I’ve been looking forward to completing the ‘limb-bot misfits’ Combiner team for a while. Rook, Alpha Bravo, Off Road and now Blast Off are a great set – and rich for narratives. Underdogs bonded through their rejection. But the question has always been which voyager to unite them under.
After what felt like an eternity without any incoming bots, there has recently been a bit of a flurry. Following Crackup and Predaking already this month, an additional four bots have now rolled into town!
Combiners are perhaps the best example of the trade-off a design team has to make. Every Transformer is a delicate balancing act between robot, alt-mode and transformation. Whether you prioritise the look of the robot on your shelf or the feel and enjoyment of one in your hands is always the determining factor (aside from finances, perhaps) that what sort of collector you are.
On first impression Hasbro’s new Power of the Primes Predaking appears to prioritise play. Robot and, in particular, beast modes are fairly basic – a bit Fisher-Price, even. Razorclaw, in particular, looks like he was designed to “awwwww CUTE!” the Autobots to death. It’s a bit absurd, really.
Then you get to the combined mode and suddenly… you understand.
Lots of folks on my timeline are very excited about the new Bumblebee trailer this morning. I certainly concede that it doesn’t look very Bay, which is of course a wonderful thing. I also acknowledge that the robot design’s styling leans more towards G1 (he’s a Beetle!) than the wretched Bay aesthetic. At the same time, my relationship with the live-action Transformers movieverse is so deeply wounded after the horrors of the Bay movies that it will take more than a trailer for a new film looking less Bay-like for me to be able to assume any position of positivity.
But, yeah, of course I hope it’s good. I want to enjoy Transformers films because I love Transformers. And I love films. I don’t enjoy hating Transformers films. And I don’t enjoy the polarising effect they’ve had on the fandom.