Transformers Combiners aka Gestalt Transformers
I do not have the words to describe exactly how excited I am for Fall of Cybertron by Highmoon Studios, so I’ll settle for “very excited“. I loved War For Cybertron enough to purchase it twice (once for XBox 360 and once for PC) and have played through it many times (most recently just a few weeks ago, so maybe I’ll write a thing about that eventually). I’m not here to talk directly about either of those games though, but rather use the new one as a jumping-off point into today’s topic.
When the Fall of Cybertron Cinematic Trailer launched it caused a bit of buzz for several reasons. First off it was a trailer for a new Transformers game from the only people in memory that have made a good one before, secondly the music raised some eyebrows (the song quite grew on me personally, though I don’t like listening to it outside the context of the trailer much), thirdly it had FRICKING GRIMLOCK being all fire-breathing dinosaur is gonna kick your arse and chew you to bits before roasting what is left, and lastly it introduced the series’ first Combiner Transformer (Fittingly when the song goes “The hands of the many must join as one“. I’ve heard people refer to them as Gestalt Transformers, which doesn’t quite make sense to me since ‘gestalt’ is just German for ‘shape’, so I’ll keep referring to them as Combiners) and surprisingly enough it was not Devastator, but Bruticus. This got me thinking about the various Combiners and led me to wanting to write today’s topic: Taking a look at Transformers Combiners.
I will once again be limiting myself to Generation 1 material, since as I stated last time, that’s what I know. I will also bring them up in the order they showed up in the Marvel comics run (as best I remember) with the characteristics they showed there. I have not read every comic since then, but as far as I’ve been able to tell, there has been little in the way of re-imagining.
I’m sure the creation of the Combiners from an executive level went much like this: “So, robots that turn into cars are selling like pies at a starving millionaires’ convention, but you know what would make them even crazier? Robots that you could put together into even bigger robots!” And so it was. I know it was just another marketing ploy to sell more products (much like how the Transformers themselves kept the same shape no matter the circumstances to make them more recognisable), but I still have a certain affinity for the big brutes.
The first (and probably most recognisable) of the lot is the Decepticon Devastator, the combined form of the 6 Constructicons: Scrapper (Right leg), Mixmaster (Left leg), Long Haul (Lower torso), Hook (Upper torso and head), Scavenger (Right arm), and Bonecrusher (Left arm). He was the first, the prototype, and the template upon which the others were made (even though a lot of the kinks of the process got ironed out with time). See, the Combiner process carried with it several downsides, especially in the early days. Devastator was huge, ridiculously strong and destructive, but he was also painfully slow and simple-minded. The reason for this was that the Constructicons themselves are pretty intelligent, so Devastator’s strength of mind become only what the six of them could agree upon. He was also a bit easier to get to fall to pieces than most of his follow-ups, with his seams being extra vulnerable. He is still the most iconic of them all, and a force to be reckoned with.
The Autobot Bumblebee managed to get readings of Devastator’s combining process while Optimus Prime and the others launched a diversionary attack. They used this data to make their own combiner, and thus Superion was created. He was the combined form of the 5 Aerialbots: Silverbolt (Body and head), Fireflight (Right leg), Slingshot (Left leg), Skydive (Right arm) and Air Raid (Left arm). This has later been changed to Superion being a “Scramble City” Combiner, meaning that aside from Silverbolt always being the body, the other four could become any limb. Since then it’s become more common to depict Air Raid and Skydive as the legs, and Fireflight and Slingshot as the arms.
Superion is hampered by much the same simple-mindedness as Devastator, though while Devastator’s motivation can be summed up with “SMASH!”, Superion has two goals: protecting innocents and fellow Autobots as well as destroying Decepticons. He has on occasion been known to become so preoccupied with destruction that he overlooks the need to protect, but this is thankfully rare. His compatriots often perceive him as distant and unfeeling. While he is not as strong as Devastator, he still packs a massive punch, and carries a huge gun. Like Devastator the seams where the Aerialbots join are a weakness.
These next two were revealed in the same issue (that I mentioned here), but lets talk about the Decepticon first: Bruticus. He is the combined form of the 5 Combaticons: Onslaught (Body and head), Brawl (Left leg), Swindle (Right leg), Vortex (Left arm) and Blast Off (Right arm). Compared to Devastator’s bumbling prototype, Bruticus is a raging success. Surprisingly limber, very strong, a good shot and quick to carry out orders, Megatron sees him as the ideal soldier, and would have liked an army of him. Bruticus’s mental processing is much like that of a child’s however, with the exception that he has no imagination. Without orders, he’ll do nothing. So while he can be brutally efficient, he isn’t that hard to outsmart.
