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As Beast Wars fan, I grew up on shellformers. Since an animal is not metallic in nature (they soon found a way around that)it always made sense to me that part of the animal couldn't integrate completely into the robot mode. I only realized later that they got a bad rap and I understand why now: it can yield to very lazy and unattractive designs. Shelformers are a sad sight when you know it's possible for the robot to have some alt mode integration or, even worse, when the character model shows alt mode integration. In that scenario, a fake piece of kibble is made to make up for the shell kibble that they couldn't bother integrating. That's DOUBLE KIBBLE!!!! Before I pull an aneurysm, let's just get to the list...
5. Transformers Dark of the Moon Voyager Sentinel Prime
The extent of how poor a shellformer this is, is entirely due to the contrast against the leader size mold of this character that actually uses the shell in a far more interesting way. For one, this toy doesn't incorporate the shell into the figure in any way. While the leader version uses the front of the firetruck as his chest, this one resorts to leaving the front of the truck to fold on it's back and relies on a fake kibble piece to make up the chest. Also, while the leader figure uses the shell of the truck to create a stylish cape or celestial garment of sorts, the voyager just has the entire truck shell just stay unfolded in it's back making it look like a robot just skinned a truck to wear it like a tortoise shell. It also makes a horrible backpack that is placed far from the figure as if neither modes want anything to do with one another.
4. Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Human Alliance Sideswipe
What did I write above again? Oh, right: Using a shell can result in a very lazy looking and unattractive design. It is made worse when the excess shell kibble results in a massive backpack, which detracts from the sleek robot. Man, Sideswipe here must be studying for all his courses tonight because look at the big backpack he needs to carry all his books!
3. Beast Wars Neo Break
While the Beast Wars Neo line took the idea of a shellformer to a whole other level, the results were usually very intriguing, and sometimes pretty bad ass, making its use of kibble endearing to the line as a whole. But Beast Wars Neo's Break is just too much to bear. While animals disguised as robots may get more of a pass over being a shellformer, due to necessity, this guy just pushes it too far. He looks like a giant kinder surprise egg that someone smash opened to find a robot inside. Without hyperbole, this is the equivalent of a G1 Pretender who's robot mode had pieces of the outer pretender shell glued all over it. That penguin head just sitting there among the debris right in the open is the icing on this terribly tasting cake.
2. Transformers Age of Extinction: Generations First Edition Optimus Prime Amazon Exclusive
You would think that by 2014, robots entirely covered by a shell and just brought to the back would be a thing of the past. But no, they were (are) still alive and well and that year even gave us one of the biggest shellformer offenders. There are even photos all over the internet showing both the robot and truck mode of First Editions AOE Optimus side by side, WHILE USING THE SAME TOY!
1. Transformers Cybertron Thunderblast (Chromia)
This is an extremely inefficient transformer whose body length shell serves as the main disguise to a robot that doesn’t pose at all. It also has barely no alt mode integration (only her feet). The joke of having a robot surprise in a shell that is usually done to poor Break above is brought to the extreme here. The shell is so big and overwhelming that she can’t stand on her own and it limits any motion she might have. If anyone cares, this mini review was quite easy as I simply used something I had written for Beast Wars Cybershark and just wrote the opposite of every positive aspect about that figure. And Thunderblast came out 10 years after that figure! I really could not think of a better toy to show how bad shellforming could be.
Honourable mentions: I didn't want to fill this list entirely with Beast Wars Neo figures for several reasons. Firstly, as mentioned in the intro, the use of a shell for robots disguised as animals makes sense. If you went for total alt mode integration, Long Rack would look like a buffoon (more so). However, as you saw I couldn't resist but include the biggest shellformer offender that line had to offer. I would say Beast Wars Ironhide is probably the most intense shellformer ever but it works for the awesome combined form of Magnaboss and I didn't find it fair to fault him on that.
I would like to thank Cobotron for the image of Break.
In two weeks, the BEST Shellformers. Talk to you then!