On the current state of Combiners.

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Vector Squidma, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Vector Squidma

    Vector Squidma Smalltime Casual

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    I've noticed that there has been a lot of ill will recently towards Hasbro for not giving individual combiner components individual robot modes, and after doing a bit of poking around I have come to a conclusion:

    Making combiners with individual robot modes is easy.

    Making combiners with individual robot modes that stand up to today's toy standards is HARD.

    If you look at the grand master list of Combiners on TFwiki, you'll notice that the vast majority are from G1. Why? BECAUSE STANDARDS OF TOY MANUFACTURING WERE NOT AS HIGH. Not to mention the fact that toy manufacturing technology was far behind what we have today. Hasbro could afford to make a combiner with very limited articulation and almost zero posability since that was what was expected of the time. They could also get away with having individual robot modes that frankly looked rather silly since well, that was the expectation.

    Perhaps one of the biggest factors was the death of the "partsformer". Since there was no expectation that a robot should stay as one cohesive whole during transformation, Hasbro/Takara were free to have free pieces all over the place, a fact they exploited for all it was worth with combiners (the fact that the vast majority of scratchbuilt combiners resort to partsforming is a testament to this). I mean just take a look at the below picture of Superion's "combiner kibble"

    [​IMG]

    Nowadays it is much harder to get away with that sort of thing. Beast wars in particular established such conventions as high posability, heavy articulation, and cohesive transformations that are seen as standards to this day. All these made many of the "shortcuts" toy designers used back in the G1 days very hard to get away with. Sure there were still combiners, but not nearly in the amounts as back in G1. Now the Energon line was the exception to this of course, but only because its central theme was combination. Now I wasn't really in the fandom when the Energon line was active, but I have gotten the impression that the overall response to it was rather...lackluster. But ask yourself this. If the Energon toys were released back in G1, what would the response have been? Probably overwhelmingly positive, since they were of much higher standards OF WHAT WAS SEEN AS NORMAL AT THE TIME.

    So could Hasbro engineer a combiner with individual robot modes that lives up to todays standards? Most likely yes, but in the end Hasbro is still running a business, and developing such a toy would probably take far longer and cost much more then they are willing to spend. So maybe we shouldn't be getting angry at Hasbro for making things like the Power Core Combiners the way they are. They are doing their darndest to keep the concept of Combiners alive and relevant in today's toy market. Is the concept exactly the same as the G1 days? No. Is the concept still one worth exploring? Oh hell yes! Hasbro is just taking a different approach to the concept. It's not a downgrade, rather, it's adaptation.

    Good god this got long. Jesus. All nighters do WEIRD things to my brain chemistry.
     
  2. TJOmega

    TJOmega The Plastic Addict Content Contributor

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    Nice analysis, but this is the news forum. Needs to be in Toy or General TF discussion.
     
  3. wildfly

    wildfly Lasers, 8 O'Clock, Day 1.

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    Just a quick aside, Superion, Menasor, Bruticus and Defensor appear to be left over, previously unused, Diaclone designs. Devastator and Raiden were of course used in Diaclone, and Predaking was designed by a third party company who did work for Bandai.
     
  4. Vector Squidma

    Vector Squidma Smalltime Casual

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    Whoops. So it is. Could we get this moved to the toy forum?
     
  5. Sammael

    Sammael MightyMegatron from ATT TFW2005 Supporter

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    How do you explain Liokaiser, then? Minimal parts-forming there, awesome gestalt mode, awesome individual modes. It wouldn't be too hard to add more articulation to both individual robots and the gestalt.
     
  6. Vector Squidma

    Vector Squidma Smalltime Casual

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    Well I guess there's an exception to every rule. I mean given the wildly different origins of some of the G1 toys its small wonder that some would be of higher quality then others. I mean I don't pretend to be an expert on this sort of thing, I'm just noticing what people are saying and making conjectures after a bit of research.
     
  7. Starscream NZ

    Starscream NZ Well-Known Member

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    Far as I recall Hasbro admitted that making combiners is a pretty expensive and tricky prodcedure these days, trying to obtain maximum articulation in both vehicle (if necessary), robot and limb modes - the lack of parts-forming makes hands/feat much more difficult and unless Hasbro revisits parts for combiners, we'll probably never see 'proper' hands on gestalts, as they'd also take up a lot of room on a deluxe/scout figure.

    There will be a time in the near future where we will see multi-robot (not drone) combiners with good arms/legs/articulation - but it'll happen when it's financially feasible for Hasbro/Takara - and any logical person can agree to this decision they've made.
     
  8. wildfly

    wildfly Lasers, 8 O'Clock, Day 1.

