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View Poll Results: G1 Animal Sidekick Transformers - what level of cognition?
Fully-Sentient 7 41.18%
Semi-Sentient 2 11.76%
Drone 0 0%
Depends on the individual 1 5.88%
Depends on the continuity 2 11.76%
Cassettes are but Action Master Partners aren't 5 29.41%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 9th April 2013, 10:26 AM
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Default G1 Animal sidekicks - Sentient, Semi-Sentient or Drones?

(Note: I know there are tons more animal characters in the Japanese G1 Continuity but as I am not familiar enough with it, am simply discussing the American one. I'm sure someone else can add them to this thread )


Do people consider the G1 Transformers that only have animal modes to be fully fledged Transformers in their own right? Interested in others opinions. I've offered up three different classifications of how they could possibly be viewed:


Fully Sentient
As psychologically developed and aware as any other Transformer

Semi-Sentient
Comparable to a regular Transformer as a dog is to a human

Drone

No real cognitive thought. Under complete control of their handler.


Autobots
Steeljaw
Ramhorn
Lionizer
Sights
Top-Heavy
Tyrannitron

Decepticons
Lazerbeak
Buzzsaw
Ravage
Ratbat
Overkill
Slugfest
Beastbox
Squalktalk
Wingthing
Gatoraider
Catgut
Scorpulator
Razor-Sharp
Firebeast
Needler
Screech


For me, unless it specifically states otherwise, I like to think they are all pretty much fully sentient. Of course some are smarter or dumber than others. Also some talk and some don't. But there seems to be contradictory evidence on many levels:

Ravage:
Got a line in the original cartoon, making you think fully sentient. And talks in the IDW universe. But then also in the cartoon for the most part he just growled, Soundwave once patted him like a favored dog, and for the most part other Decepticons addressed Soundwave rather than him when wishing something of Ravage.

Laserbeak:
Never talked in the cartoon or in recent comics, but gets chatty in the Japanese cartoon. In FoC treated by Soundwave and Megatron more as a hunting condor than as a member of the army. (Megatron petting Laserbeak and laughing when nearly losing a finger was hilarious!)

Squalktalk & Beastbox:
Seen crop up in IDW a couple of times, but only combined. Does that mean they are not as fully sentient separated? But then Squalktalk's tech-specs bio discusses how he knows 6500 languages and talks all the time, more in the form of a human than a parrot.

Ramhorn:
Grunts constantly like an animal, then suddenly goes back in time and becomes chatty?! Simple beast or fully functioning bot?

Tyrannitron:
In the FP comics is talked about more like he is Snarl's pet that needs to be babysat rather than a member of the crew.

Animal Targetmaster Partners:
Many got their own sub-bio's in Dreamwave's MTMTE, making them sound fully sentient, but in the original tech specs hardly referred to more than a pet or a drone would be.


So what do people think. Can they all be classed as either fully-sentient, semi-sentient or drone? Or does it depend on the bot - is Ravage for example more sentient than Buzzsaw? Is Steeljaw more sentient than Lionizer? If so - why? They both turn into Cybertronian Lions after all. Yes - Steeljaw gets his own tech-spec and Lionizer doesn't. But then Lionizer turns into a Atom Smashing Blaster, a lot more intricate one could argue than a cassette (or data disk).

So, what do you think?
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  #2  
Old 9th April 2013, 11:02 AM
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This is one of those things where it can depend on which continuity you're looking at (and sometimes which issue or episode).

As an overall viewpoint, mine is:

Cassettes - fully sentient Transformers that have animal-like robot modes (except in the G1 cartoon where they are semi-sentient transforming animals* - and in stories highly influenced by the G1 cartoon like Dreamwave's and All Hail Megatron)

Action Master partners - not enough in-use story of these but I've always tended to think of them as basically purpose-built drones with some level of artifical intelligence but not living beings. Not quite a drone but almost. (And I include things like Jazz's roller board and Bumblebee's helipack in the same category)


