A thumbnail featuring the Autobot insignia, meant to replicate classic Transformers packaging design.

welcome to the good half of my Transformers collection! not qualitatively good - god, no, way more of my favorites are over on the Decepticon side. good as in righteous! primary colors and 'freedom is the right of all sentient beings' and robot chest cavity talismen and all that. obviously, this predominantly means Autobots, but i'll also go ahead and lump in any Maximals or other unaffiliated goody-two-shoes until further notice, because it's not like i have that many.

i've been playing with Transformers basically my whole life, but obviously, a lot of my childhood figures are in poor condition, or in storage, or in poor condition in storage. these collection pages cover what i would consider my 'modern' collection. these are the figures that i keep out and about on display and take nice care of like a proper hobbyist. everything gets at least two photos for the two main obvious things that any Transformer is going to do, and a short little overview going over what i personally think about it. these are living documents, so check in every now and then to see what i've added to the collection lately!

LATEST UPDATE: 5/15/2024

a harrowing change of photography equipment had me stumped for a few days, but i actually did quite a bit of backfilling for my collection recently as part of Free Comic Book Day! support your local comic book shops, people, especially when you can get sold-out retailer exclusives from yesteryear at low prices!

Legacy Bulkhead and Speedia 500 Road Hauler are rounding out the pack as an unlikely dynamic duo of mean green Autobot powerhouses, and since this collection operates in release order regardless of when i got my hands on the plastic, i've gone ahead and taken the opportunity to date the entries, so now you can know that when i said mean things about Bulkhead 'later', it's before i had him on my shelf and gave him a fair shake.


entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2019
A picture of War for Cybertron: Siege Sideswipe in robot mode.

as the first figure i picked up from the Siege line, Sideswipe is definitely one of the first toys that comes to mind when i'm thinking of broad examples of the modern era of Transformers. after the ups and downs of the Prime Wars era, it seemed like Hasbro were coming out swinging with a bit of a soft restart on CHUG, standardizing a new approach with smaller, denser figures, emphasizing articulation, and finding a way to incorporate heavy play potential without intrusive gimmicks just by leaning hard into the mix-and-match appeal of the standard 5mm port and post. i don't have much attachment to Sideswipe as a specific character (he sat out several of my favorite pieces of Transformers media, after all), but i can't deny that he's a solid standard slab of Autobot and an excellent representation of the War for Cybertron design ethos.

in robot mode, Sideswipe wears the classic 80s 'robot with a car hood chest' body-type with surprising finesse. he's got a bit of a backpack, but it's wide and flat, so it doesn't interfere at all with his excellent balance and posability. he's done up in one of the nicest matte finishes i've ever seen on a Hasbro figure, and aside from the hints of Cybertronian detailing and the battle damage scuffing that would spread across the entire Siege line, he looks remarkably close to his on-screen appearances. he's an absolute joy to handle thanks to a robust set of nice tight universal joints, and he's definitely got a particularly solid feel, much more than his predecessors and even some of his WfC contemporaries. conversely, he's a little light on accessories, but even his classic G1 shoulder cannon has been given a fun split in the middle to play into the whole customizable weapon schtick Siege was all about.

A picture of War for Cybertron: Siege Sideswipe in vehicle mode.

transformation is quick and inoffensive - no big surprises here, but solidly executed. easy to just fidget with, and no troublesome parts that don't want to tab together. Sideswipe converts into what is ostensibly a Cybertronian racecar, but honestly? the real-world Lamborghini he traditionally assumes as his disguise is already pretty distinctive for an Earth mode, so he mostly looks like a real-world concept car that could be in some billionaire's collection right now. he gets some nice sci-fi detailing underneath the extra-wide windshield, and the designers definitely seem to have had some fun exaggerating the massive flared shape of what i think are supposed to be air intakes (i'm not a car person), but for the most part, he's definitely a pretty standard race car shape. no big play features, nothing to really nitpick, either - just a well-done take on a well-trodden archetypical Transformer design.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2019
A picture of War for Cybertron: Siege Ironhide in robot mode.

i remember feeling very strongly that i had to make sure i got my hands on Siege Ironhide. for starters, he's pretty remarkably big for a Deluxe-class, so i guess it seemed like a good value to put some heft into the Autobot side of my collection? on a broader, more 'nerd minutia' level, though, Ironhide is just one of those characters who's had a pretty infamously rough history when it comes to his toys, whether it's having a droopy head or having no head at all. even shortly after the release of this toy, that quest for the perfect Ironhide has continued, whether it was Earthrise coming around the very next year to try hiding his lumpy sci-fi bod in an Earth minivan cloak or Studio Series deciding that the solution was to step him up a pricepoint just to get the engineering benefits of a $35 toy.

enough about other Ironhides, though, how is this one? definitely an odd one. he's not quite the full-blown G1 cartoon extravaganza that a lot of Siege was dedicated to, but he's also quite firmly too much of a big clunky spaceman to be the sort of mid-2000s 'what if G1 but the vehicles were newer' reinterpretation i enjoy. he's doing a bit of his own thing, and i'm here for it. you definitely feel that imposing stature, for better or for worse - he easily stands well above similarly priced toys of his era, although that comes at the cost of feeling a little more hollow across the board. if i had to sum him up, i'd say he feels very weird and maybe even a little flimsy in-hand, but when you find the right pose, it all comes together and he's just full of personality and presence. it certainly helps that he has one of the best accessories in all of Siege, with his excellently titled 'Doomblast Forge Launcher' pulling double duty as a missile launcher and hammer, pictured here on HYPERFIXT with its superfluous but greatly appreciated carry handle.

A picture of War for Cybertron: Siege Ironhide in vehicle mode.

vehicle mode? i mean, yeah, sure, he's got one, in the form of this king-sized candy bar of a space truck. his transformation starts off strong, with the entire front-facing half of his torso turntabling around, but the legs feel very simple and his feet just kind of end up sticking out of the back. i definitely don't hate it, and i give it props for at least committing pretty hard to Siege's Cybertronian aesthetic instead of just doing a blatant Earth mode reskin, but i feel like it's missing something, although maybe that's just because Earthrise literally does give you a giant shield to wrap around the top to complete the classic G1 silhouette. the gray-on-gray wheels definitely don't do him any favors for that low-impact feel, and while you can almost eke out a play feature by folding his leg shelves down to mount the weapon into, doing so leaves his entire uninterrupted robot arms laid bare on the roof, so it feels decidedly unintentional. points for thematic flair and being fittingly thick for the character, but he's missing that secret sauce that'd really excite me.

entry added 4/29/24


leader class // released 2019 // read more here
A picture of Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime's unarmored robot mode.

while Siege seemed mostly concerned with going back to square one and building the foundations for a definitive G1 cartoon roster, plenty of modern figures inevitably end up with a second lease on life through extensive retooling, and War for Cybertron came out swinging on this front. by taking advantage of Ultra Magnus's 'guy inside another guy' design, Hasbro managed to give the figure an entirely different feel by leaving the core robot intact and dressing him up in some 'Optimus circa 2005' armor. nowadays, in a world where Hasbro seems like they're ready to cash in on zoomer nostalgia and redo just about the entire Unicron Trilogy from scratch, there's something a little quaint about Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime. back in 2019, though, this was pretty much the first time Hasbro was paying tribute to the toys i personally grew up on, and i still have a lot of fondness for this weird half-step of a design.

without his new set of big boy parts, GUOP's inner robot mode takes on a distinctly un-Cybertron-ish vibe, winding up as the chunkiest Optimus we've seen in quite some time. it's not perfect, but it's at least servicable, and i do find something charming about the way it harkens back to the character's roots, without any of the heroic proportioning we see today. you're definitely not here for the little guy, though - he's a formality, a leftover from when this toy was a distinctly different guy.

A picture of Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime's armored robot mode.

once he's armored up, Optimus definitely isn't a perfect likeness for his 2005 counterpart, but he's trying his best and i have to admit, i'm too charmed by it to really stay mad about the inaccuracies. yes, he doesn't have his long boots, and he's way fatter in the middle, and he could use a little more paint, but those wings? the massive under-the-arm slung cannons? the greebly trapezoid space windows on his chest? he might not be my Optimus, no, but he's taken a few very important lessons and gone way further than i think anyone would reasonably expect a retool to. his wingspan alone gives him a pretty imposing presence, which is only aided by his adjustable artillery, and having the benefits of modern articulation like a hip swivel and ankle tilts really brings out this design's innate flair for dramatic heroic poses.

A picture of Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime's vehicle mode.

unfortunately, i would say that while the designers did an excellent job on the robot mode, you definitely start to see how janky this whole endeavor is when you look at the vehicle mode. without the trailer, Optimus's truck mode just feels underbaked with his arms hanging off the back, but attaching the armor feels finicky and requires a little more force than i'm comfortable applying to the plastics, and it mostly ends up creating more problems. the cannons certainly look nice, and at the right angle you can overlook some flaws, but the whole thing feels hollow and strange, and the lack of paint on his new faux-wheels really hurts the facade. it's not enough to diminish the things i like about the figure, but it is, at best, easily the worst part of a decent package. at worst, it might be enough to make a person start wondering if there's any shot of getting a better Cybertron revitalization down the road.

entry added 4/29/24


voyager class // released 2019
A picture of Classic Animation Optimus Prime in robot mode.

gather around, and let me tell you the story of a toy that came just short of being one of the coolest things i own!

