In defence of the Bayverse designs

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Nathanoraptor, Apr 18, 2020.

  1. AutobotAvalanche

    AutobotAvalanche Number One in Boogieland Moderator

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    Let's steer back towards discussion of the designs.
     
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  2. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    I absolutely agree - one of the things I don't like about the Bayverse sequels is that they're just "Find the McGuffin" scavenger hunts. One "find the McGuffin" film is alright - five films in that vein generally turn out shit.

    Eh, let's make the point that, on paper, that's exactly what Transformers is at its core - a story about two extraterrestrial armies coming to Earth and continuing their war, one side wanting to conquer the universe and the other side trying to save us. To me, that's the whole appeal.

    The fact is, if there are popular IPs out there (or IPs that were popular at some point in time), Hollywood will snap them up - it's not a matter of if, it's simply a matter of when. From 1980 onwards, they spent almost twenty years trying to make a Planet of the Apes remake, which culminated in the terrible Tim Burton film.

    Same with an American Godzilla film - Toho and Henry G. Saperstein had been attempting to make one since the 80s... and when the one they made failed, they spent another ten years trying to make it. Fact remained, there'd been serious talk about making a live-action film since the start of the millennium, we were going to get a Hollywood Transformers film at some point - and the 2007 film was not the worst one we could have got.

    However, @AutobotAvalanche, in his infinite wisdom, is right - we must get back to discussing the Bayverse designs.
     
  3. TheDude810

    TheDude810 Studio Series is pretty cool

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    When it comes to this thread, I think one of the problems as to why we keep straying off topic is that people seem to not make the distinction between the design of a character and the actual character themselves.

    Someone will start talking about how they liked “this design” and thought “that design” was cool. Then someone else will respond along the lines of “They didn't do anything in the movie, therefore they suck.” Then the thread strays away from talking about designs, devolves and goes wildly off topic, and then ends up talking about shit like Pregnant Scorponok and Greek mythology.

    This is a thread debating the designs of the movie characters, not the quality of the films.
     
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  4. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    I don't think that's quite it, I think this is just the inevitability of arguing for something with no good arguments in favor of ____. I think it can be easily surmised no one's been convinced who weren't already hardcore fans of the Bayverse in general.

    The thread is titled "In defence of the Bayverse designs", what someone 'likes' or 'finds cool' shouldn't factor in as those aren't arguments and are super subjective. Inevitably, the character (or often lack thereof) will have to come up, because what's the point in just talking about the designs as if they were nothing but mindless automatons? Because there's no really good arguments in favor of these things many other topics will be infinitly more interesting.

    The designs of the characters are an extension of the overall quality of the movies, so I'm not sure what to tell you. The thread may as well close at this point since I think the discussion is more or less done, I doubt someone is gonna roll up with a smoking gun that suddenly makes the designs (both in terms of direction and the designs themselves) suddenly not poor from an objective standpoint.
     
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  5. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Well, no. That's not it at all - it's the fact the nice sensible middle-ground who've been drowned out by the extremists on both sides.

    I also think that, looking at the past... thirty-two pages, most of the discussion has focused on the Bayverse Decepticons, not the Autobots. By and large, everyone seems to be alright with the Autobot designs. And I think the Bayverse Autobots, by and large, look better than the Bayverse Decepticons - but that's been true since G1.

    The '84 Autobots are pretty much all brilliant designs - there's almost no improving on them. They all look different (because they all have unique vehicle modes) you can tell what each of them turns into from the kibble and each character's design conveys their personality. These designs are iconic - and for good reason.

    The '84 Decepticons, however... pretty much suck when it comes to design, with the exception of the Seekers and Soundwave. The '85 Cons are better - however, let's be realistic here, we probably won't be seeing them in the films any time soon.

    The ptoblem with that is, the Bayverse designs are not all equal... like pretty much everything ever. There are good ones, middling ones and awful ones - although, I will point out that the shit really starts to accumulate in AOE/TLK.

    In fact, here's a smoking gun, right now, since you asked for it... the good thing about the Bay designs is their diversity. The fact remains, that the Bay Transformers look more distinctive than any others in the brand.

    Most of the First Trilogy 'bots are instantaneously distinguishable in silhouette, more so than most Decepticons in the history of the brand. That's the mark of a good design - you can tell the characters apart instantaneously. The wonderful complexity and emotionality of the '07 Autobots and the unique profiles of the '07 Decepticons. The varied profiles of the ROTF Constructicons. The Xeno-panther/vulture looks of ROTF Ravage and DOTM Laserbeak. The marvellous mixture of old and new that is DOTM Shockwave.

