i have been a fan of Transformers for about as long as i can remember. it's a hobby passed down to me from my family - something i've just always played with and now, to try and sound fancier about it, 'collected' for such a long time that i can't really speculate on if i would have naturally stumbled into the hobby on my own? i can still faintly recall the first modern, 21st century Transformer that i know for a fact was bought for me, not to mention hand-me-downs from my dad. i could spend a whole article trying to unpack why these toys have maintained such a presence in my life, and try to wax poetic about what i find appealing about them, but i still don't think i'd get to the bottom of it entirely.

so then, let's start with a narrow slice of my lifelong fixation - where it all started, and what that means now. i had a handful of toys here and there leading up to this, but i'd pinpoint the beginnings of my fascination at 2005. it was just past the turn of the millenium, and for Transformers, it meant they had now reached the far-flung future year they had picked in the 1980s when advacing the brand into a new, Optimus-less era of sci-fi gimmickry. it was a long ride of re-imaginings, reboots, and different teams championing the brand for over two decades, but they had survived to see that distant year become the present.

having just celebrated their 20th anniversary with the mixed bag of Transformers: Energon, this milestone went by without much fanfare (at least, as i remember it - i was not an adult capable of nostalgia for the Good Old Days in 2005!) and happened to line up with the fairly regular brand refresh cycle of the early 2000s. throughout the next two years, the main forward-facing branch of the Transformers franchise was Cybertron, the third entry in the loosely-connected 'Unicron Trilogy'. fresh new cartoon, fresh new toys for all the same old faces, the works.

i don't remember much about the fine details of the fiction, but these toys had me hooked immediately. it's not even the associated anime i remember particularly strongly - it's the toys themselves, wrapped in all kinds of exciting worldbuilding. every character, regardless of whether you were seeing them on TV or not, had some little bio you could dig into, and the whole toyline was framed through the lens of different planets these characters inhabited, with their own design cues, and, perhaps most lucratively for the play pattern, their own Cyber Keys, activating a myriad of spring-loaded fun on each figure and coming printed with a code you could input online for even more content. i can only speak to my own, heavily nostalgic perception of the brand, but it was the kind of feedback loop that left a kid with ADHD like me completely hooked on the idea of Transformers.

Four catalogs from Transformers: Cybertron, assembled to form a promotional map of the series' planets.

i don't think i've ever had a particularly strong affinity for cars in any form, but Transformers: Cybertron didn't really demand that kind of appreciation. even its most grounded toys, generally assigned Earth-themed keys, had a sort of "this is what we think cars will look like in 10 years" approach to the aesthetic, and i always found myself gravitating towards figures from the other three planets. to sum up their general vibes:

  • Velocitron, the Speed Planet, had a Speed Racer-style aesthetic with bold, exaggerated vehicle shapes and heavy use of transparent plastics
  • the Jungle Planet acted as a sort of throwback to the franchise's Beast Wars era with a mix of real animals and fantasy creatures run through a robotic filter
  • Gigantion, the Giant Planet, featured heavy-duty mech-inspired design cues and had figures that could essentially 'change size' between two different robot modes

with such a variety of aesthetics at play, cycling in and out with the cartoon providing the context of an interplanetary adventure as a framing device, it's starting to become a little easier to see why i latched on so tightly to these characters, to this world. every figure did something a little different and brought their own little corner of the universe to life.

the figures of 2005 are not what i'm here to talk about, though!

as i said above, Transformers still has a presence in my life now. it has maintained that space rent-free in my brain for pretty much the entire time since those same Cybertron toys got me so hooked in the first place. i haven't always had the most active collection, or the most active interest in the fiction, but it's always hanging out in some corner of my head, ready to be re-activated. as the 21st century as progressed, i've seen toy collecting as a hobby go through its own tide changes - it's no longer the domain of only the dedicated superfan. LEGO regularly puts out sets geared specifically towards adults, movie brands are using high-end face scanning to deliver closer and closer likenesses, and for Transformers, this mainstream approach to collecting has taken the form of Generations, an ongoing fiction-agnostic line focused on recreating classics through modern engineering rather than expanding into new branches of Transformers lore.

