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Top 10 Lamest Ideas out of G1

December 10th, 2009


I love G1 Tranformers. Those that know me as a TransFan know that, even to this day, I consider G1 Transformers to be the greatest TFs of all time. I buy most of the G1 re-issues that come out, both US and Japan. I buy DVD releases of the G1 cartoons. I read comics that tie into the G1 continuity. The Classic/Universe line may be my favorite line of TF toys currently, but even this line is G1 inspired (most of the time). There is just something charming and endearing about the G1 line that no other TF line since has managed to capture. (And yes, that includes the Michael Bay TFs, which IMO are some of the worst ever.)

So with that said, I will also say that there were many, many lame ideas to come out of G1. Some of these ideas are up there with the best (or worst) of all lame ideas in the history of mankind, such as New Coke or the Geico Cavemen TV show. Some of these ideas are G1 specific, and it’s good to see them die with G1. But many of these ideas are carried over into the later lines, and have had a long and lasting legacy of lameness. It’s nice to see G1 have such a deep and profound influence on all TFs onward, but some of these ideas are just so lame, they need to stop.

Below I present my top 10 lame ideas that either started or were made famous in G1.

10. Reflectors
These three gets the proud distinction of having the most inefficient transformation of all time. Think about it. Three powerful Deception Warriors, each having no alt modes of their own, that need to come together and form… a camera?! Is Decepticon technology so limited that a robot cannot transform into a camera by itself?! While we’re on the topic, I think having camera capabilities built into the optic sensors of all TFs should be standard gear for a race that has achieved transformation, mass-shifting, and space travel. And we see from the opening moments of the 1986 Movie that even Lazerbeak has camcorder equipment built into his head. This makes the alt mode of the Reflectors even more useless, and the fact it takes three of them to do it makes it lame. And it looks like they can’t even take pics and send them digitally, they have to print them out like Polaroids for its reader (I can understand if this is done for humans, but for Thundercracker?!). If the camera is more disguise than function, it still makes little sense as to why 3 Decepticons are required. Yeah I know this is how the toy was, but the toy was lame even for 80s standards. Supposedly, Megatron selected some of his best for the mission of tracking the Autobots aboard the Nemesis. I can’t believe he picked these three. Or maybe they had better Cybertron alt modes but Teletran made them stupid. Whatever the case, I’m glad the Reflectors (or any other group with similar inefficiencies) did not make it past G1.

9. Sky Lynx
There’s just something unappealing about Sky Lynx. It’s hard to put your finger on it and give concrete reasons. Maybe it’s the fact that he doesn’t have a robot mode. Maybe it’s his snobby British accent. Maybe it’s because he was introduced in Season 3 and that was such a crappy season. Maybe because the toy offered a transformation that was so unbelievably obvious for a figure of that size. Or maybe I just don’t like the gimmick of him splitting into two components. Whatever the reason, I dare say Sky Lynx is one of the lamest Transformers ever designed. When I was a kid I knew no one that had him (most probably because he was an expensive piece). Sky Lynx was not re-issued at all after G1 until the recent Encore line, and I’m still scratching my head as to why he was chosen to be re-issued over much cooler TFs, such as Dinobots or Constructicons. I think MSRP for the Encore was close to $100, and now most online sites have him at around $40. That alone should be testament to his unpopularity. Heck, I would even buy Encore versions of Reflectors if they made them, but not Sky Lynx.

8. Use of English Expressions in Cybertronian Context
Expressions in one language usually does not translate well into another, usually for cultural reasons. If I wanted to tell a Chinese person that “the devil’s in the details”, I would not literally use those words. This is why it really pains me when I see Transformers use English expressions, and give it a Cybertronian spin. Expressions across different parts of the Earth don’t even translate well, so why would expressions across worlds be any better? Some choice examples: “Five up, five down! It’s like shooting cyber-ducks in a barrel!”, “When are we gonna start bustin deceptachops?”, or “Aint no one calling me a robot chicken!” This is seriously lame. TF writers need to come up with some new material.