Siege's run through 2019 just so happened to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the Transformers brand, and to celebrate, Hasbro released a few exclusives through Wal-Mart. some of these were just characters who didn't seem to make the cut for mainline retail, but the two highlights were the 'Classic Animation' variants of Optimus Prime and Megatron. the fan community had been painting figures up in this cel-shaded, 'living cartoon' aesthetic for years, but somehow, against all odds, Hasbro was managing to release actual product with this level of high-quality deco. what a surprise! i had held off on buying this mold, thanks to GUOP taking much higher priority for me, but i had to have this, it was such a nice statement piece for the big milestone.

and then, just a few months later, Earthrise kicked off, and Hasbro released an even more definitive version of Optimus Prime who actually turned into the classic Earth truck people loved, complete with trailer. this wondrous deco was stuck on the Siege figure, with all its much more noticeable imperfections and a sci-fi vehicle mode that didn't look like anything from the 1984 cartoon.

i shouldn't be too unfair to Classic Animation Optimus for what he isn't. for all intents and purposes, the Siege mold is still an okay figure, matching the articulation and quality that you would expect from the War for Cybertron line. the paintjob is an incredible feat - even the cartoon itself never looked quite this good, honestly. you would think that a deco that involves baked-in highlights might look a little weird at some angles, but i would say he comes out looking sharp no matter how you have him set up. unfortunately, though, it is hard to overlook that this particular mold winds up a little panel-heavy, particularly with the entire headlight assembly dangling off his forearms.

A picture of Classic Animation Optimus Prime in vehicle mode.

it's hard to really properly judge the vehicle mode. on the one hand, i think the cel-shaded deco benefits even more from having a more tightly-packed surface area, and i enjoy the details added to give this flat-nose cab some Cybertronian flair, even if it feels mismatched on a 'Classic Animation' release. on the other hand... yeah, this big 35th anniversary figure is using a vehicle design that didn't exist until year 35. that's not even the deal-breaker for me, though. true story: up until mere minutes before photographing this, i hadn't actually properly transformed Siege Optimus in my four years of owning the toy! and i pinched myself on his panels enough to draw blood! there's some clever tricks, particularly in the legs, but the way the backpack unfolds into a nice tidy truck facade is annoying to deal with at best, and in my case, i couldn't collapse it tightly enough to complete the look without feeling like i was about to snap the plastic in half or scuff the paintjob that drew me to the toy to begin with. it winds up looking very nice, but the whole process is just a bit more trouble than it's worth and leaves me wishing this unique look was applied to the more accurate and probably more fun Earthrise mold.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2019
A picture of Zetar in robot mode.

ah, Zetar, my sweet summer child. released through Generations Selects - a late 2010s effort to sell redecos too niche for retail release directly to consumers through Hasbro's burgeoning online storefront - our drill-headed friend comes in as a retool of Brunt, who was already stretching it for a mainline release. Brunt was based off of an immobile accessory for the city-bot Trypticon, and Zetar is taking that same framework (with the addition of a modular drill and a stumpy little peg-head to match) and spinning it off as an homage to one of the Powerdashers, who were a set of pull-back motor freebies mailed out during the primordial soup first year of the original G1 toyline. that's how deep Hasbro was pulling for Selects figures, and it's the type of multi-layered obscure nonsense i'm an absolute sucker for.

of course, i have at least a few other good reasons to have Zetar. this mold is one of the three Weaponizers - a trio of designs based on G1 pack-in nobodies who, rather than transforming in one clean cohesive process, split apart into a self-contained arsenal of weapons you can slap onto your other figures in whatever configuration of 5mm intercompatibility you can dream of. sure, the purist in me says that's 'cheating' a little bit, but it's worth it for such a unique gimmick that creates additive play and display value without compromising overall toy design like, say, the mandatory cockpits of Titans Return-era figures. i like a play pattern or two in my toys, and the Weaponizers are chock-full of it while being relatively subtle and unintrusive for anyone who doesn't want to bother with the 'having fun' part of owning lots of plastic robots.

and so, with three Weaponizers, the not-obvious-but-sure-why-not answer for redecos was to revisit the three Powerdashers! unfortunately, i actually only wound up with Zetar. Aragon got bundled in with other figures i wasn't looking for, and i guess Cromar just didn't really leave enough of an impression on me. luckily, Zetar's the type of Autobot who always stands out in a crowd, and it's not just because of his big pointy drill head. being retooled from an absolute nobody can sometimes be exactly what you need to make a big impression, because it gives you the freedom to have weird features. no other Autobot's going for big clampy hands or shoulder-mounted floodlights, all done up in a vaguely industrial-feeling black and yellow with just a touch of teal for a face that feels much more B-movie than most other Transformers. my only real qualm is something that's probably on me for rough handling, as one of his elbow joints has gotten a little floppy with no visible means of getting in and repairing the joint.

A picture of Zetar in vehicle mode.

it is weird to pull a Transformer apart rather than physically puzzle out how to get between modes, but i will concede that Zetar at least does some interesting stuff with the format. if you're going to be modular like this anyways, why not have your legs come off and form a giant cannon together? why not have the drill be a literal 5mm post accessory, meaning that, yes, Zetar has near-infinite funny hat potential once you detach it? i don't wind up feeling especially strongly about the vehicle mode, since it downplays the drill and turns up all the aspects that are just Brunt in some new colors, but it's certainly not a problem and, if you think it is - good news, Zetar's got enough 5mm ports for you to figure out your own solution, or just turn him into a set of Doctor Octopus arms and impractically large laser artillery for his Autobot allies.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2019 // read more here
A picture of Generations Selects Hot Shot in robot mode.

standing side-by-side with GUOP in the Siege era, Generations Selects Hot Shot is another great representation of the way Hasbro was starting to dip their toes into revisiting more of the franchise's history outside of the G1 mainline that had proven so dominant since... well, basically the last time a Hot Shot had even been on the shelves. the character is most known for turning into a myriad of early-2000s sports cars, ranging from blatant real-world homages to the near-future Y2K tinge of Cybertron and its transparent yellow laser spoiler. in this case, though, Hot Shot taps in as a retool of perennial G1 jeep-boy Hound, as a reference to his own tough guy upgrade as a member of the Cybertron Defense Team, solidly reaffirming that he's 100% for sure not just Bumblebee with a new name.

it might be Hound's body-type originally, but i'd argue Hot Shot wears it much better, decked out in a nice steely blue that defies photographic lighting (it's somehow way duller and way richer in-hand?) with splashes of his classic yellow and red to remind you of the impulsive kid-appeal rookie underneath all that armor. he's a little chunky, and having the entire left and right thirds of his alt-mode bundled up on his legs can make it hard to keep them from bashing into each other when he's posing, but he's definitely capable enough to look good, and that very 2005-accurate headsculpt still carries a unique charm today with its weird greebly forehead visor. there's a debate to be had about how this take on the character eschews accuracy to squeeze into a more G1 style, but Hot Shot never really kept a lot of consistency from year-to-year, so as far as i'm concerned, this new take is just as valid as any other.

A picture of Generations Selects Hot Shot in vehicle mode.

transformation is also definitely changed from the good old days - for all his different bodytypes, Hot Shot was never much of a 'car hood chest' guy, but the process here is really fun, honestly. he pulls off a really interesting leg stretch that then wraps around to form the sides of the vehicle, with his feet somehow in the middle as car doors. he also happens to be one of the few Transformers i can think of where having a fully open canopy doesn't really detract from either of his modes - it's a lot of empty space, but he never feels too overbearingly hollow despite it. one major benefit of coming in during the Siege run is that Siege was already full of figures who turned into not-quite-Earth vehicles, given just a subtle dash of flair like this clear-over-opaque windshield, and that's already pretty much the vibe that Hot Shot and his buddies had back in 2005. overall, Hot Shot has definitely changed a lot, which can make him look weird next to Legacy-era figures with more strict devotion to the source material, but i like him a lot for what he is.

entry added 4/29/24


core class // released 2020
A picture of Kingdom Core class Optimus Prime in robot mode.

it's a tiny Optimus! like Optimus, but tiny! after Siege and Earthrise toyed around with the idea of using the lowest pricepoint to reintroduce the G1 Micromasters (an experiment that seems to have gone very badly, according to Hasbro?), Kingdom opted to instead use these slots for the new-but-not-really Core class. miniaturized versions of mainline characters have been a popular addition to the toyline ever since Cybertron back in 2005, to the point where the lucrative unlicensed third-party scene has an entire sub-culture devoted to highgrade pocket-sized Transformers, so it makes a lot of sense for Hasbro to once again throw their hat into the ring. these make for great impulse purchases or stocking stuffers, so i've gathered a few without even really trying, and weirdly enough, the most 'default'-style Optimus Prime i own now might be this little fella. i mean, it's really either him or the one built out of LEGO.

if you already know what Optimus Prime looks like and how he generally gets from point A to point B, there's not a lot to be said about Kingdom Optimus... but i'll try anyways! there's a lot of interesting little design quirks here, like the fact that you can very blatantly tell they used the much larger Earthrise mold as a starting point, right now to specific details in the legs and abs still being present in miniature scale. in terms of his accessories, he comes with only a tiny ion blaster, which quite cleverly features a 3mm peg for Core-classes to hold, and then tapers into a larger 5mm peg so you can... i dunno, give your big Optimus a comically tiny gun? he also has ports on the backs of his hands for an Energon axe, but unfortunately, being this small means being very picky about your accessories, so it's either the gun or the axe, unless you're the fancy collector-y bundle that also comes with a matching tiny trailer for a matching tiny Bumblebee.