A promotional poster for Transformers Generations: Legacy.

for much of its run, Generations has been primarily focused on the original 1980s franchise - it's been throwing bones to other corners of the brand for years, but aside from your occasional glimpse of Optimus Primal or Hot Shot, it has walked the tried and true ground of G1. in some ways, it is Cybertron's most direct descendant, having roots as far back as the Classics line, launched in late 2006 to serve as a stopgap while Hasbro waited on production of their new blockbuster hit.

it hasn't been until very recently that the early 2000s have made a proper comeback in Generations, though. it makes a lot of sense - i was a kid back then, and i'm an adult now. i, and thousands of fans like me, represent an untapped demographic. with the live-action movie toyline Studio Series getting more or less hijacked by a parade of toys focused on the animated movie from 1986, the main Generations line has opened the floodgates, dipping its toes into all sorts of homages before finally going all in with Legacy. having perhaps finally reached what "$50 Optimus Prime at mass retail" can accomplish for now, this new line has been going all over the place with completing the main cast of Beast Wars, paying homage to G2 stragglers, and reintroducing 21st century characters with a fresh (and somewhat divisive) coat of homogenized G1 flair.

with all this table setting out of the way, it's time to dig into the actual meat of this article. my collecting habit has expanded a lot over the last few years, and Hasbro has now produced enough Cybertron homages that i can go through the ones i own and review them as a loose set. thankfully for all of you, this only amounts to four figures as of this post, but who knows if the next few years might necessitate a revisit to the topic? for now, let's dig into the current slate of gen Z nostalgia bait occupying my shelves.


A picture of Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime, with his inner robot mode posed comically next to a loose amalgamation of his spare 'super mode' components.

we'll go down this list in chronological order, and that means starting with some of the more tenuous and controversial references to Cybertron. the War for Cybertron 'trilogy' was an interesting time to be collecting - its aim often felt a little disjointed, and it was accompanied by a pretty dreadful Netflix 'anime', but it was also a breath of fresh air after the Prime Wars era, delivering stunning accuracy and delivering a higher standard of articulation and overall polish. though its interest was pretty squarely focused on classic animation representation in the forms of G1 and Beast Wars, the magic art of retooling allowed for a few peeks at, what was in hindsight, a growing ambition within Hasbro to represent more of the brand's history.

a brief aside to explain retooling - when talking about toys, a retool refers to a toy created by modifying the basic frame of another toy. for Transformers, this can range anywhere from a new head to 'reshelling' a robot in a completely different type of vehicle. as toys have gotten more expensive to engineer and produce, retooling has become more and more common, to the point where any Generations figure is expected to pull at least double duty, working as multiple characters to offset production costs.

for Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime (cleverly named in homage to Cybertron's Japanese title, Galaxy Force), the original framework comes from the G1 character Ultra Magnus. all things considered, it is a fairly extensive retooling - while using the same armor connection points as Ultra Magnus, this figure's armor is comprised almost entirely of new molds to recontextualize the armor as Cybertron Optimus's iconic winged 'super mode'. the inner robot itself has also been retooled to give the vehicle mode its stylized, angular, "cars will DEFINITELY look like this by 2015" cab.

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

i've seen a lot of mixed reactions to this figure, and they all tend to stem from the fact that it's confined to the same engineering as Ultra Magnus. the inner robot bears little resemblance to Cybertron Optimus at all, because it just doesn't transform the same way that toy did. on its own though... honestly, i kind of like it a lot? between the stocky proportions and yellow eyes, it feels like Optimus's design cues have been simmered back down to their origins - not the perfect, idealized animated hero, but rather, the original 1984 toy, with all its imperfections and oddities. maybe even odder than that is this design's media presence - the rebooted IDW comics running parallel to this toyline chose this inner robot as their Optimus reference of choice, without any mention of an upgraded form. no clue why, when this was hardly the only Optimus on shelves during that timeframe, but i'm glad it gets something to do, at least. overall, this is very much not Cybertron Optimus, but it is an Optimus filling its own very enjoyable niche.

