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Less than Meets the Eye: 6 Transformers Who Turned Into Questionable Objects

Less than Meets the Eye: 6 Transformers Who Turned Into Questionable Objects

By Ryan Britt

Pretty soon Mark Wahlberg will be stepping in for Shia Labeouf and will be palling around with those iconic and confused space-aliens in Transformers: The Age of Extinction. In the pantheon of fictional extra-terrestrial life, the Transformers stand apart simply because they have identity issues. Not content to simply be robots with feelings, both the Autobots and Decepticons disguise themselves as Earth-objects in order to blend in with their surroundings better; this is why their original 80’s tagline was “robots in disguise.”

But some disguises are better than others. Here are six Transformers with dubious transforming choices.

Soundwave and Blaster: A Tape Deck/BoomBox

Portable cassette players were big in the 80s, so it makes sense that both the good Transfomers (the Autobots) and the bad Transformers (the Decepticons) would have robots disguised as these objects. And though the Transformers were advanced cybernetic creatures from another planet, with all sorts of futuristic technology, they still somehow used the tapes in the boomboxes to record stuff. Granted, these were usually complex video recordings, but still. Soundwave would occasionally be able to infiltrate certain places by simply being a boombox, but that element of surprise and disguise seemed to rely a lot on waiting for someone to pick you up.

LazerBeak, Ravage, et al: Cassette Tapes

These guys transformed into tapes which would fit inside of Soundwave or Blaster. In the “real world” of the cartoon, these tapes were often Transformer-sized, meaning no one would be fooled by the disguise. In toy-form, the cassettes these guys turned into were outrageously small, and though we were smart enough to know they wouldn’t really work in our Walkmans, at least they could have been the right size. In a world of robots turning into racecars and jetplanes, transforming into a useless and obviously fake tape really sucks.

Cosmos: A Flying Saucer

Though there are a variety of origin stories, most all versions from the original 80’s comic book, TV show, and/or storybooks, depict the Ark—the onboard computer of the Autobots’ spaceship— scanning the planet Earth for suitable vehicles and objects that would make sense for the Transformers to transform into. If they weren’t giant robots, but conventional biological aliens, this would be like sending an undercover alien fashion consultant to a trendy city in order to figure out what shoes to wear.

When the Ark assigns semi-trucks, airplanes, vans, and VW Bugs as each of the disguise-mode of the various Transformers, most of it makes sense. Until, the Transformers randomly obtain a new friend named Cosmos. His “vehicle mode” is a Flying Saucer, a UFO, a ship from space. Now, either the Transformers are being really meta here (being a thing from space disguising yourself as a thing from space) or the original cartoon took place in an alternate dimensions where Flying Saucers were as commonplace of a site as broken down old slug bug.

Preceptor: A Giant Microscope

Because he’s the scientist of the Transformers, no kid would blink their eye at Preceptor transforming into a giant microscope. Look! It’s science-y! But, like being an advanced piece of intelligent machinery transforming into tape deck, the transformation of Preceptor is truly baffling. Presuming the Transformers incorporate digital technology into their positronic matrices, why would Preceptor want to transform into a piece of technology which relies on analog (light refraction) technology? Let’s just say he turns into a digital microscope; even then things are confusing because no one uses him as a microscope. He’s giant-robot sized microscope, meaning only other giant-robots would want to peer into his lens. But they don’t. Who is Preceptor fooling? We thought he was supposed to be the smart one.

Megatron: A Person-Sized Gun

This one is really weird. He’s the leader, and supposedly the worst most evil Decepticon of them all, and yet, he turns into a tiny gun, best made for the hands of a human. Yes, occasionally Megatron turns into a gun that another Transfomer can fire, but that generally means one of his lackeys is temporarily in control of him. With all the tension between Megatron and Starscream, you wouldn't think constantly shrinking yourself down and literally putting yourself in the hands of someone you don’t trust would be all that good of a move. When Megatron became Galvatron in Transfomers: The Movie, his new mode was a kind of big space-canon, which was a little bit better, but still baffling. He can’t even move!

All the DinoBots: Robot Dinosaurs

The DinoBots don’t actually fool anyone into thinking they are real dinosaurs, meaning they’re already kind of losing the “robots in disguise” title right away. But, even if they did look like real dinosaurs, they would still be hopelessly conspicuous. The only thing the DinoBots are really disguised as then are the fantasies of a certain kind of young child. Many boys and girls out there love robots and dinosaurs. Boom: here they are as one thing, just don’t ask too many questions why.

What other robots in disguise are you hoping to see?

Tags: movies, tv, toys, transformers, transformers: age of extinction

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt's writing has appeared with The New York Times, Omni Reboot, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Story Magazine, The MindHut and elsewhere. He's performed stories on stage with The Moth, The Liar Show, and is the curator of two reading series; Lust for Genre and The HiFi Reading Series. He teaches at The Gotham Writers' Workshop and lives in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @ryancbritt.

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