Reading the previous post, one might have expected me to start some kind of scale project, which indeed has been done from time to time elsewhere on the internet, I am however attempting to take on something that according to my knowledge has never been attempted before: To classify Transformers according to their anatomy and transformation schemes!
First, a disclaimer, I do not claim in any way that an effort such as this one is in any way necessary, rather, call it being nerdy about being nerdy… Some just like Transformers, whereas some people get obsessive about some kind of aspect about them, adding another layer of nerdiness by for example memorize running changes of certain toys, how they vary between markets, etc. As for me, I am a biologist by training, and within that field, taxonomy is one of my favorite topics. Thus, I love documenting, classifying and sorting stuff, and Transformers, with its many hundreds of toys, provide an excellent opportunity!
Second; this system is still under development, and any comments are welcome. First it was only intended to describe the G1 Cars and Mini Cars, but I have gradually expanded on the concept so that it can encompass all toys of G1, but given the vast number of toys even in that line there might be transformation schemes not yet accounted for by this system.
Third: The classification system is not meant to serve as an instruction for how to transform a given toy, only to describe its general anatomy. Thus, the order of which the transformation steps is written in the designation for a certain toy does not necessarily represent the correct order of steps for transforming it.
Having that said, let´s explore my classification system. To make the concept more concrete, I will use Sideswipe as an example, one of the most basic TF toys I could think of. Here goes…
1. Segments – Locate the head
When classifying insects, one usually counts segments and study what appendages they have. In fact, vertebrates are segmented, too. This approach is the starting point for my classification system. Study the picture below:
IIlustrated is a car, the arguably most archetypical alt mode, nose pointing to the left. It is divided into three segments; the hood (A), the “cabin” (B) and the rear part (C). The first question we ask, is: In which segment is the head of the robot concealed? The answer to this question will determine if the bot is A-, B- or C-type.
2. Orient the vehicle “head up, chest forward”
Having identified where the head is located, orient the vehicle so that it in robot mode will have its head facing up and its chest facing forward (towards you). First, does the vehicle stand on its rear, on its nose, or does it stay on its wheels? Second, do you have to rotate the vehicle for the chest to point forwards?
As you can see, we first get three basic types; A, or “rear standers”, B or “center standers” and C, or “nose standers”. Further, if they requite rotation for their chest to face forwards, an “R” is added for “reversed” or “rotated”. Also, a center stander might, at least hypothetically, stand on its roof, in that case a “U” for “upside down” is added. This gives us eight hypothetical types; A, AR, B, BR, BU, BUR, C and CR. Note however that the types BR, BU and BUR are hypothetical, as I am yet to encounter toys belonging to this category (at least in G1). Below are examples of characters/toys of the existing types:
A: Jazz, Sideswipe, Dead End, Gears, Punch
AR: Counterpunch, Point Blank, Boss
B: Optimus Prime, Trailbreaker, Ironhide, Camshaft, Thunder Clash
C: Bumblebee, Tracks, Sunstreaker
CR: Siren, Hosehead
Above: Four classic G1 toys representing the four most common body types: Sideswipe (A), Optimus Prime (B), Bumblebee (C) and Siren (CR)
When oriented for robot mode, Sideswipe is “stand on rear” and don´t need rotation for facing forwards, thus, he is type “A”.
3. Identify the transformation mode for the three segments
At this point, we have to identify how the respective segments transform. While there is admittedly endless variation to transformation schemes, there is however a few basic movements of parts that is deployed, and they each are assigned a figure in this system. We start transforming the toy from head to feet.
Here follows an illustration of the basic ways of revealing the head, 10 mechanisms numbered 0-9. Note that for case 8 and 9 there might not be a proper segment involved in the head reveal, in these cases the head originates from the inside of the torso segment (B).
Left: Basic head reveal transformation schemes. Right: Sideswipe demonstrating head reveal type 4.
In other words, if we take Sideswipe, his designation this far would be “A4”.
Here, the main issue is to identify how the arms are formed. I have identified nine main transformation schemes, numbered 0-8:
Left: Basic arm reveal transformation schemes 0-8. Right: Sideswipe, with arm reveal scheme “1” clearly displayed
For Sideswipe, having arm reveal scheme 1, we now get “A41”.
Here I have identified 16 (!) basic patterns, numbered 0-15.
Left: The 15 basic schemes. Right: Sideswipe, displaying a leg split (scheme 1).
Having reached this point, we now have the following designation for Sideswipe: A411.
4. Adding detail
Sideswipe has a quite straightforward transformation scheme. However, there are a couple of small steps that the designation developed above does not cover; that his legs expand and that his feet flip out. Now, this is not really a big, defining feature of Sideswipe´s anatomy, but nevertheless there. By adding small letters behind the figures designating the main segments we can display such minor, yet distinctive features. For the leg expansion, we add a small “e” after the number designating the torso segment, and In the case of flip-out feet, we add a small “f”, after the number designating the leg segment. Thus, we get this: A41e1f
…for explaining this:
Except for where stickers are applied and weapons mounted, of course.
Now, let us try a few more…
Bumblebee: C-type, backward head flip reveal, shoulder split arm reveal leg expansion, backward quarter flip for feet: C91e7
Gears: A-type, pre-exposed face, shoulder split arm reveal, forward knee flip: A014
As it turns out, we will need to add a few more concepts for taking on the B-type bots, such as Optimus Prime, but let´s save some fun for part 2! 😉 Until then, consider this:
Above: Sunstreaker and Sideswipe – Nearly identical as cars, strikingly different as robots.
Sideswipe and Sunstreaker are often referred to as “brothers”, based on the fact that they both transform into Lamborghini Countachs. Why don´t we try to see how related they really are – anatomically? First we have Sideswipe´s designation; A41e1f.
Now let´s take a look at Sunstreaker, skipping the fine detals; C-type, Quarter back flip head reveal, fold from back arm reveal, leg extension and quarter back flip foot formation: C72e7! How can he be brothers with Sideswipe when they don´t even share the basic body type? They certainly seem to come from different molds, even though they share the same disguise…
Just wanted to sort that out 😉 😀
Thanks to BotchtheCrab for providing instruction manuals and Seibertron and TFWiki for ever great reference photos!