7. Parts Appearing Out of Nowhere
I’m sure all G1 fans have noticed this. A TF would transform from one mode to another, and all the parts that you need to attach to the other mode in the toy, they just magically appear out of nowhere. The reverse is true too; some parts simply disappear into thin air. I had the toys of several G1 cars, like Smokescreen, Jazz, and Trailbreaker. None of them can carry their guns and missiles in their alt modes. So where do they come from when they transform into robot mode? Do they just pull it out of their ass? Megatron doesn’t walk around with his attachments, so when he transforms into the gun, where do the silencer and the shoulder mount come from? Omega Supreme would often fly off somewhere and we only see the rocket. When the rocket lands at the destination and the smoke clears, the rest of Omega Supreme magically appears. WTF?! Perhaps the most famous example of this is none other than Optimus Prime. Everytime he transforms into the truck, no matter where he is, the trailer magically comes from behind and attaches itself to his ass. What gives? G1 made no effort to explain any of this. It’s nice to see the modern toys make room for all the accessories in all the modes so we don’t have to wonder if they are hiding stuff in their body cavities.

6. Facial Hair
Tom Selleck. Burt Reynolds. Billy Dee Williams. These are guys that look good with facial hair. Alpha Trion. Scourge. Wreck-Gar. These are guys that DO NOT look good with facial hair. In fact, Transformers should not even have facial hair. I like to remind all character designers working on Transformers… THEY ARE ROBOTS!!! Robots don’t have hair! Period! Maybe beards and mustache looking attachments are given to these characters to convey a look of authority, but it doesn’t work for me. Find some other way to convey the same look. I know I’ve seen facial hair on both Beast Wars and TFA characters. Heck, even Jetfire in ROTF had a beard. This is a trend that needs to stop. Like, now. A young TF needs to transform into a electric razor and shave them all. Whoever does that deserves to inherit the Matrix and become Autobot leader.

5. Killing Optimus Prime
Sometimes you sit on a gold mine and not know it. This was exactly the case when Hasbro approved the idea of killing everyone’s favorite Autobot leader. Word has it that in 1986, kids were walking out of movie theaters crying, and angry parents wrote nasty letters to Hasbro demanding explanations as to why death of a central character was a major theme in a kid’s movie. Personally, I loved the movie because it was mature beyond its years. But from a financial perspective, Prime’s death was a really bad move for Hasbro. Not only does the franchise lose its most recognizable character, Hasbro can no longer sell figures of the iconic Optimus Prime. I think Hasbro has learned its lesson since then. Later in G1, Optimus was revived. Every TF line after G1 featured some form of Optimus Prime. Even in ROTF, Prime was killed about midway thru, only to be revived by film’s end. And of course Hasbro has made a figure for every single one of these Primes, and suckered us fans into wasting our hard earned dollars to acquire them. Damn you, Hasbro.

4. Female Transformers
No offense to all the female readers out there (all 3 of you), but female Transformers… what exactly does that mean? Before the introduction of females, many fans assumed that Transformers were gender neutral. But the writers went ahead and created some female Autobots, perhaps as a way to win more female TF fans. No one really knows if that really worked, but it sure sparked a debate as to why Transformers would even have genders. I know at one point, the US Marvel G1 comics had maintained the position that female Autobots were not really female, the were just Autobots that resembled human females. They also had a reason for Arcee, supposedly “she” was created by the Autobots to be some kind of public relations between the Autobots and Earth’s female population. Whatever the official story was, none of it really made sense. I’m guessing many TF fans don’t really think about this, and just simply accept it as if TFs are like people. This is perhaps what the writers counted on, as I’m pretty sure female TFs have appeared in every TF line after G1. Personally, I feel that female TFs should not have been introduced. They never played a major role in G1 anyway (arguable for Beast Wars). Some ideas are best left unexplored, and this is one of them.