* I've always considered Ravage's one line to more likely be some sort of text-to-voice translation of geo-location data that Ravage's sensors recorded but wasn't audio. I recall an episode of Ramhorn going back in time, but I don't recall him chatting, but really I just generally don't feel any need to remember that episode.
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  #3  
Old 9th April 2013, 11:04 AM
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Ravage, Laser and Buzzsaw had more dialogue in the G1 comics - especially Ravage. It was Ravage who talked Shockwave out of his stupor after he had a mental shutdown because his mind couldn't process the wibbly wobbly timey whimey paradox of Cyclonus being in the past before he was created in the future. Ravage also had that cool Russian accent in Beast Wars. I'd say all the cassette TFs are fully sentient - as you said, their tech specs (which forms the toy continuity which is the core continuity of G1) suggests that they are sentient, even if other continuities may not portray them that way - like Raindance and Grand Slam... in the G1 comics they were shown to be nothing more than data storage devices, although they were explicitly referred to by their names and as "Autobots." Which leads me to another question - do you consider vehicular sidekicks to be sentient? Then there's Ratbat, who was Decepticon leader for a time in the G1 comics, and portrayed as a Senator in the IDW comics.

Having said that, I personally don't consider the Cassettes to be proper 'sidekicks'. They're fully independent and proper TFs in their own right who happen to be able to interact with Soundwave and Blaster. Action Master Partners on the other hand are very much sidekicks, much like say Nebulans. Are they sentient? Not sure as they barely made any canonical appearances. And why should the animal Action Master partners be more sentient than the vehicular ones? After all, Raindance and Grand Slam's tech specs suggest that they are sentient Autobots.
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  #4  
Old 9th April 2013, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
Which leads me to another question - do you consider vehicular sidekicks to be sentient?

And why should the animal Action Master partners be more sentient than the vehicular ones? After all, Raindance and Grand Slam's tech specs suggest that they are sentient Autobots.
Well, this is really more about the Animals than vehicles - maybe you could start another thread about vehicular ones (the opposite to the 'what alt-modes haven't been done yet you'd like to see threads we did ). But I'll address it as best I can.

The likes of Jazz's turbo-board and Bumblebee's helipack really serve no purpose other than to facilitate the transport of the user and to double as a weapon. If you move to the next stage up you could same the same for Gutcrunchers tank. The likes of Lionizer can prowl around, drink a saucer of energon, play fetch, bite Cons etc. For me the question is more is he A:remote controlled, B: just growl and prowl or C: Able to read from the Covenant of Primus and discuss mecha-soccer if required.

Raindance and Grand Slam can travel about of their own accord and get their own tech-specs so definitely fully sentient. They just need to combine if they want to open a door or wave hello

Maybe of interest would be some of the TF Wiki links - I'll put one up about Lionizer since I keep using him as an example:

http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Lionizer

I also quite like to go by the Dreamwave MTMTE books, simply as it was the first time so many of these obscure characters got any fleshing out.
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Old 9th April 2013, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BigTransformerTrev View Post
I also quite like to go by the Dreamwave MTMTE books, simply as it was the first time so many of these obscure characters got any fleshing out.
And those books are great for that, but a bunch of high level character profiles are too specific to the defunct Dreamwave continuity too and contradict the others, because there are few universal truths when it comes to G1 Transformers. G1 canon is it's own special thing like the mystery of the holy trinity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
Ravage, Laser and Buzzsaw had more dialogue in the G1 comics - especially Ravage. It was Ravage who talked Shockwave out of his stupor ...
You mean in the G1 UK comics. And weirdly also Marvel's GIJoe vs Transformers where Ravage shouldn't have been present at all... Most of the tapes forgot they could talk in the US comic after the original miniseries. Even when Ravage returned and was written by Simon Furman in the US comics he didn't chat. (Maybe he just didn't have anything to say?)

I reference Jazz and Bumblebee as those are two AMs I had a kid when these ideas formed. And taking Goktimus' point, the tech specs are all we had to go on. Jazz's bio calls "Tubro Board" "his partner" and "sidekick" so I assume that as a minimum Turbo Board has some artificial intelligence if you're calling it as more than "his vehicle" and "ride". Not sure what Gutcruncher's tech specs say about his tank. But I would never consider those partners to be "Transformers".

