given with the toys for the Lightning League and the Monster Minds doing battle, and so distinct characters were created by DIC and Straczynski to allow for a structured story (seen below).
The plot concerns Jayce, son of Audric, and his quest to rejoin his father. The backstory is that Audric was a botanist who did several experiments with biotechnology, one of which blossomed and became a young humanoid girl named Flora. Audric had also created a miracle crop that could thrive in any environment and was intended to end galactic hunger. However, a burst of radiation generated by a sudden solar flare mutated his plant into an evil, sentient being, and changed other plants around Audric's laboratory into similar creatures, who collectively became known as the Monster Minds, and refer to their leader (the first mutant creature) as Saw Boss. Audric manages to create a magical root that can destroy the Monster Minds, but is forced to flee before he can complete the task, after which the Monster Minds turn Audric's laboratory into their headquarters (which can teleport to other places by means of a mysterious power source known as "the power of the black light"). Audric keeps half of the root himself and gives the other half to his servant, Oon, whom he sends to serve Jayce. Thus, Jayce and his Lightning League friends are constantly on a quest to find Audric and combine the halves of the root.
The movie 
Due to less than successful toy sales, Jayce's 65 episode run was not followed up, and it ended unresolved. However, according to Straczynski, a movie had also been commissioned along with the series, following in the footsteps of other toy-based animated series such as Transformers and G.I. Joe; if the series had proven successful in toy sales, production would have begun. Straczynski wrote the script, but due to the failure of the toyline, preparation for the movie was shelved.
Had the movie been filmed, it would have provided a sense of closure on Jayce, with his Lightning League meeting with the original Lightning League and being trained on the home world of the Guardians. He would be reunited with his father Audric, but according to Straczynski, Audric would have been killed by Saw Boss as the Monster Minds began a final assault on the galaxy, and in a final battle, Jayce would unite the root and kill Saw Boss, ending the Monster Mind threat forever.
List of characters 
Lightning League 
- Jayce – Leader of the Lightning League. He possessed half of the magic root, as well as the Ring of Light, a constant deus ex machina to the League's adventures.
- Audric – Jayce's father, and original master of Oon, he created the magic root and possessed half of it. He also accidentally created the Monster Minds and co-created Flora and the early Lightning League vehicles.
- Gillian – Wizardly mentor to Jayce, co-creator of Flora and the early Lightning League vehicles. He later created additional Lightning League vehicles. He is both a wizard and a scientist, and is implied to be centuries old.
- Flora – Young girl created from a flower. telepathic powers, can sense Monster Minds and can communicate empathically with animals.
- Oon – Small Eternal Squire (magically animated suit of armor servant). Outwardly cowardly, Oon is nonetheless devoted to serving his master, Jayce.
- Herc Stormsailor ("Stormsailer" in some storybooks) – A mercenary in the vein of Han Solo who pilots the space barge Pride of the Skies II. He constantly hopes for the day he can finally get paid for transporting the Lightning League through the galaxy; Gillian had tricked him into taking them by giving him gold colored lead bars. In the episode "Affair of Honor", it is revealed that he used to be an intergalactic commando.
- Brock – Flora's companion flying fish mount, which "speaks" in chirps and whistles.
- Zoggies – Flora's three pets, block-like techno-organic reptiles that sported lasers.
- Jal Gorda – Anthropomorphic alien spy who acts as a recurring guest character throughout the series.
Monster Minds 
- Saw Boss – Overlord of the Monster Minds, he can transform into an oversized version of the Saw Troopers, which is noticeably missing the prominent "stripes" seen on the Troopers.
- Terror Tank – Sub-boss of the Monster Minds, he oversees the Terror Trooper clones.
- Gun Grinner – Sub-boss of the Monster Minds, he oversees the Gun Trooper clones.
- KO Kruiser – Sub-boss of the Monster Minds, he oversees the KO Trooper clones.
- Beast Walker – Sub-boss of the Monster Minds, he oversees the Beast Walker clones.
- Saw Trooper Commander – Rarely appearing sub-boss of the Monster Minds, he oversees the Saw Trooper clones in Saw Boss's stead, while Saw Boss rules the entire Monster Minds.
- Dr. Zorg – Evil scientist who coveted Audric's technologies and worked for Saw Boss.
Lightning League vehicles 
The Lightning League vehicles can be driven by League members, but can also operate on pre-programmed battle plans without drivers through commands issued on Jayce's communicator.
