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Old 7th March 2018, 10:29 AM
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Default What G1 characterizations have been improved upon?

One of the recent other threads got me thinking about this.

G1 was pretty good at giving giant alien robots unique personalities. In fact some people credit part of the success of the brand being the Tech Specs, turning transforming trucks and cars into real characters you could take an interest in. The G1 cartoon was pretty good at giving their characters personalities too, such as Beachcomber being a hippy, Megatron believing in his cause more than just being a megalomaniac ("the Decepticon cause supersedes personal vengeance") and Rodimus Prime living in his predecessors shadow. Part of the reason I didn't really get into The Unicron Wars trilogy was that most characters were either just soldiers following orders or were quite one-dimensional.

But what G1 characters have been made better?

These are the ones that spring to mind:


Swindle: A personal favorite! G1 Swindle was arguable the most spotlighted of the Combiner characters, having a whole episode based around him selling off his comrades parts, and even defying Galvatron by not handing over Metroplex's Transforming Cog unless Galv offered to pay more than the Autobots.
However Animated Swindle was awesome! Everything from the way he spoke to the way he acted to the fact he even had a little tie just screamed that he was interplanetary munitions dealer with the pater and oil pump of a used car salesman. Fred Willard really brought the character to life!


Ratchet: Ratchtet was a pretty friendly and light hearted bot in the G1 cartoon (much like most of the others) who occasionally got a bit grumpy with his patients or if someone like Sparkplug challenged his medical prowess.
In Animated, Ratchet got made a grumpy doctor who deep down still had a spark of gold. This characterization seemed to just fit him so well! Subsequently the Ratchet that has shown up in TFPrime, RID and even the G1(ish) IDW have all taken on this persona.


Thundercracker: In the G1 cartoon he never really showed his conflicted nature regarding the war that the tech-spec discussed. The most was he was willing to let Skyfire destroy a weapon to get Starscream into trouble.
In IDW we got to see Thundercracker betray the Decepticons as he couldn't rationalize murdering millions of humans in a cowardly bomb strike just to win a battle. This has lead him to now be allied with a human (and dog) as his best friends. I liked Thundercracker a bit more when he was still a bit of a sod, like refusing Bumblebee's offer to join him, but still it has made him a much more interesting character.

Sunstorm: He only appeared in one episode right at the start of the G1 cartoon and his tech spec only lists his abilities.
In Dreamwave, Sunstorm became what can only be called a superpowered religious zealot who believed he was on a divine mission and all that stood in the way of his holy crusade must be destroyed for the greater good. It was a very cool story arc and remains some of my favorite DW comics!


Ravage: Had a cool tech spec and was pretty damn cool in the cartoon, but only spoke/radioed once and often got beaten by mere humans (his weakness ironically is stacks of VHS tapes).
In Beast Wars, where he was pretty much the same character, just waaay in the future-slash-past. But you got to see him hand pretty much any Predacon or Maximal he came across their skid plates, talked a lot and in particular his discussed his loyalty to G1 Megatron, and used his cassette mode to take control of a vehicle. Yeah, he was bipedal now and to be honest the fact he lacked a quadruped mode irked me somewhat, but it was a very cool outing for him and expanded the on-screen character into something more than just a growling animal.


Ratbat: In the G1 cartoon he mainly operated as a spy and his tech spec talked about him being a fuel scout. Not particularly rounded out.
In the Marvel comics, Ratbat got made a leader, who operated primarily from the basis of gauging the gain-loss in energon of potential encounters. He was able to put constrictions on Shockwave and even ordered Trypticon about! This was built on in the Dreamwave comics by him leading his own faction of Ultracons and in IDW being a senator who once again (briefly) rose to lead the Decepticons in the aftermath of the Civil War. Resulted in some great toys too!


