A Discussion On "Partsforming" (History & Mechanics)

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by GoldbugTM2, Sep 10, 2016.

  1. GoldbugTM2

    GoldbugTM2 Right Hand Of Primus

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Posts:
    211
    Trophy Points:
    92
    Location:
    Vector Sigma
    Likes:
    +138
    I noticed there was recently a thread about the love/hate of "partsforming" or the common issue that comes with combiners of having a bunch of loose parts that you use to form a combiner. This thread is not so much about opinions about the concept, (though I intend to give my own), but about the history/why it's a thing, and the mechanics of why it should or should not have to be a thing.

    First my personal opinion: I absolutely loath having loose parts around that I can't integrate/store into a bot so that they don't get lost over time. The recent combiner wars line isn't too bad. The hands/feet bits can be transformed and used as big guns, and there are ways to attach weapons regardless of what form the bots are in. If you go back not long ago to the KB Toys exclusive mini combiners, (which I collected for the most part), these were a bit of a window into the horrors of the past. Loose pieces were used for the torso,chest,hands and feet, and weapon. You just plugged the bots into holes in the skeleton formed by these pieces. You could also combine these pieces to make a vehicle, but I digress. Still, in the beginning this phenomenon was a lot worse....

    The History:
    For those of you not in the know, the Transformers (G1) began life as several different Japanese toy lines from the late 1970s/early 1980s, (Diaclones, Micro Man, etc.) Hasbro saw these as shiny new playthings and decided to repurpose them for use in the west. Since they were borrowing existing toylines they started off with two shortcomings: 1. Being toys from 4 years pryor to the Transformers debut, they were outdated designs in terms of engineering. 2. Hasbro would have zero experience designing transforming robots and be behind the curve when they actually designed Transformers themselves.
    It wasn't until about midway through the second season of G1 that Hasbro started putting out Transformers toys that weren't borrowed from other toylines. It should be noted that Hasbro has always had a partnership with Takara, the Japanese company that provided those pre-TF toys. Once non-borrowed Transformers toys started being produced, Hasbro became the lead of the tandem.
    These early figures featured a lot of partsforming. The first combiner, Devastator (Constructicons) was part of this group.
    It came down to this: Transforming robot design for Hasbro was in its infancy and even behind the curve at that. It took a long time before they had the know how to even explore transforming without partsforming.

    The Mechanics:
    I've heard the comments, "how can you integrate those big fists/feet into bots?", and "how else can you not have a bot stuck being a foot or a fist?"
    All you have to do is look at the Energon line to see how to do combiners without resorting to partsforming. (Despite the fact that the Energon combiners DID use some partsforming.) Look at the regular Energon figures. They could all be paired up--without partsforming, and either bot could be the arms or legs. For all limbs--they could be changed, (extended) from smaller limbs to larger limbs whilst combined.
    Honestly, you could take this concept a step further. Design arms/legs to extend Energon style, then design the hands/feet to merge together to form one big hand/foot. No partsforming, no problems hiding a big fist/foot somewhere.
     
  2. Field94

    Field94 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2015
    Posts:
    397
    Trophy Points:
    137
    Location:
    West Texas
    Likes:
    +304
    Ebay:
    So those KB toys combiners weren't so much "throwbacks" as they were ACTUAL reissues of G1 combiners, the japanese micromaster sixteams: Sixliner, Sixbuilder, Sixtrain, Sixturbo, Sixwing and Decepticon Sixbuilder (*cough*not-Devastator*cough*). I'm kinda surprised you think THOSE pull off the combiner idea better than scramble-city combiners (Kibble was usually just hands, feet, chestplate and helmet) or even Devastator, which btw evidence suggests it and Japan-Only Raiden were being prototyped as Diaclone combiners before the idea was just dedicated to the Transformers line.

    As a bit of a note: you can look even further back than Energon for 'kibble-less' combiners.
    Car Robot's Build King and JRX both are combiners that not only are nontraditional in that they have no combiner kibble but that they also aren't 'standard combiners' (that said, both have robot mode weapon kibble in most cases).
    Even further back is Beast Wars Tripredacus and Magnaboss. The furthest back however is Victory's Liokaiser, THE combiner to first implement the majority of combiner kibble into the limb bots (the sole exception is the helmet).
     
