Transformation Complexity and Class Size discussion.

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Tiller, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. Tiller

    Tiller I don't know nothin'

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    Warning: incoming wall-o-text:

    I've seen a bit of interesting quips in my short time on this forum and would like to get a more general feel about how the community thinks about class size and transformation complexity. I feel this is a bit more ambiguous than a poll, so I would like to see a bit of debate among you all.

    I guess I will define transformation complexity as all the steps you need to do in order for the figure to get from form A to form B, or sometimes even form C and beyond. This can also be related to time, as the time to transform a figure is generally proportionate to the number of steps involved (but there are always exceptions). Basically, the more complicated the figure, the more time you are going to fiddle with it while transforming.

    Class Sizes are the general mini-con/legend/scout/deluxe/voyager/ultra/leader/Supreme/etc.

    Typically from what I gather from the figures I own the larger the class size, the more complex the figure and transformation is. There are exceptions of course, but this is usually the status quo.

    However, I've seen and experienced myself instances where overcomplexity is a bad thing, but also where less complex figures can be equally annoying. For example, the general statement I see thrown around:

    "X is too complex/not complex enough for its class size."

    To throw in some examples, Animated Leader Megatron and Cybertron Leader Prime seem to get flak for being a large figure with a less complex transformation scheme. Some people feel ripped off for buying it a retail price because they expected more engineering per dollar value in the figure. The opposite is true for a few deluxe movie figures, Cybertron Crosswise/Smokescreen, and classics Galvatron where people have said transformation is too complex or fiddly for the size and results in frustration. Other examples like ROTF Leader Prime or ROTF Leader Jetfire where even at larger class sizes the figure is so complex that the thought of transformation makes people feel like punting babies. Even at the smaller scale there people state who say that some mini-cons are too basic to even be called transformers.

    Most of the time though figures tend to hit the sweet spot in balancing the two. Which is a good thing lest we would be complaining all the time and questioning our hobby.

    Of course, there are other factors in complexity vs. class size that can influence the forgiveness or hate for an imbalance or even help define the "sweet spot". Here is a list of the common ones listed below:

    1.Screen Accuracy (doesn't always apply)
    2.Sacrifices to alt/robot mode
    3.Transformation intricacy
    4.Time


    Sometimes screen accuracy doesn't need to involve a super complex transformation to get the same look. Animated Megatron for example looks dead on in both robot and alt mode. Other times, like the recent movie figures, screen accuracy involves the complicated transformation or else it wouldn't be possible to get something so detailed and complex to figure into a reasonable looking alt. Another example could be complex shellformers like Big Convoy. There are also cases where the transformation can be complex and look nothing like the show's representation anyway, despite the quality of the figure. (see: Beast Machines) Screen accuracy doesn't always apply to though since figures may not get represented in various transformer shows, like Beast Wars or the Movie line. Typically this also involves bot mode/altmode sacrifices.

    For those bots who don't get screen time, the complexity also lends itself to the actual converting of bots to vehicle and back. For example, bottom kibble and visible limbs. ROTF Mindwipe gets around the dreaded undercarriage kibble quite nicely, while ROTF Jetfire fails miserably. Masterpiece and ROTF Prime's alt modes have no real visible robot kibble and their transformations are more complex to accomplish that. Classics Ironhide/Ratchet's vehicle modes have panel lines everywhere to get a particular look in bot mode. Another thing of note is that gimmicks like mini-cons or powerlinx also can effect complexity, or a lack thereof. Also articulation can depend on the figure's engineering. Depending on your taste this can make or break a figure.

    Transformation intricacy is a bit more open ended. Basically, did you have fun transforming the figure or did you think they went about it in a clever way? Masterpiece Prime folds the wheels into his torso and I think that's really cool. Big Convoy transforming isn't so spectacular and I think he is really fiddly to line the stupid panels up. Again, mostly down to individual preference. Some have more toleration than others.

    Time is another factor. How long it takes to transform a figure can be related to complexity. Does it take a few seconds to and hour to transform? G1 stuff was relatively simple and fast, and we know how many people love them to death. I know my first few times with ROTF Prime were not short affairs...