3. Repaints
Repaints. Redecos. Recolors. Whatever you call them, this is an idea that reached new heights (or lows) with G1. This is actually a smart idea on the part of Takara/Hasbro, but it’s lame that they make one mold and then milk us fans over and over with different colors of the same thing. I guess there are other toys lines that do this too. Heck, even anime figures has resorted to this. But I don’t think any other toy line is more guilty of this than Transformers. G1 took this concept to new levels of craziness. Perhaps the most infamous example of this is the Seekers, 6 jets that were essentially the same as each other. Even as a kid I was not fooled, and made a point of buying toys that were different molds before I even considered repaints. But even today, repaints are alive and well. One of these days I should compile a TF repaint database and get some statistics as to how many TF molds have a repaint and how often. I doubt repaints would stop any time soon, though. I don’t mind repaints done in moderation, but it’s excessive when it seems like every mold is repainted. We as fans have to be strong and not buy recolored crap.

2. Actionmasters
I love to meet the geniuses that came up with this idea. Actionmasters appeared in the twilight days of G1, when sales were dwindling. One Hasbro exec probably said, “Transformers sales suck. We gotta do something different. But what?” Another one probably answered, “I know, let’s make Transformers that don’t transform!” The first one responds, “Yeah! Let’s do it!” Then they high five each other. Then G1 Transformers dies for good. There is a story to the “Actionmasters” that don’t transform. Prime and company finds a source of energy called Nucleon that is 10 times better than Energon and makes them much more powerful. But one side effect is they lose their transformation. As for the toys, I’m guessing the figures sucked. I don’t know a single person that has bought these. I read somewhere that Hasbro pursued this idea only because the toys can be easily molded based off of G.I.Joe figures at the time. Non-Transformers are so lame, I was so tempted to put them in the top spot, if not for…

1. Pretenders
Pretenders also came out during the final seasons of G1, after they stopped doing the US G1 cartoons. I think the idea of a Transformer hiding inside a shell is on the same level of lameness as Actionmasters, but Pretenders get the nod for the top spot simply because Hasbro really thought this was a good idea. Many Pretender figures were made, and variations of the Pretender theme were introduced. The basic Pretender is a TF in bot mode hiding inside a humanoid Pretender shell, but then they also made Pretender Vehicles (alt mode inside a vehicle shell), Pretender Beasts (alt mode inside a creature shell), and Mega Pretenders (shells that transform). Some classic characters even got incorporated into the Pretender line, like Jazz, Bumblebee, and Grimlock. I no longer remember the backstory for the Pretenders in the G1 comics. In Stormbringer, Simon Furman came up with a pretty good explanation. Cybertron is completely polluted with radioactive material on the surface from years of the war, so in order to survive, some Decepticons started wearing these shells to protect themselves from the radiation. However we still don’t see any Autobots wearing the human shells, so even Furman can’t explain that one. I was so afraid that Michael Bay would find out about the Pretenders, because I knew he would be all over this. Sure enough, my worst fears were realized in ROTF when Alice was revealed to be a Pretender. But I guess the good news in all this is that Pretenders pretty much died with G1. Rest in pieces.

Until the next lame idea… Transform and Roll Out!

Teletraan I Communiques

Categories: Top Ten
  1. December 11th, 2009 at 05:32 | #1

    Dude, too funny. I agree that there has been some stupid crazy ideas. As a fan, growing up watching the cartoons, I never even thought of how stupid some of the ideas were. Having them pointed out like that is quite a hysterical treat. Though, I don’t mind the fembots. The designs can get pretty hot under the right artists. And I did enjoy the storyline between blackarachnia and silverbolt in beast wars.

    • November 21st, 2010 at 00:49 | #2

      lol robots have to be attractive-looking now?

  2. December 12th, 2009 at 08:40 | #3

    Nice post.. i’m an avid G1 fan too.. i started collecting again after almost 15 years of hiatus.. hopefully i can complete my G1 collection.. (still considering wether to buy the action masters though!!)..

