Stepper (Transformers Generation 1)

Transformers United Stepper Either help me destroy my enemies or get out of my way.

Autobot faction symbol
Name: Stepper
Targetmaster partner: Ricochet
Allegiance: Autobots
Sub-group: Targetmasters
Function: Rapid Fire Attack
Timeline: Generation 1

Toyline: Transformers United

Profile:

Transformers United Stepper robot mode
Stepper is an Autobot with a strong sense of justice. He is a hot-blooded soldier who has no tolerance for evil, and he is very proud of his skills on the battlefield. However Stepper is notoriously quick-tempered, and has an attitude of "if you're not with me, you're against me". Many Autobots feel Stepper is particularly abrasive and find it hard to get on with him. While conversations with Stepper rarely degenerate past passive-aggressive remarks and shouting, they frequently end with Stepper storming off muttering about "this is why I work alone". However in spite of his quick temper, Stepper is an exceptional marksman - he is possibly the best shot in the Autobot forces, aiming with a cool, steely concentration that belies his usual quick temper. His marksmanship made him a natural candidate for the Targetmaster process, in spite of the concerns many had about Stepper's suitability due to his poor attitude.

Ricochet is a former police sniper who retired from the force after an injury left him with nerve damage. He leapt at the opportunity to become a Targetmaster, seeing it as a way to get back to work. Ricochet is a stark contrast to Stepper. He is always calm and collected, willing to hear all sides of an argument, take advice when it is offered, and admit when his approach is not the best one. He frequently ends up trying to be a calming influence on Stepper, trying to convince his Autobot partner to be less stubborn and more open to the advice of others.

Abilities:

Stepper is an exceptional marksman. He can hit a tin can at a 10km distance, and often takes part in sharpshooting contests with fellow Targetmaster Sureshot. Stepper has adapted his stereo system to generate a white noise field to block out noise around him, helping him focus on his aim. In addition to his partner Ricochet, Stepper wields a Photon Burst Rifle, capable of firing up to three photon charges in a single semi-automatic burst. This weapon can connect to Stepper's stereo system to fire debilitating sonic shockwaves.

Ricochet transforms into a Stygian Sniper Rifle, which uses gravimetric fields to steady his aim allowing for pinpoint precision sharpshooting over great distances, or to hit the smallest weak spots in enemy armour. When in his robot form Ricochet carries his own laser-targeted sniper rifle with an effective range of about 5km.

Weaknesses:

Stepper's quick temper often leads him into situations he cannot handle without backup or a means to safely extract himself. Stepper is easily provoked, which can lead to him taking rash or ill-advised actions.

Ricochet's previous injury sometimes resurfaces, giving him a slight tremble to his aim. Systems analyses have all come back negative and indicate that Ricochet is fine - implying the issue may be psychological.

Stepper and Ricochet rarely see eye-to-eye which severely affects their performance as a team. Stepper does not appreciate Ricochet's attempts at calming him down or getting him to see other 'bots points of view, which often prompts Stepper to leave Ricochet behind when he goes on a mission, in spite of Stepper admitting that his considerable skills are bolstered when he wields Ricochet. The friction in the partnership is exacerbated by Stepper's refusal to call Ricochet by his name, instead calling him "Nebulon". It's not clear if Stepper intentionally does this to antagonise Ricochet, or if he just has such a poor memory for names and faces that he can't even remember his own partner's name.

Vehicle mode:

Transformers United Stepper car mode Transformers United Stepper car mode with Nebulon

Additional images of Stepper:

Transformers United Stepper robot mode posed Transformers United Stepper robot mode with speakers Transformers United Stepper sonic rifle weapon

More information on Stepper at TFW2005

Author notes:

Stepper (or Ricochet as he is known in the US) is one of those cool looking redecos who always ends up looking more awesome than the original toy. The black with flames design looks extremely sharp, and I'm happy that Stepper gets semi-regular releases in various toylines. I think this version, Transformers United Stepper, is the overall best version of the character released after the original. He just looks so good in hand, and the serious look of Generations Jazz really works with Stepper's edgier personality.

Speaking of the bio. I've embellished it a lot, as Stepper has never had much in the way of media representation. He's never been featured in the cartoons or the comics. It's a pity, since he sounds very interesting, but I'm always happy to have a blank canvas to craft a bio around. Hopefully IDW will make use of Stepper in their comics at some point. The Transformers Galaxies comic is a great place to do a one-shot tale of Stepper.

One thing I never got was the name of Stepper's Targetmaster. In the US "Nebulon" is the entire race of people who become the various Master partners. I wanted to avoid having Stepper have a partner whose parents named him after his race - I don't know about you, but I've never yet met anyone named Human or American. So Stepper's partner adopted the name of Ricochet from the US releases of Stepper. I then added a detail that Stepper gets his partner's name wrong all the time and calls him Nebulon, which makes Stepper come off as a total jerk, which in turn led to the more abrasive side of Stepper's personality which is referenced in passing in his original toy bio.

Overall, this is an excellent toy who I have really enjoyed taking photos of for this article.