    I would say the best two aspects of the Bay movies' designs were 1) the sheer variety we see in the designs, and 2) the willingness to upgrade characters and try new things, from the very beginning. That's a brilliant thing, no matter how you look at it.

    We need variety in everything - designs and fiction both. We need a variety of stories and aesthetics, because how boring is it if we got multiple iterations of the same damn thing?Future series can also embrace that in not just the designs, but situations and ideas in general. That mid 2000's period where the first movie had just come out and the franchise was trying new looks and new ideas was easily the best time to be a Transformers fan...

    That is, in so many ways, better than the hard G1 direction that the 2010s took, because it was acknowledging the original stuff, whilst still saying "Look, this is its own thing - I want this to stand on its own." And it gave us so many interesting stories and characters.


    And this is why we need to be open-minded, because that is the only way the franchise will survive. Change, no matter what it is, is good; we shouldn't go round acting like "all change is bad", because what would we be left with if we didn't? We'd be left with bland, repetitive, paint-by-numbers content, with no willingness to take risks or do anything new. We'd slip into a long period of tedium.

    The key to adapting something is, basically, use the general concept/setup and put your own spin on it. That's how the MCU, DCEU and MonsterVerse have rolled, quite successfully. If you go exactly the same and lean too much on your source material, rather than trying to put a unique spin on it, you end up with shit like the 2019 Lion King, which was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original, with only token attempts to do anything new. I would rate all the Bayverse movies - except TLK - above the 2019 Lion King any day of the week.

    Adapting things is a tightrope balance of old and new - you have to keep both elements balanced. If you stray too much from the source material or if you lean too much on it, you fall. Getting that balance right is how we've got a slew of amazing adaptations of Marvel, DC, Godzilla, King Kong, Planet of the Apes... the list goes on and on.

    I will admit that the Bayverse designs got too weird in the end, and, in some cases, were a little too weird to begin with, and the G1 designs are a little too simplistic and clunky for live-action. What we need, going forward, is a Transformers look that acknowledges what came before and modernises it for the present-day, like the MCU took the comic book costumes and made them look functional and KOTM taking the ridiculous Toho designs and placing them in the context of real animal anatomy.

    And Bumblebee's hybrid aesthetic offers exactly that - Bee, Shatter and Dropkick exemplify what the Transformers should look like going forward. I'd add a couple more Bayverse aspects like claws and wheel-feet which I found very inventive. Basically, the IDW designs, which as @Music has said elsewhere, are better than G1, with a few Bayverse aspects.​
     
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  6. Venixion

    Venixion Evil Dust Bunny-con

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    They were confusing, deformed, mostly colorless and fugly. "What am I looking at?" Is not a good basis for design. If Michael Bay had made these his own movie series entirely and not called it Transformers, I'd still think the same thing and I wouldn't buy the toys for myself, with the exceptions of the ones that didn't look like non-functioning mechanical messes.

    The designs are just too busy and nonsensical and overdone. It was an issue of piling everything and the kitchen sink in a big heap and calling it a robot.

    I still want that vending machine one though. I liked it.

    Oh and the Knights and Cog Man were nice looking.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  7. TheDude810

    TheDude810 Studio Series is pretty cool

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    I’m a bit confused. Dewbot, the Knights, and Cogman are considered some of the worst designs, being even more of a departure from Transformers than the aesthetic of a standard Autobot or Decepticon design throughout the movies.

    Dewbot specifically stands out as being deformed, nonsensical, overdone, and fugly, which is what you attributed to as being some of the worst aspects of the movie designs. I’m not sure why this spindly dude is an exception to you while a design like Jazz or Barricade isn’t.
    upload_2020-7-2_15-49-4.jpeg
    The guardian knights barely even resemble something from Transformers, and are all, as you put it, colorless and bland. Cogman is even more of a departure from TF, as he doesn’t even transform into anything. Say what you wan’t about the Constructicons, but at least each of them were distinct and interesting. These guys are literally CGI knights, and Cogman a C3-PO knockoff with a knight aesthetic. You seem to be making weird exceptions to your own argument.
    upload_2020-7-2_15-54-42.jpeg
    upload_2020-7-2_15-57-40.jpeg
     
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  8. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Very well put.