A picture of Kingdom Core class Optimus Prime in vehicle mode.

transformation is like... yeah, he does the thing. he sure is a truck now. even at this smaller scale, Kingdom Optimus is employing the now-standard tactic of having the actual grill of the truck hanging off of the robot's back, so that he can have tapered sculpted abs that get covered up by a much flatter, square-er facade. the gray internal structure poking out in place of side-windows is a little disconcerting, but i can never really bring myself to complain about figures of this size too much. they're trying their best! they're little guys! you wouldn't hit a little guy on his birthday! especially one with a wobbly leg because, whoops, i guess when Optimus is practically small enough to transform in one hand like a stress ball, you end up wearing down those ball joints pretty fast.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2021
A picture of Huffer in robot mode.

Huffer is a bit of an oddball. when i got him, it was really by process of elimination - there was a sale going on, i had enough pocket change for a Deluxe-class figure, and nothing else on the shelves for Kingdom at the time really caught my eye. a non-zero part of the decision came down to "hey, isn't it funny that his weapon is just 100% the Spartan Laser from Halo 3 for no discernible reason"? honestly, though, i'm really glad i bought him when i did. even if some of his wackier redecos are a little closer to what i usually buy, i think Huffer really rounds out some of my more vanilla Autobots quite nicely, even if i do wish we got a Transformers Animated-style Mario homage out of the mold at some point.

in robot mode, Huffer is a relatively stumpy fellow, thanks to his origins as a G1 'Mini Vehicle' like Bumblebee, and i think this dedication to scale gives him some much-needed personality. with that grumpy face, that bright industrial-grade orange, and his arms looking like two massive steel pipes welded to his sides, there's a real disgruntled blue-collar vibe to Huffer, although that might just also be his very literal blue collar. it's a very distinctive color scheme, and it's only accentuated by the weirdness of his shape - again, the massive pipe arms, but also the entire truck cab forming something of a hood over his back, adjustable on a double-jointed hinge and lighting him from the back through its beautiful blue windows. being a smaller guy, he makes up the difference on his pricepoint with some pretty great accessories, with the aforementioned suspiciously Halo-esque blaster and a massive clawed shield, complete with tactical eye slit/mail slot.

A picture of Huffer in vehicle mode.

transformation isn't too wildly complicated - none of the Mini Vehicles were, and if you're aiming for G1 accuracy, there's only so many more moving parts you can add - but it results in an adorably stocky little truck. it's easy to think of Optimus as having a monopoly on this type of alt-mode, but Huffer takes it and makes it feel so completely different, with little more than a slightly more angled windshield and a generally grumpier aura. there's a few oddities here and there, like the completely unhidden hands and the way the whole toy seems to want to crumple up at a weird angle in the middle instead of sitting flat like you'd expect, but there's so much charm here that i can totally forgive a few design flaws. it helps that there's so much play value, too - his accessories cleverly stack up to form a truck bed that adds to the whole 'roughed-up workhorse' vibe, and he's got an extra port to tow around all sorts of Optimus and Optimus-adjacent trailers, despite being so much tinier. Huffer's not a character i would have ever seen myself going out of my way for, but even as a full-grown collector who knows Transformers like the back of their hand, sometimes all you need to start loving a character is a neat little toy.

entry added 4/29/24


voyager class // released 2020
A picture of Optimus Primal in robot mode.

Beast Wars is an interesting corner of Transformers for me. it's almost like a bit of lost history - it's newer than the Generation 1 stuff my dad grew up on, but it came before the stuff i grew up on. i'm definitely familiar with it, because the impact it left on the franchise both directly (characters like Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Waspinator, etc.) and indirectly (hey, maybe articulation is a good feature for action figures to have) has been a constant underpinning of Transformers ever since. when War for Cybertron pivoted hard in its final stretch to pull a double-celebration for the overlapping anniversaries of the 1986 movie and Beast Wars, it definitely left me with less opportunities for weird niche nonsense or 2000s nostalgia, but i have no problem at all giving a little love to the Transformers that carried the brand throughout the 1990s.

it's hard to even know where to start covering Optimus Primal, because honestly, he's a really impressive total package. he's dense and highly articulated, going well above the standard with touches like opening hands and interconnecting shin pistons that actually tilt with his feet. he's incredibly cartoon-accurate, but with the additional touch of sculpted gorilla fur texture across almost his entire body. he's packing two pairs of hidden cannons and his original toy's distinctive curved swords, giving him a ton of built-in play potential without disrupting any of his engineering. i will say that my personal sample is maybe a little less than ideal - his whole body is tight to the point of being a little creaky, and you can see a really unfortunate paint scuff on his high-gloss white thighs - but it's hard to actually detract points when i'm so impressed by the overall design work on display.

A picture of Optimus Primal in beast mode.

gorilla mode is definitely on the simpler side, but there's only so many ways to turn a robot that's already 50% gorilla by volume into a convincing primate. the way they shorten the legs out on a double-jointed hinge can make posing a little awkward, and you do have to be pretty particular if you don't want those bright bold reds and whites poking out from under his fuzzy physique, but you could do way, way worse for a mostly realistic ape mode. as funny as it would have been to get the lumpy, almost metallic blue gorilla face of the 1996 cartoon and its early CGI, i do appreciate what Primal (and, really, all of the Kingdom Maximals) went for by merging fiction-accurate robot modes with more real-world animal designs. as the key representative for a subset of the franchise that really got skimmed over for almost all of Generations' run throughout the 2010s, Optimus Primal is an absolute treat, whether he's for Beast Wars super-fans or for a relative newcomer like myself.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2021
A picture of Blurr in robot mode.

Blurr stumbled into my collection by sheer happenstance, and to some extent, so did the very existence of this toy in the first place. as the 1986 animated movie crossed its big 35th anniversary in 2021, War for Cybertron: Kingdom put in a lot of work to celebrate the milestone, but it was also the long-awaited 25th anniversary for Beast Wars. there simply wasn't enough room to cover both birthdays at once, so what's a massive toy company to do? well, Studio Series is a line devoted to the long and winding history of the live-action movies, but i mean, technically all they ever said they were aiming for was movie accuracy, and The Transformers: The Movie is a full-length theatrical feature...

and so, with a massive to-do list spanning two entirely separate eras of Transformers history, CHUG just staked its technically correct claim in Studio Series for what seems to actually just be the foreseeable future, even in 2024. one of the first figures as part of this new initiative was Blurr, everyone's favorite fast-talking B-list Autobot who probably leaves less of an impression than Arcee but more of an impression than Springer, if i had to rank 'em. i wound up receiving Blurr as a bit of an impromptu gift simply because Target happened to have some fresh new post-Christmas stock, and while i'm not sure i would have gone out of my way for him, he's definitely got some charm.

in robot mode, Blurr definitely hits pretty close to the screen accuracy that Studio Series self-justifies itself on. personally, i've always found 1:1 cartoon accuracy to be a bit of a fruitless endeavor when dealing with a show that went off-model as often as the 80s cartoon, and i think going too deep down that rabbit hole leads to the kind of overly fiddly design that keeps me scared off of Masterpiece, but aside from some mechanically necessary swooshes dangling off his forearms (i like to call these Blurr's wizard sleeves), he actually looks the part pretty much spot-on. he poses alright, save for some slightly wobbly hip joints, and while there's definitely an instinct to try and set him up mid-run, i appreciate that Hasbro opted to include the incredibly weird accessory option of a welding torch that slots over his hand. i mean, yeah, it's from the movie, but it's weird and it opens up weird display possibilities.

A picture of Blurr in vehicle mode.

transformation is interesting - not overtly fiddly, but it does require some specific order of operations that i tend to have to relearn every time i pick him back up, with his arms and legs doing all kinds of flips and extensions while his torso just kind of effortlessly falls into place whenever you need it to. the end result is an excellent rendition of the iconic three-pronged hover dragster, which i think exemplifies the 1986 movie's vision of 2005. the two-tone blues really do work way better than they have any right to, and those wizard sleeves really pull their weight with how well they contour along the side of the vehicle. the screen accuracy does start to get a little intrusive in some areas, like how he just kind of rests on a flat slab of robot underbelly instead of having any wheels, or how you can't really do anything with his accessories once he's in this mode, but it's at least tolerable. Blurr's a fine enough figure who i think can slot into just about any Autobot display and bring a nice little pinch of retrofuturistic flair along with him.

entry added 5/15/24


voyager class // released 2022
A picture of Bulkhead in robot mode.

so, this is going to be kind of an interesting one, because i've used this exact figure multiple times as a somewhat negative example to compare against. also because it was sitting in my house for like, five months before anyone realized it hadn't been handed off to me! merry Christmas, everyone!

now that i finally have him in hand and on the shelf, let's dive into what's actually going on with Legacy Bulkhead. as part of the first wave coming out of the War for Cybertron 'trilogy', Bulkhead was one of the first big reveals to make the next cycle's big-picture 'multiversal anniversary smorgasbord' intentions clear. Bulkhead feels like a pretty obvious candidate to lead the pack, having really only debuted around the turn of the 2010s and cementing himself as a reliable fit for the Autobot's resident gentle giant. this particular figure draws from his appearance in Transformers: Prime... at least, sort of, kind of, a little bit.

for as exciting as it was to finally break out of doing mostly just G1 stuff for the longest time, it definitely took Legacy a minute to figure out how to walk that tightrope. Bulkhead is by no means a bad toy, but he isn't an especially close representation of his Prime counterpart, throwing together elements from various designs and even a healthy dose of live-action movie John Goodman Hound to create a new homogenized take on the character, fitting right into the 'evergreen' G1-adjacent vibes of something like Selects Hot Shot. with how the Hasbro design team responded to the criticisms around this specific toy, Legacy Bulkhead does feel like a bit of a bot out of time, a clear halfway point between two eras of Transformers design ethos.

that elephant in the room aside, though - he's also just a really good toy, honestly? his big bulky torso block does feel maybe a little hollow and finicky, but he poses really well, has the nicest, lushest, Bulkhead-iest green all over him, and even after getting smushed down into G1 conformity, he keeps some nice sculpted mechanical detail, especially on his legs. it also helps that he's got a really nice set of accessories and plenty of ports to use them with - his gatling gun does feel a little small in the hand, but it looks great plugged into his shoulder, and that wrecking ball perfectly sculpted to clamshell over his hand does a lot to evoke the character's vibes.

