|Specifics: Screen captures from TV commercial (muscle guys) and Super-God Masterforce (daily clothes)|
Disguise has always been a key component of Transformer operations on other worlds - Pretenders attempt to take this concept to the next level; they are a new Transformer breed fitted with special external armor shells that can disguise their very nature as Transformers, light-years ahead of vehicle, dinosaur, beast or weapon mode. Rather than hiding themselves as the machinery or vehicles of a world, Pretender Shells can allow a robot to take on the appearance of a native life-form itself. And, in the cast of Transformers who Transform into beasts or dinosaurs, Pretender technology allows them to use a synthetic flesh of that ferocious or prehistoric disguise.
On top of their exploration, infiltration and 'enhanced disguising' uses the shells can also function as powerful battle armor, aid in self-repairs, and even function separately of their owners as a second combatant mentally controlled by their "wearer" as a personal reinforcement.
The major drawback of this breed is that the "wearer" feels whatever pain is inflicted on the shell, sometimes even more strongly than pain inflicted on the "wearer" themselves. Shells are not interchangeable; they are complexly tailor made to fit and respond to the mental commands of their possessors.
Pretenders are the ultimate when it comes to taking on an organic disguise; they are simply by far the only Transformers to display the willingness that is needed to conceal themselves in organic structures.
The most common style of Pretender shell is an the user with a single humanoid shell, and each faction usually has one of the following:
...But otherwise, all Pretender Shells have their own weapon, which means either the shell or its owner can use both their own weapon and that of the personal partner at once).
Marvel Generation One comics
Pretender technology was created by Lord Zarak to help his troops operate quasi-anonymously on an Earth that had become (partially due to his influence with the Z Foundation) openly and publicly hostile towards giant alien robot beings from other worlds. The idea was that giant organic-looking alien monsters would somehow attract less attention. He was right.
This technology was stolen by Optimus Prime (at the time reduced to a computerized personality) and subsequently replicated by the Autobots, who fashioned their Shells after humans by way of their association with humanity, with the stated rationalization that the Decepticons were rather unobservant and wouldn't notice that these humans were many stories tall - he was right.
Six from both allegiances were reborn as the first Pretenders, but it was a matter of risk; only those who were willing to accept underwent the transformation as part of the unnamed "Project: Pretender" procedure:
Japanese The Transformers cartoon continuity
8000 years ago, a starship crewed by the Autobot Pretenders Metalhawk, Lander, Diver and Phoenix pursued their Decepticon counterparts Blood, Dauros and Gilmer to neolithic-era Earth, where they crashed. Using their Pretender abilities, the Autobots adopted the form of humans and transformed the very structure of their bodies into an organic equivalent, miniaturizing down to normal human size to hide in plain sight amongst burgeoning humanity.
The Decepticons, on the other hand, chose monstrous creatures, becoming feared as demons by early man. After many battles, the Autobots succeeded in defeating and sealing them away:
- Blood: the pyramids of Egypt
- Gilmer: the ruins of Atlantis
- Dauros: beneath the Nazca Lines in Peru
...for thousands of years.
Liberated in the near future by mysterious Decepticon "god" Devil Z, the three Decepticons enter his service, and immediately begin to draw the Autobots out of hiding, before they turn their combined attention to a series of plans to acquire energy and to disrupt one of the three Chokon Powers on Earth. After a string of failures, Devil Z supplants them with his more powerful Godmaster minions, and although they would often participate in missions, their standing was downgraded and their regularity of appearance on the battlefield diminished. Eventually, they generally only served to supply comic relief, and departed Earth with the other surviving Decepticons when Devil Z was destroyed.
Pretender technology had advanced to the point that the shells gained sentience, as seen with the shells of the Dinoforce, and could be employed simultaneously with the Transformers' robot modes.
Post-Marvel Generation One comics
Pretender technology was originally developed as a form of additional body armor. Pretender shells can enhance their wearer’s physical strength and resistance to damage. More advanced shell designs could shrink down to human size and enable their wearer to blend into Earth society unnoticed.
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The technology was the invention of Thunderwing, and used living tissue that had been painfully culled from live (quite possibly unwilling) subjects to create a powerful symbiotic, living carapace. The goal of this technology was to allow Transformers to survive an impending environmental collapse on their home planet, Cybertron. Even Megatron rejected the concept as unnatural and repulsive. Both cases where the technology was implemented ended in disaster as the melding of the robot's mind with the shell was improperly aligned or hastily executed. Subject one, the technology's inventor himself, became unfathomably powerful but totally insane and destructive. Subject two, Bludgeon, tried to rush the process and ended up comatose inside his new shell. It is unknown if research will continue further (but it seems rather unlikely given the moral issues and planetary-level threat posed by Thunderwing).