And so when it comes to ones who had animal like partners, like I had Jackpot and Sights, I never considered them as being a "Transformer" in the same way that say Laserbeak was. I think Sights could prowl and growl but it's got no spark or higher intelligence.
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  #6  
Old 9th April 2013, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Paulbot View Post
And those books are great for that, but a bunch of high level character profiles are too specific to the defunct Dreamwave continuity too and contradict the others

Jazz's bio calls "Tubro Board" "his partner" and "sidekick" so I assume that as a minimum Turbo Board has some artificial intelligence if you're calling it as more than "his vehicle" and "ride".

In total agreement about the high level character profiles from Dreamwave - it's certainly not taken as a universal truth that Shockwave gave Blitzwing his triple-changing abilities and that Punch has a personality disorder. But for the likes of the Micromasters, Target/Action Master Partners and so on I thought it was fantastic as they had never really had their own full characters before (though some MM kinda did in the old comics).

Had no idea Jass's turbo-board was referred to as his partner and sidekick in the original tech-specs. Hmmmm, that makes for quite the compelling argument for the likes of Sights to only be on the same level. Don't get me wrong, I still think Lionizer, Gatoraider etc are above them and should be pets at the very least, but now you've got me considering the validity of that position
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  #7  
Old 9th April 2013, 02:21 PM
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To me, cassettes are sentient. I see no reason to discern those with bestial robot modes (e.g. Ravage, Ramhorn etc.) over those with vehicular robot modes (e.g. Grand Slam, Raindance) or humanoid robot modes (e.g. Rewind, Frenzy etc.). A vehicle can still be sentient, such as Tardises (especially Type 102 Tardises).

I see Action Master partners as being non-sentient, and capable of possessing varying degrees of artificial intelligence, like say Artoo Detoo from Star Wars, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, Jarvis from the Iron Man films or David from A.I.

"Nobody cares if you upset a droid." - See Threepio (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope)
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  #8  
Old 9th April 2013, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
To me, cassettes are sentient.

I see Action Master partners as being non-sentient, and capable of possessing varying degrees of artificial intelligence, like say Artoo Detoo from Star Wars, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, Jarvis from the Iron Man films or David from A.I.

I think probably everyone is in agreement on the cassette thing, though it can depend on the continuity. The way Megatron treated Laserbeak in FoC was definetly as a pet rather than as a robot (I can't see him patting say Thrust and then laughing when Thrust tries to bite his finger any time soon - unless someone out there is writing a very homo-erotic fanfic ) But yeah, I would certainly consider every cassette animal to be sentient on the whole.



Interesting point about AM partners having varying degrees of artificial intelligence. Given Paulbot's point about in the original tech-specs, Sights and Jazz's turbo-board both being referred to as partners and sidekicks, it's certainly possible. A mate made an interesting point on my FB Transformatorium page - I'll quote him here:

There has been no real fiction addressing them so I take it that they are Cybertronian 'pets'. It is already established that there is Cybertronian wildlife around so that's an explanation. They are different to Ravage, Sky Lynx, etc because they are actually sentient with animalistic characteristics while the AM sidekicks are not. So yeah, AM partners are alive with a spark but not really sentient.

I quite like this explanation, of them being almost 'domesticated wild Cybertronian animals'. And it kinds works - the Decepticons using nasty animals like scorpions and alligators, and the Autobots using creatures like eagles and lions - animals associated with nobility.



I suppose it is all up for debate (hence why I started this thread ). Chances are the bloke who wrote the tech-specs was doing it in his coffee break and gave no real long term thought to it, I'm sure he/she did not expect it to be debated over two decades later Personally, I think in regards to the AM animal sidekicks I'm going to (for now) stick with my original idea that yes they are as sentient as the next bot. And though Dreamwave and TFwiki are certainly not TF gospel, right now they appear to be the most fleshed out descriptions of these characters, far more than the original tech specs (remember, in them Skywarp was rated higher in rank than Starscream and no-one takes that as gospel) and on the whole treat them like any other Transformer.

