The Audio Knights Theatre – Fan-Built Combiner Project!

So, after finding out that Hasbro will be running a fan-built Transformer contest again this year (last year’s contest resulted in the Windblade toy and four issue comic mini-series, which is coming back as an on-going this year), The Audio Knights Theatre started up what they’re calling Project Nightbird. The aim is to come up with a five to six member all-female gestalt team, with robot and alt-mode designs, names, and backstory, all in a nice cohesive awesome package. Which is where I come in, since I may not be able to art but I can certainly worldbuild and try to make everyone as awesome and awesomely different as possible (they are all coming from another planet and one uninvolved in the very long Autobot-Decepticon war, after all). Plus, there have been jokes about Sharkticons (and about Nautica having a mom who doesn’t pick her to be part of the combiner) and there is no way I’m not going for a shark party. 😉 Plus, my love of Marston-era Wonder Woman means I have Ideas about Caminean culture. And a way to fit in the joke about Nautica’s mom in a way that’s compliant with canon.

So, first off in my trying to get all my thoughts down and a key component of all my idea-making and idea-finessing – Caminus was not part of the war. Camineans were not constructed cold or assigned functions by a (the?) Functionist government and there was no great need for war builds or for assigning bots to war-related functions (I’m thinking here of bots like Whirl and Whirl’s original assignment to the Aerial Corps) … or for building up, altering, and adding on to frames to make them more suited to warfare and to a warfare oriented society and environment and existence.

As well, we know, from what little we have gotten regarding Caminus and Caminean culture so far (and of course this could all get messed up by revelations in Combiner Wars, but right now we’re having fun and doing as cool, distinctive, and cohesive a thing as possible 😉 ) that Camineans prefer melee weapons and don’t do blasters.

Which, which (feel free to imagine Nautica geeking out on physics and with her non-actually-a-chalkboard out while I’m talking – there is certainly enough pink ink scribbled in a notebook for it 😛 ) means that for a combiner made up of all Camineans I don’t think we’d see any bots with warbuild style alt modes. Granted, when it comes to Hasbro actually doing the fan-built combiner, they are probably going to be reusing molds and designs, which, while good for mixing up the frame types of the female Transformers, means that Cybertronian builds are going to be used on Camineans. And, well, Cybertron was at war for millions of years. And Caminus … was not.

However, we’re operating in an awesome land where this combiner team gets their own designs and molds and gets to be in keeping with what we know (and can expand upon) of Caminus and Camineans so – on with the fun! 🙂

I am absolutely not here to rain on anyone’s parade (why do I feel like I need to give that warning? :P) but I feel like, as awesomely Transformers-ish as Arsenal and Airstrike are as names, they aren’t fitting as names for bots from Caminus. Extrapolating from what we know about Caminus and Caminean culture and the fact that they were never part of the war (I did mention I did a lot of scrawling in pink ink, right?), I can’t see them having names related to military actions and maneuvers and such. Yes, there is Windblade, but, well, Hasbro-related constraints mostly (here we don’t have to make up reasoning after the fact for a character’s name or appearance, though) and her name can still work in a culture/society like I’m going to describe.

Because, and surprise surprise (not really), I like classic Wonder Woman and mulling things over regarding what Caminus might be like and how to get everything to mesh as well as possible and to have as much distinctiveness going for it as possible with Project Nightbird, I realized that Caminus is Paradise Island isn’t a bad idea. Not that it’s literally true (although Loving Submission would explain why Caminus didn’t start a giant war of its own 😛 ) but I think it’s a good framework for explaining how there can be some weapons and some weapons-related skill and training on Caminus while having the planet itself also not really interested in conflict and warfare and not possessed of a population designed to engage in it.

