COUNTDOWN: Transformers 2007 – how the 13 robots evolved from concept art (part 3)

We’re back for the third and final part of our 2007 Transformers movie concept art round-up! In part 1 & part 2, we’ve already seen how the various Autobot and Decepticon characters from the first live-action movie evolved from the initial ideas through to what we actually saw on screen, and now there are just two big names left to go…

Before we get to all of that though, let’s have a quick look at some of the other concepts that popped up during the production of the film, some of which made it into the final product and some (perhaps mercifully, in one case) that didn’t.

Image credit: Ben Procter

First up there’s the memorable ‘Nokia-bot’, who of course crops up in the film as a kind of test subject to show the power of the Allspark. This concept art looks very close to the final thing, although perhaps most amusing of all is how much the design of the phone dates the 2007 movie (bearing in mind the first iPhone was released in June of that year!).

Image credit: Ben Procter

Secondly, here’s the rather spectacular ‘Mountain Dew Bot’, who left a lasting impression on a lot of fans despite his exceedingly brief cameo in the film! Again, this is one that looks identical to what we actually saw on screen.

Image credit: Ben Procter

Next up, there’s this concept art of the ‘protoform’ Autobots as they arrive on Earth for the first time. This was a very memorable scene all round, especially for how it entirely usurped a lot of what had already been established as part of Transformers lore!

Image credit: Ben Procter

Here you can see some of the consideration that was given as to how the protoforms would look after they had crash-landed.

Image credit: Ben Procter

And then of course this is one of the protoform robot modes that we saw in the film, most notably for Optimus Prime. Again, it’s a huge departure from anything the franchise had done before but certainly made the 2007 film feel quite distinct!

Image credit: Tim Flattery

Now let’s have a gander at some of the concepts that didn’t make it to the screen, including this impressive piece above! It seems as though there was some consideration for an aircraft carrier robot at one point, which makes sense given the heavy military presence during the story. I’m sure a lot of fans will be thinking of characters like Tidal Wave from Transformers: Armada, but really, this one’s a bit of an unknown!

Image credit: James Clyne

Then there’s this head design for an unknown Decepticon warrior. It’s not mentioned who it was meant to be, although something about it really recalls the look of Soundwave from the Transformers Prime cartoon. It’s entirely possible that it was meant to be him (given he was considered as part of the line-up at one stage) or it may just be a random Decepticon, but either way, it looks kind of cool.

Image credit: Ben Procter

And lastly, we have… this, which… well, perhaps I’ll let the image do all the talking on this one! Suffice it to say, this didn’t make it into the film.

Right then, let’s have a look at our final two characters from the main cast!

 

 

#2: Bumblebee

Image credit: The Spacebridge

Here’s the yellow lad himself! Bumblebee was chosen as the main focus of all of the robots for the story, with the original idea for the film supposedly being “a boy and his car” (although we can all debate how much of that remained on screen come the final product, of course!). That means he would have been one of the first designs to be conceived and so, perhaps naturally, went through a huge evolution along the way. You can see above how the head design very quickly moved from something resembling his original G1 look at a much more “alien” appearance, not unlike the final product.

Image credit: James Clyne

Here’s another example of that, as clearly there were a number of ideas considered for how to best represent the character on the screen. One familiar element that you can see from the above image is the ‘mouth’, which doesn’t look a million miles away from the final design.

Image credit: The Spacebridge

Here you can see how the character’s body shape was evolving through this time too, with a lot of these images going as far back as 2005. The graphic on the right is noted as being a ‘Hasbro toy study’, which is interesting in itself as it’s not hugely different to what some of the toys from the time actually looked like! We often see how physical products can differ somewhat from on-screen appearances when the two are developed in tandem (given the varying lead times for both), so perhaps this is no surprise. It also appears as though this might be a representation of Bumblebee’s earlier Camaro form from the beginning of the film.

Image credit: Ben Procter

Here’s a clearer look at one of the images from the graphic above, again from 2005, which shows that the design was still in progress at this stage.

