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View Full Version : [Toy Design] Complexity or Simplicity


Skidmark
2008-12-03, 04:47 AM
What do you prefer in a transformer toy? A complex transformation scheme like the Movie line? Or the simple transformations like the Animated line?

Energon Hot Shot
2008-12-03, 05:34 AM
I prefer complexity in my transformers as long as it's necessary and doesn't compromise any modes or make any pieces easy to pop off or break. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate simpler transformations.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-03, 09:38 AM
Yeah, same here. I don't mind if it's simple, or complex, but this is on the terms that neither will hinder transformation in any way, or make pieces pop off.

Galvatron is a perfect example of where complexity went wrong. I think Topspin and Twin Twist get the prize for Simplicity gone wrong.

This is where Complexity was used correctly: http://www.toyking.com.tw/image/toy/bandai/00/154503htm.jpg

EDIT: Why has this been moved?

Cliffjumper
2008-12-03, 12:27 PM
EDIT: Why has this been moved?

Because it's about toys. Bloody Hell, you're getting worse I think.

Transformer Kamen
2008-12-03, 02:07 PM
I like somewhat complex transformations. Have the fun of a transformer is figuring out how all the little bits shift around. On the other hand, I hate figures that have little bits that have to be fiddled into a precise configuration when a single piece would have worked only slight less well; but then that's usually only a few minutes of frustration when I first transform the figure, so it ends up not being a big deal anyway.

Detective Barricade
2008-12-03, 02:19 PM
As long as the transformation is fun, it doesn't matter if it's simple (MOV Stockade, ANI Starscream) or complex (ANI Soundwave, MOV Leader Brawl) to me.

RID Scourge
2008-12-03, 02:28 PM
I'm big on the "Keep it simple, stupid" maxim. I prefer the transformers that I can fiddle with while I'm watching a movie or using the internet.

ganon578
2008-12-03, 02:37 PM
I'm big on the "Keep it simple, stupid" maxim. I prefer the transformers that I can fiddle with while I'm watching a movie or using the internet.

I second that. While I appreciate all the detail and work that goes into a complex transformation, I don't want it to be a hassle for me to transform it. Usually that makes me leave the TF in one mode or another and very rarely transform him. I've been a fan of the Classics/Universe transformations so far... Not too complex, not too simple, but fun (with the exception of pain-in-the-ass Galvatron).

Either way, I think fun rules over complexity or simplicity. It's all in design.

The Reverend
2008-12-03, 02:58 PM
I would enjoy complex transformations more if the quality and format of TF instructions hadn't gone down so severely since G1. :)

Clay
2008-12-03, 03:19 PM
I do think fun should trump both complex or simple for their own sakes. However, it would be a bit of a disappointment for something the size of Primus (http://tfu.info/2006/Primus/Primus/primus.htm) to be as simple as something like Windcharger (http://tfu.info/1984/Autobot/Windcharger/windcharger.htm).

Cliffjumper
2008-12-03, 03:30 PM
Another vote for "I don't give a damn as long as it works". That said, I have to agree with Clay, toys need to have some sort of complexity relative to their size. An awful lot of Transformers don't do this - practically all the Unicron Trilogy figures were around 25% larger than the designs merited, same with... well, just about every single toy that was actually designed for Generation 1. And some of the ones they nicked from Diaclone (shitbox F-15 mould, I'm looking at you...). Recent lines, such as the Movie stuff or Classics/Universe, have cranked this back a bit, though the last couple of years of G2, RiD and the Beast series deserve a tip of the hat for really finding the balance.

Needlessly complicated transformations really piss me off, generally - Alternators and Masterpiece both make far too much effort out of simple transformations.

Notabot
2008-12-03, 06:07 PM
I would enjoy complex transformations more if the quality and format of TF instructions hadn't gone down so severely since G1. :)

It's easy to have clear instructions when every one of them is just "Push in arms, fold up legs, flip down head, put on all the parts that make it look like a vehicle."
In all seriousness, though, I'm actually pretty impressed with the instructions of late, especially after getting some BW stuff with instructions. For the most part, the modern instructions are pretty clear and break it down step by step instead of trying to jam 5 actions into one frame. And I like how most of the time it's easy to see the exact joint that needs to be moving due to the coloring of the instructions.