Thus, because Caminus is Paradise Island, we can have bots like Windblade who know how to use swords and are passably good with them (and who have blade in the name) and bots like Chromia who are … not ones to mess around with. I see the swords and melee combat things as something that exists on Caminus as a mixture of tradition, craft, preparation, and fitness. The Camineans were not a part of the war and I think were/are a lot more inwardly focused, though not hostile to the outside world or toxically closed off (diplomacy seems to be a Thing They Do, based on sending Windblade, Chromia, and Nautica to Cybertron), but I don’t see them being naive helpless bunnies or anything. They are not Cybertronians and I want to be really really clear on that (because I think it makes a big difference when coming up with alt modes and names and when thinking of what the experience of becoming part of a gestalt might be like) but I think there are traces still left of where they came from.

Plus, again, Caminus is Paradise Island and, as originally imagined, the Amazons are very peaceful and focused on science and arts and technology and things that have nothing to do with combat … but they also aren’t helpless and defenseless. And they also approach problems differently when they do arise.

So, I think anything combat related on Caminus is more personal defense and small-scale defense related (for example, serving as someone’s personal bodyguard) and also more about hand-to-hand combat skills, strategy (that sounds better than thinky, non-explodey stuff, right? :P), and about using weapons that are not part of the bot themselves. Or only minimally part of the bot (for instance, I think Chromia’s blast/riot shield is actually a folded out/bigger version of her windscreen when in her cycle alt mode). And that the existence of the weapons themselves (and use of them) has largely to do with pride in craftsmanship as well as possible codes of conduct relating to what kind of weapons are allowed to exist at all and maybe even to senses of fairness and fair chance in what kinds of weapons and combat it is acceptable to use against another being. Because, trying to make the Camineans as distinct as possible and incorporating what we do already know, I don’t think Camineans would find the use of certain types of weapons ‘fair’, whether as totally separate add-ons or as something somebot turns into (and given that the sparks for new bots on Caminus come from Caminus and not the Matrix/Primus, they also have a different guiding force behind what alt-modes new Camineans end up as – and culturally also have less pressure as to a certain alt mode equalling a certain occupation).

Reigning myself in from nerding out (and, because this was supposed to be quick and I am tiiiiiired :P), I think this means some tweaking of alt-modes is necessary in order to turn the project all the way up to eleven. 🙂 Even without the Sharkticon prompting, I think it’s necessary because some of the common alt mode choices just don’t make sense with what I’ve tried to describe above. Granted, given that this is still a part of Combiner Wars, the combiner team will likely have formed after exposure to/as a result of exposure to Cybertron (potentially as a means of self-defense – or of allyship to help Cybertron. either way, Caminus may regret getting un-lost as a colony by the end of it 😛 ) ‘but’ I don’t think the individual members would undergo total rebuilds in order to be part of the gestalt and to fight as the gestalt. Granted, that is totally within the realm of possibility in Transformers land but I like the idea of this combiner team having a uniquely Caminean flavour to it, individual alt modes, combined mode, and names alike.

So, a weapon-ed up transport is probably out (unless that bot was originally a different type of transport – scientific? energon? industrial? something else? and she maybe strapped on a couple weapons in order to come to Cybertron and deal with Combiner Wars shenanigans) and, as much as I am running in circles excited over the idea of Strika (or an alternatively-named Strika cousin 😉 ), I don’t think a tank makes sense either. Althoooouuuugh, she could totally be some kind of bulky, sturdy, heavily armoured deep-sea exploration vehicle/device/whatsit and, if someone wants to go with an ocean theme (yes, I want a shark party or a mixed shark and other sea being party 😛 ), turn into some kind of rad Cybertronian take on the awesomely funky-looking sea life that exists. So, not much change to her robot mode (because I loooove that drawing :D). Just tweaking the alt mode to fit Caminean culture and sensibilities.