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

with the armor on, GUOP is looking much more as he did in 2005. it's not a perfect imitation, namely with its red forearms and much chunkier abdomen, but a lot of traits were carried over with a lot of attention to detail. he's got the massive under-slung lasers, he's got the lovingly greebled angular windows, and they've even gone through the trouble of giving him faux-truck cab shoulderpads to complete the silhouette. posability is a bit tough with as much mass as the armor adds, especially in the legs where the combination of pin-connected hips and heavy boots can make things feel a little loose, but the wingspan still has some undeniable cool factor and really lends the whole thing some real presence in a lineup.

another common grievance i see about GUOP is that he feels like something of a downgrade from the original toy. in a very literal sense, they don't make them like they used to. $50 covers less than it did a decade and a half ago, and WFC's take on this design is much smaller than the original, without any of its spring-loaded action or lights and sounds. it's an issue we'll see come up a lot on this list, and i'm really of two minds about this. i think that, as toys that could engage a young kid and spark that love for Transformers i've developed, Generations isn't quite it. these are toys that fall into a weird mid-range - not as fiddly and expensive as the Masterpiece line, but not really meant to include any sort of gimmick that would intrude on aspects like model accuracy, articulation, or transformation. i can recognize that for some people, that's a hard pill to swallow. for my personal needs, i think it's just right - my original 2005 Cybertron toys endured years of play, they're somewhere deep in storage and almost assuredly a little scuffed. having a line like Generations that offers character variety and affordability, with a growing amount of representation for specific designs i grew up loving, is a good sweetspot for where i'm at as a collector.

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

personal takes on accuracy aside, can't say i'm vibing with the vehicle mode. the whole thing feels very ancillary to the design - with the cab on its own, you have exposed forearms and fists sticking out of the back side, and the transformation process to get the armor turned into a trailer feels fiddly. it was only in taking photos of this figure for this article that i finally discerned a lot of the tricks of this transformation, and a lot of them are a pain to practice, whether due to parts not wanting to stay in place or feeling like i have to push some joints just a little too far to get everything to click together. the whole thing looks a little sloppy when connected, with unpainted faux wheels sculpted in and a very hollow interior if you look at any angle but the sides. i imagine some of these engineering choices make more sense in the context of Ultra Magnus's car carrier alt mode, but this feels like the weakest part of the package. i don't tend to display things in vehicle mode, so it's not a dealbreaker by any means, but Transformers have to function on multiple levels, and this is one where i can concede this design isn't being done justice by a retool.

as a whole, Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime is... servicable. pretty good, even. it's a hard one to judge, because it feels like a relic of another time even though it came out only about three years ago. i still remember my eager surprise when it became clear that Ultra Magnus's pre-requisite retool would be a Cybertron homage, and that excitement hasn't quite worn off, even with the figure's flaws. it is a Cybertron Optimus with caveats, but it still represents something really fun and novel to me. it's a design i remember fondly, scaled down a bit to better match its retail contemporaries and with a secondary robot that takes those cues in a very different, but still distinctly lovable direction. it's not quite a replacement, but it is something i can't help but appreciate.


A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.


A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.

this was the second figure on this list to actually make it out to fans, but it was the first sign of the oncoming Unicron Trilogy appreciation wave we're still living through. it is an often-repeated mistake to draw a figure's packaging art using the already retooled 'second head' it'll receive later, and right away, as soon as we got our first look at Siege, Hound's helmet was looking distinctly Hot Shot-y. this figure ended up landing not at mainline retail, but within Hasbro's Generations Selects lineup, which you can generally find online or at 'specialty' stores like comic book shops. Selects has been something of a haven for characters too obscure to reliably sell on shelves, and i remember keeping a close eye on the line for basically a year waiting for this figure to release.

even more than Optimus, Hot Shot is a toy built on some willingness to compromise on accuracy, and it holds a weird amount of signifigance for me. within Cybertron, Hot Shot received two different designs - a traditional sports car, and later, an 'Cybertron Defense' upgrade turning him into a armored security vehicle. Selects Hot Shot skews a little closer to the latter, but doesn't turn into either of these vehicles or share the same bodyshape that bridged those two designs. his only retooled piece is his head, with his body styled after classic G1 favorite, Hound. on paper, he is a mostly original design relative to Cybertron, but my inner child who really wanted a Cybertron Defense Hot Shot and never got that toy feels like a bit of a loop has been closed.

A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.

taking the figure on its own merits for now, it feels like a much more satisfying toy to handle and pose than Optimus. despite chunky calves that contain the entire wheel assembly for his vehicle mode, Hot Shot has wonderful articulation, with a lot of his vehicle parts tucking away neatly to make his robot mode more balanced. even as a retool of a memorable G1 character, i feel like Hot Shot makes the design his own with that incredibly distinct color scheme of metallic blue, muted red, and just a few hints of yellow throughout. the new head sculpt looks exactly like i remember the original looking, with that unique mix of stern steel and bright yellow highlights that really sell the vibe of a light-hearted character being given a bit of growth and, in the most loving way possible, some edge.