    WALL OF TEXT OVER

    So what preference do you take? I personally can forgive a long and annoying transformation if it does the Robot mode and alt lots of good, like ROTF Leader Prime and not in the case of ROTF Leader Jefire. Simple transformations, no matter the size, are always forgiven if the toy is screen accurate, articulation is good, and if it really isn't necessary, like Animated Megs. I also love if Transformation time is cut short, since I love to rapidly transform things, and this is why I love the original Optimus Primal design so much.
     
  2. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Villain

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    Personally I love spending a lot of time transforming something. It makes me feel like it's a real hobby and I'm getting my money's worth. That's why I love Alternity so much and dudes like Mixmaster.

    That said, Big Convoy is the prime(ha!) example of an almost great toy but generally accepted to have crucial flaws that prevent a complete transformation due to the smallest of misalignments. That's unacceptable to me, no matter how good he looks.
     
  3. Bumblethumper

    Bumblethumper old misery guts

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    I get what you're saying here, but I'm not sure intricacy is the right word for it. As I'm used to the word, intricate is much the same as complex.

    The way I see it there's complex and there's complex.

    There's a clumsy complexity consisting of numerous parts and rotations that must be made in the journey from point A to point B. Sort of a brute force approach that gets there in the end, but with a lot of fiddling and forcing and parts crashing together and popping off.

    Then there's the more sophisticated coordinated complexity. Where there's a lot of parts, but there's always enough clearance and everything glides into place with just the right amount of tension in every joint.

    You can guess which I prefer.

    The other big factor for me is inventiveness. I really love those unexpected transformations where they find some unique and clever new way of folding the bot into the altmode. Sometimes the best ones are also the simplest. I mean simple as in efficient, rather than obvious. I never like obvious transformations. I really admire what they've done with some of the Legends class transformations. The average legends figure has less than twenty parts, so it impresses me all the more if they manage to do something clever within those limitations.
     
  4. grimlock1972

    grimlock1972 "No Mas" My Wallet

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    I see what your getting at and by in large I agree.

    Uni. Galvatron is a perfect example of figure made bad by the wrong class size if he had been Voyager he would have been epic. as is he is a mess when being transformed.


    ROTF Leader class prime while looking great in both modes has a needlessly complicated transformation.

    As for Screen accuracy I find more and more its getting in the way of transformations making them way too complicated. ROTF Leader class prime is an excellent example he looks great in both modes but getting from Robot to truck is a nightmare the arm transformation needs to be simplified to get rid of the high frustration factor.

    The ROTF Scout class has been awesome and to me its because the designers have barely had to deal with screen accuracy issues. ( Scalpel and Ejector are the only on screen scouts) This has lead to better figures. Im all for screen accuracy but not if the pursuit of it negatively effects the playability of the figure.
     
  5. Xaedrahk

    Xaedrahk Prime-otions!

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    Personally, I look more at how inventive the overall transformation process is rather than the level of complexity.

    For example; I spent some amount of time looking at image galleries of MP Prime before I finally got him and the way his entire chest/torso area opens up, unfolds, rearranges, and then all clicks back into place surprised and pleased me. It's that sort of inventiveness around "How can we get the arms to fold down in truck mode, but not leave the robot mode with a barbie waist when we're done" that makes it one of my favorite figures.

    Alternity Convoy was another example because in an age where carformers typically end up with the front or back of the car simply swinging down to become their feet; actually having the entire rear half of the vehicle curl around on itself to form the lower leg and foot was a stroke of genius.

    So I guess it adds onto Bumblethumper's point about having various parts slide neatly into place for transformation; I like not only the fact that they work that way, but the creativity that went into that part of the figure's design so it could.

    And yet with regards to a far less complex line; that was part of why I liked the Beast Wars springformers. It was rather fascinating to see something constructed that pretty much transformed on its own simply by having the tail/head lifted.
     
  6. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Dry built

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    It depends. I don't want to be at a TF for so long taht I get irritated.

    Personally, simpler, the better, as long as both modes are great. IMO that shows more skill and engineering taht you can accomplish more with fever steps, and are often the more clever transformations. (example: TFA)

    The movie figures are an exception, where more complex transformations are more accurate and add the the feel of the figure.
     
