Months back, when I was talking over the idea of new Robo Force characters with Matt, it was something I had a lot of concern about. I don't want to get to G1 Transformers-levels of head reuse - Prowl/Smokescreen/Silverstreak/Diaclone cars and so on. The heads are fairly unique on the original characters.
But the fact is, when it comes to Robo Force, the circumstances are a little different.
A number of the robots were intended, in-story, to be mass produced. Not S.O.T.A. or Sentinel, but Wrecker? Blazer? I see them as named representatives of massive groups of robots known as Demolisher Class (or in Blazer's case, Extinguisher Class). There could be hundreds of other construction robots out there having lives, we've just never met them. So I had a vague idea one day about "Sentinel's brother" and how a character like that could have an impact on the ongoing storyline. After all, what would a robot consider "his brother"? Created at the same time? It gives me a hook to explore in the ongoing storyline.
At the same time, I was talking to my buddy Peaugh on twitter and he said his favorite color was orange. Looking over the Robo Force figures, including the unreleased second series, orange wasn't a color they really went near. So the die was cast....
The name was a difficult thing to nail down.The brilliance (or stupidity, as some have noted in the past) of Ideal's naming conventions on Robo Force was the simplicity. Wrecker - the name is very generic. Copter, Blazer, and so on - but it takes some real luck to coin unique names like "Optimus Prime" which last. Really, what is the difference between Cy-Kill and Optimus Prime? Would we look at a Gobot with that second name and say he was the coolest thing ever? Something to think about.
You also have the Robo Force being a follow-up line to the Zeroids, where every character name started with a Z. So taken as one continuity, perhaps the names were meant to hide something about the race of Zetonian robots - to disassociate them with the Zeroids for some reason. The names of these new characters needed to have a primal simplicity about them - and keep in the traditions of what Ideal could have named them in the vintage days.
Luckily, the final inspiration was provided by the beloved "last arcade on Earth", Funspot.
During a trip earlier this year, I was looking over the museum of my favorite shooting games from...well, forever! And it jumped out at me - the classic VANGUARD, more commonly known from the fantastic Atari adaptions. The feel was right - that was a name that Ideal would have used.
Ooh, fun post-script - I was at the recent Too Many Games convention and found this....