COUNTDOWN: 20 big mistakes in the 1986 Transformers movie (part 1)

If you’re a Triple Takeover fan, you’ll know we’ve recently been hugely focused on the 1986 Transformers movie! In fact, as well as a bumper 50th episode extravaganza, we’ve explored further topics in greater detail, including the music, script development and deleted scenes!

However, as much as we love this film, it’s not without its mistakes, many of which are relatively evident throughout. So today, we’re casting a critical eye on some of the more egregious errors found during the movie’s runtime and seeing what they’re all about!

#20: Snarl

Let’s start with an obvious (and highly publicised) example. It’s well-known that Snarl is absent from most of the movie, mysteriously not appearing alongside his Dinobot buddies whenever they crop up during the story. In truth, Snarl *does* appear twice on-screen, although only in random ‘blink-and-you-miss-them’ background moments, including when the newly-reformatted Decepticons return to attack the remains of Autobot City and later in the cockpit of the hijacked Quintession ship as it lands on the Planet of Junk. These are clearly mistakes, given the character is obviously missing in every other shot surrounding them, although that’s made more evident by Slag mysteriously disappearing in both instances too! The various scripts for the film specified that there were only four Dinobots, and the animators stuck to that premise wholeheartedly, even if it was the wrong one on occasion!

#19: Re-appearing Autobots

Without a doubt, one of the most iconic shots of the whole film is when Optimus Prime stands heroically surveying the battlefield and declares that “Megatron must be stopped… no matter the cost.” Joining him in the background are classic Autobots Hound and Sunstreaker, the latter of which can also be seen flying in with Prime on board the shuttle as they arrive above Autobot City during the battle. What’s strange, though, is that both of these characters were already glimpsed earlier in the film and established as being on Earth as part of Kup’s team at the foot of Lookout Mountain, so it would be impossible for them to arrive as part of the reinforcements. Unless Prime stopped off to pick them up en route?

#18: Two Swoops

Hound and Sunstreaker are not the only characters who appear in places they aren’t meant to be, mind. Swoop enters the fray alongside his Dinobot comrades, arriving on the shuttle as they’re ordered to destroy Devastator. However, eagle-eyed viewers will have already clocked him running past the camera during a heated moment in the battle shortly before this, with his exceptionally distinctive knees there for all to see! This is also the only moment you’ll see Grapple on screen, for what it’s worth.

#17: Is that Rumble… or Frenzy?

The debate about which Decepticon cassette is Rumble and which is Frenzy has been going on since the earliest days of the fandom, and it doesn’t look like it’s about to settle down any time soon. Yet there’s one scene in the 1986 movie which straight-up pours gasoline on the fire by mixing up the colours of the characters and showing two black and red ‘bots very prominently during a critical moment. Two Frenzys… or two Rumbles?

#16: Unicron’s face

It’s been well-documented that the 1986 movie underwent numerous changes during production, even after some parts of it had already been animated, which is very evident in the final product at times. One of the most heinous examples is Unicron, who dramatically changes appearance throughout his short stint in robot mode towards the end of the story. When he first transforms, his face has a square-cut chin and a more prominent moustache beneath a predominantly grey helmet. However, moments later, he’s sporting the double-pointed ‘beard’ that has since become a signature part of his look. Evidently, the transformation sequence was created some way in advance of anything else and the character’s look was simply evolved as production of the film continued, hence the contradiction on screen.

#15: Unicron’s size

Not many Transformers cartoons (or comics) have ever been consistent when it comes to portraying the relative heights of their characters. Some creators have openly admitted to adjusting the stature of various robots to better suit the story in question, so it’s up to you whether you consider this entry a true ‘mistake’ of the 1986 film. That said, there’s no way that Unicron’s size makes any sense! When we first see the Chaos Bringer in his planet form, he’s shown to be many times larger than the planet of Lithone, the population of which is a race of robots comparable to that of the Transformers. Yet when he comes ‘face to face’ with Megatron, the Decepticon leader appears to be much larger versus Unicron’s planet mode than this first comparison would suggest. Similarly, when the Planet Eater eventually makes it to Cybertron in his robot form, he’s shown as smaller than the Transformers’ homeworld, although arguably not small enough for Galvatron to make such a notable presence when attacking him. However you interpret it all, it’s wildly inconsistent!

#14: Characters returning from the dead

It’s not just the Autobots who suffer a few casualties during the film, as several Decepticons also meet their doom. Amongst those are Skywarp, Thundercracker and the Insecticons, all damaged during the Autobot City battle and subsequently cast out into space by their comrades, only to be reformatted by Unicron. The debate about who becomes who still rages on to this day (even if it seems pretty definitive on screen), but what is especially weird is that all of the same characters pop up again during the coronation scene that follows, clearly visible during multiple shots as Cyclonus sweeps through the Decepticon crowd. Some have argued that this could be remaining Insecticon clones or the like, but truth be told, it’s just an obvious mistake.

#13: Cyclonus’ Armada

This is another example that some fans have attempted to explain away over the years, but let’s be honest here, the whole bit with Cyclonus’ “Armada” is just one whopping mistake in this film. The scene happens as part of Unicron’s reformatting of Megatron’s dying troops, as we see various Decepticons given new life and new bodies. Scourge is presented with multiple identical troops known as his ‘huntsmen’, the Sweeps, and the script suggests there was also a similar plan for Cyclonus to have a whole army of clones at one point. However, although we briefly see one of these on the screen, the robot in question is never seen nor referred to again, making this moment stand out as genuinely odd. No attempt to smooth it over makes it work any better; it’s just an outright error.

#12: Ultra Magnus’ legs

There are many weird moments to consider during the Planet of Junk scenes, such as how the Autobots and Junkions waited until after having a giant knees-up to repair their comrade and former commander, Ultra Magnus, whose remains sat just mere metres away. Yet even stranger is this brief snippet when the Junkions finally get to work, as it clearly shows them putting both his legs on the wrong way round. There’s never any attempt to show that it was corrected either, so by all available evidence, Magnus was presumably walking around rather awkwardly for the rest of the film. I wonder if he can deal with that now.

#11: Kup’s missing pieces

Hot Rod fixing Kup after the underwater battle on Quintessa is a pivotal moment in their relationship. Still, it must have been an especially tall order for the young Autobot, given the old timer’s injuries were so wildly inconsistent. When we first glimpse the injured Autobot veteran, we see he is missing his right arm and left leg. However, as Hot Rod turns him over in the next moment, it’s clearly now his left arm and right leg that are torn off. Even weirder, just a few seconds later, we see Hot Rod carrying Kup out of the water, and it appears he’s back to missing his right arm again, although at least his left leg seems intact. I wonder which piece Hot Rod left out.

Check out part 2 soon!

TTFN

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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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