- 1 Combiner Technology
- 1.1 List of Combiners
- 2 Mass displacement
- 3 Master Process
- 4 Organic technology
- 5 Life, death and the Matrix
- 6 Communication
- 7 References
The term "Combiner" (sometimes called "Gestalt") refers to a sub-group of Transformers able to combine their bodies and minds into a singular, larger, more powerful super-robot (the process is referred to in Computron's Marvel tech spec as "combinatics"). The term "Combiner" comes from the sub-group's ability to "combine" into a larger robot.
Combiner technology has its downsides as well, the primary one being that the combined robot can only do what all of its components agree upon. For beings such as Devastator, that is typically wanton destruction and nothing else. There is a flipside to this: Computron's main problem is that every problem must be worked out to every conceivable solution; even with Computron's enhanced computers, this is a time-consuming task, which for example led to his quick defeat by Abominus (another Decepticon Combiner) around the time of the Hate Plague.
The term "gestalt" was adopted by fans as the catch-all name for combining Transformers. Although not officially employed on any merchandise by Hasbro, it appears that the term is recognized by them for its use in the fandom. It may also be noted that the US Marvel Generation 2 comic issue #9 uses the term "fusilateral-quintrocombiners" for 5-member teams such as the Combaticons, (and presumably other "Scramble City" style-combiners).
List of Combiners
- Computron (Technobots)
- Defensor (Protectobots)
- Guard City
- Landcross (Multiforce)
- Raiden (Trainbots)
- Road Caesar (Brainmasters)
- Superion (Aerialbots)
Robots in Disguise
- Jet Optimus (Optimus Prime + Jetfire (+ Overload))
- Optimus Supreme (Optimus Prime + Omega Supreme)
- Superion Maximus (Aerialbots)
- Optimus Savage Claw Mode (Optimus Prime + Leobreaker)
- Optimus Sonic Wing Mode (Optimus Prime + Wing Saber)
- Safeguard (Jetfire + Jetstorm)
- Jetpower Optimus Prime (Optimus Prime + Jetfire)
- Defensor (in Transformers Exodus)
- Abominus (Terrorcons)
- Battle Gaia
- Bruticus (Combaticons)
- Devastator (Constructicons)
- Dinoking (Dinoforce)
- Liokaiser (Beastforce)
- Menasor (Stunticons)
- Monstructor (Monster Pretenders)
- Piranacon (Seacons)
- Predaking (Predacons)
Robots in Disguise
- Ruination (Commandos) — Repaints of the G1 and G2 Combaticons, they are actually retooled from the G2 versions. As 5 of only 6 Decepticons/Destrons in the RiD cartoon series, they are alternatively referred to as the Decepticon Commandos. In Japan's Transformers: CarRobots, the Commandos are referred to by the same name as their G1 counterparts, the "Combatrons".
- Constructicon Maximus (Constructicons)
- Bruticus Maximus (Combaticons)
- Megatron Dark Claw Mode (Megatron + Nemesis Breaker)
In the American animated series, and various comic incarnations, many Transformers have the ability to change size during transformation, a glowing outline occasionally appearing around their bodies as they do so. Notable examples include Megatron, Soundwave, and Astrotrain. Long a source of confusion, such technology first received a full-scale explanation in the final issue of the Generation One version of Dreamwave Productions' More Than Meets The Eye series, which focused on many different aspects of Transformers technology and other information. In IDW Publishing's Transformers: Escalation it is also mentioned that it takes considerable power to accomplish this feat. During Optimus Prime and Prowl's conversation, it is hinted at that the technology is old, but has not been in use for some time. Megatron and Soundwave are the first Transformers in this continuity to display mass displacement. Mass displacement was not utilized by any of the Autobots or Decepticons in the 2007 Transformers film, as the producers claimed that they considered it a form of "cheating". This claim is contradicted however, when the film depicts the Allspark displacing mass when it reduces itself from its Hoover Dam filling size to one that Sam is capable of carrying around.