- Lightning League AI ground vehicles (early)
- Armed Force – A vehicle with a large golden grappling arm mounted atop it. Gillian had intended it for Audric, but gave it to Jayce instead when Audric was unable to join the League. It seats two, unlike its toy counterpart. Armed Force's toy counterpart included a gimmick dubbed "Stack n' Attack". Any of the other smaller vehicles could detach their wheeled chassis and attach to the top of Armed Force. (A promotional comic in He-Man magazine showed two vehicles stacked atop Armed Force, though this was physically impossible using the toys, as only Armed Force featured two lined up holes suitable for another vehicle's underside to attach into.) This never happens in the show; instead, the phrase "stack n' attack" refers to the Lightning League vehicles being able to exchange weapons mid-battle.
- Drill Sergeant – A two-seater vehicle with a drill to dig tunnels. It is also equipped with two pop-out guns in the front of the cab. It is driven in the opening sequence by Flora, who seems to prefer it, as does Gillian.
- Quick Draw – A vehicle with a concealed gun in a shield atop the vehicle, and an extended arm at the front with a spiked wheel for digging. Gillian drives it in the opening sequence, but it has no regular driver in the series. It seats one.
- Spike Trike – A three-wheeled vehicle built for speed. Similar to a half-tracked dune buggy, it has a pair of crunching spiked wheels at the front that lift on a single arm. Herc drives it in the opening sequence, and it is his vehicle of choice during the series as well.
- Trail Blazer – A large, four-legged vehicle with a front-mounted battering ram, capable of carrying the smaller vehicles. It usually seats one, but is occasionally seen with unused seating for four. Trail Blazer is stronger and more durable than the other vehicles, but was used much less often for reasons never disclosed (unlike the expenditure of resources that served as an excuse for the more rarely used larger vehicle troopers of the Monster Minds). Trail Blazer is depicted as much larger in scale with the other vehicles than the toy counterparts. While the toy version of Trail Blazer could carry a single smaller vehicle on its back, the cartoon counterpart could carry four of the smaller vehicles within its body, via a platform that lowered from its underside.
- Battle Base – A mobile fortress that houses all the other vehicles and is usually attached to the Pride as its bridge. The main weapon is a large elevating gun turret. Battle Base, like Trail Blazer, is of a much larger relative scale in the animation than in its toy form. The toy for Battle Base had three garages that could each hold a single smaller vehicle, and its control bridge seated two. In the series, not only could Battle Base contain all of the smaller vehicles, but even Trail Blazer was seen to be able to enter it. The bridge was a rather large full room.
- Lightning League AI ground vehicles (created later by Gillian)
- Fling Shot – A vehicle equipped with a catapult, built in "The Stallions of Sandeen." A toy was designed, but never produced.
- Spray Gunner – A vehicle with a cannon that sprays various fluids, that was added later in the series, but has no introduction episode. The toy did not reach the production stage.
- Motor Module – A low-riding vehicle with a powerful drive system, often used to field repair other vehicles, or to haul loads in an attachable trailer. It was added later in the series, but has no introduction episode. The toy did not reach the production stage, but was designed to be motorized, and could "Stack n' Attack" as Armed Force could (the toy version of the gimmick remained unused in the cartoon).
- Lightning League aerospace vehicles (not reflected in the toy line)
- Pride of the Skies II – Also known as "The Pride" for short, it is the space barge owned by Herc Stormsailer and home to the Lightning League throughout the series.
- Space Scooter – A small air-bike.
- Emergency Cruiser – The Pride's seldom used shuttle craft.
Monster Mind vehicles 
Generally, Monster Mind battles are carried out by clones of the main Monster Minds that are grown from vines. Saw Boss is able to communicate with these clones (and communicate with others with a clone as a medium) telepathically. These clones are referred to as "troopers"; Saw Trooper, Terror Trooper, K.O. Trooper, etc. The true Monster Minds change from their humanoid forms into vehicles upon leaving their headquarters, although they are significantly larger and more powerful than their mass-produced clones.
- Monster Minds ground legions (early)
- Saw Troopers – A vehicle with a large buzzsaw on a rotating stalk.
- Terror Troopers – A tank-like vehicle with a large, venus flytrap-like mouth mounted on the body.
- Gun Troopers – A vehicle with a cluster of cannons clenched in its teeth. The main weapon is a multi-headed spiked flail mounted on top of the body.
- K.O. Troopers – A truck-like vehicle with a large wrecking ball-like stalk.
- Beast Walkers – A large, four-legged vehicle with a front-mounted claw weapon that is the powerhouse of a Monster Mind clone army. They were seldom used, due to the greater energy required to spawn.
- Monster Minds ground legions (developed later)
- Flapjacks – A van-like vehicle with a catapult; they were designed, but not produced in the toy-line.
- Lurchers – A vehicle with a front ram; again, not produced in the toy-line.
- Snapdragons – A smaller four-legged walking vehicle with front-mounted "petals" that opened like a flower to expose a laser cannon.
- Battle Stations – The Monster Minds' answer to Battle Base, it was unproduced in the toy line. It was used in only one episode as it took enormous amounts of energy to spawn.