  3. December 13th, 2009 at 00:29 | #4

    @Gemini: I guess I don’t really mind the fembots either, but I felt compelled to point it out. What’s done is done, and I can easily not think about it.

    @deejay: thx. Always glad to meet another G1 fan. Its nice to know there are TF collectors out there who went thru a hiatus and came back, like me. 🙂

  4. November 21st, 2010 at 00:24 | #5

    Dude, the G1 series was old. The cartoon owners were unimaginative. It wasn’t uber high tech.

  5. November 21st, 2010 at 00:27 | #6

    Skylynx was a very cool toy-appeal character for kids. I am sure the creators wanted a cartoon attraction for kids, not to fulfill nerdy fantasies. All do respect. But I agree on the fact that he needs a robot mode, I mean having a rocket-to-dino robot is really a fail.

  6. November 21st, 2010 at 01:05 | #7

    I think facial hair was a good thing. It made the transformers have more characteristics, you hardly ever see any on the transformers nowadays. And about the words being translated, once again, it was a low-though cartoon for children. I find these twists quite entertaining. Transformers started out as a kids show, so if you don’t like what G1 put in it, you might as well just stop there. For parts appearing out of no where, I know right, but the creators were (once again) not focused on details. The female robots I have to agree, but some vehicle modes need to be a bit more curvy, ex: G1 Arcee. Repaints, I say “meh”. EM-EE-EITCH, meh. A database on how many recolors? It’s not a very good investment idea, but I see your point clearly.

    And the pretenders and actionmasters, oh! I have to agree with you there. And that cheap-shot Michael Bay just HAD to use it, lazy ass. I hate it how he ruined things because he wanted it to be “bad ass”. I still don’t get the bayformer idea of “solid matter folding into each other without any budge” concept.

  7. November 22nd, 2010 at 06:53 | #8

    hi Nate, thx for the comments. You obviously know TFs quite well. This post may make it sound like I’m a G1 hater, but its actually quite the contrary. Those that know me know that I’m always complaining how today’s TFs are not G1 enough. This post is about a year old, and in retrospect there are some other lame things that I would’ve included if I thought of them at the time. For example, like how the US toys disabled all the missile launchers or replaced them with very weak springs. Seriously, has there been any documented cases for kids shooting their eyes out with these things? Just another lame US measure to protects kids when it wasn’t even necessary.

  8. March 6th, 2012 at 10:40 | #9

    Your lame (besides your g1 love), Wreck-Gars beard kicks ass!! Pretenders like Metalhawk, Blackshadow, Dinoking and Blue Bacchus rule!! I love female robots, and the Actionmasters are actually super dope in my opinion, I only need 2 more North American, then I will get some of the dope Euro ones. The colors are still sick to this day and a lot of the Actionmasters are pretty dope in the IDW comics as well as the old marvel.
    You complain about dumb ass things but not the fact megatron shrinks to gun size for a robot and human, but is bigger than a house that flies in Astrotrain who is smaller as a robot, but a big enough space shuttle to fit Devestator who is the size of Bruticus who has a shuttle for an arm? It was made for kids and unbelievable from the get go, but I am a G1 fan from North American to Operation Combination in 1992 because they rule even if it doesn’t make perfect sense.
    Black Zarak, Artfire and Soundblaster are quick eg. of sicker than original and way more collectible than the originals with awesome bonuses like double cassette holding w/ Fort max weakness decoder, do your homework broham!! If you checked more into Masterforce, Victory, Return of Convoy/ Battlestars, Zone, Op-Combo and the European Exclusives, I hope you will delve deep enough to see past your lameness to realize Skylynx and Reflector are sick characters and came from other toylines before they were TF’s. As you probably know but don’t seem to appriciate, I mean why would you need Perceptor if everyone could probably have microscope tech… blah , Because it was cool!!
    The 70’s-80’s Diaclone.Microman and Bandai’s rule and all the 80’s to early 90’s Transformers do too!

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