    One of the biggest (and thoroughly dissected at this point, as are most of the big 'arguments' in favor of these films) arguments is that these ugly, incoherent designs are somehow more realistic than the designs of old. That the superior designs in Bumblebee look like 'giant toys' rather than real aliens, whatever that means given we've not really met aliens of this nature yet. "The Bayverse TF's look more alien" is such an arbitrary and baseless thing to say, because it operates under the assumption that the most realistic alien-looking aliens are incomprehensible (what TV tropes would label) "Starfish Aliens".

    Also given how many of the movie characters have toys made of them.. I guess they're flawed as well because they also look like 'giant toys'. :p 

    I have a soft spot for the Knight designs, and I think they were better than a bulk of the designs that appeared in the films despite the fact they appear to lack alt-modes other than the big dragon.

    Just grabbing the one from the ship that Cade finds in TLK, they basically nailed how live action TF faces should look:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cogman is one of the better designs as well, which is helped by him being an OC and so he's not another stupid nameslap.
     
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  9. TheDude810

    TheDude810 Studio Series is pretty cool

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    I don’t think the word “realistic” is being used in the sense that they’re true to real life, I mean these are giant robots. The movie designs more “realistic” in the same way that the MCU Iron Man is more realistic than the 1966 Iron Man cartoon, or how Shin and Monsterverse Godzilla are more “realistic” than the Showa Era rubber suits.

    I’m guessing that people who don’t like the Bumblebee designs aren’t a fan of the odd and somewhat clunky proportions which are probably a result of them being cobbled together from existing assets at the last minute. Personally, I think the BB designs were great, especially considering the circumstances in which they were created. Well, except for this...
    upload_2020-7-3_1-7-28.jpeg
    Those eyes are lowkey nightmare fuel. Don’t know why they didn’t go with eyes like Optimus’. Also, the face is a bit too... smooth? I don’t know, reminds me of an animatronic preformer.
    Again, maybe the term “alien” isn’t appropriate, but the movie designs are unique and have variety. They don’t adhere to the standard humanoid character design. In a franchise that is known to focus on G1 when it comes to character design to the point where it’s tiring to most, it’s refreshing to see some visually distinct stuff. Plus, we got some really kickass toys out of them, as you’ve mentioned.

    I quite like the knight design and aesthetic as well, but I don’t really understand why they’re the exception from your criticisms. They’re arguably an even bigger departure from Transformers as we know it than any of the other Bayverse designs. Same goes for Cogman. I mean he doesn’t even transform into anything and just drives around in an Aston Martin.

    Now, I’m guessing that it’s because they’re not based off of any previously existing Transformers, but I’m not sure as to why that would be a problem, though.

    I never had any problem with the more humanoid faces of characters like Lockdown, Hound, Drift, or Sentinel, but I also love the 07 Autobot and RotF Constuticon head designs in all of their greebly glory. Thinking about it, that’s probably why the BB Ratchet face is so uncanny to me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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  10. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    The word "realistic" is not used in the way that you seem to think it is - I've also never heard anyone use that term anyway, but that's a digression. The movie designs are more “realistic” in the same way that the MCU Iron Man suit looks like a real piece of technology or how the monster designs in KOTM are more in line with real-life animal anatomy.

    I am perhaps a minority in that I honestly do not care for the Cybertron designs in Bumblebee - whilst I understand they were cobbled together at the last minute, they still don't do it for me. I much prefer the aesthetic we see in Bee, Shatter and Dropkick - that G1/Bayverse hybrid aesthetic (or Figueroa Ongoing aesthetic, since that's what it basically was), with maybe a couple more Bayverse aspects like claws and wheel-feet.

    The big reason why I don't care for the Cybertron designs in Bumblebee is the faces - I think the intricate, panelled faces of the Bayverse designs were better, principally because I find the "liquid metal" look creepy. If they keep those for future movies, I cannot think of a better way to piss away all their current goodwill - that will turn audiences off like a light. Look at what people thought of I, Robot.

    Again, the term “alien” is used in the sense that the designs don't adhere to the standard humanoid profile and, perhaps more importantly, they were something new.

    We need variety in everything - designs and fiction both. We need a variety of stories and aesthetics, because how boring is it if we got multiple iterations of the same damn thing? Future series can also embrace that in not just the designs, but situations and ideas in general. That mid 2000's period where the first movie had just come out and the franchise was trying new looks and new ideas was easily the best time to be a Transformers fan.

    That is, in so many ways, better than the hard G1 direction that the 2010s took, because it was acknowledging the original stuff, whilst still saying "Look, this is its own thing - I want this to stand on its own." And it gave us so many interesting stories and characters.