  7. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

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    I'm a fan of the intricate transformation, but at the same time I try to temper my expectations with the size class of the figure. I don't expect a super intricate transformation in a legends figure, but I expect to do more than stand it up on it's bumper and that's it.

    I look at Transformers like 3D puzzles. I do

    Kibble is also another factor. While it doesn't necessarily stop me from buying a figure, it can definitely hamper my enjoyment. Cybertron Thunder thighs... Thunderblast... or whatever her name was is a great example of the shell former that still has some good enjoyment to the figure. That's mostly because of it's articulation and huge freakin' gun.

    For screen accuracy, I don't get too worked up over it even when it's a design aesthetic for the line like it was with Animated.
     
  8. Feralstorm

    Feralstorm I ship Nick & Judy TFW2005 Supporter

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    While I don't hate complex transformations (ROTF Prime impresses me) a very complex design is more likely to be on display on one mode and not handled. I do tend not to like the following:

    * "too complex for the size/class" - mostly because they tend to be fiddly and fragile with parts too small for human fingers.

    * "needlessly complex" - when something takes ten steps to accomplish what could have been done equally well in three. This doesn't happen often, thankfully, but it sure doesn't NEVER happen.

    * "clumsy" transformation - where parts don't move past each other cleanly and have to be muscled through, maybe popping off or even breaking.

    Conversely, I'm rarely bothered by simple transformations at any size, as long as the different modes are distinct enough (alt-mode doesn't just look like a contorted robot, for example). I'm reminded of one of my favorite TF toys of my youth, Scamper, the little black car that came with Metroplex. I loved the simplicity of that one, as I could transform it in under a second, just like in the show. :) 

    My own preference is not for complexity or simplicity, but somewhere between. I like the 'elegant' transforms of a lot of Animated toys, which are exactly as complex as needed to match the character design closely in both modes. I also enjoy unusual and clever bits, such as the seats forming the waist area of several Alternators toys. (and Masterpiece Optimus' waist design, and Animated Blackarachnia's waist design, and...)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  9. ectoneon

    ectoneon Well-Known Member

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    I guess it depends. I'll use a figure that I love and everybody seems to hate on as an example-universe Ironhide. I don't mind the panel lines at all-because I still think using the rear end of an suv to replicate the look of a 80s van was a stroke of genius. The thing I hate the most is when the gimmick ruins the toy. (I'm looking at you blackout). The complexity of a transformation isn't to high on my list. You can get some great complex transformations, and some great simple transformations. Granted you can get some horrible ones too, but the ratio usually evens out in my opinion. The size class thing is more finicky thing I think. They say universe Galvatron would have been better as a voyager-but I think they are trying to say he wouldn't be as frustrating to transform at a bigger size. I really doubt his transformation would be all that different at a larger size.
     
  10. supervir2

    supervir2 Feels like the kid in Big everyday.

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    Without reading everything that was said...

    I like 'satisfying transformations'. To me, that means different, but pretty limited things that include some of the following:
    1) intuitive/flowing - things move like you would expect
    2) when the result is a stable toy in both modes that makes you ask - how did they do that!?! bc they look so different
    3) ingenuity - new ways of doing things. When you've had so many TF's pass through your hands, novelty is appreciated

    I suppose, in general, i prefer bigger toys to have more moving parts, but if they meet the above, they could be as basic as a scout.

    Dislikes:
    1) when things have to be done in a particular order OR ELSE. I know there should be a general order, but when the precision is that great, it can be annoying
    2) vehicle and robot look too similar
    3) when you fight the transformation bc it doesn't move the way it seems like it should "counterintuitive"/"overengineered"
    4) when the transformation needlessly gets in the way of articulation.
     
  11. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    This is why I like intuitive robot modes with humanoid proportions. You can tell when you're done and can start using articulation. With movie toys it's a lot harder to get it to look "right", and the ones with Cybertronian modes have this problem in multiple modes.
     
  12. Tiller

    Tiller I don't know nothin'

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    Awesome. Thanks guys. I just wanted a sample of what people thought. It's good to know that we are pretty diverse within reason.
     
  13. QmTablit

    QmTablit Disguise: Check. Robot...

