Transformer Tubes is a smoking system that could have only been conceived by individuals who came into existence at the cusp of the pre and post digital worlds. In a sense, it’s a hearkening back to a bygone era when Legos, Tinker Toys and Popoids ruled the shelves of the toy store; back when video games were sidelined novelties, enhancements to Saturday mornings and summer afternoons, but rarely the focus. Simultaneously, though, it is a vision of the near future, when production will be optimized to allow maximum individual customization of every product, when key interchangeable components will open consumers to a world of possibilities never before available.
If you’re a smoker, that future is here. If you’ve yet to experience the brilliance that is the Transformer Tubes, first of all, you should remedy that, like, yesterday. But second of all, you probably want to know what I’m droning on about in such pretentious fashion. To sum it up, what they’ve created is a polycarbonate modular waterpipe or hookah system with interchangeable components that allow the maximum customization that today’s consumer craves. In case you don’t know what polycarbonate is, it’s the stuff from which jet windows are made; light, but nearly unbreakable.
You start with your base, which, though itself, is polycarbonate, comes perfectly fitted with a glass bowl and downstem. This way, though the whole of your pipe is a lightweight plastic material, you are still essentially smoking out of glass. The top of the base is threaded to receive the next component, which is whatever you want it to be out of the ever-growing list of uniformly threaded modules. Personally, I prefer to start with the freezer module, since it’s the heaviest. That way, I get cool smoke without the unit getting too top heavy. From there, I stack on the dome percolator for some choice smoke filtration and follow that with the ice catcher. Then, I just add a few more extenders, top it off with the mouthpiece, and light up. It’s basically what you see here, except I configure it a little differently. The end result is a smoking experience that feels like Ben-Gay on my lungs; smooth, filtered smoke that has embarked on a journey of Hobbit proportions to travel from combustion point to the alveoli of my lungs. They, in turn, disperse that sweet, herbal remedy throughout my body, via the highway that is my bloodstream. Bliss.
Relatively speaking, though, I like to keep it simple. You can play with dozens of more options. Maybe you want to try the felt filter or the pipe rocks for some truly maxed out filtration. Or, if aesthetics are your interest, they’ve got a few you might enjoy in that department as well, with multiple colors, graphics, textures, etc. Want it to double as a gerbil run? Pick up a few angled connectors and bring the all-out wackiness to a new level. Prefer to dab? They’ve got you covered. The possibilities are endless and expanding every day as Even, the R&D head and all around visionary genius, is continually tinkering with new concepts and ideas. According to Mike, Evan’s partner and business-minded anchor, the options listed here are only the beginning of their plans.
“We’re going to have 360 degree angled modules that spin around,” he begins excitedly, “we’re going to have vaporization technology in our pipes, LEDs, we’re going to have all new style bases. That’s the kind of stuff we really want to get into. Evan’s going to do all of that. He’s going to design them and test them and make sure that they work.”
The two of them have forged a partnership based on balance and harmony, astutely harnessing their strengths and weaknesses to maximize their potential as a unit. Mike, who was a graduate of Virginia Tech with degrees in both math and economics, had cultivated a vision of strategic success in the business and finance world. Knowing where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do, he honed his business acumen to a razor’s edge and set himself up to be the driving engine of any company lucky enough to hire him. Evan, on the other hand, also a VT grad, is the “artist” of the two, an engineering wiz who some may suggest suffers from an obsessive compulsion to create, a Turret’s Syndrome of ideas, if you will. The result is a continually flowing river of new and improved concepts for an already brilliantly conceived system that would be enough creation for any lifetime’s worth of achievement. But really, this whole company actually sprang up as a side project from his college days and early career as an aerospace engineer. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the myopia of his former employers and potential investors, Transformer Tubes may never have seen the light of day.
“He went and pitched all these ideas to his boss,” Mike says. “He had some big, big plans, like train systems, you know, like mass transportation systems. But everyone he spoke with, investors or whatever, they just shut him down. They weren’t interested, especially from a kid. He was 24 at the time. No one was willing to take him seriously.” Evan elaborates on this in the “about” section of the Transformer Tubes website.
“I have a strong passion for sustainability,” he writes, “especially sustainable transportation. At 23 years old, I converted a VW Golf to 100% battery powered electric; completely engineered, built and funded by myself. Regardless [of] whether you think the Earth has a 20 year or a 200 year supply of oil left, the fact is that we will eventually use it all . . . Years of contemplating resulted in a grand solution; a nationwide grid of electrically powered rail systems, drawing upon the best renewable resources in the area, such as wind, hydro, solar and geothermal energies. I then attempted to move forward into developing this project into a real, implementable solution. Unfortunately, a 24 year old proposing multibillion dollar projects didn’t get far in a realm full of people who do not understand the need to move off oil. Frustrated, it was time to move in a new direction better fit for a young guy without billions of dollars of funding.”
Hence, Transformer Tubes was born, the first smoking system made entirely of interchangeable polycarbonate modules.
As fairly recent graduates of the higher education system themselves, Mike and Evan know their market. “We really push it to the college students. When I make my pitch, especially when the retailer is in a college town or whatever, that’s what I hound. You know, cause college students don’t have a ton of money. They walk around drunk . . . They’re going to knock over their pipes. The Transformer Tube is a great fit.”
They’ve even catered their warranty system to specifically fit the demographic. “One of the things we do,” Mike goes on, “we have a four year warranty and we have a no questions asked return policy. When I see that people have obviously fucked up their pipes, I just replace it no matter what. Basically, if you buy this as a college freshman, you can know that by the time you’re a senior, this will still be your go-to piece.”
Keep in mind, that though most smoke shops and web retailers categorize the pipes under acrylic for the sake of ease, these pipes are actually a completely different beast, as Mike explains.
“Even shops that sell our product want to call it an acrylic pipe. Everyone wants to equate plastic to acrylic. That’s the beginning point of every one of my pitches. But yeah, this is a plastic waterpipe; not acrylic. It’s polycarbonate; the same thing that bulletproof glass is made of . . . if they’re a retailer, I just mention the Incredibowl, because that’s also polycarbonate.”
The future is limitless for the duo, as the ideas keep churning and the checks keep rolling in. The plan for the relatively near future is twofold: keep developing kickass, innovative new modules and bring the production, which is currently overseas, back to home to the United States. But though they intend to be intricately involved in their company for the duration of its existence, Evan’s vision of a greener planet still lingers in the peripheral. Eventually, through the growing popularity of the Transformer Tubes system, they hope to self-finance some of those ideas and see them become a reality. In the meantime, if they can’t save the world, they at least want to save the restaurant/bar world a little time with a new smart technology based, self-dispensing keg that Evan’s been developing on the side. But that’s a story for another time, in perhaps another publication.