    To me, at least, the "hard G1" direction of the 2010s was more a regression than an improvement - because that's not how franchises, historically, have kept relevant. Change, no matter what it is, is good; we shouldn't go round acting like "all change is bad", because what would we be left with if we didn't? We'd be left with bland, repetitive, paint-by-numbers content, with no willingness to take risks or do anything new. We'd slip into a long period of tedium.

    The key to adapting something is, basically, use the general concept/setup and put your own spin on it. That's how the MCU, DCEU and MonsterVerse have rolled, quite successfully. If you go exactly the same and lean too much on your source material, rather than trying to put a unique spin on it, you end up with shit like the 2019 Lion King, which was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original, with only token attempts to do anything new.

    I would rate all the Bayverse movies - except TLK - above the 2019 Lion King any day of the week (yes, even ROTF) and I am sure a lot of people on here would, too. The 2019 Lion King is a bad film, not in the funny, drecky, so-cheesy-it's-hilarious way ROTF is bad - it's genuinely, horrifically, abysmally bad. And that's what happens when you lean too much on your source material.

    And you have just lost the argument right there - the Knight designs in TLK are absolutely terrible. Especially the faces. They look way too human for me - they turned me off instantaneously.

    Here's the problem, many people, myself included, find live-action robots with smooth, human-looking faces creepy - it's bad memories from I, Robot for me and probably for most other people. The I, Robot faces are an example of how not to make a character emotive and compelling - I didn't like the faces in AOE and TLK, because they looked too humanoid. I feel I speak for everyone when I say that nobody wants Transformers faces like the ones in I, Robot.

    The other reason is that all the Bayverse designs have unique faces; I've always thought that the G1 Transformers faces were too interchangeable - it's just mouths, mouthplates and Shockwave. I'm not saying those shouldn't be there, it's just that a few speaker-mouths, mandibles and whatever Dropkick had that flashed when he spoke in the mix would be much appreciated.

    And before you start saying the characters wouldn't be emotive if they did that, both Movieverse versions of Bumblebee, as well as Bayverse Frenzy, have proven is that there is no real need for CGI characters to have lips or a human-like face to give them emotion and expression. If you know how to do it right, you can get expression out of anything.

    A non-Transformers example? Kaa in the 2016 Jungle Book, who was both a very emotive character as body language was concerned and could talk without looking freaky, despite having the rough facial range of a real-life Indian python (i.e. an almost total lack of proper facial expressions).

    Humanoid faces on the robots work in a 2D cartoon - in a live action movie, they're bloody creepy. They invoke the uncanny valley like hell. Look at, again, I, Robot - and wonder how people responded to that.
     
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  11. Magnum Dongus

    Magnum Dongus Stupid Idiot

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    I’ve always wondered what the intent of classic Transformers faces has been, if the art style is just not drawing in the detail of their faces or if it is actually intended that their faces are made out of this squishy rubber/metal stuff? Transformers: Prime didn’t help, as it went with a more “realistic” art style and made some of the faces shiny and metallic, but kept their faces as one single flexible piece. I, for one, would like to see what that would look like in live action just to try it out. Vision in the MCU had a more “soft” robotic face but nobody had problems with him.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020 at 6:04 PM
  12. sladeprime

    sladeprime Check the earth. It might be Unicron.

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    Michael Bay bots lack in faithfulness. Travis Knight really cares that's why he inspires artists. Just look at this fan art. Inventive yet recognizable. sw_illustration____CCVxjCrgsfm___.jpg
     
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  13. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    What happens when the original design... kind of sucks? The '84 Autobots are pretty much all brilliant designs - there's almost no improving on them. They all look different (because they all have unique vehicle modes) you can tell what each of them turns into from the kibble and each character's design conveys their personality. These designs are iconic - and for good reason.

    The '84 Decepticons, however... pretty much suck when it comes to design, with the exception of the Seekers and Soundwave (the former because they actually turn into something and the latter because it looks cool). The '85 Cons are much better - however, let's be realistic here, we probably won't be seeing them in the films any time soon.

    Also... Jack Kirby has inspired a generation of comic artists. That doesn't mean his character designs are any good - the Celestials look like shit for instance. The MCU Celestials look far, far better than the weird Happy Meal toys of the comics.

    Firstly, Vision is not a, for the most part, a CGI creation - aside from he's Paul Bettany in robot makeup. Nobody had problems with his face because very few people have a problem with Paul Bettany's face.