Of course, Jetfire of all bots decided that they needed the technology to penetrate the portal at the Benzuli Expanse. Optimus Prime was a little hesitant on the subject, but Jetfire managed to convince the Autobot leader. The Autobots selected for the process were Cloudburst, Landmine, Groundbreaker, and Waverider.
Also, Dirge appears as a Pretender.
Revenge of the Fallen
A Pretender known as Alice infiltrates Sam's college. In the novelization of Revenge of the Fallen, it reveals she transcanned an Alice in Wonderland animatronic robot. She is killed by Mikaela Banes after rampaging through Sam's college in search of him and causing massive damage.
Known Pretender types
The basics are the default: a single Autobot/Decepticon with a single humanoid shell. Both the inner robot and the shell are armed with a weapon each, allowing possibilities such as either the shell or the inner robot wielding both weapons at once or exchanging weapons with each other.
These are some of the finest faces, like Bumblebee, we know back from the past, in style. The inner robots were also released without their shells as Kmart exclusive Legends. Starscream's Shell, like Stranglehold's, is a humanoid shell.
They are Pretenders born with the ferocity of the beasts in mind. The theme of their Shells, as you can guess, is obvious: bestial Earth animals.
The Pretender Vehicles are Pretenders whose shells are vehicles that transform into combat decks for their owners.
The Shell can transform into an alternate mode of its own and combine with its wearer's own alternate mode to form a combination formation.
- Vroom (Super-car (Vroom) + motorbike (Shell) = side-car bike)
- Crossblades (Dragster (Crossblades) + attack copter (Shell) = frontal extension for the Shell
- Thunderwing (Jet (Thunderwing & Shell) = frontal extension for the Shell
These Pretenders are the ultimate: Pretenders of the highest order in the strength and power industries! They don't just have one Pretender Shell but two - the outermost Shell is a large vehicle that can transform into a combat deck for their owners which also conceals a Pretender Shell of the humanoid (or monster) kind in appearance that is itself able to transform into its own alt mode, and if that second shell's alt mode is a vehicle it can be piloted by its wearer. Also, the first shell can be manned at its battle station overhead by the owner - this means that both the first and second Shells can attack with full strength if the owner is operating the first Shell's battle station while the second Shell acts independently.
Pretender phenomenons with appropriately-themed rubbery shells so bizarre, you should have them in your possession. The only known Pretenders in this subgroup, when united as one, are the monstrous destroyer himself: Monstructor! And they are also the only Pretenders so far to also be Combiners. Autobots and humans alike beware! Fear these Pretenders, for they are even more of an ordeal than even the Predacons and Predaking, especially if they are Pretender Combiners!
The Crossformers are Takara's counterpart to the Mega Pretenders; the shells were remolded to be less organic.
The Dinoforce possess cyborg dinosaurs and can combine to form Dinoking - they are the counterparts of the Pretender Monsters. When the Dinoforce's individual names are translated, you get the dinosaur that they transform into, which their shell also is.
Double Pretenders (unreleased)
Prototypes for "Double" Pretenders, two characters sharing one shell, that splits into top and bottom at the waist, were designed but never put in production.
- Unnamed armored ape duo.
- Unnamed spider-bandito duo.
Humanoid Pretenders' outer shells can be classified into three types at least:
- Human shells with thermostatic plating such as Cloudburst's are Space-Defense Pretender Shells.
- Monstrous humanoid shells like Bomb-Burst's are called Predator-Class Pretender Shells.
- Shells like Bludgeon's are Warrior-Grade Pretender Shells.
Any Pretender Shell can be classified as a (possible) type other than the three mentioned above; for example, the Beasts' are of the bestial-type, the Monsters' are of the monstrous-type, and the Vehicles' are transportation-type. The Megas and Ultras, however, have several (possible) classifications that can be allocated other than having the advance-type classification by possible default, such as dual transformation-type and Mega-type (Mega) and triple attack-type, ultimate-type and Ultra-type (Ultra) (or even perhaps two-Pretender-Shell type for Ultra) respectively.
- ↑ Letter page for Marvel UK #265, Once Upon a Time...
- ↑ Transformers 2 Rumor Confirmed
- ↑ Transformers: The Ultimate Guide