Denyer
2008-12-03, 06:16 PM
There's a happy medium. Generally, Classics is probably it.

secretcode
2008-12-03, 07:19 PM
I could care less about Transformations. From Flipchangers (BW Rattrap is still one of my favs) to Holy-Shit-I'm-Going-To-Stab-Aaron-Archer Insane (I had no problems with Universe Galvatron, I'm talking more along the lines of Alt. Prime's puzzle like Robot to Vehicle) I find most of them enjoyable except for the Spychangers/G2 Gobots.

Cliffjumper
2008-12-03, 07:33 PM
I dunno, I like the simplicity of that particular batch... It's fun if you have a squad that can be rapidly transformed.

secretcode
2008-12-03, 07:46 PM
On that note, I love those Micromaster Combiner Squads, particularly the Trains. The transformations are pretty basic and spychangeresque, but they do combine into a (bricky) giant robot at least.

Starfield
2008-12-03, 08:36 PM
Clearance issues are what quickly push a transformation from the "fun" column to the "frustrating" column for me. When, halfway through the transformation there are a bunch of parts dangling all over the place and you have to work some parts past other parts and there isn't quite enough room. Yes Universe Galvatron.

I have to vote "simple."

Summerhayes
2008-12-03, 08:38 PM
I say complexity, but I don't like it to be needlessly difficult. I like transformations that surprise me a little bit, rather than "fold bonnet down to make chest, pulls arms and legs out . . ."

Skidmark
2008-12-03, 10:00 PM
I'm the type of guy who likes a transformer that's complex but not too complex to where you have to look at the manual for almost every step. I also hate it when you have to actually force(bend or stretch or overpower)some piece of kibble go somewhere.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-04, 07:35 AM
Because it's about toys. Bloody Hell, you're getting worse I think.

Oh, sorry. I thought it was moved from toys to media. Didn't realise it was the other way round.

I have to agree with the whole "fun beats transformations" thing. I think Classics 1 was pretty good at this.

RID Scourge
2008-12-04, 03:16 PM
I'm the type of guy who likes a transformer that's complex but not too complex to where you have to look at the manual for almost every step. I also hate it when you have to actually force(bend or stretch or overpower)some piece of kibble go somewhere.

If I have to look at the instructions at all it usually ends up being complex.

Sometimes it's just something I missed, but most of the time it's something that's overly complicated and/or has clearance issues (the car robots brothers are the worst offenders imo, but there are a few Japanese Beast Wars figures who give them a run for their money. I'm looking at you big convoy and your interlocking mastadon plates that constantly pop off).

I guess by "simple" I mean that someone who has been doing this practically his whole life should be able to transform it without looking at the directions.

Clay
2008-12-06, 12:12 AM
An awful lot of Transformers don't do this - practically all the Unicron Trilogy figures were around 25% larger than the designs merited

Hmm. Agree with Armada and 95% of Energon, but the Cybertron stuff I picked up generally had a very good balance of detail, joints, and not being awful, although there were some stinkers. Which Cybertron figures did you pick up?

Cliffjumper
2008-12-06, 12:20 AM
Erm... Lugnuts, who wasn't bad to be fair (well, size-wise - the engineering was diabolical, especially considering Hasbro could handle a decent motorbike in '95), Downshift via Big Daddy (would have been better half an inch shorter) and some ****ing awful green/purple 4x4 with spring loaded wheels - I can't remember the name, but it was a real piece of shit.

Not much I know, but the two utter clunkers I picked up persuaded me not to get any more.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-06, 12:25 AM
The purple thing was Dirt Boss. I think you got the crap ones, no offense, coz i'm happy with the rest of my collection, and you skipped Sideways, Soundwave, Deluxe Red Alert was good, and some scouts were ok.

@Clay: I'm guessing the 5% of energon left are the scout figs?

Cliffjumper
2008-12-06, 12:39 AM
The purple thing was Dirt Boss. I think you got the crap ones, no offense, coz i'm happy with the rest of my collection, and you skipped Sideways, Soundwave, Deluxe Red Alert was good, and some scouts were ok.

Oh mercy me, I missed out on some more figures with no personality, crap gimmicks and muddy engineering that I wouldn't look at any more when the next line hit. If only I hadn't squandered that money on all-time design classics designed by people who gave a ****...

Clay
2008-12-06, 12:48 AM
Erm... Lugnuts, who wasn't bad to be fair (well, size-wise - the engineering was diabolical, especially considering Hasbro could handle a decent motorbike in '95), Downshift via Big Daddy (would have been better half an inch shorter) and some ****ing awful green/purple 4x4 with spring loaded wheels - I can't remember the name, but it was a real piece of shit.

