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Army-building is a nickname for the fan tendency to amass large numbers of generic or mass-produced characters (for example, COBRA soldiers or Star Wars Stormtroopers) with the intent of displaying them as an imposingly large cohesive unit. Some army-builders have hundreds of figures, arranged in elaborate dioramas or military-style formations.
The practice is somewhat less-common in Transformers fandom than in other fandoms, primarily due to the relative lack of mass-produced, identical, "generic" units, but there are notable exceptions. Perhaps due to the relative dearth of toys representing multiple generic characters, some fans amass armies of non-generic characters (like the Jumpstarters).
Generation One cartoon
Generation One offers a few possibilities for army building, usually by using multiple figures of named characters to represent an army of similarly-designed drones.
- The Insecticons toys Bombshell, Kickback and Shrapnel can be used to represent the Insecticon clone armies. The actual Insecticon clone toys Salvo, Shothole and Zaptrap are E-Hobby exclusives, making them expensive to build an army with. Using the original Insecticons to army-build is cheaper and more show-accurate to boot.
- Multiple Scourge toys can be used to represent the Sweeps. Using the 1987 Target Master edition Scourge toy to represent the actual Scourge can also be used.
- Multiple Cyclonus toys can be used to represent his Armada. Using the 1987 Target Master edition Cyclonus toy to represent the actual Cyclonus can also be used.
- Multiple Dark Guardian/Guardian Robot toys can be used to represent the Dark Guardians or the Guardian Robots. Since Guardian Robot toys are E-hobby exclusives, it would be expensive to army-build with them.
- Kremzeek could be classified as an army-building toy, as multiple Kremzeek characters are seen in the Transformers cartoon episode "Kremzeek!". However, army-building Kremzeek toys is expensive, as Kreemzeek is only available with the Autotrooper or Masterpiece Megatron.
- Autotrooper can also be used for army building its 2 in 1.
- Wreck-Gar could be classified as an army-builder toy. However, the Junkions use individual character models when they are featured in the cartoon or the Marvel Comic. Because of this, Wreck-Gar does not make a very good army-building toy. He also can't ride himself very well, as seen in The Movie.
Super-God Masterforce was good to army builders, as it provided several good opportunities.
- The Seacons had multiples of all the limb-units; Turtler was the only non-cloned individual of the group. Thankfully, the Takara versions of these toys are identical to the Hasbro versions, reducing the need for costly importing.
- The Sparkdash Javil, Guzzle and Sizzle are all drones with multiple copies. Though Javil and Guzzle's toys are colored differently from their Firecon doppelgangers, the Masterforce cartoon gave all three Sparkdash the Hasbro colors, making for cheap army-building for those who'd rather be show-accurate with their hordes.
- Legions of Fasttrack drones appeared, lead by a single Guardminder. Of course, collecting an army of toys that were only sold packaged with Scorponok would be expensive.
During Devastation, the Machination sent multiple Sunstreaker clones after Hot Rod and Wheeljack. However, there is no toy of Sunstreaker in that particular form, let alone as a Headmaster, requiring a substitution.
The Earth Defense Command's Kiss Players had 48 of the human-created Autrooper models in service. In what can only be a move designed to encourage army-building, the large Autrooper toy came with a decal sheet with specialized markings for all 48 units, not simply the ones given to pack-in pilot character Atari's Autrooper.
G.I. Joe vs the Transformers
E-Hobby exclusive Overcharge is a Quintesson military product with multiple units available. This backstory, along with the multiple different faction insignias he is packaged with encourage army building, though like the Guardian Robots he would be costly to collect.
Beast Wars Neo
The Vehicons of Beast Machines are undoubtedly the most popular army builders from the Beast Era, possibly from all of Transformers, with every Vehicon toy except Megatron representing thousands of identical drones.
The Unicron trilogy offers multiple possibilities for army Building.