On the Autobot side we have Defensor, the combined form of the 5 Protectobots: Hot Spot (Body and head), Blades (Right arm), First Aid (Left arm), Groove (Right leg) and Streetwise (Left leg). Protector is arguably the most successful of the Autobot Combiners, as he adheres to the tenets of defending innocents to a fanatical degree. He will always protect anyone, humans especially, at any personal cost. He would even go so far as to sacrifice himself without hesitation to save another. As Combiners go, he is actually a bit more clever than most, able to act and react swiftly and even devise plans of his own, so long as they’re not overly complicated, thanks to his component parts being largely of one mind as to what needs to be done. Defensor and Bruticus are usually depicted as main rivals.
Next one out of the gate was the Decepticon Menasor, the combined form of the 5 Stunticons: Motormaster (Body and head), Drag Strip (Right arm), Dead End (Left arm), Breakdown (Right leg) and Wildrider (Left leg). He was supposed to be the ultimate warrior, wielding both sword and gun, and it might have worked if not for one major flaw. The different members of the Stunticons hate eachother, and they absolutely loathe Motormaster. This makes Menasor very unstable, prone to insane fits, disregarding orders and just plain falling apart in the middle of combat (especially if the different body parts feel unfairly targeted). He became the main rival of Superion.
I do not recall when the next two appeared in the comics, but they are another rival duo. On the Autobot side we have Computron, the combined form of the 5 Technobots: Scattershot (Body and head), Lightspeed (Right leg), Nosecone (Left leg), Afterburner (Right arm) and Strafe (Left arm). Computron was a triumph in that he was able to overcome the usual simple-mindedness of Combiners and instead get enhanced intelligence from all his parts working together. Which also turned out to be his greatest weakness. When he makes a decision, it is always the right one, but it takes him so long to consider all the variables and take everyone’s viewpoints into consideration that by the time he reaches a decision, it might be too late for it to matter.
On the Decepticon side we have Abominus, the combined form of the 5 Terrorcons: Hun-Gurrr (Body and head), Cutthroat (Right arm), Rippersnapper (Left arm), Blot (Right leg) and Sinnertwin (Left leg). In creating Abominus, the Quintessons managed to create the very strongest Combiner of them all, which was hampered by him also being the dumbest. Basically nothing more than a mindless monster (a fitting opposite to Computron’s hyperintelligence) Abominus would go on a rampage whenever unleashed. To keep him in check he was programmed with a time limit, so that after a certain time he would automatically separate again.
Now we are approaching the end of my knowledge, with all that remains are two Decepticon Combiners that I know of no Autobot counterparts for. First up we have Predaking, the combined form of the 5 Predacons: Razorclaw (Body and head), Rampage (Right arm), Divebomb (Left arm and wings), Headstrong (Right leg) and Tantrum (Left leg). Possibly the most terrifying of the Combiners, Predaking has high intellect, enormous strength, impressive agility, keen instincts and a massive cannon. The Predacons are so united in their desire to hunt that they suffer none of the mental lessening that most other Combiners (except Computron and Piranacon) do, and are able to act with unified purpose. In spite of this he has been oft-defeated, most likely due to plot convinience.
Finally we have Piranacon, the combined form of the 6 Seacons: Snap Trap (Body and head), Overbite (Right arm), Skalor (Left arm), Seawing (Right leg), Tentakil (Left leg) and Nautilator (Weapon). Piranacon is unique in that one of the team members becomes just his gun (typically a Combiner uses one of the guns from his parts scaled up a bit), and the joke here is that Nautilator is supposedly so inept that he needs to have the others point and shoot him to have him be useful. Piranacon is kinda like the Predaking of the sea, as he too is united in the desire to hunt. Piranacon takes it a step further though, and gets so obsessed with the hunt that he doesn’t stop until he is put down or burned out. For this reason Snap Trap has started to adopt Abominus’s failsafe and sets a timer whenever they combine, presumably based on how long he thinks it will take.
Of honourary mention I’ll add Omega Supreme. He’s not exactly a Combiner even though his alternate mode consists of several components, and his robot form is massive. He is however the main rival of Devastator and as such deserves a place here. According to whichever canon you subscribe to, he’s either constructed on Earth as the ultimate guardian for the crashed Ark (even smacking Megatron about with ease) or the last and ultimate in a line of sentinels made on Cybertron to uphold law and order. He has a massive cannon arm, a massive claw arm, a smaller cannon on the back of his head and wings that he can use as shields. His alternate mode usually consists of at least a tank and a spacecraft (shaped like a rocket). He speaks in a weird way, and is pretty much absolutely awesome.
And there we have it. My knowledge and impressions on the Transformers Generation 1 Combiners/Gestalts. Maybe I’ve bored you to death, but hopefully you’ll have found it interesting.
Posted on July 3, 2012, in Comics, Thoughts and tagged Abominus, analysis, Bruticus, combiners, Computron, Defensor, Devastator, Gen 1, Generation 1, gestalt, Menasor, Omega Supreme, Piranacon, Predaking, Superion, Transformers. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.