Discuss: What is the G1 toy aesthetic?

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Autobus Prime, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Autobus Prime

    Autobus Prime Transit Former

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    No 'stack of boxes', please, that's way too simple, unless we mean Danbo ^_^; you could reduce a lot of very different-looking designs down to a stack of geometric shapes. The PLEX designs for Machine Robo and such could be described the same way, but their details are very different.

    I think 'stack of car parts' would be a little better - a lot of G1 toys go from altmode to robot in as few steps as possible. If a large chunk of plane or car makes an acceptable body part - it stays. This seems pretty obvious.

    The thing I am wondering about is the detail of the robot-only parts. At this point, 30 years later, TFs have influenced many things, and the robot parts just seem like generic mecha. However, compare to the other big 80s stuff, and they don't just look like everything else out there.

    So what is it that makes a design look like a Transformer?
     
  2. grunge

    grunge The TANK

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    basically when a toy vehicle bends, twists, and or unfolds, and becomes a humanoid robot, with the appearance of previous form used in the current, namely vehicle mode kibble ... thats a transformer.
     
  3. mweeuser

    mweeuser Well-Known Member

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    This,

    Which is why I just was never as into the live action models and some are. Went too far away from this aspect of G1 for me.

     
  4. Autobus Prime

    Autobus Prime Transit Former

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    G:

    Except when it's a GoBot, or Raideen, or the Ideon, or Xabungle, or a Valkyrie that isn't named Jetfire. :D 

    So what separates these from G1 Transformers, visually? That's where I'm wondering about aesthetics. Diaclone robots don't look like the small Machine Robo designs in detail, even when they follow similar transformation schemes.
     
  5. Murasame

    Murasame CHIMICHANGAS

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    They look like armored, robotic knights, their armor features parts which show clearly what their alt mode is.
     
  6. Sharpfinger

    Sharpfinger Well-Known Member

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    When I was a child, the only G1 Transformers toys were minibots (Estrela only brings six minibots molds to Brazil) so, the image of Transformers toys are: SD vehicles, chubby robots and huge feets. My today G1 bots are many minibots, the Seacons, Metroplex and Sky Lynx. So, in large part, G1 to me still are SD vehicles, chubby robots and huge feets. :) 

    Converts and Mutantes (Gobots) are much more accurate vehicles and better proportioned bots. So, easy to find the differences between Transformers and Gobots. Funny that I, for some time, give to my Gobots the names of G1 Transformers characters thinking they are the same, only after watch Gobots on TV I found that they are a different toy line.
     
  7. strangeguy32000

    strangeguy32000 Well-Known Member

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    A Vehicle that turns into a robot that looks like it changed from said vehicle.
    That is a G1 Transformer.

    Which is totally different from Bayformers that look like Vehicles that look liked they went through a titanic Garbage disposal, got attached to a robot, and somehow could be reconfigured into a vehicle whenever the robot formed.
     
  8. Gilgamesh

    Gilgamesh Mostly Harmless

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    This is a genuinely interesting question. Fans can't seem to even agree on what looks G1 and what doesn't, just look at the hilariously stupid discussions about "hey guys do you think I can use [insert robot name] in my classics collection"
     
  9. brr-icy

    brr-icy G1 Collector

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    this, samurais, knights, but armored and powerful
     
  10. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    AP, I honestly think you've already answered much of your own inquiry here.

    As far as G1 toys from the pre-90s go, much of their "robot parts" were concealed by the vehicular parts. Those vehicular parts tend to remain solid except where needed to hinge for transformation (compare the front end car parts of the car brothers like Prowl and Bluestreak versus that of movie Bumblebee, for example). The robot parts we do see tend to be more boxy in shape, with a few electronic or technological details on them. This give the parts an outer armor (whereas designs like the movie are more exo-skeletal).
     
  11. The Madness

    The Madness News Credits: -13

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    A very interesting question, and one I was pondering myself while reading the GD thread.

    While I'm not sure I really have an appreciation of the differences between 'visual style' and aesthetics, I'll make an attempt.
    G1 still holds the mantle of being one of the longer running, and subsequently varied lines, it still holds some distinct elements, outside of brickiness.

    To me, G1 and it's founding toylines took the approach of objects that converted into humanoid representations. These representations were mostly the alt-mode personified, and relished in displaying motifs of the said-alt mode. Many Diaclones were simply men made out of cars, and most of the G1 toys/ characters proudly displayed car hoods and jet canopies etc, heavily alluding to their alternate modes.
    As has been mentioned, it seems the designers had purposefully looked for human features in the alt-mode object, like a sculptor does to find form.