    Secondly, many people, myself included, find CGI robots with smooth, human-looking faces creepy - it's bad memories from I, Robot for me and probably for most other people. The I, Robot faces are an example of how not to make a character emotive and compelling - I feel I speak for everyone when I say that nobody wants Transformers faces like the ones in I, Robot.

    The other reason is that all the Bayverse designs have unique faces; I've always thought that the G1 Transformers faces were too interchangeable - it's just mouths, mouthplates and Shockwave. I'm not saying those shouldn't be there, it's just that a few speaker-mouths, mandibles and whatever Dropkick had that flashed when he spoke in the mix would be much appreciated.

    The big reason why I don't care for the Cybertron designs in Bumblebee is the faces - I think the intricate, panelled faces of the Bayverse designs were better, principally because I find the "liquid metal" look creepy. If they keep those for future movies, I cannot think of a better way to piss away all their current goodwill - that will turn audiences off like a light. Look at what people thought of I, Robot.
     
  14. sladeprime

    sladeprime Check the earth. It might be Unicron.

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    You can make these happy meals cool with a good imagination without making them entirely different.
     
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  15. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    You could, but the comic designs really don't really scream "ancient god", do they? I prefer the more alien and Lovecraft-y look the MCU are giving them. Also, Jack Kirby died in 1994 - I doubt he cares what the Celestials look like.

    Also, it's OK to give characters new looks and try new ideas - that's what Transformers spent the mid 2000s doing and it led to a bunch of great stories and ideas.

    To me, at least, the "hard G1" direction of the 2010s was more a regression than an improvement - because that's not how franchises, historically, have stayed alive. Change, no matter what it is, is good; we shouldn't go round acting like "all change is bad", because what would we be left with if we didn't? We'd be left with bland, repetitive, paint-by-numbers content, with no willingness to take risks or do anything new. We'd slip into a long period of tedium.

    The key to adapting something is, basically, use the general concept/setup and put your own spin on it. That's how the MCU, DCEU and MonsterVerse have rolled, quite successfully. If you lean too much on your source material, rather than trying to put a unique spin on it, you end up with shit like the 2019 Lion King, which was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original, with only token attempts to do anything new.

    I would rate all the Bayverse movies - except TLK - above the 2019 Lion King any day of the week (yes, even ROTF) and I am sure a lot of people on here would, too. The 2019 Lion King is a bad film, not in the funny, drecky, so-cheesy-it's-hilarious way ROTF is bad - it's genuinely, horrifically, abysmally bad. And that's what happens when you lean too much on your source material.
     
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  16. Magnum Dongus

    Magnum Dongus Stupid Idiot

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    Ok, but for the millionth time, people are not asking for an exact copy of what happened in G1. What they DO want are character designs that are recognizable as the original characters, but which also take those designs and improve their silly bits to make them cooler and more suiting for a modern audience.
     
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  17. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    And with Bumblebee's hybrid aesthetic, we have a design philosophy that does exactly what you said above and satisfies everyone. Something that takes the G1 designs and modernises them - like KOTM made the Toho monsters look like real creatures or how the MCU made the Iron Man suit look like a real piece of tech.

    However, some of the same people who complained about the Bayverse designs are still complaining - or they want the robots to look more like the terrible Cybertron designs, rather than the G1/Bayverse hybrid aesthetic we see in Bee, Shatter and Dropkick, which is far superior.

    As well as that, they want things that would be actively detrimental for the future perception of the brand. For example, there are people who really want the "soft metal" faces we saw in the Cybertron scene. If they keep those for future movies, I cannot think of a better way to piss away all their current goodwill - that will turn audiences off like a light.

    Don't believe me? Look at I, Robot and see what people thought of that. No-one sane wants Transformers faces like the ones in I, Robot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020 at 2:39 PM
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  18. sladeprime

    sladeprime Check the earth. It might be Unicron.

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    Recognizable yet cool. Balance like Bumblebee Movie. Of course you get rid off ridiculous things to make them updated and convincing. Most people don't wanna have an old Wheeljack that looks nothing like him LOL. Ironhide is a great change. But making them all look different or most of them is just ridiculous. ultram.png
     
  19. AutobotAvalanche

    AutobotAvalanche Number One in Boogieland Moderator

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    Not a fan of this, the top half is ridiculously overdetailed, especially in comparison to the lower half. If this is your example for what you'd like to see, I'm not sold.
     
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  20. Powerstomp

    Powerstomp Well-Known Member

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    The cool thing about the Bay designs is every character looks unique. Sure there's clones but nobody important was a clone in the series iirc. Especially that first film when everyone looked different. Awesome.
     
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