  3. supervir2

    supervir2 Feels like the kid in Big everyday.

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Posts:
    5,900
    News Credits:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    287
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Likes:
    +734
    Strictly speaking about partsforming with combiners, I think newly designed combiner characters shouldn't really have the issue. Older characters (ie G1), are limited by the way/time they were created and would be much harder to pull off because the character designs were done after the toy which included partsforming. While they probably *could* make a devastator without partsforming, the ability to bring it to mass retail is likely compromised due to complexity needed.

    As for partsforming in general, it kind of defeats the purpose of transformers for me. While nothing mandates that parts shift around without detaching, the brand has generally stuck to that idea and I think most view it as such. I'd put it on the designers at this point. There is no reason to design a figure that can't physically transform without coming apart in 2016.
     
  4. WheelWave140

    WheelWave140 Hate's not cool, dudes!

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Posts:
    2,165
    News Credits:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    222
    Likes:
    +1,313
    They weren't even re-dedicated, both Devy and Raiden were sold as Diaclone toys in different colors.
     
  5. The Madness

    The Madness News Credits: -13

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Posts:
    1,415
    Trophy Points:
    282
    Likes:
    +565
    GBTM2, you seem to interpreting parts-forming in the heritage lines from a modern Transformers context. ie as some kind of weakness or failure to engineer correctly. Back in the day most of these accessories were added interactive features, especially in Diaclone, (though Microchange/Microman Soundwave's batteries and Megatron's cannon assembly were also awesome). The fact that the toys depicted robots allowed compartmentalization and the replacement of parts with weaponry for added interest.

    It's only during the passing of decades that the inconvenience of losing parts has become apparent and resented by some. Yes, you're correct that Hasbro took a different approach and parts-forming has been minimised since, but that appears to be more of a conceptual, rather than ability related response. Hasbro's transformers are sentient individuals with clear identities rather than a collection of cool swapable robot parts to pilot.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Starfire22

    Starfire22 The PoohFather

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Posts:
    13,270
    News Credits:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    287
    Location:
    The middle of America.
    Likes:
    +2,007
    I would rather keep great articulation and have parts to combine, than sacrifice it for intigrated parts.
     
  7. MatrixOfWumbo

    MatrixOfWumbo I see you

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Posts:
    5,404
    News Credits:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    247
    Likes:
    +1,929
    I'll also try to keep my opinion out of this, but there is one thing I wanted to say.

    Most of the dissent towards partsforming is that a Partsformer isn't a Transformer. While I think that lends itself true to combiners in some ways (didn't G1 Computron's head come as a separate piece?) toys like Iron Factory Overlord I think are unfairly labeled. Some characters, especially reverse duocons like him, need to separate in some ways to function properly.
     
  8. GoldbugTM2

    GoldbugTM2 Right Hand Of Primus

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Posts:
    211
    Trophy Points:
    92
    Location:
    Vector Sigma
    Likes:
    +138
    You misread what I said about the KB Toys combiners. I said they were a window into the "horrors" of the past. Lots of loose pieces. They demonstrated what the partsformingness was like in the early days of Transformers compared to the Combiner Wars line. You're correct about there being other examples outside Energon of combiners with out loose pieces. (I actually have both Magnaboss and the old RiD Build Team set.) I was a little short on time and couldn't cover all the examples out there. There's even an old Gobots monster combiner that doesn't really use extra parts--not bad for a toy its age.

    This is certainly true, many of those first Transformers were designed to be piloted in their original Diaclone/Microman forms, and that certainly factored into the incorporation of all those extra pieces. I would still contend that inexperience in toy robotics was also a factor. Just look at how well later designed toys like Voltron/GoLion pulled off combining piloted robots without partsforming. There is much more to the history of transforming robot toys in Japan than what we've covered here--both piloted and sentient themed.
     
  9. Roanstalker

    Roanstalker Great Baan Gaan fan

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Posts:
    12,777
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Likes:
    +171
    Braves also had very little in terms of Parts forming. In fact Car Robots combiners may have been a throwback to Braves.
     

Share This Page