Optimus Prime that transforms on its own

Someone has created an Optimus Prime action figure / toy / collectible that transforms on its own. It even responds to voice commands and you can drive it around via an app. If this interests you in the least, here’s a video showing it off:

I have to admit, that is really cool. It’s great that they used the original transforming sound effect and that they got Peter Cullen to voice the dialogue. So props to the maker of this for doing it right.

It contains over 5000 components, 60 microchips, and 27 servo motors, with more details at the official site. As you might expect, technology this awesome is not cheap. $700 is out of my budget for such things, so I won’t be able to provide a hands-on review. Hopefully in the future it’ll get a lot cheaper, because it would be a great addition to my desk.

The reviewer in the video declares this the coolest toy ever. Of course that’s debatable, but I’m not going to argue with that. It is indeed awesome. Do you know of a toy or toy-like collectible that is more awesome?

real-life Transformer prototype

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have your own Transformer?  That is, a car that turns into a robot.  The possibilities are, as they say, endless.

We’re still years away from such technology, but at least there are people working on it.  The video below shows a toy-sized prototype transforming car/robot built by Kenji Ishida and JS Robotics.  (Turn the volume down because it’s louder than it should be.)

If we ever get this technology to be life-sized and usable, one obvious benefit would be the need for less parking spaces.  Your car could become a robot and go inside with you, to bring you snacks at work and do chores at home.  (We’re gonna have to be really careful with how much artificial intelligence (AI) we give it, based on movies.)

Oh, and I definitely want mine to have that classic transforming sound from the original (G1) Transformer cartoons in the ’80s!  If it has to be played through speakers, that’s fine.  It just sounds awesome.  Here’s an example.

video of Soundwave breakdancing

Here is a cool video of Soundwave breakdancing — this is what you call doing the robot.  🙂  (If you don’t know, Soundwave was one of the Decepticons of Transformers lore; his Earth disguise mode was a jambox / cassette player.)

Supposedly this was initially put on YouTube in 2005, before YouTube was big, and it got to 15 million hits and crashed their servers.  I saw it back in 2004 on another site.  Think about that — at least 15 million hits, before YouTube was so popular.  That’s a lot of Transformers fans, even before Michael Bay’s “re-imagined”* the franchise for his movies.  Someone said it was made in 2002, and if so, that makes it even more impressive, because CGI was more difficult back then.

* Hey, I just found a soapbox!  I won’t go into the full rant, because I’ve done that before (and I’ve revisited it with video examples of how Transformers could’ve been better), but I will say this — the Transformers universe was very established through hundreds of cartoons and many comic books, and it was a good story with lots of backstory, many great plots, extensive character development — everything you need for a great movie.  Instead of using that, Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg (yes, it’s partly his fault, too) made the movie about “a boy and his car”.  In doing so, they made Transformers be more about how a teenage boy has to save the world instead of the huge civil war going on between robots that are more intelligent than we are.  Instead of making what could’ve been one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever, with characters you admire for their principles and a philosophical side that gets you to thinking — while keeping the great action scenes, we ended up with just the action scenes and lots of explosions.  I’m not saying the movies weren’t entertaining at all, but I keep thinking what could’ve been…

how Transformers CGI should have looked in the movie, pt. 2

I just updated “how Transformers CGI should have looked in the movie” because the video link had changed.  It’s been a popular post, with over 1,000 pageviews.  I also added a remixed version of the video to it, featuring music from the original series, which makes it even better.

Who is this?

While finding the video, I found a fan-made video of Generation 1 (G1) Transformers using CGI that was well done.  It’s not movie-quality, because I’m sure he didn’t have a $200 million budget.  But it gives an idea how the characters could have looked in CGI while still resembling their original design.  (Why does that matter?  You should be able to easily tell who is who.  Not only did Michael Bay remove most of their personalities, but he removed most of their unique external features, too.  They look very similar in the movies, which should not be.)  FYI, consider the video rated PG because of a couple of words and some stuff gets blown up.

I had hoped that the fourth Transformer movie would be rebooted with the new director, to have more story along with the action, but it appears that won’t happen.  Sure, the first 3 movies did well financially, but they could be so much better if the story of the Transformers was actually told instead of it being about mankind versus an alien invasion (which has been done so many times).

Let's hope not!

The Autobots and Decepticons are in a civil war, and there’s a deep story behind that which is being ignored in the movies.  The movies can (and should) keep the action sequences and big explosions, but let’s hear the story with real character development.

The reason Transformers are still around is because it has a great story with great characters.  That’s why the franchise is still going strong and we’re not getting movies about GoBots (which had some cool toys, but no story).  Some of you may not remember this, but when Optimus Prime was killed in the original cartoon movie, there was a huge outcry from fans.  (The company executives didn’t get it then, either.)  Optimus was like the John Wayne of Transformers.  In fact, the fan response was so great that the upcoming G.I. Joe cartoon movie was rewritten during production, because in it Duke was going to be killed, so they made him go into a coma instead.  Why am I saying all this?  To show that fans care about characters with personality.