A picture of Hot Shot's vehicle mode.

once again, in vehicle mode, i feel like Hot Shot is making this work in a way Hound doesn't. something about this particular slab of sci-fi jeep with its clear-over-opaque windshield just clicks when it's in this shade of blue. the transformation on this thing is pretty satisfying - sometimes the heft of it makes it hard to maneuver limbs around each other, and some pieces don't like to stay clipped together once it's all said and done, but all things considered both modes are really clean, and i've never personally owned a figure that does this toy's crazy calf split where the feet end up forming the mid-section and doors.

overall, i've got a lot of split thoughts on Selects Hot Shot. of the four figures on this article, this one feels the most like he could slot into any part of my collection - not as part of a lineup of homages, but as a suitable cast member to round off any large gathering of G1 Autobots. Hasbro themselves seem to be similarly inclined, because this toy's design has popped up a few times over the last few years of comics, representing a G1-native take on the character.

without spinning out into a tangent about brand unification, Hasbro has spent the last decade trying to create a sort of 'default' image of Transformers (the proper marketing term would be evergreen), a one-size-fits-all solution to continuity and characters. this Hot Shot feels like a toy that's trying to reconcile him into that vision, a task which has proved famously difficult in the past. the character's origins in Transformers: Armada were as a plucky, kid-friendly yellow sportscar... because they had lost the trademark for Bumblebee. going for the Cybertron metallic blue gives him a distinct color palette, and if the preschool-oriented Rescue Bots Academy series is any indication, it seems like someone internally has decided that Hot Shot's 'thing' that sets him apart from Bumblebee now is turning into ATVs and jeeps.

A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.

so with all that context, there's some cynical part of my brain that should really dislike this toy, on some principles. it's Cybertron Hot Shot, but only skin-deep, with all kinds of edges sanded off so he can earn a single measly spot as an online exclusive without stepping on any toes. brand unification isn't something i generally root for, and for Transformers, it's often led to some really backwards thinking about the stories they try to tell and the toys they're willing to produce.

honestly can't bring myself to hate this one though. i would certainly jump on a newer, more accurate Cybertron Hot Shot if that ends up being in the cards to produce, but for what this one is, there's a lot of charm. nobody else could wear this color palette or that weird greebly forehead visor or that 'tough guy' energy quite like Hot Shot! sometimes, it's more about a vibe than exact details, and ultimately, if you're going to pick a version of Hot Shot to codify that has to avoid all the Bumblebee-esque tropes that defined the character's inception, they've picked up on all the right traits from Cybertron. the jeep alt mode is hardly a bad choice either, fitting as a comfortable medium between the sleek sports cars and mean chunky assault vehicle. this isn't quite the Hot Shot i grew up with, but it's a Hot Shot i can respect and find a lot to enjoy about.


A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.


A picture of Metroplex's robot mode.

after GUOP and Hot Shot, things went a little quiet for a few years when it came to Cybertron homages. the first part of the WFC trilogy had lended itself perfectly to the aesthetic with its sci-fi tinted takes on classic Transformers alternate modes, but throughout the start of the 2020s, the toyline moved away from that in a few different phases, first covering the G1 cast again in their traditional Earth-based appearances and then launching into a double anniversary celebration for the 1986 movie and Beast Wars. it made sense at the time - when you have to make every design potentially account for two or more characters, the references are gonna follow where the theme of the line is heading. once Legacy launched, though, all bets were off for who we could see brought to the forefront.

Cybertron came out swinging with something i can still hardly believe actually happened. ever since 2014, Hasbro has generally put out one 'Titan class' figure per year - representing characters who are simply too big to do justice on any traditional retail scale, like Omega Supreme or combiners like Devastator. these Titans come in at around 2 feet tall with a price tag to match, demanding the kind of attention and shelf space that only a capital-c Collector can justify investing in. by 2021, just about every classic G1 character who exists at this scale had been covered, to the point where War For Cybertron: Kingdom took a different approach and invented a new robot mode for the Autobot's classic base. when Legacy was announced with a focus on the entire history of the Transformers franchise, the first thing that probably came to many people's minds was the often-requested Titan class remake of Armada's Decepticon aircraft carrier, Tidal Wave, but Hasbro threw a very interesting curveball instead.

A picture of Metroplex's box art.

