Scale, Or The Utter Lack Thereof…

All right, let´s get to a classic, but most frustrating concept in the Transformers universe: Scale! Or rather, the utter lack of scale consistency…

Since the Transformers franchise was created through putting together transforming toy robots from a variety of Japanese toy lines, where some turned into cars, some turned into jets, and yet others into small, electronic devices, problems were bound to arise…

DiacloneScale

Above: Actually, scale was not even consistent within the Diaclone toy line, the main contributor to Transformers

If we look at the original Transformers cartoon, there were actually set rules for how the different characters would scale to each other:

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Above: Tekering´s excellent expanded version of the Sunbow scale chart

Note, however, that this chart directs how the characters are supposed to scale to each other in robot modes. As soon as we start to take into account that they actually transform into stuff, problems immediately arise…

The first and obvious problem is the glaring size disparity between what I call “vehicle bots” and “device bots”. While the archetypical Transformer today arguably is one turning into a car, as do the greater part of the Autobot faction, some of the most iconic characters, foremost on the Decepticon side, do not. One of these is Megatron, the Decepticon leader, who transforms into a handgun. In the cartoon, he is frequently depicted as fighting Optimus Prime, and as robots they seem evenly matched in size and strength, like in this classic duel on top of the Sherman dam…

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However, remember that while Prime transforms into a truck, Megatron turns into a meager handgun. They should rather be scaled something like this…

OpsMegs

Even the classic rule “Autobots turn into cars, Decepticons turn into jets” becomes troublesome. Here is the Autobot Jazz giving Starscream a good kick in the chest…

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But given that Jazz transforms into a Porsche and Starscream into an F-15 Jet, their robot modes should be scaled something like this…

scale__never_heard_of_it_by_sinceredir-d662wkf

The solution to this problem is implicit (explicit?) size shifting, or mass shifting, as it is usually referred to in the TF fandom. How it works is never explained in the original comic or cartoon, it is just there somehow, as an additional aspect of transforming. This allows for a number of inconsistencies, like Autobot members simultaneously being able to turn in to full sized cars and ride each others´ car modes…

MakeHoistHuffer

Honk Honk! Hoist riding Huffer…

A whole Decepticon crew being able to fit into Astrotrain…

Board Astrotrain TFTM-AstrotrainCoronation

Right: Starscream boarding Astrotrain in train mode. Left: Astrotrain in robot mode beside the very same Starscream…  

And of course, Megatron shifting size as he pleases…

6 G1toon_starscream_thrashed

Above: Starscream wielding Megatron, Megatron wielding Starscream… 

As a child, I treated size shifting with a bit of suspense of disbelief just like everyone else, but as I grew older I found it increasingly hard to accept this concept. After all, it is just a consequence of the Transformers character gallery being based on toys originally not intended to be in scale with each other, a necessary evil rather than a deliberate choice made for the Transformers concept intended to add something to it. As much as I love the characters Megatron and Soundwave, I highly dislike their size-shifting ability and would prefer them just to turn into vehicles like most other Transformers do… Which they have done, in some iterations. But if I would claim those wore the more reasonable, or even valid, versions of the characters I would get a whole lot of old school fans (of which I´m supposedly one) against me…

LeaderMegatron2015reduced-image_8709_106

Above: The ultimate Megatron and Soundwave, in my book

Adult collectors have various ways of relating to the scale issue. Most just throw any ambition of achieving consistency out of the window and say “simply enjoy every individual figure for what it is”. This is indeed a healthy way of enjoying Transformers while avoiding thinking too hard or seriously about them, but as for me, I have a concept in mind… Which I will return to in a future post, wait for it… 😉

800px-Generationstoy-Gears_with_Eclipse

Until then, enjoy a picture of a pickup truck wielding a jet!

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One thought on “Scale, Or The Utter Lack Thereof…

  1. Transformers clearly change their mass when transforming, through some too-alien-to-understand process. This is even told in the comic books. But it’s even shown very well in this scene in which Optimus and Megatron teamup against the insecticons and Optimus transform MANUALLY a fainted Megatron into a gun:

    See? Megatron clearly change size (and even color) during the transformation, and nothing seems out of place.
    But just think of Motormaster and Optimus Prime. MM transform WITHIN his trailer, so he should be twice the size of Optimus in robot mode. Instead they are the same size. Clearly Motormaster enlarges when turning into a truck. This however doesn’t explain how Optimus could imitate such transformation process when he disguised himself as Motormaster, yet he wasn’t able to disguise his voice (infact Startscream detected there was something wrong in it. Isn’t funny when Starscream seems more smart than Megatron? I guess being a snake makes you more aware of sneaky plans).

    Like

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