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A combiner is a group of Transformers that assemble and combine their bodies into a single machine, or that composite machine itself. Most combiners form a larger Super Robot with its own unique personality (a character in its own right), but other varieties of combiner exist, forming vehicles, weapons, or other items. Combiners tend to be considerably larger and more powerful than the average Transformer, equivalent to strategic-grade weapons.
There are a number of combiner-related terms that can be easy to mix up, partially because some of them are used interchangeably. Additionally, most of them have no formal definition and thus may be used differently by different fans. Consequently, most of the discussion which follows should not be taken as the word of Primus, but as a rough description of common usage.
Terms for combiners
- As above, a member of a group of Transformers who assemble into a composite form. Also refers to that composite form itself. This is the most general term for all combining Transformers. "Combiner" is the most common term for combining Transformers that has been used by Hasbro in an official capacity, starting with the Micromaster Combiners from 1990 (with the exception of the more limited "special teams" and a recent official use of the term "gestalt"), having even appeared with its own logo on Robots in Disguise toy packaging.
- Fan-terminology for a certain class of combiners -- generally used only for "big robot" combiners with emergent personalities. The term is nebulously defined, such that some fans would consider a two-member combiner such as Squawkbox a gestalt, but other fans would not. This is probably the fandom's second most frequently-used term for combining Transformers. Its use in Transfandom is derived from the principle of gestalt psychology, which is sometimes simplified to mean "greater/different than the sum of its parts," though a few fans consider this term pretentious and obtuse. The term remained firmly in realm of fanon for years, although it did appear in some Energon design sketches implying that Hasbro designers used the term occasionally, until in 2007 "gestalt" made its first official appearance, in the bio of the Titanium Series Menasor toy.
- Scramble City combiner
- A specific type of Generation One giant gestalt that follows the five-member design featured in the Japanese “Scramble City” OVA. The team leader is larger than the other members and forms the main body of the combiner, while the others are smaller and form the limbs. The limbs are interchangeable, although there is always a generally-accepted “normal” formation. Further, the limbs are interchangeable from one Scramble City combiner to another, making for a large number of bizarre combinations. (See Abomenaticus, Autobot Super Scramble, Comperian, Decepticon Super Scramble, and Scramble 7.) Limbs are also able to attach to and augment Metroplex & Metrotitan (see “Trivia” below). Note that this term is purely descriptive rather than being a proper name.
- Special Team
- A synonym for Scramble City combiner. When the Scramble City toys were marketed in Europe they were referred to as Special Teams, and the term even appeared in the UK comic book series. The term was used in some marketing materials in the US, such as packing lists for the toy case assortments, but never appeared in US fiction until the Ultimate Guide was published in 2004.
- Super Robot
- A robot which is formed through the combination of two or more Transformers. Powered-up robot modes composed of only one Transformer who combines with some of their own accessories are often also referred to as Super Robots, such as Powermaster Optimus Prime or the incarnations of Prime from Robots in Disguise and all three Unicron Trilogy series. It is probably safe to informally refer to any such mode as a Super Robot (thus including, say, G1 Ultra Magnus and Energon Landmine). Note that this means Super Robots are not always combiners and do not have to have their own personality. Rather, Super Robot and combiner are two different categories of Transformer which sometimes overlap. A one-robot Super Robot may also be referred to as that robot's Super Mode.
- Fusilateral quintrocombiner
- Coined by Simon Furman in issue 9 of the Generation 2 comic to refer to the Combaticons. It presumably is meant to refer to all the Scramble City teams, as their combined forms consist of five robots. It may also apply to the Predacons, but it doesn't matter because nobody uses this term anyway.
- Amalgam model
- Yet another obscure term for combiners first used by Simon Furman via Wheeljack in the "Devastation Derby" story in the UK comic books.
Types of combiner
As mentioned above, most combiners form a super robot. However, there are many other types of combining in the Transformers multiverse.
In the Energon franchise, most of the Autobot characters were able to combine with each other in pairs much like Victory's Multiforce. These combined forms can probably be considered Super Robots. The combined form was simply controlled by whichever Autobot was "on top". Make whatever jokes you will.
Generation One contains many examples of combined alternate modes, including Reflector, Dreadwing, Big Powered, the Battlestar, and the Double Targetmasters.
The Micromaster Combiners are made up of Transformers whose altmodes combine into vehicles, with one partner being the front and another the rear. The combined forms do not have specific names. Thanks to the generic peg-and-socket connection method used, any two Micromaster combiners can be linked (though some such as the dump truck/space shuttle combo may attract comment). These altmode combiners should not be confused with the Micromaster "Sixcombiners", six-robot teams who combine to form a Super Robot.