Cybertron Metroplex. i couldn't believe this thing actually existed when it first leaked, i couldn't believe it when i made it my biggest collection purchase in years, and i still can't believe it now that he's on my shelf. Metroplex isn't some hotly requested fan-favorite on the tip of everyone's tongues. when this was first announced, i saw a lot of people express distaste or at the very least confusion for them picking this character. he's not a complete nobody, but he's not who you'd expect to see as a $200 flagship toy for an entire year of Transformers. for my own tastes, though, Hasbro couldn't have made a better choice.

Cybertron Metroplex is one of my favorite Transformers designs of all time. yes, his alternate mode is just kind of him sitting down, but i never really cared. his original toy had such a presence, utilizing its budget in clever ways to make sure he stood tall above fellow toys of his pricepoint, to really sell the idea that this was a 'giant' Transformer. even if it was a somewhat simple gimmick, the ability to compress him down to a tighter 'work mode' robot added a ton of play value, creating a fun illusion of a robot that could actually size up for battle without any other attachments or figures involved in the process. it also helped that he came packaged with a massive axe/wrench/shovel almost as tall as he was, which the anime went ahead and named "Sparkdrinker", a title which is way too cool for any single accessory on a Transformer.

A picture of Metroplex's robot mode.

Legacy's take on Metroplex captures all the same industrial detailing at an almost overwhelming scale, with only minimal adjustments to the overall design. Legacy's handling of characters from the 21st century has proven a bit controversial, as characters from Transformers: Prime seem to get run through a heavy G1 filter, but the Unicron Trilogy's aesthetic has always been just a few short steps away from the later eras of G1, making them much less prone to any major changes. the proportions are perhaps a bit refined, with a larger head and shorter torso, but at two feet tall, it makes sense to pull back on some of the engineering tricks used on the original toy - it doesn't need to skew its proportions as much to convey the absolute size of Metroplex.

aside from sheer size, Metroplex has also received additional articulation. the original toy already had a good range of motion, and this figure doesn't need to add much to bring Metroplex up to a modern standard with ankle tilts and some additional joints at the wrists and fingers. they've also given him an opening mouth, which doesn't feel all that necessary, but i'm not gonna complain. just as with the original 2006 figure, one thing worth noting about Metroplex is that he's a very loud toy to handle, with all that bulk held in place by loud, rough ratcheting joints. in some cases, these ratchets feel a little too tight, even, particularly when it comes to shoulder rotation, making me rather hesitant to push this toy to its full posing potential.

A picture of Metroplex's Sparkdrinker axe.

i'm also going to take a whole aside to talk about Sparkdrinker for a minute, because i'm pretty sure this thing is in the running for the largest accessory to ever come packaged with a Transformer. it's large enough that i feel like i could properly whack someone with it. this weapon is probably the aspect of Metroplex that has changed the most in the 16 years between toys - it's gained a few new tricks, like clipping onto Metroplex's back and splitting in half for a feature we'll discuss shortly, but it's also lost its Cyber Key gimmickry, no longer splitting open and revealing a light-up laser. as i keep having to say in this article, i'm not sure how to feel about this. on the one hand, yes, it'd be very nice if it could do all these things, especially for a $200 flagship release, but on the other hand, i think the demographics of who this is for and what it's meant to do are different. i've seen collectors detest spring-loaded features like the Cyber Key functions for years (albeit usually in the context of characters who's toys are enginereed solely around a gimmick) and Hasbro has listened and de-prioritized all those things, so it feels a bit confusing when these same collectors gripe about their absence now. personally, for me, it's something i'd like to see, but not a dealbreaker like it seems to be for some.

A picture of Metroplex's 'work mode'.

one play feature they retained and emphasized even more for the Legacy figure is Metroplex's 'work mode'. on the original toy, compressing Metroplex was as simple as collapsing and rotating the legs and putting the torso backwards at a right angle to create a shorter, stockier robot. for this two-foot tall Titan, the transformation is much more involved, with all sorts of turns and flips and unfurling shoulder assemblies that all lead to a result that looks deceptively simple. honestly, handling this much toy at once can be a bit of a frustration, and much moreso than the original, work mode Metroplex has a physical heft that can be hard to work with.

iterating further on the design from the original toy, the instructions for work mode have Metroplex's hands swapping out for massive tools formed from the split halves of his weapon. these massive chunks of plastic are a bit unwieldy to try and pose with, and they certainly make the tight, boxed off silhouette of work mode a little busier, but i'm a sucker for a robot with weapons for hands, and it's nice to see additional effort being put in to sell the idea of this being a proper mode Metroplex can assume.

