Army-building is a slang term among action figure collectors which means obtaining and displaying multiples of the same action figure — usually one which represents a generic “trooper” rather than a particular character.
Army-building seems to be popular among the Star Wars fandom. A quick Google search turns up thousands of images of fan-made displays, some of which contain hundreds of neatly-lined-up Stormtroopers with a a single Darth Vader & Emperor Palpatine (and maybe a couple of those red bodyguard guys) stood at the head of the group.
Guess what kind of action figure we army-build with here at AddAltMode: that’s right it’s a Transformer. The Vehicons from Transformers Prime – who are the show’s Stormtrooper-equivalents.
As R posted a long time ago (here), Vehicons exist in huge numbers, they can’t seem to aim to save their sparks, and they’re regarded as disposable by both Autobots and higher-ranking Decepticons (and higher-ranking powertools).
Despite their low status in the fiction, a lot of TF:P fans like them a lot, at least partly because the Vehicon action figure is really very nice indeed. The Vehicon has great articulation, particularly around the upper body — the shoulder, elbows and neck are great. Maybe less so around the knees and feet, but Vehicons still stand and balance well. The Deluxe Vehicon has a satisfying transformation, curling all the vehicle parts up into a spiral inside the legs.
At chez AddAltMode we have 3 deluxe-size Vehicons and two Cyberverse-size Vehicons.
I’m sure that the car Vehicon’s altmode is supposed by be some generic mix of car parts, but to me, they look like Jay Leno’s EcoJet concept car – a turbine-engine based biodiesel car. (Interestingly, since this car runs on an almost carbon-neutral biofuel which is practically cooking oil, its exhaust allegedly smells like a chip shop). A one-of-a-kind supercar belonging to a celebirty probably doesn’t make an effective disguise, even if it is really, really cool. That said, Knock-Out’s Bugatti Veyron inspired alt-mode isn’t much less conspicuous.
One of our Vehicons is an imported Japanese Arms Micron Vehicon. Regular readers will know that we love Arms Microns, Targetmasters and all that jazz. Obviously, he has an Arms Micron partner:
There are some unanswered questions regarding Noji. Do all Vehicons have little piggy-bots who transform into their guns? Or is Noji the weapon of one specific Vehicon? Also, if a non-entity Decepticon trooper is powered-up by a pile of Arms Microns, does he stay a bottom-ranked loser, or does he finally get some Decepticon street cred?
“STEVE” is a nickname for Vehicons in the TF:P fandom, whose origins probably lie among some weird tumblr fanfic. The nickname has stuck, however, and Vehicons are regularly referred to as Steves in the fandom.
XPNDBL is pretty obvious: Vehicons die in droves throughout TF:P, I’m not sure there is an episode in which no Vehicons die (thinking about it, there are a couple of episodes with no vehicons in, such as Predatory). In the sadly defunct MMO Transformers Universe, Autobot players could wander a map resembling a patch of Nevada countryside whilst they waited for a match against ‘Con players, mining Energon and using Vehicons as target practice. The Decepticon announcer Brawl often commented that he didn’t understand why Megatron would bring so many useless Vehicons half way across the galaxy.
CANTFLY is a homage to this scene:
It sucks to be that guy.
So, our TF:P Decepticons shelf in our display cabinet has a small group of Vehicons ranked up behind the Decepticon leadership, the TFU customs, and the other guys with actual names. We’re never going to rank them up in huge groups like those Army-building Star Wars fans, but we’ve got a solid squad. Obtaining Vehicon toys is not that easy, it seems, and sometimes they sell for much more than their retail price: let’s see Stormtroopers match that!