What makes a good Transformer?

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Nefud, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Nefud

    Nefud Well-Known Member

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    Not to get too esoteric, but I’ve been thinking about this hobby and our personal tastes a little bit. Some of us hate Beast Wars, others consider it the highest point since 1984. Some of us love Alternators, others think they are a big jumbly mess of repaints. I’ve been thinking—is there a set of criteria of which makes a Transformer “excellent” that is universally agreed upon by Transformer fans?

    Of course, everyone has their own personal taste. But I’m talking about things like “is a realistic alt-mode a necessity?” “Can a color scheme alone make or break a Transformer?” “How complicated is too complicated?”

    I’m not going to try to answer these questions (or come up with any more of them) on my own. That’s why I’m posting it…y’know…on a forum. However, I do have one example of a toy which I think meets the standards for an “excellent” Transformer and probably shaped the expectations for years to come: Soundwave.

    Soundwave, I would imagine, is a Transformer everyone would rate between “good” and “best ever made.” His gimmick (the whole tapes thing) is a very reasonable thing for a cassette player to have, and doesn’t get in the way of transformation or ruin his overall “look” in either mode. His alt-mode is realistic (or was 20 years ago) down to some fairly complicated details. The AM/FM switch, the volume knob, the headphone jack…a lot of thought went into the detailing of the alt-mode, and it’s quite plausible that if someone passed a Soundwave in tape player mode, they would not even realize that it’s a transformable robot.

    Soundwave’s transformation is also something to note—it’s not overly complicated, nor is it easy to break him while transforming him. The robot mode has a powerful look to it, with a broad chest and well-proportioned arms and legs. Yet, his body is squared off and made of sharp angles. You know that what you’re looking at is a robot in disguise. Soundwave’s colors are also complimentary to both modes—you’d expect an evil robot to have dark colors, and before iPods came out most portable music players weren’t white. ;)  His articulation is also quite decent, and you can achieve a wide variety of poses with him.

    I’m not saying Soundwave is objectively the best Transformer ever, but I do think that the general qualities he has are common to most other extremely well-regarded Transformer toys.

    Are there any Transformers you consider to be excellent? Do they all share any traits? Do you see anything in common between most popular Transformers?
     
  2. Darth Megatron

    Darth Megatron Don't tell Lucas!

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    For different people it would be different things.
    When I was a kid it was playability. How fun it was, and how well it could interact with my other figs. Example the headmaster figs. The were fun to play with but aesthetically sucked. 'yeah Chomdome, especially you.'
    Even though I am more of a completest (I try and get all the released mold, not keen on re-paints) I appreciate the playability that is found in Gen1 and more recently in Armada, but much more prefer the aesthetic look of the Bots of RID, Alternators and Cybertron. This is because I mainly leave them on a shelf, displayed. But would you give a kid RID Ultra Magnus and ask him to transform it?

    As for Soundwave he is certainly one of my favorites, the only thing holding him back in my mind is the alt mode. It looks good, but doesn't add a whole lot of play value in conjunction with the other bots. Even using it for roleplay is a little boring. Would you rather have a gun or tape player?
     
  3. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    "universally agreed upon excellent Transformer" is something I have never heard of...I would like to hear others opinions :redface2: 

    So this is my personal taste;
    For either vehicle TFs and Beast TFs, I prefer realistic alt mode. Beasts especially, I like real animals like a penguin :D 
    I am not into dinos or dragons, with the exception of TM2 dragon Megatron.

    But if the toy has a kickass robot mode, I am sold. Like E Shockblast.
     
  4. Chosen

    Chosen Space Ninja

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    Since when is a dinosaur not a real animal?
     
  5. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    Bring me a real dinosaur ;) 

    Sorry, seriously I do not deny they were real (I like them). I am just not interested in dino TFs.
     
  6. bigkid24

    bigkid24 Well-Known Member

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    To me it takes good robot mode, realistic alt mode, and good details.

    My probably with a lot of the RID stuff was that it had good alt modes but the bot modes sucked majorly. I don't like the concept of whole hoods/doors/etc being shields and not incorporated into the body of the actual robot.

    G1, Alts, some Cybertron have good alt modes. Soundwave, Prime, Perceptor, Smokescreen, Evac to name a few, IMO, have good realistic alt modes. They look like something in the real world. A lot of Cybertron stuff isn't appealing to me because they look like weird futuristic cars. They look like they designed the robot first and then tried to give it any alt form they could think of which leads to non-realistic looking modes.