A picture of Metroplex's 'work mode' head.

another one of those touches that i love much more unambiguously is the secondary head sculpt. hidden on the back of Metroplex's traditional humanoid face is this odd futuristic welding mask, with massive red lenses. it may seem odd to pick out this particular detail, but i think what makes me so enamored with it is the fact that it's derived from completely made-up play patterns i can remember from when i was young, playing with the original toy. Cybertron Metroplex was never designed with a second head in mind, but the large transparent red dome in the back of his head (placed to allow light to shine through for his eyes, a technique called 'light-piping') made for a pretty good impromptu 'battle mask'. evidently, someone at Hasbro thought the same, and now it's been intentionally designed in as a feature. yes, this is maybe the smallest detail to get hung up on, but this is my article and i'm gonna appreciate Metroplex on my terms, and my terms are "it's very neat that my imagination as a kid has manifested as a full-fledged feature on a modern collector's item".

A picture of Metroplex's vehicle mode.

probably the weakest part of the whole package is Metroplex's excavator mode, but i'm not particularly bothered in any way, because that's always been the case. they've done some extra work here to bring the vehicle to life, with a little miniature canopy that could perhaps just barely fit a small-scale figure, but it is still very transparently a big tall robot sitting down. at the very least, they enginereed some neat tricks that are near-invisible between modes, like how the treads now fold out from the flat soles of Metroplex's feet. the sideways cannons are a bit of an odd choice, but there's nothing about Metroplex's alternate mode that isn't a little odd. long story short - they did a perfectly fine job. most of the weirdness of this mode is just always how Metroplex has been. maybe my standards should be a bit higher than that, i guess? but they're not, really. the important thing to me is if Metroplex handles the 'big robot/short robot' dichotomy right, and this one does.

with all three modes covered, the micro-sized elephant in the room for a lot of people is the absence of Cybertron Metroplex's pack-in Mini-Con figure, Drill Bit. Mini-Cons were an on-and-off presence throughout the Unicron Trilogy, and they had a notable comeback with the Gigantion figures to help give the impression of properly giant Transformers. moreso than the lack of a Cyber Key gimmick, i do miss Drill Bit as part of the overall package - previous Titan figures generally have included some kind of small-scale partner, but even at a $200 pricepoint, it seems that the budget for Legacy can't keep up with that trend. Hasbro seems to have been teasing out the idea of releasing Drill Bit separately, to the point where i wonder if the CAD files are simply ready to go and awaiting an open slot in the toyline, and i'll gladly pick one up, but it would be nice to have it included. it's not a huge absence for me, because Drill Bit was hardly ever a character, but having a pack-in partner to really emphasize Metroplex's scale would have been a nice cherry on top of the whole deal.

A picture of Metroplex's robot mode.

even if it lacks in a few of the original release's more toyetic bells and whistles, i can't help but be stunned by Legacy Metroplex. in the year 2022, Hasbro actually went ahead and made their most expensive Generations toy of the year based on a figure i remember adoring as a kid, even if he wasn't the most obvious or lucrative choice. the references sprinkled in throughout War For Cybertron were one thing, but Metroplex is a new mold, designed from the ground up to be the 2006 iteration of the character. not a retooled head, not a version meant to slot better into G1, but a proper recreation that doesn't seem meant to be turned into anything else. i've always sorted my collection out into sub-groups, but buying this thing felt like a big moment, giving me a proper centerpiece to an ever-growing group of loving homages to the Transformers i grew up on.

without this toy, this article wouldn't exist. i'd just happen to have a few Transformers that happen to fill a niche i like. Metroplex turned the whole thing into a much more cohesive display. i love it, and there's something that makes me feel like a kid again being impressed by how utterly, impractically big a Transformer is. at the same time, owning this thing makes me feel really reflective. for as long as i've been collecting, nostalgia has been another generation's game - i've got my own love for G1, but it's inherited. it's a hand-me-down, just like those original toys my dad handed down to me. Legacy Metroplex feels like a milestone in my hobby that makes me think about myself, because i'm getting older and i'm spending $200 on a recreation of my childhood. it's a weird feeling, seeing the gears churning, having a moment pinpointed in time where you can identify a corporation starting to regard your nostalgia as leverage they can use.

existential ponderings on the passage of time and cycles of capitalism aside for now - Legacy Metroplex is a hell of a toy. what he might lack in play features, he makes up for in sheer physical presence and cool factor. i'm not sure i could have asked for a better centerpiece for the growing family of Cybertron homages.


