Animation model and toy design inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by tekering, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. tekering

    tekering Missing a member

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    I suspect this is an issue of specific interest to all Transformers collectors, and yet there's very little hard info. to be found online... Hopefully, some of the more informed among us can shed some light on what goes on behind-the-scenes at HasTak.

    Some Transformers toylines (like the Real Gear Robots) are entirely original toy designs, while others (like Masterpiece) are closely based on pre-existing animation models and toys. Prior to 1986, all Transformers had been appropriated from other Japanese toy lines; Floro Dery's designs for the Transformers: The Movie cast were among the first characters not based on pre-existing toy designs. This resulted in the first original figures Hasbro came up with, the first Transformer toys based on original animation models. In the following quarter-century, we've seen numerous examples of both, and the lines have become increasingly blurred of late.

    It's the old chicken-and-egg paradox. Which came first, the toy or the animation model? The Unicron Trilogy accurately depicts a toyline that was clearly designed first; the figures are consistent in appearance and design with their onscreen depictions. Conversely, the live-action film series inspired wildly inconsistent toy designs, numerous attempts at representing characters that were clearly CGI models first and foremost. There's not much to debate there.

    But what of Animated? Car Robots? Prime? Are the toys designed first, and the animated characters based on those designs? Or are the animation models designed first, with toys designed to represent those characters are accurately as possible?

    The existence of both "First Edition" and "Robots in Disguise" toy lines, each representing the same Prime characters at the same scales, suggests that the CGI models came first, and the toys are merely based on those designs. It follows that designs like Soundwave or Breakdown lend themselves to action figures much better than Airachnid or Knock Out.

    Or maybe some characters get designed in close conjunction with their toy counterparts -- a collaboration between animation character designer Jose Lopez and Takara's toy engineers, perhaps. Is it possible Breakdown's toy was developed at the same time as his CGI model (or even beforehand), while Knock Out's toy design was developed after the animated character had already been rendered?
     
  2. opt1musaber

    opt1musaber Victory Saber's Recruit

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    As long as the toys &/or animation designs are good I myself don't care about which came first.
     
  3. TrueNomadSkies

    TrueNomadSkies Airachnid's ratservant

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    Well for another comparison, just take a look at some of the BW stuff. The original toys (especially Rhinox) looked derpy because their animation models weren't finalized when the toys were, and they were also quite early in the generation. However when it came to the Transmetals & beyond, most of those looked VERY close to their show models, even down to guys like Silverbolt & Cheetor looking to retain the same transformation & points of movement which I've always appreciated.
     
  4. tekering

    tekering Missing a member

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    Totally. It's always greatly satisfying to see onscreen depictions that accurately reflect toy designs. Heck, that's what I love most about the Botcon and IDW comics.

    And it's often equally obvious when toy designs haven't been finalized, leading to characters like G1 Hot Rod (who never transforms onscreen the same way twice)!

    Now, if only those later Beast Wars toys were even *remotely* in scale to each other... :redface2: 
     
  5. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Hammer of the Gunplas

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    I believe Animated was, in this case, an animation-first series, but not by much since the toys are some of the most show-accurate figures Transformers has had in recent years. The main evidence lies in the fact both Lugnut and Soundwave had accessories (Tail mace and Laserbeak guitar, respectively) that do not show up in regular stock art of the two, and the writers for Animated said they were not aware of those weapons until after the episodes were complete,and said weapons were later incorporated into the show. Additionally, Blitzwing's toy cheats in the tank transformation a bit and his turret barrels can not rest on his shoulders like in the show.

    Car Robots had to be toy-first, simply because half of the characters are just repaints of older figures (namely Ruination, Scourge, Brave Max. and the majority of Spychangers, among others), and most of the other designs are too complex to NOT have been taken from the toys first (car brothers mostly).

    Prime...probably animation first. That's the only way I can explain why we can get decent figures like Wheeljack and Soundwave, who remain pretty accurate to the show models, while at the same time we get Deluxe Knock-Out (who is severely lacking in paint apps and the tires on his back should be higher and larger) and Airachnid (which tries so hard to be show-accurate that it becomes the figure's biggest flaw).
     