A picture of Bulkhead in vehicle mode.

transforming Bulkhead is a surprisingly involved process. a lot of the steps are simple, sure, but the two halves are hinged together in like, three different ways to get you to the finished product. the vehicle mode is definitely one of the big sticking points when it comes to this figure's inaccuracies - Bulkhead never really turned into this particular type of militarized truck, although it definitely feels sort of right, on a conceptual level. his tarp shield comes into play here, and it technically isn't partsforming since you can keep it on the whole way through, but... yeah, just pop it off, it makes things way easier, no big deal. it covers all his onboard weapons storage in a very satisfying way and lends this whole vehicle the kind of rugged heft that makes it work, even if it's kind of doing its own thing. Legacy Bulkhead might not fit in perfectly with the character's usual cohorts, but if you can open your heart to this being a take someone could have on the general idea of a Bulkhead, i do think there's a lot to love.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2022
A picture of Cosmos in robot mode.

when the first leaks hit, i already knew Wal-Mart had me and my wallet captive with their Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection. that's the Speed Planet, from Cybertron! of course i have to get Override! but the rest of the lineup seemed like a scattered pile of easy, mildly amusing redecos. little did anyone realize that Hasbro had a trick up their sleeves, with not one, but two completely original molds on standby for this sub-line. Override appealed to a very specific window of nostalgia for me, but it was Cosmos who wound up being the talk of the town, especially once it became clear he was shortpacked. as i refreshed the Wal-Mart site in a wild dash to get my pre-orders in, i saw my opportunity, thought 'eh, sure, i ought to grab him too', and i'm so glad i did, because Cosmos is delightful. and also kind of wound up being impossible to get your hands on, at least for a hot minute.

even moreso than fellow Mini Vehicle Huffer, Cosmos feels adorably chunky. they're actually just about the same height side-by-side, but with a body made out of mostly soft curves, Cosmos just has a certain teddy bear quality to him that i love. he can absolutely get into some good poses with his articulation, but he's never gonna look like a badass doing so, and i love him all the more for it. his color scheme is a weird mix of dulled greens and bright yellows with splashes of red and blue, but against all odds, he wears it really well! everything about Cosmos feels like he's outside of all the norms, right down to his place within the Speedia 500. he even comes with a little checkered flag, because we all know that's what he's really here to do! yes, he can technically hold it as a gun, but why would you ever even consider that for a second when you have the perfect bystander ready to cheer your cooler figures on?

A picture of Cosmos in vehicle mode

transforming Cosmos is an equally lovable affair, coming across as pretty simple without feeling undercooked either. you take one look at this guy and you know these parts aren't going to convert themselves into anything sensible. indeed, Cosmos retains his classic 1980s alt-mode as a B-movie 'flying saucer', pretty much just shuffling all his limbs into the bottom layer of a stacked cake and turtling his head away into an adorable little hidey-hole. it's fun and dumb and it reminds you that while Transformers is full of characters who are cool or exciting, it's also got a long and relatively untapped legacy of funny little guys and goofy little birthday boys. when i say Cosmos is silly, it's with all the love in the world. i can only hope that the ongoing efforts to get this mold out of Wal-Mart exclusive purgatory pan out one day, because i think pretty much anyone's collection would benefit from the kind of non-combative levity he brings to the scene.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2022
A picture of Burn Out in robot mode.

when massive chain retailers prove to be inconsistent, sometimes, us collectors must turn to unexpected corners of the world to get our fix. i had no real intentions of getting Burn Out, but when she metaphorically washed ashore at a local comic book shop after having never made it to Wal-Mart shelves, i wound up receiving this figure as a gift, because, well, it's something neat and different and you should support your local comic book shops. when the Speedia 500 Collection first came out, i obviously made a beeline for its two very impressive and very high-demand new molds, but Burn Out has honestly wound up being an unexpected treat, even if i have a few key gripes with this mold.

coming in as a redeco of Skids, the most well-known nobody of the 1980s Autobot cast, Burn Out takes yet another step into obscurity as a reference to the original Diaclone figure Skids was based off of. for those not in the know - long story short, the original Transformers toyline was pieced together from a variety of imported Japanese toys, and homages to these pre-USA color schemes are like catnip to a certain type of nerd. i'm usually not that type of nerd, but i do have a real respect for the Diaclone aesthetic, and it's hard to deny that black and red with splashes of transparent blue is a pretty sleek palette to work with. i feel like the Skids body-type is definitely one that still feels stuck in the 80s, to some extent, but in a good, charming way, with its blend of chunky car part clothes and rounded-off detail like the wheel shoulders. even her accessories, like the triple-barreled 'liquid nitrogen rifle', feel like retro toy accessories from a whole different era of design language. as an added bonus, Burn Out happens to be one of the rare few female characters in Transformers who doesn't sacrifice all practical or aesthetic appeal for the sake of conveying that she's a girl - i mean, it's really mostly because of a long boring technicality, but i'm taking it as a win for letting female robots look like robots.

A picture of Burn Out in vehicle mode.

Burn Out's transformation looks really simple on paper, but it can be a little strenuous to get everything here condensed down into such a tight little bundle of automobile, to the point where i'm already spotting some hairline fractures in her transparent plastics. it's a bit of a hassle and it's worth taking extra care with this mold in all its various forms, but i do have to admit, it just might be worth it. i'm the exact opposite of a car person, but if you had to make me choose, i do admire the chunky awkward vibe of a lot of Japanese cars of the 1980s, and even without a proper licensing deal, this definitely evokes the real-world Honda City Turbo that Skids turned into. while all the other Autobots have tried to keep up with the times or at least represent long-lasting vehicles, Burn Out and her younger brothers continue to insist on this weird little lump of junk from fourty-something years ago, and it lends them a lot of personality.

entry added 4/29/24


voyager class // released 2022 // read more here
A picture of Override in robot mode.

honestly, i still can't believe this one exists. Legacy Metroplex was one thing, but with Hasbro running out of big G1 guys to do at two-foot scale and the line already working on branching out more, it's not the craziest thing in the world. here, though, we have one of two unprecedented new molds in a retailer-exclusive line that also happens to be themed entirely around one corner of Cybertron's lore. if there was ever a sign that the time has come for Hasbro to begin harvesting 2000s nostalgia, that sign was Override and her absolutely fantastic Legacy figure.

in robot mode, Override is pretty much as perfect as you could expect for the character. her original 2005 figure relied heavily on a full-body spring-loaded flip for her transformation, so it's crazy to actually own a version that looks how i remember the 'idea' of Override looking. she's sleek, but not overly slim either, with all the crazy flared shapes and cherry-red transparent plastic you could want, and she happens to join Burn Out as a member of the 'girl Transformers who still look like Transformers' club! she's notably smaller than other figures at her pricepoint, but i think you end up feeling where that money went in terms of how solid she feels, and how they worked so much articulation into a design that was never meant to have it.

A picture of Override in vehicle mode.

transformation can be a little daunting, thanks to taking what was once a single spring-powered motion into an intricate dance of tabbing and untabbing and extending and compressing, but it's absolutely worth it. some things done for the sake of the overall package definitely rear their head here as potential flaws, whether it's the missing gold paint along the front prongs or the noticeably tiny cockpit, but it's hard to resist the overall charm of this very, VERY Speed Racer-esque alt-mode. there's maybe a debate to be had somewhere about how the toy lacks some of the original's play value, but all i can really say in counter-response is that it feels really good to own such a crisp, pristine rendition of one of the coolest Transformers of my childhood. feels right. feels full circle. feels like i'm maybe getting old. but i'm here for it.

entry added 5/15/24


voyager class // released 2022
A picture of Road Hauler in robot mode.

would it really be a Wal-Mart exclusive redeco without an overly elaborate production pipeline backstory for me to regale you with? of course not. Road Hauler here is definitely a bit of an odd fit for the high-octane world of Velocitron, but he's right at home alongside fellow Speedia 500 toys like Burn Out or Clampdown, in that he dates back to the halycon year of 2003, when e-HOBBY was hitting fans with not just reissues of the original Generation 1 lineup, but enticingly obscure secondary options too. when it came to Grapple, the usual strategy of 'do the Diaclone colors' didn't apply, because his toy was the same hard-hat orange in both toylines. Takara instead decided to deco the good guy construction robot as though he was one of the bad guy construction robots, using his character bio to handily handwave away a bunch of animation errors in the process. thus, Road Hauler was born, a Decepticon turncoat who now worked for the Autobots, with a sense of fashion to accomodate whatever colors Toei may or may not have painted him in. as recorded in Takara's tie-in web manga for this toyline, he's in the race because he wants to build a big bridge with all his buddies. this is one of the most notable bits of characterization he's ever gotten and i love him all the more for it.

his lavish retroactive backstory aside, Road Hauler is honestly just a really good, hardy, practical slice of 1980s robot design, refreshed and brought up to modern standards. Grapple is one of those rare Transformers blessed with a toy design that mostly just works in both modes, with no weird caveats and no 'actually, he looked different in the cartoon' baggage, and the recent Earthrise take hits even better in Constructicon green. his tall and skinny proportions and that head built into its own discrete shelf (sculpted in a permanent scream, for some reason?) give him a pretty distinctive silhouette, and aside from wishing his elbows could pull off a bit more of a bend, Road Hauler poses phenomenally. adding to his expressive options, he has a feature i wish more Transformers would include where possible - you can flip his fists around to reveal some open 5mm ports, letting you arm him with his extra-mechanical accessories like a massive claw or Grapple's weird little nozzle thing. it's a fun little touch that really brings the character to life and emphasizes some of that old-school robotic feel.