Not much I know, but the two utter clunkers I picked up persuaded me not to get any more.

Yeah, Lugnuts is rather awful. I keep him around out of pity, I think.

Would recommend Armorhide (http://tfu.info/2005/Autobot/Armorhide/armorhide.htm), Sideways (http://tfu.info/2005/Decepticon/Sideways/sideways.htm), and the Recon Team (http://www.tfarchive.com/toys/reviews/cyb_reconteam.php) as they are all pretty well perfect for their respective sizes. Sideways is a bit floppy and the alternate mode is a "free form" but it still comes out really well. Armorhide, which we don't have a review of it seems, is practically a perfect scout-class figure. And that minicon team is the best one ever put out, bar none.

There are several others from the line I really like, but they are perhaps slightly over-sized, as you say. Hotshot (http://www.tfarchive.com/toys/reviews/cyb_hotshot.php) is maybe a little big for his design, but I don't think it would have worked as a scout class without sacrificing the spring-loaded wings and the missile gun.

I do like the big dragon, but most of its pizazz comes from all the little molded details it incorporates. It probably could have been a Voyager instead of Ultra without sacrificing much of that, though.

@Clay: I'm guessing the 5% of energon left are the scout figs?

Yeah, the tank and one of the plane combiner limbs. I also really like Slugslinger and Sharkticon. Can't fully recommend Slugslinger as he's a floppy, ornery mess at times, but he's leagues beyond Universe Galvatron and would still fit snugly if reissued now in Universe. Sharkticon could have been a Scout without any detriment, but he still holds up even now, I think.

Cliffjumper
2008-12-06, 12:56 AM
Actually, you've reminded me - I got a pair of the Energon Superion limbs, and they weren't too bad. The red/white one (Skyblast? Something generic with Sky in it) was a bit 'been there, done that', but the A-10 one was actually quite impressive. Didn't see the point in collecting the set, though.

Re: those Cybertron figures... Armorhide seems to suffer from a near-total lack of visual impact, Sideways from being repulsive colour-wise and... is one of those Mini-Cons wearing a diving helmet? They might be around the right size, but that's about the only plus-point I can see from here...

Treadshot A1
2008-12-06, 01:01 AM
Maybe Sideways isn't so good, as it has, apparently, got no personality, crap gimmicks and muddy engineering. :lol:

The recon team, i think, was good because of Six Speed and reverb. Jolt, ah, not so good. Scourge is way too big if you ask me, and Hotshot could have been smaller, but not Scout small.

I suppose the thing that made Cybertron fail to some people was the fact that right after it was classics, and knowing the figs in classics when cybertron was still out would have juxtaposed them and emphasised the difference in the 2 lines. For better or for worse, you decide. :)

Clay
2008-12-06, 01:10 AM
Re: those Cybertron figures... Armorhide seems to suffer from a near-total lack of visual impact, Sideways from being repulsive colour-wise and... is one of those Mini-Cons wearing a diving helmet? They might be around the right size, but that's about the only plus-point I can see from here...

It's not a driving helmet! It's haz-mat protection! :o

Can't do much about Sideways' colors. Takara put out a limited "lets reverse the colors in Microsoft Paint and make a toy of it" variant, and it's now been issued by Hasbro in purple, so the black and orange is about as good as it gets. Will say that it's survived numerous cullings and has stayed on the shelf pretty consistently since I got it, so the designers did something right.

Armorhide is not intimidating, `tis true. But he's still a solid little figure. He's survived the same cullings as Sideways, but he does spend more time in storage as opposed to on the shelf... :glance:

I stand by my recommendations, though!

Clay
2008-12-06, 01:16 AM
I suppose the thing that made Cybertron fail to some people was the fact that right after it was classics, and knowing the figs in classics when cybertron was still out would have juxtaposed them and emphasised the difference in the 2 lines. For better or for worse, you decide. :)

Other way around (Cybertron came first), but I think that may be part of it. I think the Cybertron figures, for the most part, are engineered at about the same level of complexity and molded detail as the Classics figures. But the Classics figures are all far more... iconic that anything in Cybertron. It has a lot of solid designs, but they don't have any sort of homage to reinforce their appeal (this is the antithesis of Energon in which the figures had plenty of homage but crap designs).

Treadshot A1
2008-12-06, 01:21 AM
Yeah, Jolt's head is weird. But considering how well Oil Slick was recieved, i don't think diving helmet are too much of a problem.

