Kitbashing Transformers Requires Imagination

Kitbashing robots from model car parts might seem pretty simple on the face of it, but actually seeing an articulated robot when you are looking at the model of a 1977 Citroen.

Transformers 2007 just hit the theaters this month and started off bringing in $152.5 million in the first week to snag the record for week one gross ticket sales.


The 2009 Transformer film "Revenge of the Fallen" didn't fair as well judging from the reviews. Here's an excerpt:

This film is a nonstop raging orgy of military hardware, reeeeeally close to but not quite a two-hour commercial for the US Air Force, with a little bit of Army and Marines thrown in to, you know, actually close with the enemy and hold the objective. It sure looks to me like the Navy didn't want to play in the film, as there's an extended scene of an aircraft carrier being blasted apart by the bad AGRs, sailors and all of their really cool hardware--wait for it--yes--exploding and going down. Like we got in Iron Man, there are a lot of USAF air-power goodies, with the C-17 and F-22 featuring prominently and early, F-16s, A-10s, the Predator, then the B1 bomber. We even get the classic SR-71, but sadly not flying. The only thing we didn't get was the 117 or the B2, or a Global Hawk. The Army and Marines throw in some BFVs, Abrams and MLRS, and of course there are tons of Blackhawk helicopters. And everything shoots stuff, stuff that blows up!

All of that gear, and then some, is thrown at the bad AGRs, and they throw more than their share back, in very active and deadly combat. But, we never, ever, see anybody dead or dying, other than the robots. There is no blood, no reality of the literally tens of thousands who get killed over the course of this film. While not as egregious as the glossing over the hundreds of millions killed in that awful The Day After Tomorrow, or the billions who are sure to die in the upcoming "2012" disaster-fest, it's something like irresponsible to just waste thousands of folks in crystal-clear CGI while being so thoroughly removed from the true, horrific nature of it.

And because it's a Michael Bay film, you've got lots of slo-mo American flags fluttering in pure rippling jingoistic splendor. This is awesomely crafted pandering for the never-been-past-the-state-line audience at home, but I can't help but see it as just another reason for the other 5.7 billion people on the planet to think we're arrogant jerks.

Others weren't so polite:

It would be easy to say that Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen plays like a movie made by a thirteen year old boy for other thirteen year old boys, but if that were actually the case, it might not be such a wretched experience.

Made by a filmmaker who doesn’t seem to be much evolved beyond the mentality of a teenager, yes, Revenge of the Fallen could also probably be characterized as the Hollywood sequel machine run amok. Who needs ‘better’ when you can do more, louder, flashier?

Car commercials jumped on the band wagon early with Toyotas transforming into giant robots along with Chevie Trucks and “dancing” Citeroens. Even before Transformers 2007 hit the screen transforming model cars into kitbashed robots was already beginning to look a lot like a serious hobby, not just child’s play.

There are websites, blogs and forums springing up to discuss these “transforms” and start documenting methods of slicing and dicing model cars, trucks and buses into an alter ego.

Like any other modeling project research and planning is at the very beginning. But it also takes a good dose of imagination to look at two or three model cars and see a monster robot with a hood for a chest and a trunk for a back

“First off, you need to design out your idea, and your concepts for it's transformation. (IMPORTANT: during planning, you need to take into consideration where all the parts are going to go. it's easy to run into "conflicts" between two parts, or come up with a design that looks great on paper, but is physically impossible! Keep it as simple as possible,” said the author of the 17-page “Idiot’s Guide To Kitbashing posted at the Transformers site.

That is good advice for any modeling project, but with Transformers you are working with what you can imagine and that is not always easy to implement.

When you see one of these kitbash transformers, it is hard to visualize the work that went into building it.

For example, we stumbled across a website called “Transtopia” which featured a tutorial by one of its regulars on how he kitbashed the transformer called “War Within Optimus Prime. It is worth taking a look, but come right back:

Building Optimus Prime

That didn't take long. Now that you know how it is done, take a look at some Transformers on eBay. I have found this the quickest and fastest way to research specific product lines, get an idea of what is out there and the best possible pricing. Besides, I like ordering from my computer and getting it delivered to my door.

After looking through these items, come back and we'll show you how to Get A Head...

Building A Head For Transformer Brings Out Artistry

Kitbashing transformers could make a good father-son project for Dad to pass on what he knows about working with plastics in model construction. Painting is another skill that can be passed on in this process.

Just the process involved in building the head for a transformer rivals the work involved in building figures for a diorama for instance.

You start with a raw material like polymer clay (Sculpy, available in most craft shops) and color it by kneeding two colors together until it is uniform.

Chill your clay in the freezer to help it harden. This allows for sharper edges, and easier carving of mechanical details. Start with a cylinder and carve it to shape.

This is just a "skeleton" for the head, and should not be larger than any part of the head. Once you get this done, bake the sculpy to complete hardness. Once cooled build more basic shapes onto the frame work to get the forms of the "helmet" down. I tend to use a lot of block and angular shapes cut to size and blended onto the frame.

At this point you can add mass to the back of the head to fill it out. You can also add the circular "ears" on the side of the helmet. Do this with two equal sized balls of Sculpy, pressed flat against the side of the head. Make sure you align them correctly. It’s a good idea to keep a mirror handy while sculpting, and look at the sculpture in it often to help with proportion. It sounds funny, but looking at a reverse image of a piece will help bring any balance issues to light. Try this with drawings too, it really helps!

This is an abbreviated version of the head tutorial from Broman Studios.

The website Transpondia is still active and has a lot of good information though its founder, Bill Koshorek died March 11th of this year at the age of 31.

“For those of you who do not know who Bill was, he was a customizer and webmaster of Transtopia. This website was the best resource for Transformers kitbash, and is filled with unbelievable talent, some of which was his own creations,” wrote Ryan Yzquierdo, the owner who started a Memorial at Seibertron . Seibertron is another transformer information resource. These two sites will merge later this summer.

Already there is a sequel planned for Transformers 2007 and by the look of what is on the web, there is a big following. Stay tuned.

and then there was "Dark of the Moon"

This movie is a narrative mess. So bad it practically feels intentionally bad. The script is the foundation of a film project. And like a foundation for a house, make a bad one and the house just doesn't stand/stay up.

The movie even with its gorgeous effects collapses onto itself. There is no reason to have act 1 or 2 because they mean nothing in the context, or lack there of for the characters(as 2D and contradictory as they are)

Not a single character has a competent arch, not a single story thread leads any where, not a single scene gells with the adjacent ones. This movie is such a mess.

And that's just one of the reviews.


SBI! Proof