Image credit: Ben Procter

And here you can see how that body shape starting to change over time, with some consideration for how the wheels and car doors would be positioned on his back being rather evident.

Image credit: The Spacebridge

Here we have a great demonstration of how the head evolved through 2006 into what we eventually saw in the film. It ended up being very different to the character’s G1 namesake, something that a lot of fans were less than happy about, though it’s still fascinating to see all of the ideas that went into it at the time!

Image credit: Ben Procter

Then we have something which looks much closer to the final appearance of the character, in his early Camaro form here.

Image credit: The Spacebridge

And here’s some consideration for how some of his weapons were going to look for the film – pretty intense, and especially versus his 1980’s look!

Image credit: Ben Procter

Finally, we have the character’s finished appearance, presented here ready for animation. Also interesting is the second image showing all of the various textures and materials that would be needed to make him look correct. We’ve seen these sorts of renders for other characters in the film too and it’s great to have an insight into everything that’s required to do them justice! Ultimately, Bumblebee may have been a far cry from what we saw in the classic part of the Transformers franchise, but this version would go on to make plenty of new fans in his own right!

 

#1: Optimus Prime

Image credit: Ben Procter

Like Bumblebee, Optimus Prime was always going to be one of the most prominent robots seen in the 2007 film, so again went through a huge amount of design evolution throughout its development. As we’ve seen with other characters, it feels like it all started in a place not too far away from his classic G1 appearance (especially as know that there was at least some consideration given to trying to make his traditional truck form work on screen), but quickly grew from there. Above you can see what appears to be a very early concept for both his protoform look and a more armoured appearance, though of particular note is how much like the G1 cartoon his head appears to be!

Image credit: The Spacebridge

In fact, the head design seems like it was one of the elements that was worked on the most, as it went through quite a few stages of development. Above you can see a few of the ideas that were mooted at the time, including the very bizarre top right effort, which has an almost aquatic feel to it, somehow! The bottom left render was clearly then the one they ran with for a period after this stage, as we will see.

Image credit: James Clyne

Before that, here’s one more concept idea for the head design, and it’s a little out there to say the least! I suspect a lot of fans would have been a bit put out with something like this cropping up in the film!

Image credit: Ben Procter

Anyway, here we can see how they were moving closer to Optimus’ final look, though still with the head we saw above.

Image credit: Tim Flattery

Here’s some rather gorgeous art of it in motion, showing how some of the film’s big scenes were being thought through back in 2005.

Image credit: The Spacebridge

This image again dates from 2005, although shows a very different take on both the head design and Optimus’ body. If anything, this blocky look feels more reminiscent of his G1 appearance somehow, especially in the chest area. It shows how the designers were working out the kinks though.

Image credit: Ben Procter

There was evidently a lot of work still going into the head design too, including how to make the idea of a retractable battle mask work. The non-plated version of Optimus’ face was initially one of the more controversial elements of the film, which is strange to say now as if anything, it’s become quite an accepted look for the character over the years since.

Image credit: Ben Procter

This 2006 image shows how the designers were approaching Optimus’ final look by this point, though the head is still not finalised yet.

Image credit: The Spacebridge

It seems as though this part of the character was then worked on a lot throughout 2006, with a lot of small tweaks made to get it looking how the filmmakers wanted it.

Image credit: Ben Procter

And then here we come to a design very similar to what was seen online prior to the film’s release. As we talked about with Megatron in part 2, the backlash to this artwork was considerable, with many fans outraged at a lot of the changes made to their classic hero. The flames were a particular talking point at the time, although again, they’ve become a signature part of the movie version of the character ever since!

Image credit: Ben Procter

Moving toward the second half of 2006 and we can see how finalised the design is now, with even elements such as the weathering on the character’s head being approved. It may not have been to everyone’s taste at the time but there’s little doubt that this design has become a memorable take on the Autobot legend ever since, and for many was the Optimus Prime that they knew and loved since childhood.

So, that’s our list! I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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