I am aware that Hannibal Cross did a blog post on this subject not too long ago, but I am going over it again because I believe I have a slightly different perspective, and I would like to expand on the topic and give my two cents. I recommend that you go and see his wondrous blog post here: User_blog:Hannibal_Cross/Frankenstein_Weapons_and_their_future_in_Warframe
EDIT: IMPORTANT: Many comments have been made with very solid arguments and points made in them. I have read all of the comments, and have adjusted my blog to reflect on the very valid points that have been made. Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond!
Now Down to Business...
That aside, let's have an anecdotal entrance. The other day, my friend got Warframe. As we were playing through it together, I noticed his extreme desire to acquire new weapons and experiment with them, and he did this very rapidly. As such, his already meager supply of resources soon dried up, and we had to embark on many a farming mission.
I believe that one of the reasons, if not the major reason, for the existence of 'Frankenstein Weapons' (Weapons built using another one as a component) is a feeble attempt at enhancing the NPE (New Player Experience). It could be construed as the first step on an upgrade path when one makes a prerequisite weapon. However, this system costs more resources, and does not really result in a higher payoff, in the form of a better weapon, later on. The few pros of this model are only applicable if the player is planning on pursuing that specific upgrade path, such as Bolto -> AkJagara.
To rephrase, if a new player already has the prerequisite weapons or is planning on getting them, it may be, in theory, much more comfortable for them to build a Franken-weapon, as they would be on the upgrade path. However, this is not how it is executed. For instance, the Tiberon could be considered the upgrade of the Latron, as it is built with one; but the Tiberon is a burst rifle, and the Latron a semi-auto. There currently is no way to upgrade the Latron to a better weapon of its same class: it can only be replaced.
Pros and Cons of the Frankenstein Model
The one pro of the model is that it is somewhat of a workaround for the slot system, which is why it makes me think that it is intended to benefit newer players. It does not require players to use more slots because, for better or for worse, building the Franken-weapon consumes other weapons. Example: If a new player decides to build a Bolto(1 slot), an Akbolto would be a natural upgrade for them(2 slots for each Bolto, then back to 1 slot for AkBolto). Then, if the player likes the AkJagara, then they would need the Dual Skanas (1 more slot, 2 in total). Then the AkJagara would be built, and the player would now have 1 slot being used for that weapon. I believe it may have been executed this way for the player to have a gradual upgrade; not all at once. As the player ascends the upgrade tree, the builds should cost less materials or result in a better product. However, they do not.
There is currently only one example of a Franken-weapon where the system is executed properly, and this is in the case of the Nikana -> Dragon Nikana upgrade. It could be pricy for some, however, the Dragon Nikana is a far better weapon than its prerequisite.
Again, as I believe it to be, this system is intended to be for improving the NPE. Consequently it does not focus on the Mastery Rank 14+ Master Blasters who just want the new weapons for kicks or mastery fodder. The Frankenstein Model should give newer players a cheaper or more comfortable way to access new and better gear, but it does not do either of these. It costs far more resources and credits currently to build a Frankenstein weapon. And because Master Blasters typically only keep the best of weapons, prerequisite weapons may be a bear or just plain annoying to reacquire. As Hannibal Cross stated, "Example: 'I already sold my Miter once it was mastered. I did not like the weapon. Now I have to go farm the parts again, build it, and then sacrifice it to make the Panthera.'"
This 'refarming' may have alienated some Master Blasters, and some have come off as feeling exploited, seeing the Frankenstein weapons as simply another way to goad you into pressing the 'Purchase' button on a platinum costing weapon. And this very well may be the case: DE wants to make money.
Perhaps the more objective flaw is that the end product may or may not be a more powerful weapon. For example, the Panthera has less slash damage in a regular shot than the Miter does, and the charge shots have the same damage for both weapons, 225. Granted, the two weapons function differently, but there still is an inherent lack of 'betterness' in the Panthera simply because it does less base damage.
Granted, a player can be sure of the objective flaws on a weapon by doing research, however that does not mean they will like the weapon on a subjective level, and may still see it as a waste if that is the case.
Another problem is that the Frankenstein Model does not allow for a 'try it as you go' experience. By this I mean that when you craft a Frankenstein weapon from another one that you may have a sentimental feeling towards, there is no going back. You may feel irritated if you do not like the resulting product, and regretful for having sacrificed your beloved firearm. For example, I am quite attached to my Akstiletto. Let's say that, hypothetically, I used them to build the new Aksomati, and I find that I despise, even on a completely subjective level, the Aksomati. I may now have a sort of internal obligation to using the Aksomati: not wanting to have given up the Akstiletto for nothing. Or I will throw them away, and put more resources and credits into re-crafting the Akstiletto. Even if I like the Aksomati but I still would like my Akstiletto, I have to build a second Akstiletto. It would make more sense to build a second Akstiletto, and immediately put that into the Aksomati, thus keeping the leveled one; but still, an excess of resources, credits, and time are being used. I am now stuck without a truly positive outcome.
"I just threw away my beloved Akstiletto for some trash! Now I have to build another forma, repurchase the Akstiletto research, build and level them again, and invest another blue potato!" My hypothetical self says, tears streaming down my screen-lit face, dribbling into my bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and onto my Mountain Dew.
For weapons that do not use this model, it is much simpler. Say I have a Grakata, and I would like to upgrade to a Hind. I hypothetically build the Hind, and then find out I hate it. I could get rid of the Hind, sure, and I may have wasted some resources, but I still have the Grakata.
"Well that sucks more than getting one-shotted by Phorid's spine strike," say I, a disappointed frown curling my mouth downwards. "But at least I still have my beloved Grakata, and all the Formas and potatoes I put into it."
Ideas for Improvement
The easiest way to improve Frankenstein weapons would be would be making Frankenstein weapons undoubtedly better than their prereqs. This way, the new players do not overspend on a sub-par weapon, and Master Blasters who would rather spend all of their time in T4 Survivals and such can do so, rather than farming Miter parts for the Panthera. This revamp would be non-punishing for all parties, and hopefully very easy to implement.
An additional way was suggested in the comments below. Being able to acquire a test version of a weapon in the Simulacrum (perhaps for a small standing cost) would allow the player to see if the weapon is a good investment, or something that they would enjoy.
Yet another potential problem-solver was suggested in the comments: having the ability to disassemble weapons, and thus get the prerequisite weapons back.
By no means of the imagination could any system of acquiring new weapons be completely flawless (including, and especially, my own). However, as I demonstrated above, albeit imperfectly, this model can be improved upon, and -dare I say it- made good enough to keep around.
In order to get a more desirable model as you and I, the players, may want, there are some things that must be kept in mind. First, we must cope with it for now. We must understand that the game is under development, and that things can and will change over time, especially with constructive and non-confrontational critiques on this model and other aspects of the game. We must also remember that the people at DE are busy, and may have impending deadlines that we do not know about.
Second, we should publicize the presence of detrimental systems like this one. Spread it onto the forums, discuss it here as well, tell your friends, beg your mom, or put it on your birthday wish-list. But please, do it nicely and respectfully. DE won't know that there is a problem unless we tell them, and they probably wouldn't want to listen if we are rude to them about it.
So please, discuss! Share your thoughts in the comments, or completely overshadow my blog post with a superior one of your own!
Note: Please excuse the novel.
Note 2: please excuse any repetitive or run on sentences, and grammatical errors. I was very tired when I wrote this. I need a girlfriend.