Was it the faceplate?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by ngnikolaos, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. ngnikolaos

    ngnikolaos Well-Known Member

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    Do you think G1 Soundwave and G1 Optimus Prime would be as popular as they are now if they didn't have faceplates?
     
  2. DarthCrusher

    DarthCrusher Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think so.

    I don't think that they really affected their rise in fame, but faceplates are certainly a detail that fans like to gripe about nowadays...
     
  3. Shockscream

    Shockscream Chairman of Nerd Day

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    I think it had more to do with their personalities than their faceplates.
     
  4. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Yes, though I believe that the faceplate on soundwave helped sell him as the cold, robotic character he was portrayed as.

    After all, theres a bunch of other characters with faceplates and theyre not all that popular, right?
     
  5. Matty

    Matty @StayingInTheBox Moderator News Staff

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    I don't think it would make a difference really. Fans like the faceplate detail so much Cuz we have become use to it.
     
  6. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout SANTARN IS COMING AGAIN TFW2005 Supporter

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    Probably mostly Soundwave because, as stated above, the fact he's really got almost no face really helps compliment the Dr. Claw voice and make Soundwave appear like a meanacing, evil, emotionless (usually) robot.
     
  7. process

    process Hanlon's razor Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    I would argue that Prime's faceplate made a huge difference. In lieu of facial expressions, or even a face, the viewer is forced to rely more on his words and actions in order to personify him. It's the same way masked superheroes exchange their identities for their symbolism. I think what makes Prime so popular is not his character per se, but the idea of Prime as the Autobot archetype -- justice, peace, freedom, etc.

    I think the faceplate works well on Soundwave, too, but for entirely different reasons.
     
  8. QmTablit

    QmTablit Disguise: Check. Robot...

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    I don't think it made the least bit of difference for Optimus. He's the leader, he got the most on-screen time on the show, and so he has the biggest connection with all of us who watched it.

    And the same goes for Soundwave. I honestly don't think his popularity has so much to do with his role in the cartoon as he never really had that prominent of a role and often took a back seat to his very own cassettes. It's really his toy that I find made him so popular. It was just a cool ass toy, and probably the best of all the first two years' releases.

    So ultimately, no. I don't think changing either one's design in such a minor way would have meant anything in the long run.
     
  9. Prime Noble

    Prime Noble Well-Known Member

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    Strangely, for the most part, I always disliked TF's with faceplates when I was younger. Soundwave and Snapdragon were the only ones that got away with it.

    It's one of the reasons I hated Optimus Prime and the lack of it was one of the reasons why I liked his Movie incarnation.

    Was horrified to see the toy of Slapdash with a faceplate cos I liked his comic appearance.

    I can't offer a rational explanation for it, I just don't like them. Of course the Movie designs makes me wish for G1 faceplate heads.
     
  10. ryan.j

    ryan.j Well-Known Member

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    if nothign else, bay has taught us that robolips look silly.

    faceplates are badass.
     
  11. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot Arise Rodimus Prime

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    Then why isn't Powerglide popular?
     
  12. QmTablit

    QmTablit Disguise: Check. Robot...

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    'Cause he gets chicks. Rich chicks. Like a slightly more robot K-Fed back when Britney at least looked decent.
     
  13. Lock Cade

    Lock Cade Tarn Fangirl TFW2005 Supporter

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    This.
     
  14. knoted

    knoted Resistor Transistor

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    Faceplates are the Ninjamasks of robots. You shouldn't mess with it.
     
  15. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Interesting question.

    Obviously there are many factors that contribute to the iconic appeal of a character, so it would be silly to say the faceplate is definitely what made these characters "work". It's hard to determine just how much of an effect these visual design cues had, but I certainly wouldn't underestimate it.

    Think, would Darth Vader or Boba Fett have been as popular without masks? Would Spider-Man? How about Kamen Rider (or ANY Japanese tokusatsu superhero for that matter)? Or Snake-Eyes? Or Batman? Or Zorro?

    I think it's good to remember that when dealing with iconic characters, their mask IS their face, and it can be a BIG part of what makes them stick in the cultural consciousness.

    Speaking for myself, my brother, and many of our childhood friends, the masked characters were ALWAYS our favourites. No question. The various COBRA special troops and vehicle operators were always the first to get picked when we played with our action figures. Guys with exposed faces just weren't as cool.