A picture of Road Hauler in vehicle mode.

transformation on this mold is pretty simple, but again, these are the benefits of having a pretty workable 1984 robot to build off of - no need for fancy cheats. the biggest move is mostly just unfurling Road Hauler's entire spine out into the foundation of his vehicle mode's crane, which also benefits from having an extra 5mm port, just like his hands. really, there's not a ton to be said about this vehicle that isn't apparent from looking right at it - it's a really good crane truck! the crane arm does articulate nicely, although i do find that whatever internal locking mechanism it's on seems to come loose a lot, so it does require the occasional shove back in. if i have any other gripes, i guess i'd say i wish they went all-in on the Constructicon homage and gave Road Hauler some purple-tinged windows like the e-HOBBY original, but the teal they went for instead does contrast nicely with all that green, and it helps keep this character from being too overly defined by the homage aspect. all in all, it's really hard to go wrong with any take on Grapple, and if you're looking for an extra pop of weird color or a fun connection to Transformers history, Road Hauler is definitely the one to go for.

entry added 4/29/24


core class // released 2023
A picture of Legacy: Evolution Core class Grimlock in robot mode.

with Core class having proven itself a viable-enough option during Kingdom, it makes sense that Legacy has not only fully embraced the pricepoint, but also used it for some highly collectable sets of characters who might be a little more difficult to execute at full-scale. for Decepticons, things started off with a loose theme of 1988's monstrous Pretender goons, but on the Autobot side of things, 2023 saw a spattering of Dinobots. it's hardly their only modern representation, with Studio Series creating larger animation-grade versions at roughly the same time, but these pocket-sized prehistoric pals are a lot easier to gather up and have the added benefit of combining into Volcanicus, the Dinobot combiner who, surprisingly, only really started being a thing in like, 2017. although, rather suspiciously, a lot of the design cus here actually bear a closer resemblance to Dinoking, who's made of... hey, Decepticon Pretenders! full circle! well-played, Hasbro.

as of this writing, i only have half the components, though, so let's reel back in and see how they stand up on their own. Grimlock is enough of a headliner on his own that he'd probably be getting a Core class with or without his crew, but you can definitely tell this is a Grimlock who's primary schtick is also being a leg. he can be a little awkward with his massive elbowless arms, but i do kind of enjoy the stylized extra-wide proportions here. no sword, unfortunately, with his only accessory being some kind of gigantic kitchen sink blaster that's so blatantly meant for his other modes that i didn't even bother cluttering up the photo with it.

A picture of Legacy: Evolution Core class Grimlock in beast mode.

transformation is a classic Grimlock groove - arms to legs, legs to tail, entire top half formed out of robot cape. there's a few big glaring flaws that are a little hard to talk my way around, of course. his robot mode legs are so unnecessarily wide that it gives our lovable T-rex an entire refrigerator for a butt, and my only guess for how we got here is that maybe it makes more sense when Grimlock becomes nothing but leg? the ball joints for his torso also end up sticking out the sides of his neck pretty heavily like a couple of angry robo-zits. all things considered, though... yeah, it'll do, for a $10 Grimlock small enough to hide in a cereal box. not sure i'd say there's been worse, but it's at least fun to fiddle around with.

entry added 4/29/24


core class // released 2023
A picture of Scarr in robot mode.

now, hold on a minute! who's this guy hanging out with the Dinobots? well, when you're putting together a solid Volcanicus at this scale (and might secretly be intending to turn the whole set into a different team later), you start digging pretty deep for extra team members to fill out the roster. there's plenty of obscure auxillary Dinobots like Slash or Paddles... buuut Dinoking has an anklyosaurus for an arm. enter Skar (or Scarr, if there's already a guy named Skar running around), the Dinobot who's claim to fame is not making it to Earth with the rest of the team and giving them all survivor's guilt. why not have some fun and say he could have wound up as an ankylosaurus?

all that might sound a little caught up in the weird and often cynical ouroboros that is Transformers lore, but taken on his own merits, i actually kind of adore Scarr? there's no real expectations, no 40 years of franchise baggage weighing him down, so he just gets to be a delightful brick wall made of dinosaur. he feels right at home next to the classic Dinobot lineup, although i also have a sneaking suspicion he'd look pretty good in pretty much any gang of animalistic robots. he's inherited the exact same elbowless articulation as Grimlock, but Scarr just flat-out wears it better, with burlier proportions and a cleaner distribution of his various dinosaur bits. i guess i could dock him some points for his gun being so blatantly a big robot hand, but at least it's kind of trying to hide it.

A picture of Scarr in beast mode.

transformation is dead simple and fairly easy, and oh my god, look at this precious little baby. look at this tiny lump of dinosaur. ankylosaurus is one of the very few household name dinosaurs that didn't already receive the classic Dinobot treatment, and now i'm sitting here wondering how it never happened until now. look at him! look at his little legs and his pointy little face and... well, admittedly just his entire gun slapped on as a tail rather clumsily, but whatever, he's amazing. at this point, i kind of want Legacy to go full self-referential just so Scarr can get the big chunky Leader class he deserves. executing a new design for such an iconic line-up is always a delicate balance, but honestly, like, if they just so happened to forget about doing Slug next time and slotted Scarr in instead, i literally don't think i'd notice.

entry added 4/29/24


core class // released 2023
A picture of Swoop in robot mode.

rounding out my current set of diminutive Dinobots is Swoop, the very literal right-hand man of the crew. Swoop's generally been the weird one out of this bunch no matter what decade you're in, thanks to his flying alt-mode and the cartoon randomly deciding he needed to be the only Dinobot with a snazzy blue vest to break up his color scheme. in a more modern form, he still stands out in the Core class pack, mostly due to, quite bluntly, being a better toy than Grimlock or Scarr.

don't get me wrong, i definitely like Scarr more, but when it comes to play value, Swoop just literally does more. he boasts actual elbows and a ball-jointed neck, not to mention the fact that his gun/Volcanicus extremity splits into two, helping to disguise it a lot better and giving him some nice under-the-wing laser blasters a la G1. his slender proportions really do give him a very unique silhouette in a gang full of heftier, more rectangular dudes, although i think he kind of winds up suffering the most from a lack of paint, leaving him with some pretty boring gray pterodactyl stems to stand on. maybe they were onto something with the blue vest after all.

A picture of Swoop in beast mode.

transformation is about as simple as it can get, and he sure does wind up as a pterodactyl with most of a robot still sticking out. it's not like big toys have even solved this problem in the first place, so i can't be too mad about the 'jet boosters', but those sure are his legs, huh? i think it also suffers from being kind of hard to display dynamically, with just the slightest hint of pterodactyl ptoes to stand him on, meaning usually he's found as pictured here - laying down flat on his belly. maybe he just needs a better paintjob and a case of stolen Dinoforce identity to really soar, but as it stands (or belly-flops), Swoop's a decently inoffensive pterodactyl, if not a little lacking in aerodynamics.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2023
A picture of Legacy: Evolution Hot Shot in robot mode.

this guy just won't stop showing up on this page, huh? it makes sense - Hot Shot is one of the very few characters who had the honor of sticking around for all three installments of the Unicron Trilogy, so there's plenty of potential for updated figures of his various new forms. Armada was just a few years before my time, so i don't have the same deep nostalgic attachment to this particular flavor of the month, but it's still a part of the character's lineage and it's still got that early 2000s funk you know i love.

robot mode has some frustrating pitfalls, but i'll start with the positives by saying that Armada-era Hot Shot has such a distinct vibe to him, even over 20 years later. he's clearly going for a bit of that Bumblebee legacy with the yellow, but he really makes it his own in a few key ways. the massive shoulder-pads, once infamous hindrances to his original toy's playability, now sit as tasteful adjustable pauldrons, and i'm in love with the racecar driver theme he has going on, with the silver harness over his chestplate and the rounded-off helmet, complete with adjustable visor. unfortunately, even the wonders of modern toy engineering can't save him from his design require quite a lot of junk in the trunk - the car hood dangling off his shoulders isn't the worst thing in the world and it packs in a fun play feature with the unfolding 'axelzooka', but his legs just feel clunky, with his windshield attached on the world's weirdest ball-jointed struts. you really have to fight them to get him into any decent poses, honestly.