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    ^ I should also point out, the way in which Raiden combines is fairly complex, even by today's standards.
     
  9. Macross7

    Macross7 Well-Known Member

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    I say what is wrong with having accessories? Is it really that important to people that all the parts attach to the bots in some way? Look at the hands/feet of the Energon combiners. Those look like crap, especially the hands, since they all had to become energon weapons.
     
  10. Scantron

    Scantron Well-Known Member

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    The response to the Energon combiners has pretty much followed the standard arc of response to TF figures, in that they were fairly popular at the time they were released but have since gone on to become the worst toys in the universe and a sign that TFs are ruined forever. The main complaints about the Energon combiners were that only 3 molds were used for each combiner, the hands were a bit odd-looking and Storm Jet, specifically, doesn't hold together very well in torso mode. All of those are things that could probably be fixed fairly easily, so it's not really that hard to design combiners that meet current toy standards.
     
  11. Optimus Sledge

    Optimus Sledge Yar har fiddle di dee

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    No one ever remembers the RID combiners. :( 
     
  12. Houndvoice

    Houndvoice Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Yup, what about Railracer?
     
  13. Mastodon

    Mastodon Well-Known Member

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    The RID combiners, Rail Racer in particular, prove that the Takara designers like Sho Hasui can pull off a non-partsforming articulated combiner. Just because Hasbro does not want to spend the money on R&D does not mean they cannot do it.
     
  14. Sunstorm9119

    Sunstorm9119 RC 1136

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    Yeah, RailRacer and Landfill were pretty damn good...
     
  15. grimlock1972

    grimlock1972 "No Mas" My Wallet

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    I would dearly love a return to the Scramble city combiners as the large amount of articulation the figures have today while nice is not something I just have to have, I am in the minority how ever. Parts forming doesn't much bug me either. I am hoping to begin to get the G1 Combiners due to my budget ill likely need to build them piece by piece. I know Hasbro can do better even if they have to compromise on somethings to do it.
     
  16. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    I'm kind of wondering since the two pack Power Core sets say that the little robot can become armor if maybe small robots would be the way to cover all the extra bits now instead of just having all the extra bits come out of nowhere like in the past.

    To me the Power Core seems like a bit of an experiment by Hasbro to see if a Power Rangers style combiner would work with kids under the Transformers banner or not. Sure we may or may not like it but it's going to be up to the kids buying or not buying if we are going to get more.

    Personally I don't mind them experimenting a bit but I hope it doesn't mean that more traditional style Transformers combiners are not off the table now. With the brand being made so much more diverse perhaps Power Core is just the first steps into even broader combiners in the future.

    But yea it's always going to be hard for Hasbro to make that combiner that is going to please everyone because we all want different things. And then some of us are really crazy like me wanting impossible stuff like deluxe sized Generations G1 inspired Constructicons. So no way to make us all happy, but no reason to see if they can't make some of us happy.
     
  17. Zherbus

    Zherbus In Shogo Hasui, we trust.

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    I wholeheartedly agree. The could easily design a few more limb molds. Hell, a GARAGE company just designed a Blast-off and Swindle that are awesome. The energon hands and feet all sucked and that could easily just be anything better.

    And the RID combiners are really nice too.

    I really just think the ultimate reason we're not seeing good combiner teams is this: To design and manufacture a combiner, it costs X amount of money and will only bring in Y amount of money. For X minus Z amount of money (the cost of designing other, more simple stuff), they can still bring in Y.

    I'm okay with that, honestly. As TF toy fanatics, we're looking towards the aftermarket to fill in our fantasy wants. I'm fine with doing that for as long as Hasbro/Takara continue to leave a lot to be desired.
     
  18. Taziir

    Taziir Well-Known Member

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    The Rotf EZ Devestator is my favourite recent combiner figure. It's kibble free combination is clever for it's size, and I feel that it hinted at what is possible for larger figures. Like others have already said, the cost would be much more than we are used to paying for figures.
     
  19. cheetorBWORG

    cheetorBWORG Cheetor Fan

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    I think the Energon Constructicon molds were pretty good looking, especially the Classics repaint.
     
  20. blunghole

    blunghole The Tapeworm of Unicron!

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    Legends class Devastator shows that it is possible to get each component of a combiner to have bot and vehicle modes, even on a small scale. I don't know what happened with Supreme Devastator, and I think the bot modes for the Power Core Combiner limbs was sacrificed for the Automorph gimmick, and while the gimmick is cool, but I would much rather they have a bot mode.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, the bot modes on Supreme Dev was probably sacrificed for the light and sounds gimmick.
     

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