Army-Building with STEVE, XPNDBL & CANTFLY (Star Wars Fans Have it Easy)

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.

These statues were made with mix-and-match molds, so each one is actually unique.

Qin Shi Huang was the first Army-builder. (Photo of his mausoleum, from Wikimedia foundation, original here.)

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.

The Steve who looks thoughtful is wondering where his pal is, completely fooled by his disguise.

Vehicons! We’ve discussed them once or twice before.

Die in huge numbers every battle? Check.

Soldiers of an Evil Empire? Check. Extremely Numerous? Check. Abysmal Marksmanship? Check. Pretty much indistinguishable from their brethren? Check.

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).

It's intelligence stat is better than a Vehicon's, too. It earned it's high Rank score.

When powertools outrank you, you are officially a nobody.

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.

These Vehicons know their place.

These Vehicons (and their pig, more on that later) know their place.

At chez AddAltMode we have 3 deluxe-size Vehicons and two Cyberverse-size Vehicons.

How many Vehicons does it take to change a lightbulb without casualities?

How many Vehicons does it take to change a light-bulb without casualities?

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.

The Ecojet concept car. Image shamelessly stolen from

The Ecojet concept car. Image shamelessly stolen from

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:

We also love Jazz.

ノジ (Noji) is the Arms Micron partner to the Vehicon (or Vehicons?). He transforms from a robotic boar into the Vehicon’s triangular-barreled blaster.

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?

Actually, all the Arms Microns outrank him.

Actually, all his Arms Microns still outrank him. (Arms Micron Vehicon with ノジ (Noji), グラ (Gra), ザム( Zamu), ゴブ-1 (Gob-1), & スタースクリームブーメラン (Starscream Boomerang).

Secretly, though, they're all called Steve.

Our Vehicons have “names” of sorts, provided by these custom registration plates from reprolabels. STEVE, XPNDBL & CANTFLY.

“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.

No, I don't get it either.

No, I don’t get it either.

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!


2 thoughts on “Army-Building with STEVE, XPNDBL & CANTFLY (Star Wars Fans Have it Easy)

    • More Cliffjumpers, perhaps. There at least 8 toys of TFP Cliffjumper, only one of them is a Bumblebee retool (in every other continuity, Cliff is basically red ‘Bee!), and he’s only in 4 (I think) episodes. That’s two toys per episode!


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