The Unicron Trilogy's Mini-Cons brought to the fiction combined weapon modes, like the Star Saber & Dark Saber swords, Requiem Blaster cannon, and Skyboom Shield.
Not all cases of multiple things attaching to each other are combiners. As mentioned above, many Super Robots -- which are formed through a conglomeration of parts -- are not combiners. Energon Landmine, for example.
A similar case can be found in Transformers who have two or more "components" which combine into a single entity. G1 Sky Lynx has lynx and dino-bird components, G1 Omega Supreme has tank, base, and rocket components, and Magmatron has three dinosaur components. However, all of these components are considered to be "part of" the overall Transformer, even though they can act independently. The Duocons are another case of this sort. All of these examples are not combiners because there is only one Transformer involved in each of them, regardless of how many bodies that Transformer may simultaneously operate.
(Confusing things further are the comics which treated Sky Link and the Duocons as triple changers, able to transform between the combined mode and the ones for individual components without any parts separating off.)
Sometimes a smaller Transformer will attach to and enhance a larger Transformer in some way. This is the case when Mini-Cons powerlink with bulks, as well as with binary-bonded partners like Headmasters, Powermasters/Godmasters, and Breastforce members. Although these examples do include more than one Transformer, they are not considered "combiners". The simplest justification for this is that, in these cases, the "combined" form is almost exactly the same in appearance as the noncombined form.
And sometimes things just combine for no real reason at all. Just deal with it. We hate it, oh God yes, but there it is. We're sorry.
Note: Due to the many uses of redecoes as new characters and convenience for reading, each mold is listed on its own line, with all different-character decoes/retools on the same line.
Combiners with two members
Combiners formed by main bodies with power-up partners
Combiners with three or more members (non-Scramble City type)
Scramble City-type combiners
Official mix-n-match Scramble City combiners
Combiners were a very popular idea during the Generation One toyline and as such there are loads of scrapped combiner designs that never got past the drawing board. Among them were:
- A Scramble City style dinosaur combiner. The body is a T-Rex, while the limbs are a Pterodactyl (right arm), Ankylosaurus (left leg), Dimetrodon (left arm), and Styracosaurus (right leg).
- A decidedly goofy organic insect combiner composed of a stag beetle (right leg), another beetle (left leg), grasshopper (left arm), fly (right arm), and a cockroach body.
- A cybernetic beast combiner that did not form a robot, but rather a large cybernetic monster. It is formed from a cyber bat, mole, stag beetle, and a couple of fish things.
- A fifteen (!) vehicle Micromaster combiner where the only attached parts not contained by the component robots were the large robot fists. This combiner consists of three uniformly colored teams (in a similar fashion to the vehicular Voltron of the same time period):
- Air team (blue)- two jets, two helicopters, a space shuttle.
- Construction team (green)- a hauler, a bulldozer, a steam shovel, a tank (don't ask), a missile carrier (don't ask).
- Street team (red)- two cars, a motorcycle, a formula racer, a jeep.
Either the smallest steamboat ever, or the largest car in existence.
- Another, simpler dinosaur combiner composed of a Pterodactyl, a not-really-a-Stegosaurus, and a T-Rex with a very large head. The three combine into a dinosaur thing similar to Magmatron's combined dino mode. It shares many visual characteristics with Tomy's relatively simple robot designs.
- A five vehicle combiner (evidently not Scramble City in nature) composed of a steam engine (right arm), steam boat (torso), car (right leg), truck (left leg), and plane (left arm).
- Scramble City-type combiners were initially designed to be a sub-line of Diaclone called... what else... Scramble City. This goes along with their ability to interact with and attach to Metroplex & Metrotitan, the designs of which were also originally intended for the Diaclone line.
- In IDW comic continuity Squawkbox exists before Combiner technology has become available to either faction. This means that either Squawkbox is the core being and he's later split into Squawktalk and Beastbox or um... someone at IDW screwed up.
- Supposedly the only combiner with his own vehicle mode is Safeguard.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 With extra "limb" robot used as weapon.
- ↑ Sixtrain was redecoed and retooled from Sixliner.
- ↑ Universe Rail Racer uses the same deco as Takara's 2003 redecoed "reissue" of Sixtrain.
- ↑ Transformers Generations Deluxe, p22
- ↑ Transformers Generations Deluxe, p99
- ↑ Transformers Generations Deluxe, p99
- ↑ Transformers Generations Deluxe, p108
- ↑ Transformers Generations Deluxe, p108