A Classification System for Transformers, Part 3: When the toys, media and reality don´t match

Hi y´all! It´s time to take a look at some other tricky cases of Cybertronian taxonomy… Readers have pointed out to me that there are cases where the toy and cartoon model don´t match, and asked how to handle those cases. I would say that it simply differs, depending on whether we are talking about the toy or the character in question. Having said that, however, the cases where the toy and character transform differently are quite few, and when they occur they are often the result of faux parts being used. The very presence of faux parts is, in my book, an indication that whoever created the toy wants to give an illusion of a transformation scheme that a given toy in reality don´t process. Hence, for the character the toy represents there should be no doubt as to what type they are portrayed at. As for the toy, we can designate according to its actual reorientation pattern, or, we can designate it from the reorientation pattern in its implied transformation scheme. This is what I did for Powermaster Optimus Prime´s core robot in part 1. Now, having gotten faux parts out of the way, let´s look at some cases where other kinds of mismatches causes confusion.

Trailbreaker (and Hoist) revisited – The toy´s CoG is located in a different part than in the character model

In part 2, I classified Trailbreaker´s toy as C-type, by locating his centre of gravity and concluding that this piece of the toy reorientates by falling backward. The actual spot to which I have located the CoG is visible below in Trailbreaker´s mold-mate Hoist in the screen capture of G1Hexatron´s video review on him below(indicated with a yellow circle):

Trailbreaker study Hoist CoG

For the toy, this is perhaps all good. I however doubt that the character Trailbreaker lacks a proper C-segment, and that his CoG is located in a connecting structure connected to, and rotating with, the car hood. Let´s take a look at these…

Trailbreaker_box_art 260px-MTMTE3_Trailbreaker_jogging

To the left we have Trailbreaker´s original box art, and to the right how he is portrayed in the original cartoon. There are obviously glaring differences, but also some common deviation from the toy. The cartoon model has a clear, visible pelvis (C-segment) sticking out under the car hood, while the hood itself seem to constitute Trailbreaker´s whole abdomen (I wonder how it actually attaches to his pelvis). In this case, his CoG should be inside the actual hood, which will end up leaning backwards, hence, his C0-designation stands. Take a look at his box art, however. Here he retains the toy´s beer-bellied look where the hood sits in front of what seems to be his main torso, and the frog perspective in the picture allows us to see that some sort of pelvis, allowing the demonstrated forward leg movement, is indicated. If so, his theoretical CoG should be a bit above it, in a piece of abdomen the toy lacks, but which could in theory be connected to the chest area and unmoving during transformation. This would give Trailbreaker a B0-designation, in line with the one of Optimus, who also has a windshield chest. While some would say that it is either the toy or the cartoon that is the correct depiction of Trailbreaker, I would say that the box art is the most realistic realization of the design concept for Trailbreaker, and thus the one I find most correct. On a side, note, looking at the two pictures above, which one will the eventual Masterpiece toy for Trailbreaker look most like? 😉

Ratchet and Ironhide – The toy and character model are vastly different

As I explained in a previous post (and presumably known to most G1 fans) the reason the Ratchet/Ironhide mold does not have a head like in the cartoon is because many of the first Transformers were originally piloted robots in the Diaclone toy franchise in Japan. Hence the great difference between what is depicted in the following pictures:

reduced-galery_image_4795_8113 Ratchetg1cartoon

Yup, he had a “trailer” section in the cartoon, too…

First we have to get around the fact that the toy don´t have a head, if you don´t consider the sticker on the driver´s seat behind the wind screen. While that face seems to have inspired the look of movie Ratchet´s face, it is certainly not the one we see in the cartoon. As I mention in part 1, we can imagine a presumed A-segment for the toy, and as it turns out, whether Ratchet has a head or not does not really affect what type he is as it is the reorientation of the B-segment that counts. Looking at that, my first hunch, seeing that Ratchet is a “windshield chest” type of robot, was that he like Optimus would be B-type. Now, I don´t own the G1 toy, but consider these pictures:

Ratchet schematicsRatchetwarriorschool

To the left is a schematic of the underside of G1 Ratchet´s toy´s underside in vehicle mode, where the blue lines mark where the (folded) B-segment starts and stops, the yellow circle (1) marks the point where the B-segment folds, the red/yellow dot (2) marks where the center of gravity would be in robot mode and the green circle (3) marks the pelvis. As you can see, the CoG is situated under the folding area of the B-segment, and as it is oriented facing towards the ground in vehicle mode Ratchet is in other words lying belly-down in vehicle mode, although with his chest folded backwards so that it faces forwards. The right picture, displaying Ratchet´s transformation in the Marvel Comic (although strange), seems to confirm this, as well as the transformation sequence in the cartoon. In other words, head or no head, Ratchet, and then presumably Ironhide, are A0.

Grimlock – When the media and reality don´t match

Consider G1 Grimlock. He should be a clear case of an A0 bot, weren´t it for the fact that his dino mode, based on a Tyrannosaurus rex, only has fallen, say half a quarter, forwards as compared to the robot. This is also how he is depicted in the cartoon and the comic. So what is he? A0,5?

G1Grimlock_toy CallofthePrimitives_Grimlock_Primacron

Above: Grimmy and the beast that inspired him, as depicted by famed Charles R Knight

While we could certainly settle for that, Grimlock´s dino mode is based on an antiquitated understanding of T-Rex anatomy. Consider the following two pictures:

trex 384522399_orig

On the picture to the left, T-rex (or actually, its close cousin Tarbosaurus bataar) is depicted as standing nearly upright, as Grimlock in dino mode is usually depicted. Since that picture was produced, however, further studies of T-rex´s bone structure has revealed that rather than walking upright, dragging its tail along the ground, it was leaning forward, using its long, stiff tail to counterbalance its heavy head and chest as it walked (right picture). In other words, G1 Grimlock´s toy in dino-mode should not be posed like this…


…but like this:


In other words, Grimlock is a clear A0. Because yes, I prioritize scientific accuracy over cartoon accuracy. Also, Movie Grimlock agrees:


But then again, even he is a bit outdated, given that our understanding of how T-rex might actually have looked like has developed further:


Why doesn´t at least Grimlock in the new RiD cartoon look like this? 😉

That´s all for this time, next time I will examine the Triple Changers!

Thanks to Seibertron, TFWiki and so forth…


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