In the American comic and cartoon, the Master process was acquired from Nebulos. It allows humans or Nebulons to become components of Transformers using cybernetic exosuits in a process referred to as Binary Bonding (although not all Master processes involve bonding with humans). Still experimental, the results of this are unpredictable. Known Master technologies are:
- Headmaster: A humanoid becomes the head module of the robot-form Transformer, and the pilot of the vehicle mode.
- Targetmaster: A humanoid transforms into a highly accurate intelligent weapon for use by the Transformer. Prototypical Targetmaster technology was being researched on Cybertron in the distant past.
- Powermaster: An enhanced humanoid provides biologic energy and abilities to a Transformer; such as the ability to withstand hostile environments to which the biological life form is well suited.
- Micromaster: Transformers who are smaller than normal size Transformers (more to the scale of later "Beast Wars" era Transformers) with lesser energy requirements. Usually looked at by the larger Transformers as cannon fodder. These Transformers were created because of Energon shortages on Cybertron.
- Action Master: Transformers who have undergone this process have lost the ability to transform; Instead, they have bodies completely engineered to peak performance in robot mode.
In the extended Japanese continuity, the master process can use either humanoids or robots to form the binary bonding component. The original Headmasters, for example, were originally small Cybertronians, taken to the planet "Master" by Fortress, where they began to experiment with how to transform. They created large, lifeless Transformer bodies named "Transtectors" to which they connected as heads, forming the basis for Master technology. After returning to Cybertron, Headmaster technology (called the Masterforce) was modified to allow humans to become Headmasters; the first six were a group of teenagers known as the "Headmaster Juniors".
While the Japanese concept for Headmasters featured only one mind in the process, Targetmasters did indeed consist of a bonding of two beings, as in America - in this case, a group of refugees from Master who were fused to the arms of several larger Transformers in a plasma energy explosion.
In Japan, Powermasters are known as Godmasters, and, like Headmasters, consist of a human being bonded to a Transtector. The Godmasters were created as part of a plan by the super-energy being, Devil Z, to create the ultimate super robot lifeform, and possess control over the energies of the Earth, the heavens and man.
Although made from a living metal, various Cybertronians have found sufficient cause or reason to incorporate purely organic material into their forms.
- Main article: Pretenders (Transformers)
Pretenders, introduced in 1988, followed the concept of Transformers using organic shells as an extra disguise or as armor for defense. The concept was first seen in Marvel Comics with Thunderwing and Bludgeon as notable Decepticons. Dreamwave Productions detailed the process and its transition from simple power-upgrading armor to a whole host of potential future applications in their More Than Meets The Eye series. In IDW Publishing's rebooted comic, Pretender technology had the benefit of turning a Transformer into a supremely powerful being (for example, Thunderwing destroyed much of Cybertron) — but an improper grafting process could destroy the Transformer's mind.
In many series, it is shown that an organic shell could protect a Transformer's body from intense environmental conditions such as energon radiation. Dreamwave' More Than Meets The Eye series noted this as the logical progression for Pretenders technology, explaining that it had branched out to include specially designed suits for dealing with hazardous materials, etc. Similarly, in the IDW comic, Thunderwing had developed his Pretender technology, called "Bio-Cybernetic Grafting" as a way for Transformers to survive Cybertron's declining conditions. In Beast Wars, The Maximals and Predacons on earth adopted organic shells and animal forms because of the high amounts of natural energon on the planet. Similarly, in The Transformers: Spotlight, The Dinobots assumed dinosaur forms with organic shells to protect themselves from energon radiation.
Techno-Organic Hybrids are transformers who possess or have obtained organic halves (having been infused with an organic being's DNA) and can be considered a fusion of both technological & organic lifeforms. Transformers of this type are featured prominently in the Beast Wars era and even more so in Beast Machines (with their existence and techno-organic nature being an important plot element). Their outward appearance often varies from slightly robotic, completely organic, or a combination of the two.