    Although Beastwars continued the tradition by flagrantly displaying heads and animal features, kibble slowly started to become more obscured. A lack of contrast between robot and alt-mode started to be considered a failure in design, especially considering the re-use of limbs.
    By the time Car-Robots came around, we were all pretty impressed by what amounted to amazing robots with vehicle backpacks.

    Slowly but surely we've been encouraging greater disparity between robot and alt mode, and witness to a shift to cool robot designs that hide enough kibble and maneuverability to convert into an acceptable alt-mode.

    The real twist is that Machine Robo (Machine Men, Gobots etc) probably incorporated more Alt-mode cues into their robots, while Transformers had stricter guidelines on robot proportions and small headed android features.
    Transformers have just shifted further away over time.
     
  12. wheeljack359

    wheeljack359 Master Technician

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    The G-1 asthetic to me seemed more realistic in the way that if a car really did change into a robot, G-1 would be what it would look like even if it happened today in 2012.

    Living Machines would be efficient by default and function over form would dominate design. Thats the "magic" of the G-1 line and I like to search for characters in the newer lines that would adhere to this philosophy.

    But unfortunatly for toys the form over function helps make a sellable toy and that "magic" is lost.
     
  13. Autobus Prime

    Autobus Prime Transit Former

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    Okay, I attached some photos so we can discuss things more easily. I collaged up some assorted Takara and Bandai fire-engine robots. Broadly speaking, they are blocky robots with visible, solid truck parts, but the styling differences are certainly there.

    I think that studying this could be useful for fan artists; I know I've drawn a lot of things that had car parts and robot parts, but somehow, just didn't look like a Transformer...or a GoBot, if that's what I was going for.

    Via Gundam, maybe? Looking at the pictures, and others over at TFU.info, this seems very evident in the chest and hip design, where Takara seems to approximate a roughly Gundam shape, when possible, with the Gundam armor skirt compressed into robot Speedos. :) 

    This shape isn't entirely evident with Inferno, but he's still got the Speedos. Even Hot Spot, blocky as he is, has molding added to bring the Gundam-torso shape out.

    The Bandai figures (mostly designed by Plex, I think) seem to favor a series of stepped rectinlinear boxes, with more variation in the elements. They often have a beltlike section in the middle.

    Another thing I'm noticing is that Takara uses a lot of molded-on raised detail - ribs, panels, and blocks, often repeated, often angular. Bandai seems to use more engraved lines or recessed panels.

    What do you think about this?

    I attached some photos of these, too, and it appears that the small Microchange molds show some of the same styling, when compared with Bandai's small Machine Robo. Take a look at Smallfoot compared with Gears. Robot layout is broadly similar, but Smallfoot is much more rectilinear in appearance, with the central belt section, narrow panel divisions, and smal recessed panels. Gears' chest is actually very similar in outline, but uses heavy molded detail to de-emphasize squareness in favor of angularity.

    Some of the same can be seen in Brawn compared with Geeper Creeper - Creeper is much more complicated, but smoother in surface detail, and again, with the fine engraved lines, versus the heavy molded panels and ribs.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. grunge

    grunge The TANK

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    Well the G1 cartoon cast a lot of magic, but ...

    named were transformable mech, that while they DO fit my description, they are mass production models. while many TF share a similar body, they each have a name and some identifiable feature setting them a part. a gimmick if you will.

    go-bots? most just bent over. oh the irony ...
     
  15. Houndvoice

    Houndvoice Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. Murasame

    Murasame CHIMICHANGAS

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    Yep, the Gundam comparison in some design aspects came to my mind as well. But I thought it would sound stupid if I said so.
     
  17. The Madness

    The Madness News Credits: -13

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    Hmm, I guess I was thinking more of a Zeemon: Bluestreak comparison, rather than minibots. But you're right about Gundam speedos vs bandai boxers.
    I'd probably suggest there's a high frequency of Gundam style Mohawks too. Even with other superfluous bits added for embellishment.
     
  18. Autobus Prime

    Autobus Prime Transit Former

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    :lol 

    Okay, you win a :hookday .

    Aren't you lucky I was here to sound stupid for you? :D 

    But maybe not so stupid? Gundam was a big hit in the 70s, influence would be no surprise.
     
  19. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    Two different schools though...pre movie and post. The post are easy...oversized heads with constipated , unemotional looking faces for the most part.

    G1 is all over the place with the different lines it borrowed from. The baseball cap on Prime's head makes me think of 60s and 70s mecha like Gigantor and the influences soon after like Manzinger and the rest of his ilk. Basically it fit the generic japanese robot motif of the 70s IMO.
     
  20. Murasame

    Murasame CHIMICHANGAS

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    :D 

    Even Saber Rider has similarities to G1 and Gundam.

    What baseball cap? Reminds me more of a police helmet, if you mean what I think.
     

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