A picture of Legacy: Evolution Hot Shot in vehicle mode.

any design choice like that is a trade-off, though, and i'll concede that it pays off in the form of a very sleek vehicle mode with a nice tight profile. the transparent blue here really pops and the addition of his hood-gun is a nice touch, even if its double-peg nature makes it a bit of a pain to remove once inserted. the micro-sized elephant in the room here, of course, is the lack of his Mini-Con partner Jolt, who'd traditionally perch as a tiny cartoon propellor on that lonesome 5mm peg on the back. Hasbro seems at least semi-interested in fixing this by doing some more expensive multi-packed versions, but for the time being, it does leave the car mode as... just a nice car. a really nice one, honestly, but it's lacking that characteristic exclamation mark to cap it off. all in all, though, i think Hot Shot definitely benefits from receiving this type of modern update, and he's certainly not lacking in company, seeing as Armada has suddenly gotten four of its primary cast members redone in just the last year. it's not quite my thing, but it's adjacent to my thing and receives some residual respect from me.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2023
A picture of Prowl in robot mode.

while Legacy has made leaps and bounds when it comes to representing all corners of Transformers history, it's taken a little trial and error. some branches on the family tree, like the Unicron Trilogy, never strayed too far away from the classic mecha design language that informed G1, meaning they receive pretty seamless 1:1 updates. other media, however, pushed the classic Transformers aesthetics further than ever before, and there were definitely some growing pains when it came to fitting them into Legacy. complaints about figures like Prime Bulkhead who barely resembled the source material didn't fall on deaf ears, though, and year two of Legacy found much firmer footing, incorporating more heavy stylistic influences while still keeping things in a cozy G1-adjacent aesthetic. as if trying to prove this new direction with a big strong statement piece, the 2023 lineup started to dive straight into the most stylized series of the franchise - Transformers Animated.

Animated, as brought to life by the late great Derrick J. Wyatt, holds a real special place in my heart. Prowl's entry could easily be twice as long as everyone else on this page if i dug into every little reason, but the short version is that Animated is a unique, dynamic show with great visuals and storytelling. it's the only Transformers series i've gone out of my way to own on physical media, and the only one i've rewatched multiple times, too. Prowl, by himself, isn't exactly my favorite member of the show's cast, but with the later reveal of 2024 bringing new renditions of Optimus and Bumblebee to match? well, it felt like a bit of an Animated reunion was cooking, so i figured i might as well start gathering this new Autobot crew before they get prohibitively expensive.

Prowl was still the first through the door, though, and he's quite impressive. he's definitely been through a few design passes to make him blend in with the G1 style a little more - namely with a larger helmet crest that harkens back to his 1980s counterpart, and some extra mass in the thighs that makes them look like big puffy horse jockey pants - but he's still recognizably everyone's favorite cyber-ninja. he's got some incredible articulation to really push his posing a little further into the realm of Animated's action, and he wears the distinctive black and tan color scheme well. he even inherits his original 2008 figure's hub cap shuriken, and while they can be a little fiddly to unfurl thanks to their geared mechanisms, they also have literally the most seamless weapon storage i've ever seen on a Transformers figure, so don't even sweat it if you need to stash them away and forget about them.

A picture of Prowl in vehicle mode.

transformation is similarly impressive, still using the same distinctive perpendicular hip turn 15 years after the original figure and wearing it better than similarly scaled toys of the modern era. maybe getting the last few pieces into place can get a little annoying, but i'm too impressed by the way his right foot just vanishes into the front end of the motorcycle to stay mad. everyone always sings Derrick J. Wyatt's praises for the heroic proportions and gigantic chins, but i think one of the most under-appreciated aspects of his Transformers designs is that he always remembered that these characters were going to end up as toys, working closely with Hasbro to ensure that their transformations made physical sense and could be carried over into the harsh reality of plastic with minimal cheating. that level of foresight honestly means the Animated cast, for all their quirks, are some of the most future-proofed Transformers in the entire franchise. Prowl was impressive back in 2008, he was impressive in 2023, and he'll probably still be impressive in another 15 to 20 years when we're due to go through all these cycles again.

entry added 4/29/24


voyager class // released 2023
A picture of Trashmaster in robot mode.

even beyond the flashy marketing lingo that gave us guys like Zetar or Skelivore, it seems like modular Transformers are here to stay. which is good! like i covered with Zetar, extremely clever and unintrusive usage of toy design traits that have already been standard for decades. in recent years, though, they've also revealed a second, perhaps even greater benefit - they're like, the only way the design team seems to be able to slip new guys into the toyline anymore. opening the floodgates for more homages outside of G1 definitely added some much-needed variety, but one of my biggest gripes with Generations has always been that it doesn't quite capture that 'anything goes' energy of decades past, where you'd have shelves upon shelves of complete nobodies to get attached to. how are you supposed to cultivate the next breakout star of the franchise if everything is Optimus Prime forever? the various flavors of modular figures have proven to be an unexpected melting pot, full of guys who can sort of vaguely fit into G1 but possess their own unique style, although unfortunately lacking the kind of back-of-the-box fiction that endeared me to guys like, i dunno, Armorhide.

every new year seems destined to ring in its own new modular motif, and 2023 brought us one that had seemed like a bit of a no-brainer for a while. the Junkions are beloved weirdos from the 1986 movie, already famous for their quirky aesthetic, riding each other's vehicle modes around, and putting busted-up Transformers back together. all extremely toyetic, and extremely ripe for some bold new designs to extend the Junkion family.

i still haven't picked up any of the various Deluxe class Junkions like Scraphook and Crashbar, but how am i supposed to resist the appeal of a guy named Trashmaster? as a Voyager class, he feels like the de facto leader of the new Junkions, although a lot of that extra mass goes into width rather than height. he's all spikes and chains with a sick headsculpt, rocking some bright red shades and a potent robo-jaw. the dude's wearing like, a third of his truck mode as some kind of waistcoat? i guess what i'm saying here is Trashmaster has a whole lot of presence. as a toy, he feels perhaps a little clumsy, with some very weird ankle articulation and a unique claw weapon that's gimped by having the most annoying restrictive handle in recent memory. despite those major flaws, though, i do wind up liking him, like, a LOT. it's honestly a little endearing. he really does feel like a toy plucked out of the middle of 2006, in some ways, while still having some of the comfort and convenience of a modern Generations figure.

A picture of Trashmaster in vehicle mode.

unlike previous modular mooks, the Legacy Junkions all pride themselves on being able to transform without disassembly. this does means there's just generally less parts of Trashmaster that come off and do fun stuff - only his legs and the front wheels of his alt-mode, really - but it also grants him an easy, fun, and ironically tidy transformation. he turns into a garbage truck, which is a surprisingly rare vehicle in Transformers, with only Animated Wreck-Gar coming to mind as a comparable example. of course, he's a garbage truck with a lot more spikes and chains than usual, but a garbage truck nonetheless. he's got some surprisingly satisfying heft, and while some might decry it as partsforming, the claw weapon finally pulls its weight here, acting as a fun little opening garbage mouth in the back. it's here, in his natural habitat of mastering trash, that Trashmaster really shines. with the Junkions featuring some loose cross-vehicle compability - as in, 'pull off the entire front chunk of this garbage truck and stick a sick hot rod front chunk on it instead' - Trashmaster is the type of figure that makes me want to expand my collection out more, which is probably really exciting news for the people who make money when i buy more Transformers!

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2023
A picture of Mirage in robot mode.

Wal-Mart is dialed in. they have hacked my brain. if there's one corner of Transformers that instantly gets my interest and money flowing anywhere nearly as much as the 2000s material i grew up on, it's Generation 2 and all its weird offshoots. as a little history lesson for anyone not in the loop - after G1 had died down but before Kenner would revitalize the franchise with Beast Wars, Hasbro tried keeping the brand alive with Generation 2, a weird hodge-podge line that was 50% 'modern' (circa 1993) remakes of G1 characters, and 50% radical x-treme redecos of the original figures from the 1980s. it went... alright enough, but just barely, and nowadays it mostly serves as a fun cheesy source of redeco potential for collectors. being the just-barely success that it was, G2 had a lot of unused material on the table, color schemes too gnarly for even the gnarliest era in toy history, and as these have resurfaced over the years, they've become just a little infamous amongst a very specific demographic of people who care about unreleased toys from the 1990s for some reason. you know, like me.

so, of course, just a year after tapping into the toys of my childhood, Wal-Mart opted to tap into the toys of... nobody's childhood, but instead my super-nerdy taste for incredibly tacky color schemes. i suffered through pre-order hell for some of these bad boys, but perhaps the most emblematic of the whole lineup is a deco that has become infamous amongst me and my friends when i try to explain my weird interests to them - the 'watermelon crocodile' Mirage.

Mirage, in his G1 colors, is a classy blue-and-white Formula 1 car, perfectly reflecting his snooty aristocratic attitude. for 30 years, everyone was too much of a coward to deck him out in neon green and pink with an inexplicable reptilian motif layered on top. no more of that cowardice. he's real and he's here and it's incredible. this particular mold traces its roots all the way back to the Siege era, and it feels just as solid and polished as the other Autobot carfolk of the time. posability is solid, he folds up into a shockingly clean profile, and... i really just can't get over the colors. what else do you want me to say about this one? he looks like that. it's incredible. i could get really nitpicky about how i wish he used this mold's alternate toy-accurate headsculpt in pure monochrome green to better match the concept art we have, but that would be missing the point so much. the watermelon crocodile F1 man is a reason to celebrate.