Until the animal AM partners are used far more in fiction I guess we will not be sure. Question - have any of them EVER been used in a comic book outside DW's MTMTE? The only ones I can think of are Push-Button serving drinks in DW (and we are not discussing him since he is not an animal anyway) and Wingthing turning up in a group shot, although he just got a new toy (recolured Ratbat) which is quite cool and maybe lends credence to the 'all are equal' idea.

Oh, and I always thought 'Scorponok' from the movies should have been called 'Scorpulator' - much more fitting as a partner to a bigger bot.
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Old 9th April 2013, 10:00 PM
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I can't think of them ever having any canonical appearances other than in tech specs and profiles.

One issue with the domesticated wildlife theory -- according to the Action Masters' original lore, after discovering that Nucleon stripped them of their ability to transform, the Action Masters modified/developed their weapons and vehicles as transformable partners. There's really isn't any evidence to suggest that the animal AM partners were some form of domesticated Turbofox. :/ Also the TV commercial refers to some of the partners as "battle droids," which to me suggests A.I. over actual sentience.

At any rate, TFwiki states, "They display personalities of their own and are sometimes very highly skilled. However, their origin is largely unknown, as is their exact level of sentience."
So yeah... there just doesn't seem to be a definitive answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTransformerTrev View Post
The only ones I can think of are Push-Button serving drinks in DW (and we are not discussing him since he is not an animal anyway) and Wingthing turning up in a group shot, although he just got a new toy (recolured Ratbat) which is quite cool and maybe lends credence to the 'all are equal' idea.
Artoo Detoo served drinks aboard Jabba's barge in Return of the Jedi -- but he's still a non-sentient artificially intelligent droid. As for Wingthing, simply having an 'autonomous' Transformer body doesn't necessarily make that Transformer sentient per se, because we have had some Transformers similar to this who have been explicitly stated to be artificially intelligent non-sentients; e.g. Godbomber and Zoom-Zoom.
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  #10  
Old 9th April 2013, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
according to the Action Masters' original lore, after discovering that Nucleon stripped them of their ability to transform, the Action Masters modified/developed their weapons and vehicles as transformable partners.

At any rate, TFwiki states, "They display personalities of their own and are sometimes very highly skilled. However, their origin is largely unknown, as is their exact level of sentience."
So yeah... there just doesn't seem to be a definitive answer.
Yeah, no definitive answer, though the arguments you and Paulbot have made have certainly made me less certain of my assertion that they are like any other bot. I do remember that bit from Action Masters original lore now that you have mentioned it and it supports your argument well.



Another friend on my FB Transformatorium page left this about the AM animal partners:

Depending on your definition of sentience, it can commonly be agreed that is the ability to think subjectively. Therefore, as the beings in question could have served their "masters" because they chose to and not because of training (in particular learned helplessness) this would be a subjective thought. Something like the view of the individual where I only obey because I am told to, or I only associate with so-and-so for shelter/food would be more objective. Hence the individual would be prone to move on as soon as a better opportunity arises (yes, I know a lot of "sentient" humans exhibit these behaviours). But as they showed loyalty to the detriment of their own well-being demonstrates sentience...or complete insanity. But what's the difference I suppose. But yeah in a nut-shell, definitely as sentient as any other being that claims to be.

Which is kinda cool and takes the psychology of the whole thing into account and is a strong argument for them being fully actualized characters in their own right. And while it may enforce the 'they are fully sentient, not domesticated pets' argument (otherwise Gatoraider would go work for Rad instead if Rad offered him more energon goodies than Krok), it does unintentionally perhaps suggest that maybe they are loyal to their own detriment, not because of a fully developed personality, but because that is their programming, although that concept relies on a very high level of AI (which undoubtedly Cybertronian science is capable of).



On a purely whimsical level and taking a break from the logical arguments, I'd like to see them show up in the IDW comics - think it would be great to see Jackpot wandering round with Sights on his shoulder like some eccentric, and Krok's gang all sitting round chatting and throwing the odd tid-bit to Gatoraider. Kinda like Tyrannitron was portrayed (off panel) in the FP comic - I thought that was suitably humorous While I think they are fully sentient, and Gok thinks they just have AI, I think the most fun thing would be if they were pets
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