Thursday, 29 June 2017

Generation One Car-Robots

 - Dorian MacQuarrie


There is something quite special about the Generation One Autobot car-robots. By car-robots I mean the first few waves of Autobots, taken from the Diaclone line and presented with new names, characters and in some cases new colour schemes. 




I missed the boat on G1 and it was only in the last ten years I even held an Autobot car-robot but I was immediately gripped by a certain magic that nothing else in the vast world of Transformers collecting, not Masterpiece, nor anything from the Third Party scene has been able to recreate.  

It is the "car" in car-robot that so enthralled me and drew me into a world of diecast, scale cars with real-world counterparts but with a hidden secret of transformation under the hood.





There is a sort of uncanny valley with most modern Transformers alt modes. Even the movie toys which are often based on real world vehicles can still have a hint of robot about them, maybe the paint work or panel lines betray what really lies under the car body. Steps are not taken to give them a worthy disguise. The Alternators/Binaltech line is possibly the only instance where the alt modes were presented as legitimate scale model cars, made for display in alt mode and definitely not to be confused with a Transformers toy(!)

From Hoist's car-towing capabilities to Skids' opening boot (complete with scooter were we talking about Diaclone Honda City Turbo) and of course the obvious but still marvelous car carrying capacity of Ultra Magnus, the G1 car-robots performed the necessary tasks required to pass as a toy car and nothing more. With rubbers tires, die-cast parts, spectacular real world detailing and chromed metalwork, they pass as convincing toy cars to the uninitiated, making their transformation all the more surprising and satisfying. 


Ye Gods that chrome wear 

Transformers have always had that 'two toys in one' appeal, a robot warrior with some sort of alternative mode but rarely do modern toys have an alternative mode that fulfills the toy-based function of its designated vehicle/camera/gun/tape deck etc. 

Universe 2.0 Sunstreaker's alt mode does not pass for a convincing toy car, it is clearly a Transformer and lacks many of the hallmarks that would indicate a toy car with only the intention of being a toy car. And that's fine, that's good, there's nothing wrong with that but cast your gaze over to the G1 car-robots and boy oh boy, they had that 'two toys in one' thing sorted. 




If only I had some drivers

I do find myself wondering why I don't just buy model scale cars, be they model kits or die-cast constructs but the answer is simple, they'd just be cars. That's it. The pure joy I feel over the G1 Autobot car-robots stems from the duality of their nature. They are inherently both a toy car and a robot. I'd say this stems from the original design ethos, to be cars that turned into robots, complete with little drivers (more on that topic in a future article, spoilers, I love drivers for my robots) and therefore they needed to pass as toy cars with all the trimmings necessary to fit that particular sort of toy. 


If you're reading this and wondering why little toy car-robots have such a prime position in my collection then maybe you need to go out and buy some of these G1 gems and experience them for yourself. Pound for pound, date for date, Transformers has never matched those original car-robots. 


Until next time, keep it #Refined

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