  6. Grandum

    Grandum Well-Known Member

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    I'd assume it goes something like this:

    1. Concept art
    2. A basic toy to see if it can transform from one mode to another.
    3. final toy design AND show modeling at the same time based on the concept art and the rough model.

    I don't know for sure, of course, but it seems likely that they do it at the same time as it would cost a friggin' fortune to finish either the toy or show first before you started developing the show/toy.
     
  7. Wheeljack_Prime

    Wheeljack_Prime Don't eat me

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    Animated and Prime had their models and toys designed simultaneously. The movies were primarily model first, but the toy design did play into it to a lesser extent (Bay once said Hasbro asked him to try to not have the characters do body movements and poses the toys couldn't do) Everything else was toys first.
     
  8. tekering

    tekering Missing a member

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    Most of Prime's first season had been aired by the time the "First Edition" toys made it to market...

    ...and within a matter of weeks, they were cancelled and replaced by (largely) inferior "Robots in Disguise" versions!

    I'll bet that cost HasTak a friggin' fortune, intentional or otherwise.

    I assume Bay chose to ignore that request entirely. :( 
     
  9. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Hammer of the Gunplas

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    Personally, I think it was a mistake on Hasbro's part to promote the FE's so heavily after it was clear on their end that retailers were being stupid and still thought the armies of shelfwarming DOTM Bumblebee variants would sell better than new product. I can excuse the show for essentially repeating what happened with Animated (season 1 being done/close to done before the toys show up) since Prime had to air for the launch of the HUB as one of its premiere original content shows. But when that happened, Hasbro should have pushed American retailers to carry FE's after supposedly learning from the mistakes that made Animated not as successful as was hoped.

    Well, Hasbro didn't exactly follow this, either. How can I have my Bumblebee punch Soundwave through the chest when I don't have a Soundwave toy?! It's physically impossible for Bumblebee to punch a guy through the chest when said guy does not exist in my hands!
     
  10. Valkysas

    Valkysas Attack Buffalo

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    With Animated there was some back and forth with Hasbro at the character design stage, which is why on the show, Bumblebee transforms exactly the same way his toy does, "cheats" and all. the only difference is that the stripe moves on the show.
     
  11. tekering

    tekering Missing a member

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    Seeing the first promotional images for Animated, I was shocked (as no doubt we all were) by the cartoonish proportions, and simply assumed there would be no toyline. I mean, those designs couldn't possibly be reproduced as toys, right?

    I was equally shocked when the toyline finally hit, and (for the most part) turned out to be the most consistent in scale and design since Cybertron. After the disappointment of the movie line -- that looked nothing like the robots in the film -- it seemed clear that HasTak had taken a much more active role in the Animated designs. When that toyline was replaced by Revenge of the Fallen, the advances they'd made in figure engineering (resulting in jewels like Sidearm Sideswipe and the Human Alliance line) suggest they had greater input into the ROTF character designs. By comparison, the inferior Dark of the Moon line represents a significant step backwards, but that seems more a result of marketing decisions (like MechTech) than lack of studio cooperation.

    Which leads us into Prime, with its wildly inconsistent level of toy engineering and character depiction. Scale is sometimes a problem (Ratchet's too small as a Deluxe, but Arcee's too big), Starscream and Wheeljack jump right off the screen while Knock Out and Airachnid fall short of the mark, and the "Robots in Disguise" sub-line is both clearly superior (Arcee and the Vehicon) and vastly inferior (Optimus and Bulkhead) to its "First Edition" predecessor. What's more, Takara completely reverses their marketing tactics, drastically cutting costs and adding toyetic gimmicks -- ignoring the domestic collectors' market in the process -- and proving the Hasbro releases superior in all important respects.

    And yet we have "War" Breakdown, a significant character with no Hasbro release planned for the forseeable future...

    The head-scratching continues.
     

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