    Also, most of the Cybertron stuff I've seen doesn't have actual clear plastic for windshields. They are usually solid molding that is incorporated into the robot. I'm sure it's cheaper to make but looks pretty dumb to me.

    Finally, details are a good bonus on a figure. Any of the Alts with their opening doors, steering wheels, engine guns. Even G1 Perceptor and his semi-working microscope is great.
     
  7. Rumble02

    Rumble02 Radicon of Obliticons

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    hrm
     
  8. Starscream NZ

    Starscream NZ Well-Known Member

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    The good thing with the Cybertron toyline is that there's a given reason as to why we have realistic bots (Evac, Crosswise, Roadstorm) next to futuristic (Crumplezone, Brakedown, Dirt Boss) alongside animals (Undermine, Brimstone, Snarl). The line explains why they're different types whereas Energon didn't as such....or G1, it was never explained why they suddenly started getting beast alt modes, besides the Dinobots.



    A good transformer is one that has a convincing/realistic vehicle/beast mode. Isn't a flip-changer, and is FUN to transform, not too simple, not too difficult. The toy would have to be well articulated in Robot mode, have a gun or weapon or somesort.


    But then again, everyones different.
     
  9. Omegatron

    Omegatron Mandatory Fun. Buy it now TFW2005 Supporter

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    I like alt modes that hide robot kibble and look good on a shelf, robot modes that seem humanoidish without tons of alt-mode kibble, and a mid-level to difficult transformation. That's me as an adult collector. As a kid, I wanted all the ones on the show.

    -Tony!
     
  10. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Aren't alternators considered "universally acceptable"?

    They seem pretty damn perfect to me, when you don't take into account factory errors, paint scratches, etc.
     
  11. planetjacker

    planetjacker Critters burn real good. TFW2005 Supporter

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    I don't think that there is anything "universally agreed upon by Transformer fans".

    That being said I look for a good mode be it alt or bot. Color also comes into play for me. A good color scheme can make a so-so toy great, and the same goes for the reverse of that (love undermine, hate his recolor).
     
  12. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Villain

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    Well I have to say, I've had so much fun with Primus. It's big, menacing, articulated, and has a load of weapons.

    To answer a couple questions: "realistic" is not necessary by any stretch. I was having as much fun with 1986 toys as I was with 1984. Do colors make or break a Transformer? Absolutely. Universe is a good example of wonderful toys that look like crap.

    I've always assumed Fire Convoy to be one of those universally regarded excellent toys. What's not to like about it? Realistic, articulated, just the right size, not hard to transform on a regular basis. I do believe there are toys out there that aren't just "personal opinion", but are simply and factually well-engineered toys. Fire Convoy is one of them.
     
  13. Greyryder

    Greyryder Kitbashed

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    For me, alt mode is everything. You've got to really screw up the bot mode, to turn me off of a TF with a good realistic alt mode. (A Sideswipe comes to mind.) It also takes a pretty spectacular robot mode, to let me see past things in the alt mode that don't make sense. (Cyb Prime is pretty cool in both modes, but those are pretty obviously guns, not firefighting equipment.) Tons of articulation is nice, but not necessay. I'd say that CD Hotshot has the minimum amount of articulation, for a modern TF. Transformation needs to be in that sweet spot, between too simple and too complex.

    If the alt mode is based off of a real vehicle, then it better look like something that could exist. Nothing stupid, like cantilevering the windshield of a COE out past the rest of the front end. It doesn't have to look like a specific make and model. Just make it believable. Cybertron has been doing a great job with this. There were even a few Energon toys that pulled it off.

    If it's a sci-fi alt mode, it better look cool. No tons of undercarriage on spaceships, and no furutistic sports cars that look like they've got one of Doc Brown's inventions strapped on the back. Cybertron has had some of the best sci-fi alt modes, TFs have ever seen. Realistic, or futuristic, it can't have giant hinges sticking off of it. The Post movie G1 toys killed me. OMG look at the huge hinges on that car. So much for robots in disguise.

    I'm not big on animal alt modes, but I'll give them a chance, so long as they're robotic. Robots aren't made out of meat, and neither should their alt modes be. The one ting I really hate on a beast mode, is when they try to combine the knee and ankle into a single joint. It makes it look like it has broken legs.

    And uh, rubber tires on cars and trucks are great. I really miss them, in the main line.

    These are the things I like. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree.
     
  14. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    For me, a good TF is one that robot mode that looks "robotic" and translate well into its alternate mode and I agree with Nightrain - colours can make or break the toy. There have many a time that I put off purchasing a Universe toy simply because of the colours. On the flip side, I have parted cash for cool repaints such as the "black" varient G1 reissue Megatron.