In Armada, Unicron's interior is patrolled by swarms of Dead End Drones, commanded by Dead End General units. This was originally an expensive toy to army-build, being a pack-in with the $50 Unicron toy (though eventually some Target stores clearanced them for as little as $13). In the Galaxy Force toy line though, the fourth Micron Booster assortment featured "Bug Drones" at a mere 300 yen a pop (very roughly $3). Unfortunately, the blindpacked boxes meant you either had to buy opened samples, or an entire case of twelve toys to ensure getting a single Dead End Drone... and the General came only one per every two cases.
Energon offers the largest number of potential army builders of the Unicron Trilogy.
- In both the Energon cartoon and comic continuities, the Decepticons send thousands of Terrorcon drones to combat the Autobots and steal raw energon ore. In the comic continuity, these drones were based on four living, fully-sparked Decepticons; Battle Ravage, Cruellock, Divebomb, and Insecticon. In the cartoon continuity, the four drone-types also had color-changed variants sold as limited-retail toys.
- In the cartoon, there were also countless identical Omnicons split among the three body types; Strongarm, Skyblast and Signal Flare. The fourth Omnicon type from the cartoon, Arcee, however, was a unique being, serving as the Omnicons' "queen bee". In the comic series, the Omnicons never became mass-produced Transformers.
- The bio for Omega Sentinel says he is the commander of the "Guardians of Cybertron", though nothing has ever come forward to indicate just what that group is made up of. Hasbro representatives at OTFCC 2004 indicated that they had intended for groups of Omega Sentinels to appear in the cartoon, but ultimately not even one did, just the original iteration of the mold, Omega Supreme. No canon has specifically made the Omega Sentinel toy, a clear homage to the Guardian Robots of Generation One, an army-builder. However, Hasbro's original intent and the G1 allusion has led some fans to collect several of him.
Cybertron offers a few good army building opportunities.
- Technically a Terrorcon, Scrapmetal is an excellent army builder from the Cybertron franchise. In the Takara line, it was available in three different colorations; red, yellow and blue. Hasbro would later release both the red and yellow versions in their own line, but blue remained exclusive to the Galaxy Force toyline, ramping up his secondary market value outside of Japan.
- The inhabitants of Planet X are represented by hundreds of gray clones of Sideways and attack bird-bots. Both are cost-prohibitive army-builders, as the "Noisemaze-Mass Production Version" was a DVD pack-in exclusive in Japan (and DVDs are not cheap there even without limited-edition toys packed in), and the only way to collect a horde of Laserbeak drones was by buying multiples of the Voyager-class Soundwave toy (which is still less expensive than the Noisemazes).
- Throughout the cartoon series, "clones" of the Blurr toy are seen both as part of the civilian Autobot ranks hiding on Earth and inhabiting Velocitron. These were never seen in robot mode, and sometimes came in red and yellow varieties as well as the toy's blue (no red or yellow versions of the toy exist, though the Universe Swerve toy is a red-colored pre-Cybertron-retool version of the mold). This doesn't exactly inspire too many to army-build him, but the canon is there to support it.
The video games and subsequent comics for the live-action movie universe feature numerous models of mass-produced robots for both the Decepticons and Autobots. Though there are several toys based on these models (designed primarily for the version of the game for the PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360, Wii and PC), the accuracy of the toys' coloration and head design to the game models varies, but most are geared towards being the Decepticon drones. Interestingly enough, the toys that got redecoed were given original decos, not opposite-side game-decos.
- Swindle's toy is accurate to the console game's Decepticon Swindle drones.
- Dropkick's toy has the Decepticon drones' deco, but the face is a unique design.
- Longarm's toy is only barely accurate to the drone design, owing to timing issues. In the game, both Autobot and Decepticon versions are primarily white. The non-lenshead makes it a little more Autobotty, though.
- Dreadwing is fairly accurate to the Decepticon version of the drone.
- Payload is similarly very close to the Decepticon drones' design.