Armorhide is solid indeed. It hurts, when you drop it. :lol: I actually find it intimidating, but that's when it with scout or smaller figs. When it's with bigger figs, it feels like one of those crazed kids who think they're invincible but thy're not kinda thing.

FYI, I think if you do the axe mod, it looks a lot better. http://www.tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=44253

Clay
2008-12-06, 01:25 AM
FYI, I think if you do the axe mod, it looks a lot better. http://www.tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=44253

The axe is cute! But mine came with a different key thingamabob.

secretcode
2008-12-06, 01:25 AM
Armorhide is solid indeed. It hurts, when you drop it.

I guarantee you that Cybertron Optimus Prime/Wing Saber combined (Sonic Wing Mode I think) when falling from a shelf 3 feet above your bed while you are sleeping hurts a WHOLE bunch more. It's also how I lost Prime's gun missle.

The axe is cute! But mine came with a different key thingamabob.

If possible, try the one from Wing Saber or anyone else with a Non-Planetary Key.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-06, 01:30 AM
Sorry, i forgot to mention i used the target exclusive movie armorhide for it, so that's why i got that key.

@Clay: Sorry, i worded it badly, but i did mean that CYB came first. It's just that the net has images of upcoming releases. I was originally gonna say that somebody didn't like CYB because it wasn't G1 enough, but thought that this had gone too far already.:)

Transformer Kamen
2008-12-06, 02:16 AM
Armorhide, which we don't have a review of it seems, is practically a perfect scout-class figure.

Really? I may have to fix that as I am quite fond of the little guy.

Having skipped the majority of Energon, I went from the Armada figures (sorta) to the Cybertron figures (and then only because there were no Movie figures to be had). As such I found the Cybertron figures to be generally solid and quite fun despite some garish colour choices (Dirt Boss, Down Shift) and those rather vexing Cyberkeys.

Scrapmetal, Armorhide, and Brakedown are all quite enjoyable (all scouts). Down Shift and Excellion are decent though not spectacular, and the Scattershot mold, which I only recently picked up as Universe Dropshot, is likewise enjoyable.

*toddles off to dig Armorhide out of whatever container he's been cloistered in*

RID Scourge
2008-12-06, 03:37 AM
Hmmm . . . Armada was . . . fun, but yeah. Lots of poor designs. I think the minicon gimmick was a bit underthought because it got to the point where everyone's unlockable ability was a hidden gun or it launched a missile.

Energon was a mixed bag. The deluxe decepticons were my favorites, as well as combiner limbs. I love Bulkhead.

Cybertron was a mixed bag. I didn't like a lot of the designs, but there were a handful of designs that I picked up and enjoyed (most of which-probably all-were previously mentioned).

Blackjack
2008-12-06, 04:12 AM
Complex or simple? Hmmm...

Let's take two lines as an example: the Movie and the Animated lines. The Movie has very complex details and rather hard transformations for the larger toys (hard the first time you do it), while the Animated line has smoother stylized bodies and easier transformation.

So which one do I like? In terms of design of automobiles and such, the Movie and Alternators line trump all. But the robot modes of the Animated toys hark back to G1.

Simple is good (as long as they don't make it to simple. Example: G1 Topspin), complex is also good (as long as they don't make unnecessary complexity. Example: Universe Ironhide). So honestly I don't care.

Oh, and we do have a review of Armorhide, the black movie repaint at least, done by yours truly. Looking forward to see the Cyb review! ;)

Treadshot A1
2008-12-06, 10:25 AM
Since you did the review, Blackjack, ever consider the axe mod to your fig?

Blackjack
2008-12-06, 10:39 AM
Yep. :)

Looks cool with an axe!

Clay
2008-12-08, 09:21 PM
Needlessly complicated transformations really piss me off, generally - Alternators and Masterpiece both make far too much effort out of simple transformations.

WOT I JUST READ YOUR REVIEW OF WHEELJACK. THE ARMS ARE NOT HARD THEY ARE LIKE A DELICATE FLOWER UNFOLDING IN THE MORNING SUN WITH MYRIAD DROPS OF DEW REFLECTING CHROMATICALLY. THEY ARE THE EAST AS JULIET IS THE SUN AND THEY ARE A THING OF BEAUTY AND NOT COMPLICATED AT ALL.

Cliffjumper
2008-12-08, 09:30 PM
The doors fall off. The doors never fall off Ideon. Advantage Bandai, bitch!

