Less Than Meets the Eye: Less than stellar transforming robots

“Honey,” I asked my girlfriend, “would you think less of me if I got a Transformer from the movie?”

“Of course not,” she replied, “and besides, I couldn’t stop you if I tried.”

She’s right of course. She was, however, thrilled when I picked up the first Transformer from the movie. It was Autobot Ratchet, which serves incredible double duty as the very first Transformer my dad got me as a kid and also as my girlfriend’s favorite color. I love movie Ratchet. The original Ratchet toy was an ugly toy where the robot’s face was literally a sticker affixed on the ambulance seat (back in the day, you had to apply your own Transformers decals). He looked nothing like cartoon ratchet, who I thought was rather cool. However, cartoon Ratchet was a background character; he barely had anything to say despite being the team doctor, and he was offed in the high-bloodshed (er, oilshed?) original Transformers movie. You know, the one with the Weird Al song.

Cartoon Ratchet
Cartoon Ratchet

Toy Ratchet
Inferior G1 Toy Ratchet (who also seems to be compensating for something)

So it was actually a pleasant surprise that Ratchet made the movie while luminaries such as Wheeljack, Mirage, Prowl, and Smokescreen did not. Made my nerd heart proud. However, how will she take it since I didn’t stop at Ratchet? The purchase just rekindled my collector soul, and in quick succession I made my way to Wal-Mart and picked up Barricade, then Ironhide. (I always hated Ironhide, by the way, since he always got more screentime than my boy, Ratchet — but what can I say? He has a cool transformation. Plus I do have a Beast Wars Ironhide, so I suppose I have a history with him.)

Also, I began frequenting some Transformers toy sites, notably a nice thread at SomethingAwful.com. In addition to your typical transformers, there some … shall we say, unique? … curiosities:

The Mountain Dew Bot
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This is some concept art from Ben Procter, Lead Robot Illustrator for the new Transformers movie. I think it was designed for a Mountain Dew ad, because, frankly, the one in the movie looks nothing like it. Anyway, I love the Mountain Dew cans in the legs. You know, I’m usually a little leery of product placement in movies, but hot dang I’d buy up a Mountain Dew bot in a heart beat. It seems an intrepid eBayer has already put toghter his own version of the Dew Bot (who is sometimes refered to in Transformers circles as “Dispensor”), though it’s really just a recolor of the Megatron toy.

Cherry Coke Bot
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SA poster xenomrph purchased this fellow off of eBay. If you pop the top, the robot transforms automatically. Cool. I imagine he and Dew Bot could form a symbiotic relationship, a la Soundwave and his Casseticons. But aren’t they different companies? Maybe these were the principals in the Cola Wars, which left the land in a thin film of sticky syrup.

Numformers
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Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
(Numformers is probably not the real name of these noble robots, by the way.) SA poster Pharoah Dust gave these little fellows a good home. They apparently transform into numbers. Pharoah Dust was initially spurred by a tiny robot in her collection that could transform into the letter “A.” No foolin’. I imagine this was some sort of educational tool for tiny Japanese schoolchildren, but I look at these and I can only see the most awesome transforming birthday candles ever. Were candles reverse engineered from Megatron, too? That guy had everything!

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