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    I don't mind complex transformations, it's more of an issue of where the line is drawn to where it's become just too much.

    Movie figures I don't mind having complex transformations or anything, it helps with their look. Parts do in fact move everywhere in the actual movie. Of course, I say that not collecting movie figures.

    One figure I can for sure say crossed the line was Universe Hot Shot. There's just a lot of moving parts and transformation steps that just don't need to be there. And it clearly effects the result of the toy's robot mode. And that's what it should be about, getting the toy from A to B and have it still be a great toy. Many other figures in the "Classics" styled lines have simple, simple transformations and come out as great toys.
     
  14. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    ^^ Classics Mirage is a perfect example of your statement.
     
  15. Xenomrph

    Xenomrph Mr. Fix-it

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    I go back and forth on it. I can appreciate complex transformations (RotF Leader Prime is awesome, I understand why the transformation is so complex) but at the same time I kinda prefer quick and easy transformations like a lot of the Classics figures. I mean, at the end of the day I think to myself, "these are toys, for children", and then I wonder how a child under the age of 15 is supposed to transform RotF Leader Prime. A lot of the movie toys are like that; their transformations aren't exactly intuitive and you definitely need the instructions to figure them out (RotF Mixmaster, RotF Sideswipe, RotF Jetfire, Movie Ironhide, just to name a few).

    I find myself fiddling with a lot of the easier-to-transform ones (Mindwipe, RotF Brakedown, RotF Wideload, RotF Jolt) as opposed to the more complicated ones.
     
  16. Tiller

    Tiller I don't know nothin'

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    I was thinking the same about Classics Hotshot. I mentioned Ironhide in my post though because I figured more people would relate to him. I love the design but its so needlessly complicated and fiddly. The only reason why I give him a pass is because I got the henkei version.
     
  17. AMG

    AMG Old School

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    I honestly like simpler transformations over complex ones. I find it more fun to grab a bot and spend a minute or two changing his mode over fiddling with one for a long time lining up panels and flipping a bunch of parts. If a TF is too complex I won't bother with them often, they'll mostly just stay in bot mode on the shelf. While a simpler TF will get changed from mode to mode quite often.
     
  18. QmTablit

    QmTablit Disguise: Check. Robot...

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    To expand a little bit on my previous post, as I was thinking mainly within my collection which consists mostly of a single size class (Deluxe).

    I like Leaders with "Leader class" complexity in the transformations. I don't need that complexity on my Voyagers and Deluxes. But I do love Scouts with "Deluxe class" complexity, as opposed to them being like large Mini-Cons.
     
  19. havanowoncheese

    havanowoncheese Proud No Ma'amer!

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    Class size and complexity do not really go hand in hand for me except in certain cases such as Uni 2.0 Galvatron. As many others have stated he would have been great as a voyager and i dont think that is a result of the complexity of the transformation, more that it would have given more room to fix the issues the deluxe has such as the lame feet, the back kibble, and would have made the transformation less clumsy.
    I feel that feralstorm hit the nail on the head with the word "elegant". I love a well designed transformation that flows and everything goes were it should. Thats why i love animated and really wish i would have out less priority on movie 1 toys and more on animated. My most recent TFA figure is Lugnut and the transformation is simple but inventive, its creative, and if i remember correctly Vangelus put it that with animated "a lot happens with out doing much". It just comes down to elegance in the figure.

    As for the issue with screen accuracy and complexity of transformation i generally think a balance is good. ROTF Prime is a perfect example. I love the figure but it does not get transformed often because it is needlessly complex due to the screen accuracy. I think MP Skywarp being my only MP is a great balance between the two and i love to transform him, i dont though cause i dont want to see those stress marks on the wing joints ever.

    In closing a complex transformation is nice if it is elegant and flows well, and a balance between screen accuracy and complexity is nice and i feel animated accomplished this balance better than any line yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  20. Dran0n

    Dran0n Junk male

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    Personally I like long, hyper intricate, complex transformations. Especially at the higher class sizes. It makes it funner and more worth the money, it more of an experience.

    That said, sometimes I like the simpler. Eh, sometimes that's what the doctor orders.
     

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