Metroplex: In the G1 cartoon he existed primarily it seemed to battle Trypticon and defeat him, as well as acting as the Autobots main base of operations on Earth. His tech spec talks about his personality briefly but mainly discusses his abilities, which considering the toy was understandable.
In IDW Metroplex is a Titan and has had an entire mythos based around him and his compatriots, the Titans becoming a huge part of the IDW lore! No Six-Gun or Slammer which is disappointing but at least Scamper got an outing in a comic and the toy.


So which G1 characters do you think have been improved upon (characterizations - not toys) in either the comics or other cartoon series/universes?



Notes:
*Honorable mentions go to TFPrime's Wheeljack and Ultra Magnus, though i don't think they are particularly better. I also loved Animated Blurr using his super speed I'll leave IDW's Swerve for someone else to discuss
*If I was going to list characters that have been made worse I'd site RID Grimlock, Energon Ironhide and Armada Sideswipe to name just a few.
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  #2  
Old 7th March 2018, 11:21 AM
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With some of these characters (e.g. Thundercracker, Ravage, Swindle etc.), the characterisations were always there from the original toy tech spec bios. It's just that more recent writers have finally exploited the source material. Especially Thundercracker. Ravage did speak and have more of a personality in the G1 comics though. It was Ravage who snapped Shockwave out of his mindless stupor during the Time Wars.
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Old 7th March 2018, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
With some of these characters (e.g. Thundercracker, Ravage, Swindle etc.), the characterisations were always there from the original toy tech spec bios. It's just that more recent writers have finally exploited the source material. Especially Thundercracker. Ravage did speak and have more of a personality in the G1 comics though. It was Ravage who snapped Shockwave out of his mindless stupor during the Time Wars.
Thundercrackers Tech Spec:
Quote:
"The deadliest weapon is terror."

Contemptuous of anything that cannot fly. Not totally convinced of the Decepticons' cause, but they persuaded him to continue battling Autobots. Flies at speeds up to 1500 mph... produces controlled, deafening sonic booms that can be heard for 200 miles. Equipped with powerful drone rockets and incendiary gun. Doubts about cause sometimes impede effectiveness.
You are saying THAT equates to "Becomes best friends with a human. Carries a pet dog everywhere he loves" and everything else IDW added? If all the writers are doing are exploiting the source material then why doesn't Thundercracker hate humans and dogs because they can't fly? Why isn't he using terror in all his fights rather than quips and humor?

Ravage's tech spec says nothing about his feelings of loyalty to G1 Megs or turning into a cassette to belt out rocking tunes. Swindles does describe him pretty much as he appeared in Animated but Fred Willards portrayal took him to new heights in my opinion.

Just join in the fun Gok - if it helps feel free to redefine my question as "which renditions of characters in other media have expanded their characterization from the original G1 cartoon & tech spec"


Edit: Actually, to avoid semantics I'll distill it down even further "Is there a newer version of a G1 character you like better?"

E.g: "I like the Thundercracker portrayed in IDW better than the Thundercracker portrayed in the G1 cartoon because..."
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Last edited by BigTransformerTrev; 7th March 2018 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 7th March 2018, 03:26 PM
Jellico Jellico is offline
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I always felt with Arcee they made a 80s action woman bio for her then when writing the show either didn't know what to do with her, or weren't allowed to.

Say what you will about the modern interpretations, at least she isn't shuffled around from bot to bot to Daniel as an accessory anymore. That felt off even for as a kid in the 80s. I forgot how much I wanted her to deck Hot Rod, Springer, and step on Daniel then get back to kicking tail pipe with the serious Autobots. Makes me glad I didn't see the Japanese stuff.
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Old 7th March 2018, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellico View Post
I always felt with Arcee they made a 80s action woman bio for her then when writing the show either didn't know what to do with her, or weren't allowed to.

Say what you will about the modern interpretations, at least she isn't shuffled around from bot to bot to Daniel as an accessory anymore. That felt off even for as a kid in the 80s. I forgot how much I wanted her to deck Hot Rod, Springer, and step on Daniel then get back to kicking tail pipe with the serious Autobots. Makes me glad I didn't see the Japanese stuff.
I'm watching season 3 at the moment. I'm really beginning to hate Arcee and here stereotyped crap.