    I like G1 for the above reasons. Eg. G1 Prime and Megs look robotic enough in their robot modes and their alternate modes were excellent. Back then, the gimmick was simply "transforming". And the alternate modes were good for its time - the 80s.

    In closing, I'm really enjoying the Cyberton/Galaxy Force toys because it seems that Hasbro and Takara has finally found the balance for both modes...the line isn't perfect but its a step in the right direction...here's hoping that the Neo-G1 line is even better! :) 
     
  15. Feralstorm

    Feralstorm I ship Nick & Judy TFW2005 Supporter

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    They're acceptable and nice looking, but to me not worth much more than sitting on a shelf and looking pretty. They are not good "fiddle fodder", since most alts take half the day to transform. That's the kind of thing some folks really enjoy though.

    To me, very acceptable, but not "great" (and nothing's perfect of course), like a BM Blackarachnia, Armada 'Bendy' Prime, or Energon Starscream.
     
  16. Chaos Muffin

    Chaos Muffin Misadventure Veteran

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    Fun & inspiration
     
  17. Backscatter

    Backscatter Autobot Brainmaster TFW2005 Supporter

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    Actually, I can forgive the Universe colors because they fit within the story's context. Unicron raised many of the Universe Transformers form the dead, in some cases, from total destruction. Being the B@st@rd that he is, he didn't care about their colors. Maybe Unicron is color blind! :D  I've often asked: "What's rotting Transorganic flesh supposed to look like anyway?" Univerese gave us the first "Zombie Transformers" and I'm okay with that.

    A good Transformer should be made well, have a good Bio, and should avoid terms like "Chase", "Exclusive" and especially "Lucky". :( 
     
  18. Nefud

    Nefud Well-Known Member

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    Does the quality of the realistic alt mode matter much to you? I'm basically on board with you as far as liking realistic alt modes (I'm shocked how many Cybertron toys I like), but I find that a lot of people generally aren't a stickler for a huge amount of actual realism as far as details like BW Blackarachnia not looking like a black widow, no liscence plates on G1s, etc. I mean, I love the first couple waves of BW, but I'll never claim they really look THAT much like their animals. Unlike G1 Prime or the Alternators, no one would think Cheetor was just a cat when they pick him up in beast mode.

    I've bought three of them because of the incredibly nice robot modes, and two of those are a pain in the ass to transform. Not like G1 Megatron (oh god i hope i dont break him) or BW TM2 Megatron (oh god where do all these bits GO!?!?) but just plain failing-to-keep-it-simple annoying. I'm convinced I'll never get Wheeljack back into alt-mode. I don't buy alternators unless they are just too pretty to pass up.

    I dunno, I'm pretty sure I found a loophole with my "Soundwave is universally liked" theory. :) 
     
  19. Superion33

    Superion33 Banned

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    It depends on what you're talking about - the toy or the mythos...

    As far as toys go, I'd say its a convincing ALT mode, a well engineered and designed transformation, and a highly articulate robot mode that looks great. I mean anyone can make a futuristic jet transform into a robot. You just design the jet to look like whatever you want so that the Transformation is easy. Not everyone can make an actual vehicle or animal into a convincing robot. Thats whats so great about Alternators. They are given a car and told to match that to a Transformer somehow. That takes engineering skillz.

    As far as mythos...

    I think we can't forget what made Transformers stand out from Go-bots, Power Rangers, mechs, Voltron, or even Gundam. All of them have robots in some form or another. The reason why Transformers shine is cuz of the "robots in disguise" factor. The idea that the Corolla parked down the block could transform into a robot is what caught people's imaginations. Or to a lesser extent - a casette deck transforming into a robot. I think they got away from that after the movie.

    I mean honestly, whats the point of a robot transforming itself into a jet if it can fly on its own anyways? Gundams don't transform and don't need to.

    Honestly, the whole idea of transforming being necessary on Cybertron always caused me a headache. Why would robots need to transform? They have the same armaments and mobility in either form. The idea of a robot having to manipulate a keyboard in itself seems kind of silly. What with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Wi-Max, you'd think the robot would be able to wirelessly link up or link up through a wire or something.

    The reason why Beast Wars and the G1 Transformers caught on was because of the disguise factor. The Transformers were FORCED to take on alternate modes to adapt to their environment.
     
  20. smangerbot

    smangerbot The Holy Zombie Jesus TFW2005 Supporter

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    is there anyone out there who doesnt like masterpiece prime?
     

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