So much more than meets the eye…
It’s been more than 35 years since the inception of the Transformers toy line, but the franchise has certainly held up well against the test of time. Even now, the iconic jingle of the Generation 1 theme song is likely to spring to mind as one recalls the robots in disguise, with Michael Bay’s Transformers live-action film series further introducing the Autobots and Decepticons to a new generation of audiences (quality notwithstanding of course).
That five-movie slate might have to come to an end in 2017 with a Bumblebee spin-off reboot after, but that doesn’t mean the Autobots are done rolling out. In fact, Hasbro has been working to push out various collaborations with popular franchises such as Ghostbusters, X-Men, and Top Gun that have respectively birthed an Ecto-1, Blackbird, and Maverick Transformers mash-up. And who can forget the previous Star Wars/Transformers mashups that were widely panned upon release but now command a premium in the resale market.
There’s, thus, certainly plenty of room for the pop culture world and Transformers universe to meet, especially where vehicles are concerned. The concept of the latter is, after all, rooted in the vehicular medium, many models from which have actually found fame in the pop culture scene.
Here are seven iconic vehicles that would make – and in some cases, have made – for a good addition to the Transformers formula. Some of these have only appeared in official comics or fan art, but if we can have Transformers x My Little Pony, anything is possible.
#1. A-Team Van
The A-Team Van paints a notable, familiar picture with its striking red stripe, black and red turbine mag wheels, and rooftop spoiler, so it’s no surprise that the vehicle continues to be an enduring pop culture icon. Even if there is nothing particularly special about Mr. T’s mode of transport, other than as a passenger vehicle.
Set against the backdrop of high-octane combat action and fit-for-TV warfare, it’s most certainly sturdy and reliable, which makes its involvement in the Transformers universe a more-than-feasible option.
Its arsenal of devices is further proof of its battle-hardiness as well, with the vehicle carrying nifty tools like an audio surveillance recorder and a gun storage locker. And Hasbro/Takara doesn’t even have to start from scratch as they can model this after Ironhide, as seen in this recent Hasbro’s Transformers Toy Generations War for Cybertron: Earthrise Deluxe action figure, which can also be repainted as the A-Team Van itself.
#2. Kaneda’s bike from Akira
Gloriously red, sleek, and quick, Shotaro Kaneda’s Bike from anime classic Akira is a beast on the roads, and a stunning sight to behold. It sure is a looker in the rawest of form, and having the high-tech motorcycle transform into a colossal, sentient robot would bring the cool factor to new heights – just take a look at the above fan creation.
Granted, the art piece doesn’t reimagine the bike as a Transformer and instead takes on the form of a Gunpla hybrid (MG Figurise Barnaby Brooks Jr. MG 1/100 MSN-06S Sinaju), but it demonstrates the extent of aesthetical prowess one can achieve with the right mix of creativity, imagination, and idea exploration. Coincidentally, the custom kit also features the colour scheme of Kaneda’s vehicle, so the potential for a crossover is definitely worth looking into.
(image credit: Piya Numwa Yatoorman Teppatipat)
#3. Knight Rider’s K.I.T.T.
The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) is one cool vehicle, and its host of features only serves to impress fans even further. What makes it an extremely apt fit in the Transformers universe, however, are its similarities to the robots’ sentient nature in the latter title, such as having the ability to communicate, think, and self-utilise whatever tools on hand throughout the series.
A piece of fanart has reconceptualised KITT as an Autobot, with its robot mode design decked out in the colours of Autobot military strategist Prowl: black, white, and silver. The execution turns out to be pretty clean, but more importantly, can set up the stage for a KITT versus Deception KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot) grand showdown. Now, that’d be a sight to catch.
#4. Ninja Turtles Van
Riddle us this: what’s better than having four turtles kicking the butts of villains? Four ninja turtles and one transformable van, of course. Crime-fighting is tough and never-ending business, so extra help is always very much welcome – especially if said aid comes in the form of giant robots with heavy artillery and martial arts chops.
Hail the Turtlehide, a fan concept that marries the yellow-and-green palette of the Ninja Turtles and design elements of Autobot Ironhide, the most prominent of them being the wheel on each side of the arms. Good stuff.
(image credit: AtomicRocket)
#5. Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine
It’s difficult to miss the psychedelic colours and flower power imagery on the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, and it’s only natural that the aesthetic combination has become an iconic part of the animated series. Carrying over the vibrant hues of blue and green is a fanmade mash-up of the Autobot Tow-Line (otherwise known as Energon) and the van, which grows into a top-heavy, sturdy build.
Extra brownie points if the robot recites Fred’s signature line: “Well, Autobots, it looks like we’ve got a mystery on our hands!”
(image credit: AsswhompSupreme on DeviantArt)
#6. Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise
A constant presence in the Star Trek franchise, the USS Enterprise is the ever-reliable starship that accompanies Kirk’s crew on their mission “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” A five-issue comic crossover with Transformers has indeed brought its members on an unexpected, ambitious journey to Cygnus Seven – a remote dilithium mine near the Klingon border – where miners accidentally stumbled upon Titan Fortress Maximus (otherwise known as cityformers, capable of transforming into colossal starships and entire cities), and accidentally reactivated its repair system.
Elsewhere, a large-scale skirmish between Kirk’s team, the Autobots, the inhabitants, and the Decepticons brews, and victory seems to be swinging in the favour of the Decepticons. Kirk links up his mind to Fortress Maximum’s computer, and the captain’s memories allow the Titan to become the Enterprise, which is later, well, transformed into a giant robot that borrows Kirk’s middle name to assume the mantle of Fortress Tiberius.
Now, that’s what we call an enterprising and well-received execution with double the awesomeness. All of this action occurs in the third issue, so interested parties can head over to check it out if they wish.
#7. TARDIS as Optimus Prime
Time, (Optimus) Prime, and TARDIS Prime make for a fun, little rhyme, but the worlds of Doctor Who and Transformers are actually not as separate as one might think. With the franchise sneakily including references to the former – Skaro, Trenzalore, and the sonic screwdriver, for instance – a crossover opportunity is fairly viable.
TARDIS Prime is the result of that marriage, with the Doctor’s time machine transforming into a robot bearing the colours of Autobots leader Optimus Prime. It’s a simple concept, but it gets the job done in more ways than one. Beauty, it seems, does lie in simplicity.
(credit: Jason Casteel on DeviantArt)
Crossovers offer a lot of room for creative exploration, and it’s always nice to see ideas being generated, developed, and adopted for different takes. The long-standing legacy of Transformers invites many opportunities to bring beloved, popular franchises together, so may this spirit of collaboration continue to thrive with more official tie-in prospects.
P.S. Do also let us know the names of any unidentified creators above – that’d be very helpful!
Si Jia is a casual geek at heart – or as casual as someone with Sephiroth’s theme on her Spotify playlist can get. A fan of movies, games, and Japanese culture, Si Jia’s greatest weakness is the Steam Summer Sale. Or any Steam sale, really.