A picture of Mirage in vehicle mode.

...if i do have to start having gripes, though, his transformation is a bit much. the cost of looking so clean in both of his modes is that converting him back and forth is a pretty involved ordeal, with lots of very finicky tabs and a mid-torso split that loves to wiggle around and undo all the work you put into trying to keep the front end clipped together. worst of all is that it puts his fantastic paintjob at serious scuffage risk! it's a nice car and it looks excellent with the weird scaly pattern running along the side, but by the time i'm done getting him here, i'm just kind of exhausted and praying that he won't have his immaculate deco ruined by me getting him back to robot mode. it's good that he can do this, and it looks nice when he does, but Mirage is definitely not a 'pick up and fiddle around' kind of figure. he's more of a watchful guardian, sitting amongst my Autobots and making every other toy i own look 20% less saturated just by comparison.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2023
A picture of G2 Sideswipe in robot mode.

what's old is new again! or really, what's old is wearing the clothes of something that never happened to begin with, and that's new enough for me. i generally avoid buying redecos and retools of figures i already have - i'm a collector on a budget, after all, and while there's a few sets of matching characters who are mildly enticing, i generally gravitate to the type of weirdo who doesn't require much company. the Toxitron Collection subline really has all the perfect tricks to make me temporarily break that habit, though. the 'real' G2 Sideswipe of yesteryear mostly flipped the character's red and black palette around, but at long last, we've received the G2 Sideswipe we could have had, perhaps even should have had, with his lemony fresh gradient deco and his sunset decals.

so, what is there to say about this Sideswipe that i didn't already say about his Siege brother? it's still largely the same figure, although this version has the most different set of parts you can really get, wearing Red Alert's stubby-horns headsculpt and using the Kingdom vehicle parts that more closely resemble an actual Earth Lamborghini. he comes with one more gun than usual, i guess? that's cool. that's all pretty skin-deep though, so he still feels like mostly the same figure, with all the same things i already liked about it almost five years ago. any added value comes in with that stunning deco - it's pretty aggressive with the electric yellow and teal, but the decals look shockingly crisp and era-appropriate, and i love that just-barely-haunting monochrome face. a few of the joints might feel a little less tight after this toy received a dozen different rereleases, but he still handles really well, honestly.

A picture of G2 Sideswipe in vehicle mode.

none of the new tooling does anything to change what was already a pretty sleek transformation, and it's here where we get a real look at what's actually impressive about this long-lost deco. the decals are great, yes, but this particular Sideswipe is one of the very few examples i can think of when a Transformer actually has a pretty meaningful gradient effect that looks almost manually airbrushed on. i can see why it's a hard effect to achieve, and the perfectionist in me notices that maybe one of his legs got just a little more teal sprayed on than the other, but it's a really fantastic look that instantly makes him stand out - he's everything we couldn't have back then and still can just barely have now. with such a weird mix of fashionable touches layered onto what's already a much clearer example of a fashionable Earth car, i honestly get a real 'dollhouse' quality from this Sideswipe, and i'm loving that extra bit of personality. normal Sideswipe is, if i had to try and pin it down, 'the jock Autobot'? this Sideswipe, though, he's going to take me to a novelty tropical restaurant. he's finally achieved aspirations higher than being 'The Red One (From 1984) (Who Isn't Ironhide)', and i'm here for him!

A picture of G2 Sideswipe with his original counterpart.

of course, cynically speaking, i have this toy. you read what i think about it twice, except the second time, i was swayed by some nice colors. i am still the type of person who wants to avoid overlap in my collection as much as possible, to make each new purchase count the most by picking out something distinct. Toxitron Collection Sideswipe is a nice bit of contrasting counter-theory though. redecos have been a thing since day one of Transformers, and some of its most beloved characters exist because they're easy to make out of a different guy. maybe i'm ascribing too much metatextual meaning about my collecting habits here, but i think G2 Sideswipe is a stunning example of how much a new paintjob can give you a whole different perspective on a toy. if nothing else, he taps into the nichest, nerdiest corners of my brain and takes them on a cozy sunset cruise, so he's at least got that going for him, and maybe that's been enough all along.

entry added 4/29/24


leader class // released 2023
A picture of Grimlock in robot mode.

Mirage might be the easier 'elevator pitch' when it comes to the infamous G2 rejects, and Sideswipe might be the most technically impressive, but of course, Grimlock has them both beat on sheer scale, and he might take up just a little more room in my heart, too. where do you even start with a toy that looks like this? where did this idea come from? the Dinobots are traditionally one of the more cohesive sets in Transformers with their heavy-duty grays broken up by a bit of red and gold, and they even received actual G2 releases that had the pretty sensible approach of swapping out the neutral tones for one primary color per character. whereas the original Grimlock is a stern steely monolith of 1980s mecha design, this palette drags him kicking and screaming into the radical 1990s. he's loud, he's trying out some very bold fashion choices, and he's absolutely ready to party. LEGO brick yellow and metallic tiger stripes are the look of the season, and if you have a problem with that? tough luck, try finding anything that stands out more than this.

even if this figure sucked to play with, you'd still find me going head-over-heels for the deco, but the good news is that it's actually a really good toy under all that color, too! the mold comes to us courtesy of Studio Series, and Grimlock honestly shines in this format, because he's one of the few early G1 characters who actually works mostly the same on-screen as he did as a physical toy. stuff that'd normally bug me, like having such big 'wings' of T-rex shell hanging off his shoulders, just kind of feels like a very intentional feature of the Grimlock aesthetic at this point. he's posable, he's (relatively) sleek, and most notably, he's a big ol' boy. i've known that Leader-class figures have generally been downscaled over the years, but this guy seriously makes Optimus and Shockwave look like lightweights, standing almost as tall as figures twice his price without feeling hollow in the slightest.

of course, it's always been a good toy. Studio Series Grimlock dropped multiple years ago and in the interim, he's also gotten a Trypticon-themed mirror universe makeover. you and i, we both know why i waited it out. you cannot ignore how good the deco is, and i actually mean that in a few ways. from a subjective standpoint, yes, i'm a sucker for the kitschy neon nonsense on display here, but it's also really well-crafted? the teal is done in a premium-feeling metallic finish that reminds me more of the unofficial third party scene than any official Hasbro product, not to mention being incredibly hard to capture just right on camera. this whole figure is fundamentally silly - right down to stamping a meaningless tech decal over a sculpted Autobot symbol just for concept art accuracy - but it feels like they took it seriously and gave it the same kind of premium treatment as any other Grimlock.

A picture of Grimlock in beast mode.

transforming Grimlock is an absolute treat, honestly. for starters, with how impressively big he is, i kind of feel like a kid again moving all his big hefty robo-chunks into position. it also helps that Grimlock's transformation is a bit of a solved game - it was a good design in 1985 and all the fundamentals still work. the biggest innovation of Grimlockology was just figuring out how to get his tail tips to hide away inside his calves, and Hasbro's known how to do that for like, 15 years now. some of the pieces come into place a little softer than i would like, without the affirming plastic snap that the instructions promise, but it all works and your reward is this absurd banana of a dinosaur. i've always admired that, aside from a brief diversion in 2006's Classics, Grimlock has always maintained a very specific angle to his iconic alt-mode - he doesn't turn into an actual T-rex, he turns into a highly greebled model of what we thought a T-rex might look like back in the 1980s. this retro aesthetic is only heightened by the fact that this is the first iteration of Studio Series Grimlock to take advantage of a hidden feature in the plastic layouts, casting the neck-shell in transparent sports drink orange to reveal even more technical detail underneath, just like the original Grimlock figure. all this, AND the audacity to do the tail up in tiger stripes? c'mon. it's a home run. no notes. perfect execution.

entry added 4/29/24


deluxe class // released 2024
A picture of Legacy: United Bumblebee in robot mode.

as foretold long, long ago in the halls of history (last year's toyline), one of the greatest things Legacy has graced the fandom with is a distinct helping of love for Transformers Animated. sure, three figures might not seem like much, but Animated had such a distinctive style that it basically vanished entirely after one last hurrah at BotCon 2011, destined to be fondly remembered but mostly too weird to revisit. not only do the show's loving homages to every corner of Transformers fandom make it an excellent target for revitalization as part of this 40th anniversary 'anything goes' franchise smorgasbord, but the fact that it had such a unique take on headliner characters might be the key to one of Legacy: United's most amazing tricks - for the first time i can even remember, Hasbro put out an entire wave of figures with absolutely no G1 guys in sight. like, this is Bumblebee, but not that Bumblebee! similar enough for retailers to love, but different enough for nerds like me to eat up.

this right here is absolutely, undeniable, unabashedly the Bumblebee from Animated. sure, he's been hit with some more squared-off G1-friendly edges - perhaps the most out of the current Animated crew - but he carries a lot of the same spunky vibes as his 2008 counterpart, particularly with that smirking head sculpt. i think one of the most striking ways he carries the torch is just by being really absurdly small, too. i've never been especially strict about scale in my collection, but i do notice these things when it's from a show i happen to really like more than usual, and United Bumblebee is genuinely only a head taller than toys half his price - but in a good way, promise. that small stature really helps convey his role as the team's reckless rookie and gives all his robust posing a flavor i can really only describe as gremlin moding. i can definitely nitpick about things like the stripe getting mixed up because of his transformation, or the fact that they included his stinger weapons but only gave him sockets to hold them together instead of separately, but overall, the vibes are spot-on.