In Transformers: Animated, transformers with organic halves are rare due to limited cybertronian interaction with organic life (planets with organic life are considered mostly off limits by the Autobots). Due to this unfamiliarity with organic life many Transformers have difficulty relating to it and some (like Sentinel Prime) have developed a phobia of organics, with others seeing it is seen as a form of contamination. As a result, techno-organic transformers are likely to be viewed by other "pure" transformers with contempt (being regarded as freaks/abomination). These Transformers have their original abilities augmented by the genetic makeup of the organic they can transform into.
In this series, the Decepticon Blackarachnia is techno-organic reformat of Elita-1 (a female Autobot Elite Guard trainee), after she tried to "download" the abilities of an "organic species of alien spider" to neutralize the venom injected into her. But the attempt unintentually transformed into a techno-organic hybrid (and is considered by both herself and others a freak). Though she repeatedly tries to purge herself of her organic-half, she has failed every time (and it appears she is likely to remain as such). Her recent attempt involved duplicating the process using a transwarp generator, using it on Wasp and resulting in his reformating in Waspinator.
Another character in the series, a girl named Sari Sumdac, was originally a cybertronian protoform, that mysteriously appeared in the lab of human inventor, Professor Isaac Sumdac. While investigating the mysterious "liquid metal being", he accidentally touched the protoform (which rendered him briefly unconscious), unintentually infusing the young protoform with his DNA, resulting in the birth of a redheaded techno-organic female clone of Sumdac (a "techno-organic human/transformer hybrid" in the form of a human girl). Professor Sumdac decides to unofficially adopt her as his daughter, Sari (Prof. Sumdac decided to keep the truth of her origins a secret from her, due in part to him being unaware of what had actually occurred). Unlike Blackarachnia and Waspinator, Sari was not actually a Transformer to begin with was and started off more organic at first, both in biology (possessing normal human biological functions) and in outward appearance.
Her techno-organic nature (except for a few hints) is not fully revealed until the very end of the 2nd season, when her elbow is injured, tearing the skin and revealing a robotic joint underneath. After the truth is revealed, Sari's techno-organic nature becomes more apparent, being able to transform into a slightly robotic version of herself. Her techno-organic nature is further enhanced when she uses her "All-Spark enhanced Key" to reformat herself into a teenaged form, with her new body functioning like a "techno-organic powersuit" (equipped which energy-based roller blades and weapons).
Life, death and the Matrix
Birth of a Transformer
The life essence of a Transformer is called a Spark, an incandescent sphere of light that is, in essence, both the heart and soul of the Transformer. From a scientific point of view it is said (By Rattrap in Beast Machines) to be composed of or at least containing positrons. Following the construction of the Transformer body, Sparks can be implanted in a variety of ways, depending on the continuity.
- In the comic continuity, all Transformer life comes from Primus, and as Sparks are a newer concept, it has been retroactively established via convention comics and other writings that Sparks are a fragment of Primus. Primus can either bestow this upon creation - as he did with the original Transformers he created - or it can be done using the Matrix.
- In the cartoon continuity (where the life essence of a Transformer was twice referred to as a "laser core"), the only way to bestow full life was via the supercomputer, Vector Sigma, as was the case with the Stunticons and the Aerialbots. Most other attempts at creating life without using Vector Sigma to bestow them with real minds and souls have resulted in dull-witted, unstable creatures of low intelligence, prone to rage (the Dinobots, Trypticon). The only Transformers with normal intelligence without being created by Vector Sigma were the Combaticons, of whom Starscream brought in their personality components from the Decepticon penitentiary on Cybertron, and the Technobots. The Technobots were created by the super intelligent Grimlock in the episode "Grimlock's New Brain". Grimlock used components within Unicron's head to build the Technobots. It's possible that components from Unicron allowed the Technobots to have normal intelligence.
