Munitions is the fifth episode of TUGS.
The towing of Naval munitions vessels is a very important job indeed. One such vessel in particular, a tramper named Kraka-Toa, is being towed by Hercules. All is going well until Bluenose, the officious naval tug, comes along. Uppity Bluenose says that Hercules may not continue on until he has made an inspection. Hercules steams off, finished with the run, ignoring him.
Hercules speaks to O.J., complaining about Bluenose. O.J. tells him he has been having the same problem, over some buoys. He tells him how munitions and fuel are being loaded aboard the same ship, which is very very dangerous. Hercules goes to have a rest at the coal depot. Bluenose comes by, still being overbearingly bossy, before moving on to bothering the Fire Chief too.
At the Star Pier, Captain Star informs the tugs they will be carrying munitions for the Navy; the Z-Stacks having the explosives. Warrior is given garbage detail, Top Hat is to transport car floats, Ten Cents is sent to Lucky's Yard to pick up oil to take to the Naval yard and Sunshine is to pick up Mighty Mo to take home. Captain Star thanks Big Mac for winning the steel contract, and tells him to collect the last girder barge.
The Z-Stacks, meanwhile, are picking up the explosives, which are to be delivered to the Naval tramper, Kraka-Toa.
Ten Cents, now with the oil barge, is ordered about by Bluenose, who tells him to move out of the way. Bluenose purposely scrapes the barge, which makes Ten Cents very cross indeed.
Night falls. Big Mickey the crane is transferring the munitions to Kraka-Toa. Bluenose arrives and starts his riot. He says the barge which is being unloaded should be moved, which would be a very wrong thing to do. Bluenose listens to no-one, and ends up bumping the barge hard, disturbing the munitions, resulting in a fire starting. The tugs present make sure to stay out of the way, but Bluenose can’t because his engine has failed from shock. Ten Cents bravely tows him out of the danger zone. The fire continues, explosions going off all the while. Big Mickey's dock catches fire, and collapses, taking Big Mickey into the water to his death. Kraka-Toa then catches fire.
Further away, Top Hat is towing Frank and Eddie, the rail floats. They see the lights in the sky. Eddie thinks there is “a dockside celebration”. Top Hat says, “If there was a party, I would have been invited.” Suddenly, Sunshine and the Fire Chief rush by, on the way to the fire.
Puffa, the steam powered tank engine, hasn’t noticed the goings-on, and is right in the way. The tugs shout and whistle to warn him, and he makes it out of there just in the nick of time. But, suddenly, the Star line oil barge catches fire and Ten Cents makes a risky move by trying to jump in to move it.
Nearby, Warrior and Lord Stinker, the garbage barge, see the lights in the sky too. Warrior leaves Lord Stinker at the dock, and rushes to the scene.
The Fire Chief has now finally arrived, ordering everyone to stay back. O.J. informs how it was Bluenose’s fault. The Fire Chief tells Sunshine to douse the flames with the fire barge. Ten Cents continues with the oil barge, to push it out to sea. Warrior arrives, and is told by the Fire Chief to use his fire hose. Warrior goes to do just that. Sunshine bravely fights the fire, while Warrior is hit square in the face by a bit of debris The Fire Chief insists he move out, but Warrior sticks to his place, saying how he is looking after Puffa, who has been badly stung. The Fire Chief understands. He then tells Zorran to help him with the other fire barge in an attempt to save Kraka-Toa. Zorran can't see the barge doing much good, but he agrees to help the Fire Tug. Out at sea, Ten Cents is still pushing the burning oil barge. Suddenly, he notices it is starting to smoke. Realising it is going to blow up, Ten Cents reverses. There is a large explosion. Sunshine sees it and is worried Ten Cents was in the blast, but he isn't allowed to go and help his friend. The Fire Chief relieves Zorran and then warns everyone that Kraka-Toa is going. She sinks into the water with one last blast out of her smokestack. But thanks to Sunshine and Warrior, the fire did not spread towards the city. Top Hat arrives, rather too late. The Z-Stacks then make fun of him.
The next morning, the tugs think Ten Cents hasn't made it. But before they can salute the brave tug, a familiar toot is heard in the near distance and then appears Ten Cents. He is covered from stack to bumper in soot. He explains how the oil barge exploded, and how he could not make it due to the water in his engine. But thankfully, Grampus rescued him. And with that, Grampus, laughing heartily, tows a disgraced and still stunned Bluenose away. Then Captain Star gives a lesson on the dangers of fire as Grampus hauls Bluenose out to sea.
- Captain Star (only narration role in TV Version)
- Ten Cents
- Big Mac (only appears in the VHS Version)
- Top Hat
- Big Mickey
- Fire Tug
- Frank and Eddie
- Lord Stinker (only appears in the VHS Version)
- Kraka-Toa (does not speak)
- Puffa (does not speak)
- Zug (cameo)
- Zip (cameo)
- Coast Guard (cameo)
- Izzy Gomez (cameo)
- Johnny Cuba (faceless, cameo, only appears in the VHS Version)
- Jack the Grappler (faceless, cameo)
- Mighty Mo (mentioned)
- Captain Zero (mentioned)
- This episode features the death of Kraka-Toa.