- Monster Minds aerospace legions (unrepresented in the toy-line)
- Cruisers – A larger Monster Mind spacecraft.
- Scouts/Satellites – A smaller Monster Mind spacecraft. Both names referred to the same vehicle type in the animation.
- Drill Vines – A small rocket craft with a drill nose-cone, containing a Monster Mind vine cluster, which was used to penetrate targets and release a growth of vines.
- Pods – A plant-like insertion craft launched by Cruisers or Scouts, when Drill Vines were not called for.
- Space Fighters – A small Monster Mind starfighter, used much less commonly than Scouts.
- Monster Mind network legions (unrepresented in the toy-line)
- Expansion Vines – A large vine growth used to infest a planet and spawn Monster Mind Troopers, also sometimes used to connect planets through open space.
- Spore Vines – Not as large as Expansion Vines, used to deploy biological weapons in the form of gases.
- Recepticles – A block-like plant that is used to form a teleportation point for Saw Boss's headquarters (originally Audric's lab).
- Brains – A small plant mass with a single central eye, used for communication by Monster Mind agents of other races.
Episode list 
Voice actors 
- Darrin Baker as Jayce
- Charles Jolliffe as Gillian
- Luba Goy as Oon
- John Stocker as Gun Grinner
- Dan Hennessey as Audric, K.O. Cruiser and Saw Trooper
- Valerie Politis as Flora
- Guilio Kukurugya as Saw Boss
- Len Carlson as Terror Tank and Herc Stormsailer
- George Buza as The Opening Announcer
DVD releases 
The entire series exists in French as two DVD boxed sets released by Manga Distribution. In English, several compilations were available on VHS tapes in the 1980s, and ex-rental copies can occasionally still be found on eBay. Jade Entertainment once provided a Region 2 DVD entitled The Lightning League (6 episodes).
On March 6, 2007, NCircle Entertainment released a single disc release entitled Escape from the Garden of Evil, which contains four episodes from the series, on DVD in Region 1.
On December 6, 2007, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired the rights to the series. They subsequently released Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors – Volume 1 with Vivendi Entertainment on March 25, 2008. The 4-disc set has the first 33 episodes of the series as well as bonus features. A second volume was to be released in the latter half of 2008; however due to poor sales of volume 1 it was cancelled.
On July 22, 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment announced that they had acquired the rights to the series and planned to release it in its entirety in 2012. They subsequently released Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors – Volume 1 on DVD in Region 1 on February 21, 2012. This 3 disc set contains the first 32 episodes of the series. They had also released a 10 episode best-of collection on the same day. Volume 2, featuring the final 33 episodes of the series will be released on February 19, 2013.
Currently,[when?] all 65 episodes of the series are available on iTunes in two volumes. They were also available on Netflix (in Canada), but they have since been randomly removed. They are available on DVD from Netflix in the U.S. in the Shout! Factory 4 disc Volume 1 version, but not for instant streaming.
An uncredited, unfinished comic based on the series was once published in the French comic magazine Pif Gadget #922. Strangely enough, the 13-page adventure ended on a cliffhanger, the next issue did not include the follow-up story, and in the end, the conclusion to that story was never published in Pif Gadget. It included characters created specifically for the comic, such as a white-haired young sorceress called Algora who was "an ally of Saw Boss". The story, entitled "Le Sortilège d'Algora" ("Algora's Spell") was later re-printed and completed in Poche Junior, a free supplement for younger readers to the French television listing magazine Télé Poche, in several installments: Poche Junior #1 (May 1987), Poche Junior #2 (May 1987), Poche Junior #17 (August 1987), Poche Junior n° 23 (October 1987), and Poche Junior n° 25 (October 1987).
- "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Vol. 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- Compuserve 6/26/1998
- TV Guide – July 2–8, 1994
- TV Guide – August 19–25, 1995
- "Oblique relations.... Wheelies and B5". wheelies.net. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- "Amazon page for The Lightning League". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- "Amazon page for Escape from the Garden of Evil". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- "Le Sortilège d'Algora", part 1, on greniertv.over-blog.com
- "Le Sortilège d'Algora", part 2, on greniertv.over-blog.com
- "Le Sortilège d'Algora", part 3, on greniertv.over-blog.com
- "Le Sortilège d'Algora", part 4, on greniertv.over-blog.com
- "Le Sortilège d'Algora", part 5, on greniertv.over-blog.com
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (December 2012)|
- Official site at Mill Creek
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors at the Internet Movie Database
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors at TV.com
- Cindy's "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors" web page
- Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Jayce.conquerants.free.fr – Site about Jayce and the wheeled warriors
- Ben Gali's Wheeled Warriors Toys – a list of many of the toys appearing in the series