The officially licensed Transformers Built to Rule and Kre-O sets require you to take the figure/vehicle completely apart and rebuild it to go from one mode to the other. I wanted to try building transformers that actually transformed. If I couldn't do that, I wanted figures that only had to separate into a few pieces to go between modes, so you could transform them quickly and without instructions. I went with the G1 Predacons because they're pretty blocky anyway, and no mode makes all that much effort to hide the other mode's parts. They came out pretty good, though the bot faces look kind of silly. They sort of remind me of the Neverhood.
I've got photos and descriptions of each one. I took the photos outside so I wouldn't need my flash, which made way too much glare. Classics Skywarp is in them to give a sense of scale. Of all the transformers I have, that's probably the most common mold. The descriptions start with how many pieces each figure has to split into to transform, so you know how close I came to my goal of actual transformers.
Tantrum is the first one I started working on, and my favorite. The head transforms much like the G1 toy, with the bot head inside the bull head. There's a swivel joint to turn the head for bull and bot modes, and a hinge to fold it for combined mode. The grey fuel tanks on the bulls shoulders unfold into the bot's arms like the original toy, but don't have the extra shoulder joints to allow the arms to pivot up and down.
The legs are the biggest difference from the G1 figure. I thought about making the legs slide in and out of the body and holding them in place with a Technics rod. Instead, the four bull legs detach from the body and stack to form the two bot legs. This was easier to do, and allows the legs to plug side by side onto the top of the combined mode, forming Predaking's thigh, meaning less mass I would have to put into Razorclaw. Because of this, the bull's rear fuel tanks end up on the bot's hips instead of ankles.
Headstong's legs are identical to Tantrum's to make Predaking's thighs match. They just plug into the bot's front instead of the back. The bot arms unfold from the red things on the rhino's sides. I couldn't figure out how to make two separate heads fit, so I made one dual purpose head, like Tantrum. This gives the bot side to side head articulation, which the G1 figure didn't have.
Divebomb - 3 pieces: main body, wing pack, connector
Divebomb's eagle legs unfold into his bot legs pretty much like the original's. The little indents at the knees was necessary to make the lower leg piece rotate around them. The black piece between the thighs, which helps keep the figure stable, is a small, flat wall piece so it's recessed from the yellow part and is less distracting.
I couldn't make the arms extend or retract into the body. Instead of retracting, they fold flat against the body, using a flat 1x8 Technics piece with rounded ends as hinges. Although the main body is 6x4 studs, the row between the arms is 5 studs wide so the corners of the arms can rotate without hitting the body. Since the arms don't retract into the body, the bot arms don't have to extend from the eagle mode.
The wing pack is 6 regular sized wings attached to a pair of large wings with 1x1 round pieces so they can be angled into position. I had originally built a yellow back pack for the wings to attach to, but it was too heavy, making Divebomb fall over backwards. The wings are connected by a couple flat pieces, which holds them steady, but prevents them from moving like on the G1 version. The connector is just a 2x4 flat piece to connect the wing pack to Razorclaw. Neither of these have to detach to transform Divebomb from eagle to robot.
I didn't even try making the robot face fit in the eagle's mouth.
Rampage - 4 pieces: main body, 2 tiger forelegs, tiger head
Rampage is my least favorite, mainly because of the coloring. Making an orange and black character red and black works OK. Making an orange and red character red and red doesn't work as well. His bot mode looks like someone wearing long underwear with the legs tucked into boots.
The arms are like Divebomb's. I bought an orange fish to make Razorclaw's mane, and had enough orange left over to make one of Rampage's arms. I chose the left one so Predaking's right arm would be less monochrome. The bot head folds down and back into the tiger body like the G1 toy. The tiger head connects to either the bot chest or tiger neck, depending in the mode.
The tiger's rear legs fold down to form the bot calves. All the lego hinges I've got have the sockets connected to the sides with the studs moving. To make the rear legs fold properly without disturbing the red pieces on the bots knees, I had to build Rampage studs down.
The tiger's front legs connect to the bot knees to form the bot shins. I originally built the shins/forelegs to fold into gaps in the bot's back for making Predaking's arm, like the G1 toy, but the toes still got in the way of the shoulder joint. I thought about putting them in the gap between Rampage's legs, but ended up not connecting them to arm-mode Rampage.
Razorclaw is why I couldn't have made this solely out of LEGOs. The hinges that fold the bot legs/lion's rear legs into Predaking's hips are Tyco 2x2 bricks that unfold into flat 2x4 pieces. The lion forelegs are two tones to also serve as the bot arms. The lion rear legs become the bot legs by separating the two body sections and reconnecting them 90 deg off.
I tried to make Razorclaw about the same size as the others, like the G1 toys, while having a decently proportioned Predaking. He's only a little bit taller in bot mode, but twice as thick, having a 6x8 body while the others had 4x6. The extra width gave me enough room to add a swivel joint and hinge to the head so, unlike Rampage, the animal head can change position while staying connected to the body. Razorclaw can transform from lion to Predaking's torso without detaching any parts.
I didn't have enough round bricks to make Razorclaw's canon, so the two barrels are actual barrels. The G1 figures all had the same sized swords, but I made Razorclaw's bigger. It fit better with his bulkier body, and worked much better as Predaking's sword than a smaller one would have.
Predaking - 32 pieces: all the pieces from the Predacons, their weapons, 1 head, 2 fists, 2 feet
LEGO Predaking comes together pretty much like G1 Predaking: Razorclaw as the torso, Divebomb and Rampage as the arms, Tantrum and Headstrong as the legs. I was out of grey, so I made the feet white. I didn't have much for white round pieces to make the foot cannons, but I had enough to make the base of each one. The foot cannons mount onto the backs of Tantrum and Headstrong (or Rampage or Razorclaw) but are kind of pointless without barrels. Because Tantrum and Headstrong don't extend, Tantrum's foot piece isn't flat like his G1's version, but indented like Headstrong's. It's a bit more symmetrical, so I'm glad it came out that way.
Rather than try to make Razorclaw's cannon unfold into Predaking's spear, I stuck the swords from the 4 limb bots to the back end. This was much easier, and has the added benefit of making sure the swords don't get lost when Predaking is formed. Predaking's sword is made of Razorclaw's sword with Rampage's leftover forelimbs attached to the handle to make the hilt. The bottom of the sword connects to a post just below the top of Predaking's right fist. This makes the sword look bigger, so the same weapon fits well with the differently sized bots.
Predaking has a few points of articulation. His elbows and waist rotate, since those are the waists of Rampage, Divebomb and Razorclaw. His arms can pivot up and down at the shoulders, due to how Rampage and Divebomb connect, but are hard to pose due to the weight. It is possible to get the arms to stay in a few elevated positions.
Here's a photo of the 32 pieces that make up Predaking. In theory, this is as far as you have to break him down to go from combined mode to animals to bots and back. In practice, the bricks tend to break apart where the connections are weakest. It's not too bad, usually just a few stray bricks stick to Razorclaw's lower torso.
I put a few more picture on my Photobucket. The reference Transformer is 5.5 inches tall. The full Lego figure is 11 inches tall.
Alleged "poems" that don't follow a rhyme scheme are not poetry