The main transformer of childhood

Hello everyone, this is Denis Weber.

Transformers are over forty years old, but they still do not lose their appeal among children and adults. If you’ve ever heard of Transformers, then you know Optimus Prime for sure. In my project today, the leader of the Autobots will appear in all his glory.

As usual, especially for those who like it better video format, and not the text, I will leave the video at the end of the article.

Now not only every child knows about transformers, but also a huge number of adults. Hasbro’s colossal media franchise continues to grow at an unrealistic pace.

It’s scary to think, but only six full-length films about these robots have been made at the moment. If now the authors of these films put money making first in the first place, then in the distant 80th year they could not even imagine what all this would result in.

Today I want to go back a little, to the days of my childhood and remember with you, maybe not so spectacular and sometimes angular, but most of all my favorite characters of the very first cartoons about transforming aliens from outer space.

I had transformers and I watched the animated series of the same name, but it was so small that I did not really understand the whole essence of the plot and the drama unfolding between the characters. I just knew there were good robots, the Autobots, and evil robots, the Decepticons, and that was enough.

Only now, while preparing an article and a video, I have found many facts that are new to me, but seemingly obvious to all facts. For example, I learned that toys were created in the wake of the success of the series, and not vice versa. Or that each of the transformers could scan an object and turn into it. This explains why the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, looks different in different films. In modern times, he is a Peterbilt 379 tractor, and in the eighties a Freightliner FLA straight from the movie Terminator 2.

In toy stores, you can still find a huge number of various modifications of the Prime, Autobots and their enemies.

In the article and video, I will talk about how I created the Optimus Prime model of the 80s and model for him a real abandoned hangar in which he will transform into that very truck.

If you pay attention to the animation of transformation in films, you will understand that, in size and parts, one shape of the transformer does not correspond to the other. The creators often do not show the complete transformation at all or overlap the picture with some obstacles or frame changes.

In the animated series, on the contrary, everything is quite simplified and the transformation takes just a couple of seconds.

I wanted to show the transformation as if the transformer actually turned from a robot into a car. Toys came to the rescue. As I said, there are a huge number of different modifications. But, and I settled on the MP10 version of the very first generation G1. This transformer is more similar to the one that I myself had as a child.

Googling information about the MP10, I came across this video, which made my life a lot easier.

The transformer consists of several parts and I did something like blocking to determine how and where the parts will be located. If I had been doing 3D in the 80s, such a model could very well have passed for a suitable one and could have stopped right on it.

In general, I tried to make the model as similar as possible to the original toy, so that later there would be no problems with transformation. But, as usual, it didn’t really help much. For example, this grille is generally removed under the bottom of the car, and the real grille is hidden in a completely different place.

Painted with even the most common colors, the model always looks much better than gray and it is more interesting to model it. But later I will add iron parts to Optimus, with scuffs and chips, such as if he had already been in a lot of battles.

On the back of the Prime there is something like a trunk where his weapons are stored. I did not add weapons, as I planned to make the transformation from a robot to a car, and not vice versa.

Despite the fact that the front grille is there just for beauty, the pipes on the arms perform their direct function and are exactly in their places during transformation.

I think making transformer toys is as difficult as it is fun. After all, a person needs to think over everything so that both the robot and the technology into which he is transforming look realistic. And so that all the parts are removed in the right places.

The rear wheels of the truck are carefully hidden behind the fenders on the sides. Looking ahead, I will say that after creating animation and endlessly watching videos with the transformation of the toy, this model device no longer seems so complicated.

For the wheels, I added ordinary cylinders, but do not worry, a little later I will replace them with more realistic ones, because after transforming into a truck, Optimus will drive on these wheels.

The feet of the model are transformed into headlights. This is convenient because, if desired, the Autobot can turn on the headlights and calmly run in the dark, looking at his feet.

When I was modeling the feet, I remembered another toy – Voltron. I don’t know if this robot at all belongs to the Transformers universe, but he was very cool. Each of Voltron’s parts was essentially a separate transformer. And if I were modeling Voltron, then instead of feet he would have full-fledged transformer cars.

It’s cool that Optimus Prime is already starting to take on its recognizable look.

If some parts of the transformers also remind you of panties, then do not worry, you are not alone. These same underpants are one of those parts that are not visible during the transformation of the robot into a car, but are hidden from the bottom of the cab.

If you look closely, Optimus has a lot of different handles, hatches and other small parts. I decided to turn on my imagination and added a few more elements of my own, besides those that I saw on the toy.

Some elements are created specifically for people and their convenience. For example, a step is here to make it easier for the truck driver to get into the cab or windshield wipers are added for better visibility in the rain. I do not know how transformers work, but I think that they could save a lot of their energy and material if they did not copy the transport one-to-one.

The original grille and front bumper are hidden behind the windshields, which open like cabinet doors during transformation.

I got to creating the wheels and reworked them a couple of times until I was satisfied with the result. Like other objects in Blender, they can be created in many different ways, but I just modeled the standard truck wheels with a lot of tread.

Having completed all the main elements, I decided that I needed to check how the robot would transform and whether it would be necessary to adjust the details after its transformation. I still had to change some details closer to the end of the simulation, so the test transformation did not help much, but I still grasped the general principle.

I disassembled the transformer and began to refine it. One of the main details, of course, is the head. Logically speaking, there is a brain or a central processing unit in it, it controls the whole body, and does not yet participate in transformation, but simply hides in a safe place at the right time.

All I have left to model are the hands. According to my idea, they will not participate in the animation, so it is enough to make geometry and not add a skeleton and bones to it, and just bend your fingers at the right angle so that they are clenched into a fist.

I thought it wouldn’t be interesting to look at Optimus Prime against some white or gray background. Much cooler if it is in a real hangar. Therefore, I decided to simulate an old hangar, with frayed walls and dull glass. A little later, I scattered stones, barrels of radioactive waste and broken parts of the transformer itself around the hangar.

It’s finally time to paint. I divided the Autobot into three parts and prepared a UV for it. Painting is my favorite part in creating 3D models. After creating the textures, the pieces of gray polygons magically transform into a real photorealistic figure.

I painted parts of Optimus blue and red, added scuffs and chips to the metal and didn’t forget about the Autobot logo on the shoulder. It is by him that you can distinguish good from bad transformers.

For the hangar, I also created textures with worn metal and old paint and adjusted the light for the entire scene so that it shines through the old dusty room with its rays.

It remains for me to revive the transformer and show it in all its glory with the help of animation. This is an interesting but monotonous process, so right now I’ll skip it and show you a completely finished video.

I could not even think, holding the Optimus Prime toy in my hands as a child, that someday I would create a real, albeit very short cartoon with my favorite hero.

As usual, I got a lot of experience, but even more pleasure from creating this project.

Original video:

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