- A deleted scene from High Tide is used.
- This episode marks Big Mickey, Lord Stinker, The Fire Tug and Eddie's first speaking roles.
- This episode marks Frank's first and only speaking role.
- The following scenes were either removed or altered in the TV version.
- The briefing scene with Captain Star is omitted.
- In the TV Version, music is heard in the background during the fire and explosion scenes, but the music is not heard in the director's cut.
- During Hercules' conversation with Bluenose, the word "jurisdiction" is replaced with "orders".
- Scenes of Bluenose shouting at O.J. and Big Mickey that are not included in the director's cut.
- O.J.'s line, "Never fought when I was a young tug", is omitted.
- Stock footage from Pirate and Jinxed is used.
- Captain Star narrates some extra scenes which are not in the director's cut.
- Big Mickey is said to have survived the explosion, as he had fallen into shallow water.
- In the director's cut, Sunshine says to Top Hat: "Yeah, follow on, Top Hat! Fire at the old dock!" In the TV Version, the dialogue is changed to: "Yeah, Top Hat! Follow on! Fire at the old dock!" The following bit where Top Hat threatens to set Frank and Eddie's tracks alight was also omitted.
- In the TV Version, Zorran says: "Eat your hearts out, Star Tugs!" In the director's cut, this is changed to: "Eat your hearts out, Star Stacks!" Also in the TV Version, his line: "Right. Easy does it." is different from the director's cut,
- Captain Star has two different ending messages:
Captain Star's Ending Message (Director's Cut)
The accident was caused by a few hasty words, and bad temper. Orders may be orders, but they don't supersede common sense. Bluenose was right in his way, as were Ten Cents and O.J. right in theirs'. But common sense from all three would have prevented the fire starting. Always respect fire. If you don't, it will destroy you, your surroundings, and your friends.
Captain Star's Ending Message (TV Version)
That all happened because of a few hasty words and bad tempers. Orders may be orders, but they blinded Bluenose from using simple common sense, and from keeping level headed. So a tiny incident grew into a big disaster, and the old dock was left in ruins. We should have the greatest respect for fire. Just think what might have happened to Ten Cents and his friends, just because Bluenose didn't.
- Former Tugs modelmaker Jeremy King was asked by the Sodor Island Forums some details about filming this episode; "Ross King supervising the explosion of lots of was and balsa scenery for about 4 weeks. Fireballs were petrol and rubber dust mixed with black powder. Terry over-cranking the camera as much as he could". When asked if the pyrotechnics were a problem in the studio, he replied "No. We opened the doors to clear the air and kept going!".
- The wagon Puffa was pulling was used in the second season of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.
- Events from High Tide are mentioned in the director's cut of this episode.
- Although Munitions was broadcast in 1989, the director's cut was released on VHS in 1988.
- In front of the Coast Guard in the opening scene, a wagon reading 'STAR' can be seen, a possible link to The Star Fleet.
- The shot of Hercules towing Kraka-Toa into port is one of the scenes used for the title cards of 15 minute episodes.
- The Japanese title of this episode is called 'Thick-Skulled Bluenose'.
- The narrator says that the Z-Stacks were up river at the munitions factory but they were in the Bigg City Port in the first scene of the factory.
- When Top Hat turns his head and says to Warrior "Me? How could you suggest..." his monocle falls off.
- When the narrator says " The Z-Stacks were up river at the munitions factory." Zebedee is seen in the background in the port. However in two shots later, Zebedee is with Zorran at the munitions factory.
- A model of a 1934 Ford is seen at the munitions factory, despite the fact the series is set in the 1920's.
- After the fire starts, O.J. is seen backing up, but in a later scene, he is seen backing up again.
- In the scene with Grampus starting to tow Bluenose away, the top of the set is visible in the reflection on the water.
- Zorran goes to help the Fire Tug with the fire barge, but when it cuts back to Zebedee, Zorran is still beside him.
- In the first scene of the episode, the Coast Guard is not in front of Kraka-Toa, but two shots later, he is.
- When Zorran backs away from the fire barge, his face is dirty but in a close up of him when Kraka-Toa sinks and when Top Hat arrives, his face is clean.
Munitions was first released on VHS in 1988 by Castle Vision and was released along with the episode 4th of July.
Munitions was re-released on VHS in 1990 by Castle Vision along with 4th of July to match the style of the of video release covers.
It was released a third time in 1990 by Castle Vision under the Playbox range of videos with the same episodes.
In 1992, TV Tokyo Video and TAKARA had released the television version of the episode on home video.