- In the Beast Wars and Beast Machines continuities, the nature of Transformer life and death is expanded on with the revelation of the existence of the Allspark (also called the Matrix). It is the source of all Sparks that exist, have existed, or ever will exist, sending them out into the world to live, so that when they die, they will return to the Allspark and share their experiences, thereby increasing the collective wisdom and knowledge of the Allspark. This concept is similar to the Brahma oversoul of Hinduism. Vector Sigma is revealed to have access to the Allspark, explaining how it could program robots with life (by implanting a Spark in them through its access to the Allspark), and retroactively, it can easily be assumed that the Matrix object was a gate to the Allspark as well. As Beast Wars and Beast Machines are officially set in neither the comic nor cartoon universe, but a universe that takes aspects from both, this is also another explanation for how the Matrix object could bestow life (by transferring a Spark through its connection to the Allspark) in the comic continuity.
- Circa Beast Wars, Transformer life seems to be entirely generated at facilities nicknamed "The Matrix" and "The Pit", Maximal and Predacon facilities respectively which produce Protoforms - raw, undeveloped Transformers. Upon the creation of each Protoform, the Allspark bestows upon this life-to-be a Spark.
Other methods of creation include:
- Cloning: A new technology recently developed allows for the cloning of one transformer into another; identical at the time of cloning, differences start to appear immediately.
- Experiments in creating immortal life have ended with horrible consequences: Protoform X. Protoform X was enslaved by the 'Beast Wars Megatron and renamed Rampage, and was eventually destroyed by having raw energon forced through his spark.
- Transplantation: In a few circumstances, the transplant of a "living spark" for life support, power enhancement, or just to change bodies has occurred. For instance, in Beast Wars, Optimus Primal removed the Spark from G1 Optimus Prime and placed it inside his own body to sustain Prime's life after his body was critically damaged. The presence of Prime's spark was too much for his body to handle, and the power reformatted his body into a stronger form. Later, Megatron would deliberately do the same with his predecessor's spark to add to his power. In the Dreamwave comic line, Ratbat was moved from a large, average-sized transformer body into that of a Cassette, where he became a minion of Soundwave.
In a few unusual cases, Transformers have displayed the ability to physically age. Most Transformers' ages are clear from their personalities, defined by their life experiences - for example, Hot Rod is the equivalent of a teenager or young adult, while Kup and Ironhide are old warhorses. In Kup's case, he physically appears older through simple wear to his body over time. However, at the opposite end of the specutrum, there is the most ancient Autobot, Alpha Trion, who has appeared in three distinct stages of life, (one million years old, three million years old, and twelve million years old), with a suitably different physical construction each time (including the growth of facial "hair"). In the comics an aged and mentally ravaged Rodimus Prime discusses "Aspects of Evil" with a soon to become turncoat autobot.
Although aging takes its toll on performance and appearance, there are no known incidences of transformers dying from "old age". Presumably, with regular maintenance and Energon, a Transformer could live forever.
Stasis lock is an operational state meant to protect the spark of a transformer following severe trauma; it is similar to a coma in humans. Stasis lock is known to be able to maintain the spark of a transformer for millions of years if necessary. Once in stasis lock, outside intervention is required to reactivate the transformer.
In the event of critical damage, outside life support mechanisms can support the body of a Transformer while the spark is transplanted. This is a rare occurrence as usually the spark is terminated quickly after the damage is inflicted. A notable occurrence of this happening is Optimus Primal taking the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, and Optimus Prime's spark, during the Beast Wars on prehistoric Earth while Teletraan I and other Maximals were repairing the incredible damage to his body.
