When designing my classification system, I knew one question would come up eventually… “What about Triple-changers?”
As it turns out, I have answers, but my way of reaching there is slightly more subjective than the logic building the foundation of the types-system as a whole. For demonstrating the new concepts, I will take a look at the three most iconic Triple-changers; Springer, Astrotrain and Blitzwing.
First, let´s start off with something simple; G1 Springer. His two alternate modes are very similar, and achieved by the same reorientation pattern: fall-forward. Hence, there is no discussion, Springer is a type A0 Transformer.
What about G1 Astrotrain and Blitzing? Here, it admittedly gets tricky; as for Astrotrain, if we look at the transformation to his Space Shuttle mode we get “simple fallback” (C0) and for his train mode “fall-back-rotate-2-quarters” (C2). As for Blitzwing, while the tank mode is achieved through “fall-back-rotate-2-quarters” (C2), the jet mode is achieved through “fall-forward-rotate-2-quarters” reorientation (A2). It thus seems that we need to find a way to prioritize one alt-mode over the other, as the one determining multi-changing bots´type designation, but how?
I initially thought of determining a primary alt-mode for triple changers to decide their type. This primary alt-mode would be determined through identifying which alt-mode takes the fewest steps to achieve from robot mode, i.e. some sort of “rule of the shortest path” would decide. I then however questioned on which ground the simplest mode to achieve would be considered “primary” and designating for types. As it is, I have not yet figured out a good reason based on the toy´s design only.
I also realized that this approach would require me to count transformation steps for all of Sixshot´s six alt-modes…
Hende, I have chosen a slightly different, admittedly more subjective approach where we grade all possible reorientation patterns according to their level of complexity and then let the most complex alt-mode decide the type. So what is “complex”?
It is perhaps obvious that a A2 reorientation is more complex than A0, as reorientation in two planes is required for the former, but how do we grade A, B and C against each other? For rising complexity, exactly in that order. A is the most basic type, and C the most “evolved”. This for the following reasons:
– Although I have not counted it yet, my general feeling is that the A0 reorientation pattern is the most common one among Cybertronians, and could thus be interpreted as the basic rep from which the others have evolved.
-A0 is also the most “natural” reorientation scheme. If you think about it, it is the equivalent of Transformers getting down and walking on all fours, which some, like Ravage, Steeljaw and Ramhorn actually are doing from the outset! Although there are several origin stories for Transformers as a race/species, there also seems to be some kind of Cybertronian “fauna” including the likes of turbofoxes, which look like… mechanical foxes. Further, in the IDW G1 continuity Soundwave´s beast cassettes are looked down on as being inferior, seemingly because animals are considered more lowly, primitive creatures. This could be interpreted as if humanoid Cybertronians stem from a more primitive form of mechanical life, which supposedly was quadrupedal, and when assuming alt-modes, A0-type robots simply revert to Cybertronians´ original body posture, in a way.
-Even if we ignore theories of Cybertronian evolution, walking on all fours is still a more natural, less strained form of locomotion than squat-walking (B0) and crab walking (C0). Crawling on all fours is the first mode of locomotion for human babies as it requires less strength and balance, it could therefore be considered more basic.
Above: Crab-walking, a sadly under-utilized mode of locomotion
Thus, we will get the following order of rising complexity: A0, B0, C0, A1, B1, C1, A2, B2, C2… and so forth.
So which reorientation pattern should be considered the determining one for a multi-changing Transformer´s type? I would say that simply by possessing a “higher grade” reorientation pattern, it has been “evolutionary achieved” and is thus the signifying one, and what sets triple changers apart from other Transformers is that they retain earlier alt-modes as they achieve new ones.
As for Astrotrain, the space shuttle mode is achieved by reorientation pattern C0, which is more basic than the one needed for the train mode, rep C2. Thus, the space shuttle (or Cybertronian equivalent) can be considered his original alt mode whereas his train mode (Earth mode?) is the more “evolved”, and hence designating one. Alas, Astrotrain´s type is C2.
As for Blitzwing, his jetmode (A2) requires a reorientation pattern more basic than his tank mode (C2), thus the jet is his original, primary alt mode, however, as the tank rop is the higher graded, it is the designating one, making him C2 as well.
I am well aware that my motivation for level of complexity for reorientation patterns is more subjective than the self-evident concept of the reorientation-based classification itself. If we don´t consider Cybertronian evolution and human anatomy, why should the most advanced (C3 or higher) alt mode be designating the type of a given triple changer? Instead, aren´t they all simply all types whose reorientation pattern they employ? I am also aware that implying “personal evolution” among Transformers includes that they may learn to achieve new alt modes through new reorientation schemes over time. How do you think about all this? I am eager to hear your opinion, as well as other ideas, if you have any!
In the next, and for now, concluding part, I will look at way of describing transformation schemes as a compact code of numbers and letters, wait for it!