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The question says it all. In the cartoon and comic canon, all of their weapons are strictly energy based with an occasional missile. In all of the movies, 99% of the weapons fire ammunition that uses what appears to be a chemical propellant similar to that which is found on earth.

My question is, is this just for visual flair? Is there any sort of back story to this? Admittedly, it's quite visually stimulating to watch Optimus Prime clearing a spent round.

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The scene from above

Also, the scene from the first movie where they expose a cell phone to the Allspark energy and it turns into a nasty little Decepticon. It is able to create a mini RPG and ammunition for its micro mini-gun seemingly from thin air.

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    It sounds pretty difficult for a modern, multi-hundred-million-dollar movie franchise to be dumber than an 80s children’s cartoon, but by god, they really pulled it off with Transformers. – Paul D. Waite Feb 26 '15 at 17:28
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    For the record, the cell-phone transformer isn't a decepticon. It's "feral". – Valorum Feb 26 '15 at 17:42
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    @Destroyer73 I don't know, I thought that Skidz and Mudflap were very well-developed and intelligently written characters. And it's clear that the writers put a lot of work into creating a new character when Megan Fox left, instead of just changing her name – KSmarts Feb 26 '15 at 20:37
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    The ammunition gets summoned from the black hole of creativity that is Michael Bay. – Omegacron Feb 26 '15 at 21:16
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    @Destroyer73: I think they’re an impressive visual achievement, but personally I think they’re overwhelming rather than magnificent. Maybe I’m just old, but when a Transformer transforms there’s a million tiny things moving — clearly slaved on with great skill and effort by hundreds of computer animators, but for me it stops it being effectual, because there’s way too much going on. – Paul D. Waite Feb 27 '15 at 8:49
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TL;DR: The creation of ammo is a natural bodily function.

In Transformers: The Reign Of Starscream, it is theorized that their weapons and ammo grow like our own hair or fingernails.

Screencap

However, while logical (ok, as logical as anything in Transformers), this is conjecture on the part of the humans.

It should be noted, however, that while this comic line was considered official sequel to the first movie, there are discrepancies between it and later movies (namely an existing space bridge between Cyberton and Mars).

This was also briefly addressed by Ironhide in Transformers: The Veiled Threat, which serves as the official prequel to The Revenge Of The Fallen. They ingest metal and turn it into whatever resources they need (please don't ask me how Bumblebee eats, since he apparently has no mouth).

We have within ourselves the ability to ingest raw materials and rapidly reproduce a wide variety of necessary resources depending on the necessities of the moment. Our advanced design and construction demands that each of us be able to repair and replenish much of which we are composed and which we use. All of us have these abilities, though some are more adept at certain aspects than others. Mine is weaponry, Ratchet's is repair.

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    And here I was joking about the guns being butts. – Omegacron Feb 27 '15 at 15:42
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It is possible that the Transformers create their own ammunition.

Consider that the Transformers (as seen in the movies) can and do adjust their apparent mass (otherwise planes the mass of transformer-sized robots couldn't fly under physics as I know it). They have some sort of esoteric ability to store mass when they transform, so it isn't impossible to assume they can produce ammunition for their weaponry from the same source.

Consider that in the first movie, we see Bumblebee excrete (he drains fluid 'humorously' onto a human he doesn't like). The fluids he drains aren't vital to his car form moving (he shortly after transforms and drives off without problem), and they appear to be a significant amount.

Based on this, I have been assuming that Transformers are capable of producing ammunition for their inherent weapons as an automated process, which likely requires consumption of raw materials.

For other, Transformer-sized weaponry, that is not 'built-in' they could manufacture it in similar ways to how humans make bullets and rockets. It's possible that the Transformer's base has some form of ammunition manufacturing.

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    They are certainly capable of a lot but I'm not sure changing matter at the atomic level from one atom into a completely different one is within their realm of abilities. – Destroyer73 Feb 26 '15 at 18:32
  • @Destroyer73: They don't really need to, not if the resources they consume to produce ammo are already the proper material. – Jeff Feb 26 '15 at 18:55
  • @Destroyer73 - they certainly seem to be able to be, per the discussion of 'Transformium' in Age of Extinction – The Fallen Feb 26 '15 at 19:25
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    The excreting becomes even more obvious when you realize that their guns are the Transformer version of an anus. It also explains where the ammo comes from. – Omegacron Feb 26 '15 at 21:18
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    One of the main ideas in the movies is that they don't shift mass. Only the all spark can do that, but the transformers are consistently the same size in vehicle and bot mode. – user16696 Feb 27 '15 at 8:39
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To add here: Transformers 3 and 4 changed things a lot with the weapons of the transformers now being ONLY hand held weapons which can run out of ammunition (instead of mostly built in weapons like in transformers 1 and 2).

In Transformers 3 we see the Autobots defenseless without their hand held weapons.

In transformers 4 we see that they can run out of ammunition (which before was never the case).

  • How does this answer the question of where the ammunition comes from? – phantom42 Jan 16 '16 at 22:17
  • In that at first it was internally produced (T1-T2) as stated by the answers and then in T3+ suddenly they retconned it to normal ammunition that has to be produced by hand. – Thomas Jan 17 '16 at 7:33

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