Clay
2008-12-08, 11:50 PM
The doors fall off. The doors never fall off Ideon. Advantage Bandai, bitch!

Ideon has no doors!

Blackjack
2008-12-09, 08:44 AM
IMO, the weakest part of Cybertron is the damn Cyber Keys. With Minicons, you at least get a bonus Transformer, no matter how crappy they might be. With Energon stars and weapons, well, they don't distract much from the general appearance. With Cyber Keys... I think the only toy that can store a damn Cyber Key is Armorhide and Hardtop.

Otherwise they gather dust.

And the ports really classify as kibble.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-09, 10:32 AM
And when hardtop has his key, his elbow nearly has no range of movement whatsoever.

Cliffjumper
2008-12-09, 12:51 PM
Ideon has no doors!

See, now that's sensible design.

I just don't think a toy, i.e. something that should be fun to play with, should have me seriously contemplating just leaving it halfway because it's pissed me off.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-10, 05:45 AM
Yeah, I agree with that. It's why my Dreadwing (Movie) got thrown across the room.

Catalyst Dragon
2008-12-18, 10:41 AM
I really hate Movie Optimus and/or Megatron. Optimus took me a good 45 min. with instructions the first time. Megatron is just ridiculous.

I had owned movie Barricade for almost a year before I learned he had a spike on his feet that came up!

Masterpiece Megatron is a chore to transform as well. But he looks cool.

Detective Barricade
2008-12-18, 08:46 PM
I really hate Movie Optimus and/or Megatron. Optimus took me a good 45 min. with instructions the first time. Megatron is just ridiculous.

I had owned movie Barricade for almost a year before I learned he had a spike on his feet that came up!

Masterpiece Megatron is a chore to transform as well. But he looks cool.

I'll agree with Movie Megatron. Movie Optimus has never been that difficult for me.

Barricade might have benefited from an autotransformation/automorph (*gasp*) instead of that stupid, stupid, stupid "punch" gimmick. It's because of it that the wheels rarely align properly. The most recent thing I discovered on the toy was the hood sections can be shoved under the head, with some force, to hide the thin hinge piece better.

Transformer Kamen
2008-12-18, 09:57 PM
I really hate Movie Optimus and/or Megatron. Optimus took me a good 45 min. with instructions the first time. Megatron is just ridiculous.

I had owned movie Barricade for almost a year before I learned he had a spike on his feet that came up!

Masterpiece Megatron is a chore to transform as well. But he looks cool.

I'm assuming you're referring to the Leader Class figures. I don't own either, far too expensive for me, but I have heard horror stories about the Megatron figure. On the other hand, I've been quite pleased with the Voyager versions of both.

Barricade...I like him. More precisely I love the idea of him enough to make the toy bareable. I'm pulling for him to be in TF2 with a better mold.

RID Scourge
2008-12-19, 01:22 AM
Barricade was actually my favorite mold in the movie.

Leader Prime wasn't too bad. First time was hard, but then I could do it easily enough after that.

Detective Barricade
2008-12-19, 04:25 AM
Barricade's mold isn't my favorite, but it's up there. I like being pleasantly surprised with a new figure, such as Animated Lugnut, or Universe Acid Storm. The G2 Gobots/RiD Spychangers I never really cared for because they're all just flip front down, pull doors out, pull rear back, stand it up. There's no surprise to them at all, IMO.

RID Scourge
2008-12-19, 02:43 PM
Spychangers are just fun to fiddle with for the most part. They were kind of Hasbro's answer to Matchbox cars.

Though displaying them's a booznatch. They're top-heavy little bastards.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-20, 01:06 AM
Not that anyone would want to display a Robot mode Spychanger.

another tf fan
2008-12-20, 02:22 AM
...I like being pleasantly surprised with a new figure, such as Animated Lugnut, or Universe Acid Storm...

Yeah, I too was surprised at how much I really like both of those toys.

RID Scourge
2008-12-20, 03:07 AM
Not that anyone would want to display a Robot mode Spychanger.

Well I did pride myself on having the entire run of RID (it was the run where I got into TFs again, and I was a bit rabid in those days. When I get around to selling stuff off I'll probably keep one color scheme of most of the characters) so at one point I had it all out on display.

Treadshot A1
2008-12-20, 12:58 PM
I know it's possible, just i can't really stand seeing bot mode Spychangers on display, for some reason. Guess that's partly due to the fact i lost the guns, though.