Oh no, Springer just got sucked up into a machine, I guess the only thing I can do is scream like a helpless woman!

There are problems with IDW's Acree but at least when I was reading the series the sexist stereotypes were not so much of a thing with that version of Arcee.
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Old 7th March 2018, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoktimusPrime View Post
With some of these characters (e.g. Thundercracker, Ravage, Swindle etc.), the characterisations were always there from the original toy tech spec bios. It's just that more recent writers have finally exploited the source material. Especially Thundercracker. Ravage did speak and have more of a personality in the G1 comics though. It was Ravage who snapped Shockwave out of his mindless stupor during the Time Wars.
You're giving the tech specs way to much credit here. And I think that's purely because they're the 'source material'.

I've got to say in general I think Roberts has been great at establishing 'definitive' voices for some characters. I would never want to back to the original Cyclonus compared to the IDW character. Or Rewind. Or Whirl (who I don't even know of any real prior characterization and dismissed entirely on the toy originally).
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Old 7th March 2018, 07:44 PM
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One that springs to my mind is Springer. In the 1986 movie and season 3 of the cartoon, he just acted and sounded like a generic Autobot. Tough and heroic Autobots like him were a dime-a-dozen in the first 2 seasons of the cartoon (e.g. Brawn, Sideswipe, Ironhide, etc.). His role in the Marvel comics as the Wreckers leader really made him stand out. Then comes IDW where they released the book 'Last Stand of the Wreckers', which in my opinion is one of the best Transformer stories written so far, a prime example showing not every Transformers story needs big characters like Optimus Prime or Megatron to be good.
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Old 7th March 2018, 08:09 PM
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My last comment was brief because I was in the middle of work (I've only just gotten home) and didn't have time to elaborate on my views - but what you guys said about IDW writers expanding on the source material is correct.

Anyway, in the intended spirit of this thread, here are my favourite new characterisations of G1 characters. I've got 2 categories:
* Favourite expanded characterisation - this is where the writers have taken the original character's G1 persona and built on it.
* Favourite new characterisation - this is where the writers have basically ignored the original character's G1 persona and made something new.

Favourite Expanded Characterisation: Ironfist
In the toy's original bio, we know that Ironfist is a genius and crafting all manner of weaponry. Kinda like the Autobot equivalent of Hephaestos/Vulcan or Howard Stark. He forged new weapons for the Autobots. But that was more or less all we knew. The IDW comics delved way deeper and also gave him the additional personality trait of being this nerdy engineer -- cooped up and an extreme fan-boy of the Autobots in the field, especially the Wreckers. And of course the fan admin of Autopedia.

Other honourable mentions: Swerve, Hubcap, Thundercracker, Whirl

Favourite New Characterisation: Tailgate
IDW is nothing like his G1 persona but still an extremely cool character!

Other honourable mentions: Cyclonus, Star Sabre, Pyro, Rotorstorm
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Old 7th March 2018, 08:27 PM
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Thinking about it now, if I pick a character who I think has gotten worse than better, I'd say Blaster.

I loved Blaster as a kid. He was a fun and quirky character, who transformed into a boombox (rare for an Autobot), and he sounded like Cat from Red Dwarf. The Marvel comics made him shine; he had a lot of good moments like his rivalry with Straxus, and the time he clashed with Grimlock over leadership of the Autobots. The IDW version, which is most recent, seems to me like the weaker portrayal of the character. He seems so generic, with very few stand-out moments. Also the fact that he sided with Getaway in MTMTE makes him seem more like a tool. I know it's a different continuity, but C'MON; he lead an Autobot Civil War against Grimlock!
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Old 7th March 2018, 09:36 PM
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Two that spring to mind (and haven't been mentioned yet) are IDW's take on Skids and Transformers Prime's Ultra Magnus.
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