A picture of Legacy: United Bumblebee in vehicle mode.

transforming United Bumblebee into something even smaller is impressive, but i admire the engineering more than i enjoy doing it. it all works, but something about how far i have to push the plastic isn't sitting right with me, especially when his entire torso's made of multiple layers of transparent hinges. all that slightly worrying tabbing is worth it, though, because oh my god, what a tiny car. perhaps even the smallest car in my collection? he's certainly right there next to Bug Bite in that regard, but while that mold feels like a tiny car trying to punch above its weight, the compact vibes are the name of the game with Animated Bumblebee. lest we forget he is canonically disguised as the schlubby, expendable sports car of a deadbeat Detroit cop, and yeah, they really got that energy down, huh? the rocket boosters from Bee's first real character focus episode are also a nice touch and a clever use of his stingers, although i do question the practicality of casting them in this smoky clear plastic - i guess the glare of the lighting makes it look just about right, but it is an odd choice. overall, even as the smallest of his gang and the one i probably end up having the most little gripes about, the Animated Autobots just wouldn't be complete without Bumblebee, and i think this figure stands excellently alongside that crew, and on his own.

entry added 4/29/24


voyager class // released 2024
A picture of Legacy: United Animated Universe Optimus Prime in robot mode.

coming in right alongside Bumblebee as part of the first wave for 2024, Legacy: United Animated Universe Optimus Prime - yes, i know the name's ridiculous but they keep making these in such a way where i will have to keep labeling them like that - kind of wound up with some big shoes to fill. obviously, when you're opening up Pandora's box and digging through 40 years of Transformers history, there's going to be a lot of Optimus, but so far, they'd all wound up as pretty major collection centerpieces. Animated Optimus has to come in and get us back to basics at a relatively modest pricepoint while also setting the stage for the actual brand anniversary we've all been waiting two years for. and i won't even try to be all coy and wait until the end of this entry to make my point, he totally does all that, he's so cool and so Animated and so Optimus and i love him a whole bunch! let's get into why!

Animated's take on Optimus Prime might be one of the things that really sets it apart as a chapter of Transformers history and makes me love it so much - you think of this character archetype and think of something like harsh stoicism or the dad jokes of G1, but this Optimus has a more youthful energy to him, having to prove himself as a hero after ending up in a dead-end job cleaning asteroids. he's maybe gotten a touch beefier while making the jump into Legacy, but this whole figure does a fantastic job capturing that personality, from his crisp head sculpt right down to having noticeably softer tones of red and blue compared to contemporary figures of other Optimuses. he also maintains a surprising amount of Derrick J. Wyatt's iconic shape language while also posing up a storm, and he doesn't really have any bad angles. if i have to say anything about him is less than perfect, i guess sometimes his axe's extending handle feels a little janky to work with, but that's already above and beyond for a modern Transformers accessory and that transparent blue blade looks just as good no matter how you display it.

A picture of Legacy: United Animated Universe Optimus Prime in vehicle mode.

as if being a really good robot wasn't enough, Animated Optimus also has a surprisingly involved transformation - complex, but still welcoming and intuitive enough for play. i was a little intimidated picking him back up for a photoshoot, but everything moves in a way that just feels right for the pieces to do. he follows the same basic formula as most Optimus figures, with his arms and torso forming the cab, but they twist and turn in such delightful ways, and it's really cool how the sharp superheroic angles straighten out into this tall glass of water. the rounded boots on the back feel maybe a touch clunky, but it's hard to complain too much when they nailed the shaping of this vehicle so well, right down to hiding its frontmost wheels to create the 'floating' look of the animation model. i know for a fact there's already people trying to figure out how to sweeten the deal even more by recreating his endgame jet-trailer, and i get it, but even if this is all the Animated Optimus we end up getting this decade, it'll still feel like the total package to me.

A picture of Legacy: United Animated Universe Optimus Prime alongside Prowl and Bumblebee.

for now, though, as of 2024, it seems like this might be all the Animated we see at all for a hot minute. the arcane scrying eyes of Wal-Mart product codes tell us that there don't seem to be any major new additions to the Ark crew coming in 2025, as the toyline pivots into yet another new three-year cycle. you could maybe make the argument that Legacy's take on Bulkhead could slot in here, but... different show, and also not even especially styled to look like anything other than G1, and you'd still be down a Ratchet. i'm still holding out hope for some kind of weird miracle or a big comeback around the corner, but even if these three Autobots wind up being all we get, it's been a real treat to see Animated get its due like this. if you have to pick up just one? absolutely Optimus - he's the best toy, he displays the nicest, he's the main character. if you have the luxury of all three? go for it, they go great together, and you never know when Hasbro'll get that craving to complete the set. besides, we need to convince them that a Commander class Lugnut is a really good idea somehow, right? baby steps.

entry added 4/29/24


masterpiece(?) // released 2024
A picture of Missing Link Convoy in robot mode.

so, this one is a bit of a special edge case. not only is it not the type of toy i'd normally collect... i didn't really collect it! this one was a present i got for my dad, the man who got me hooked on Transformers in the first place, and he very kindly let me photograph it and catalog it here amidst my own personal cavalcade of Autobots.

what we're looking at here is a very interesting specimen. with 2024 being the 40th anniversary of Transformers, Hasbro's been going all out with the celebrations, but their partners overseas at TakaraTomy haven't been slouching either. seemingly on their own, without any input from Hasbro, they've launched a new line of high-end collector figures called Missing Link. what you see here is essentially the original Optimus Prime toy, from all the way back in 1984, resculpted and re-engineered from the ground up with a modern standard of articulation and a proper truckload of accessories to match. it's an absolutely fascinating design experiment that celebrates the roots of the franchise in a really unique way, and i'm thrilled to have the opportunity to show it off.

this particular model is C-01 Convoy - C-02 takes this same sculpt and does it up in the simpler, brighter palette of the animation model, but if we're doing the classic toy homage thing, let's go all the way. the original Optimus Prime has a very unique charm to me, in that you can see all the elements that would go on to become definitive character iconography for the next four decades, but he's not quite all the way there yet, with his yellow eyes and chunkier proportions. those same deep blues and chromed-out metallics still play just as nice in 2024, and the added range of motion really brings the design to life in a new way, with hefty ratcheted joints, hinged knuckles, and even an ab crunch for some real action goodness. Missing Link keeps all the diecast, so he's got that weight in the hand you really only get out of a classic toy, too. i think my absolute favorite nerdy detail has to be in the sculpted detail, though. what was once just flat stickers on his arms, knees, and toes are now etched into the surface of the plastic, and even that subtle bit of three-dimensional depth just makes this feel like a proper fancy milestone.

A picture of Missing Link Convoy with his battle station.

springing for C-01 also happens to net you the full Optimus experience with his Combat Deck trailer, which is so impractically big that i'm not even gonna try to edit the sides of the lightbox out of this picture. it hasn't seen quite as much new engineering as the main man himself, but it doesn't really need to - there's something that's still innately fun about having a big built-in playset full of weird colorful stickers. that 'repair drone' really harkens back to the toy's original Diaclone roots, with an impractically tiny cockpit meant for pilots America never got, and i think it's the embracing of that design language that makes me love Missing Link Convoy so much. of course, they haven't skimped on the G1 love letters, either, giving Optimus a fancy new take on his energon axe and a blinged-out Matrix of Leadership, which you can even choose to remove if you want the Diaclone seating back. it's nice having so many options, and it takes what was already a compelling full package and pushes it to new heights.

A picture of Missing LinK Convoy in vehicle mode.

vehicle mode is where you're going to see the least of the new effort that went into recreating the original 1984 Convoy, just by nature of how this endeavor works, but you still get benefits like not having to remove Optimus's hands to create his headlights. i don't really know what i can even say about this truck mode - it is the truck mode, after all, the one that kicked the whole thing off and seemingly earned Optimus his spot as de facto expensive toy and Autobot leader. it's still pretty good! i can see why kids 40 years ago took to this thing! there's something innately satisfying about squared-off the truck is, even if Missing Link has made it just a bit more complicated to get everything settled into place. it's big and red and... yeah, i dunno, man, this is like trying to review the first painting ever made or something. landmark achievement. no notes. i get why we've kept doing this for 40 years.

Missing Link definitely still feels like an odd experiment - we know for sure by now that they're still doing at least a couple more, but with Masterpiece seemingly entering a new era out of nowhere and not much to compare this particular figure against, it's hard to know how far they intend to take this line. maybe it peters out by next year, maybe we have the entire 1984 cast done up like this. either way, i think Convoy in particular is a pretty perfect entrance for the concept. i wouldn't want him to be the only thing they did for the 40th anniversary, but as a special treat that exists alongside the variety of mainline retail, i think he nails it as a reminder of where Transformers has been and a signpost of where it's at now. quite frankly, on an emotional level, it was really nice being able to get this for my dad, especially since Optimus is one of those toys he never had as a kid and i absolutely know what it's like to get the fancy version of something you wanted years after the fact. i'm not sure how much i'd recommend him to someone who isn't already knee-deep in this hobby, but for us weirdos, he's a really fun and unique figure unlike anything else.