A bomber is also … not really in keeping with what it seems like Caminus is like (and what it can be elaborated into being), but that doesn’t mean a general (or more specific) plane shape is out. Just have to imagine what types of planes and uses for planes Caminus would have. I imagine a lot of scientific and aquatic stuff going on, based on Nautica’s alt mode and personal history (plus my Caminus as Paradise Island concept), as well as things related to Caminean theology, government operations and diplomacy, obtaining and storing food, and stuff like the various and varied arts. Probably no skywriters though. 😉 Although, at the same time, Caminus does seem like the place in Transformers where you’d be most likely to get bots whose purpose was just to draw beautiful things in the sky. 🙂 And, well, it would contribute to this combiner being different from all other combiners. ;P

On that note, I freaking love FlameHawk/FireHawk’s design (petite, gangly, wiry but not a “femme”/boob-plate frame and she has a skull on her!!! and flames!!! :D) and also a) like Spyrol’s name (it looks cool and it’s unique and also not military/combat related) b) love that Spryol’s alt-mode is something that could work well in combat and as part of a combiner but also makes total sense for someone coming from a non-warring/very civilian planet. Also, looking at her design and stated alt-mode again, maybe FlameHawk/FireHawk is the aerial, Transformer-verse version of a monster truck rally competitor? She even brings her own flames for stunts. 😉 Someone else can decide if they’re mods or if she was forged by Caminus to produce her own flames for stunts. 😀

Speaking of which, I said I figured out a way to fit in someone’s joke about Nautica having a mom who doesn’t pick her to be part of the combiner team while remaining canon (as we know it now) compliant. So – back to classic Wonder Woman and Paradise Island ‘because’ we know (or close enough – constructed cold mechs exist on Cybertron for very specific reasons that happened on Cybertron) that Camineans are forged and that the process of new bots coming into being involves harvesting the new sparks from and with the surrounding material in the fields. Which means that, if anyone wants to do something more serious with the joke, Nautica can have a “mom” because somebot would have needed to harvest Nautica’s spark from the field, possibly tended it (again, we know a little but not a lot about how more bots happen), and maybe even named her (with her first name, that is). Not quite the same as making a baby out of clay and praying to the gods to bring her to life and give you a daughter but close enough. ;P

And that’s a lot of ramble, but hopefully good ramble. 🙂 And, since it’s the only thing I can think of off the bat that I forgot to mention already, the alternative to ditching the non-Caminean names is to make them names that those bots adopt after becoming part of the gestalt and/or coming to Cybertron. We know that Camineans change names and in a way that seems to indicate a subtle difference of attitudes toward it (we know Cybertronians change names, but those often seem to happen in relation to the war and to trauma and to negativity – Nautica changed hers because she wished to and as part of a positively evolving identity) and that, at least in Nautica’s case, the old name is incorporated into and remembered in the new name. So, that would be a way to have delicious Caminean flavour while also keeping the already suggested and very Transformer-y names. Plus, it could also be treated as part of the process of the bots involved coming to terms with being part of a gestalt and being in contact with Cybertron and Cybertronians and with being involved in and part of warfare when they’re not from a planet and culture familiar with it and, specifically, not familiar with the Cybertronian type and scale of warfare.

But, tl;dr – while Primus was answering the needs of the people by creating a whole lot of memory drives and warbuilds and watching Cybertronians kill themselves over altmodes, Caminus was creating skywriters and flaming aerial versions of monster truck rally competitors. And science sharks. Lots of science sharks. And a science tank. ;P

2 thoughts on “The Audio Knights Theatre – Fan-Built Combiner Project!

  1. Pingback: Fan Built Combiner! | The Audio Knights Theatre

  2. I agree that war-build frames and names should be limited.

    I think it would be smart to look at the Five Man Band trope, or at successful ensembles such as Hasbro’s own MLP: FiM Mane Six and decide from the start what combination of personalities we need.

    Who is the leader; reluctant or ambitious? Is there a snarky second? A mother hen type? A sporty, athletic one? The younger or smaller one?

    Then fill-in with alt modes that work as combiner elements and with personalities.

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