A CR Chamber can reverse serious damage to transformers. It was introduced during Beast Wars. The process takes time, but is not as lengthy as manual repair. A CR chamber (Critical recovery chamber) is used when a Transformer's internal repair processes cannot repair damage taken in a battle. It restores the bot to perfect physical condition. Problems with programming and data, such as viruses and core conscience damage, cannot be remedied and must be resolved manually. Similar technologies include the R bath and earlier R chamber, the "R" standing for "restoration". CR chamber is usually used to refer to any of the three. The R bath is used by the Predacons, and is literally a healing bath. The R bath may have protective qualities, as it prevented Waspinator from becoming a Transmetal during a quantum surge after he fell into one. It is unknown if these qualities are shared by the R/CR chamber (although it protected Rhinox in the same way).
Death of a Transformer can follow irreversible (mortal) stasis lock or be caused by a sudden traumatic injury (such as a close-proximity nuclear explosion, or spark excision). A few weapons, such as a high powered fusion cannon, are known to be powerful enough to cause severe enough damage to immediately terminate a Transformer. Also, while the utter destruction of a body can and usually does cause death, a Transformer can often survive total dismemberment. Notable examples include Optimus Prime (during the Generation 1 series), Ultra Magnus (during the movie), and Waspinator (repeatedly).
Transformers who die from stasis lock usually turn a neutral gray, as the color leaves their living metal bodies. For example, Optimus Prime, various Insecticons and Seekers, Blaster, Soundwave, and Starscream (debatable, as his body was incinerated) have all turned gray upon death. Ultra Magnus did not turn gray, however, this may be because his actual body was encased in armor at the time. There is debate on whether the armor was constructed of living metal or not. Also, in The Transformers: Stormbringer, Iguanus' body turned a uniform purple upon his death.
In the "Transformers: Animated" series debut (2007–2009), Optimus Prime was killed by an energy shockwave from the Allspark which was meant to drive Starscream away after they had fought each other. However, Sari Sumdac's new AllSpark-upgraded key card instantly restored Optimus to life. When Optimus died, his body also turned gray, though he was not in stasis lock at the time; when he was restored, he changed back to his normal coloring.
It is known that some or all of a Transformer's essence moves to a separate spatial realm accessible by the Matrix or into the Matrix itself upon spark termination.
On rare occasions, a destroyed Transformer can be brought back to life using the proper knowledge. Quintessons have been known to do this. The Transformer creator Primus can also accomplish resurrections, but it is beyond the scope of modern Transformers technology. The method of a spark returning to the body has yet to be pinpointed, however it is believed an outside force, seen or unseen, may guide the spark back to the body, perhaps utilizing Zone Energy. Incidents of this occurring include the Quintesson revival of Optimus Prime and Rhinox's recovery of Optimus Primal after a transwarp explosion in space destroyed Primal's original body (and created a transwarp rift through which an ion trail could be created. If this feat is impossible with normal transformer technology, then the alien energy released by the detonation of the "Vox" device must be seen as responsible for access to "the other side of the Matrix" as well as producing part alien transmetal forms.)
Starscream was also given a new physical body after death by Unicron. However, unlike normal sparks that disappear from this world, Starscream's spark was able to continue existing in the physical world as a ghost and had the power to possess and control over Transformers, such as Cyclonus and Scourge. In Beast Wars it is stated that Starscream's spark could also travel through time as well as space, explaining his possession of Waspinator, and is believed by Transformer scientists to be a rare mutant spark that is indestructible/immortal and therefore not subject to the normal laws governing death.
In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Megatron is also resurrected from the bottom of the ocean (where he was left in the first movie) to find The Fallen.
In the 2007 Michael Bay-directed live-action film, Optimus Prime revealed to Sam Witwicky that the surviving Cybertronians managed to learn Earth's languages through the World Wide Web (with the auction site eBay being cited throughout the film as the primary source of information regarding the eyeglasses of Sam's great-grandfather, Captain Archibald Witwicky), hinting that the Transformers, being highly evolved sentient electronically composed beings, possess the capability to both interface with communications networks and protocols and glean information from Internet-accessible documents, files and applications. However, the capability of the Transformers to learn both written and spoken languages through the World Wide Web and translate between the Cybertronian language and Earth-human languages was not fully explained in the film.