    Maybe some of this is due to the anonymity associated with a mask. We are forced to project onto it, or see ourselves behind it. Optimus Prime for example, didn't need a benevolent face, an angry face or a sad face... he had it all, right there. Even as a kid, I always thought it was an odd and interesting inversion, for the "hero" to wear the face-obscuring mask, and the "villain" (Megatron) to have a fairly normal humanoid face. Megatron didn't have a grill or a visor or a goatee... it was just a face (though they did stylize it a bit more on the cartoons).

    After saying all of this, my personal favourite G1 TFs, the ones that inspired empathy with me based on the box-art and Tech Specs alone, were those ones with the basic, serene humanoid faces... Prowl and Hound particularly. Kind of odd considering that in everything else, I preferred cool-looking masks.

    Truth! :thumbs2: 

    zmog
     
  16. Dran0n

    Dran0n Junk male

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    Faceplate = WIN.

    Robo Lips = FAIL

    So, yeah.
     
  17. bny888

    bny888 バグバイト

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    G1 BB did not have a faceplate, but he's pretty popular...
     
  18. destrongerlupus

    destrongerlupus #MoreSawBoss

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    I'd give this a resounding YES!

    For many of the reasons SMOG mentions, but moreover, I think all the talk about 'What a great character Prime was' has a LOT more to do with projecting our own thoughts feelings and desires onto that masked visage than anything that was actually going on on-screen.

    I LOVE G1, but Op was a 2-dimensional cut-out of a character. I think it cannot be overstated how much that masked helped him "sell" himself as the icon of justice and heroism that our generation tends to see him as.

    Look at poor Duke, or Lion-O, or He-Man, all pretty similar characters in terms of how they were portrayed (Though Lion-O probably has more in common with Rodimus, at least for the first few seasons). They're all popular characters, but they seem to take a lot more flak from fans (even their own), than ol' Face-Masked-Prime ever does....

    D/L
     
  19. shibamura_prime

    shibamura_prime Jumpin' Jellyfish! Super Mod

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    That's actually a really good question. Soundwave not having a classic "face" is one thing, and adds to his sinister, cold look. But having your main protagonist without a mouth (that we can see) and having him end up so popular and iconic is a pretty big feat. Regardless of the fact that it was how his original toy looked.
     
  20. SMOG

    SMOG Vocab-champion ArgueTitan

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    Well, not everyone can have faceplates. :) 

    But in the case of Bumblebee, I think the appeal of his character was built on a different type of personality, so the faceplate may not have suited him as well (though as a kid, I always wished that Cartoon BB looked more like his toy, with the cool mask... heh. :)  )

    Also, I think I'd contest the popularity of Bumblebee a bit. He is nowhere near as popular as Optimus, and probably ranks even behind Soundwave, which is quite a feat for a character who got so much exposure and character time on the show. For the most part, I think Bumblebee's appeal then (and now) was very manufactured, being the blatant child-access character... which I always found to be a misguided practice. They're super-cool giant robot cartoons... they don't NEED a child access character. Just being what they ARE is enough to keep most kids watching, y'know? :) 

    Agree and disagree. It's true that a lot of the "generic hero" types from other cartoons of the time failed to fully forge an emotional connection with a generation the way Optimus did... but that's because they truly WERE generic. The faceplate set Prime apart on one superficial level. I think Cullen's voice did even more. But unlike those other characters, Prime was more than just a generic hero... he was also a father figure... for the Autobots and for the kids at home.

    Also, Prime wasn't really the protagonist. We weren't supposed to relate directly to him. He didn't really have any true faults, or make mistakes. He was an ideal... it was up to the rest of the Autobots to reflect our own human foibles. In their varied personalities, that is where we saw ourselves.

    I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think kids really fantasized about BEING Optimus... there was more distance between us and him. It was more a form of respect and admiration coupled with a sense of reliance. Optimus represented maturity and in a way that Lion-O, Duke or He-man never could.

    In that sense, it might not be that we projected ourselves behind that mask, but someone else, someone who represented security, approval, someone who could be relied upon to make everything turn out alright. I suspect that is part of Prime's enduring charm.

    If I could make a reference back to Alan Moore's V FOR VENDETTA (the comic, not the movie)... when V is lying dead on the floor, Evey considers removing his mask to see who is underneath. She fantasizes about all the different possibilities, about who her mentor might have been, male, female, black, white, gay, even her own long-lost father... but ultimately she decides not to remove the mask because to remove the mystery would be to limit him and everything he represented to one petty story. With the mask on, the mystery is intact, and V speaks for EVERYBODY. That is the power of the mask.

    zmog
     

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