A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.


A picture of Override's ??? mode.

there's an argument to be made that Legacy would have sufficed, but i feel like typing out the ridiculous title you see above is part of the impact of this fourth and (so far) final toy. on top of mainline retail and Generations Selects, retailer exclusives have been a part of Transformers lineups for decades, and in recent years we've seen Hasbro partnering up to bring entire sub-lines to certain stores, internally referred to as 'capsules'. Wal-Mart has arguably received the most desirable of these, with the confusingly named War for Cybertron Trilogy capsule running roughly parallel to the three seasons of the similarly titled Netflix original, and as leaks for Legacy spun up, their next capsule was rumored to be themed around the planet Velocitron, with a variety of odd characters from throughout Transformers history loosely united under a general theme of racing.

the most immediately interesting of these leaks, at least to me, was for Override, a character who made immediate sense for a Velocitron sub-line. much like Metroplex, she was effectively the leader and representative of one of the Cybertron line's four planets - in fact, both of them were named as Convoys in Japan, just like Optimus himself. she was also a female character, a demographic which has seen increasing but still relatively sparse representation in Transformers, although she was initially designed by Takara as a male character, and the change supposedly came at the request of Cartoon Network rather than anyone internally at Hasbro. even moreso than just fictional representation, toys of female Transformers have often been lacking, with a tendency to focus on a traditionally feminine silhouette in robot mode which leads to what the fandom refers to as 'shellformers', where the entire vehicle is separated out like a massive coat over a robot that shares little to no parts or engineering.

the thing about listing leaks is that they really are just listings, with no visual representation present, just a price point and a name. all we knew was that somewhere in Wal-Mart's system, there was an exclusive figure of Override being done at a Voyager pricepoint (around $30). typically with Hasbro's various capsule lines, the best you can hope to see in terms of new content is retooling, much like some of the earlier WFC toys on this list - for a character with an aesthetic as distinct as Override, this was shaping up to be another figure that would have to compromise on details, with the obvious contender for her base mold being Studio Series 86 Hot Rod.

imagine the fandom's surprise, then, when we finally got the official reveal of the Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection in June 2022, showcasing two different figures who were completely new molds, one of which being Override herself. entirely new figures being designed for a sub-line like this was unprecedented, and thanks to a recent trend in Hasbro's designers posting about the toy engineering process on social media, we know it was quite the labor of love. Override and her fellow new mold Cosmos were indeed pitched as retools, with the fandom guess of Hot Rod as a base being spot-on. however, the teams at Hasbro and Takara somehow managed to find a way to engineer an entirely new design out of four new steel molds, as opposed to the average twelve molds a figure at Voyager prices usually requires.

A picture of Override's robot mode.

and so, after months of leaks and surprises and shipment woes, Legacy Override finally arrived, landing as the second, much more managably-sized Cybertron design of the year. one of the immediate things that stands out about the figure is its size, standing noticably shorter than contemporary Voyager-class toys, although still at least a head taller than most Deluxes. toy sizes trending downwards has been a bit of a hot button issue in the Transformers fandom for a long time, but the pricepoint can definitely be felt in how intricately engineered Override is, feeling sturdy and solid despite a complex transformation. the original Cybertron toy relied heavily on a spring-loaded mechanism for transforming, leading to odd proportions and an overall finicky feeling, but Override's 2022 counterpart manages to translate that rapid motion into a more meticulous process that leaves both modes looking clean.

in robot mode, Override looks fantastic, representing the sleek, slender robot seen in animation and art rather than the somewhat clumsy figure of 2005. her articulation is still somewhat limited by the nature of her design - namely with her head being set somewhat too high to look down, and her waist swivel being held back by her engineering - but the figure still feels leagues better to handle than the original, with tons of posing potential. every piece has a remarkably solid feel, right down to her weapon, which has traded its Cyber Key functionality for some satisfyingly tight swivel joints - although there's a cheekily hidden slot at the back of the weapon that just so happens to be just the right size, if you have one and want to display it that way. much like with Metroplex, there's something odd about having a version of this toy that's so much more, for lack of a better term, collector-y, but there's also something that feels right about finally owning a version of this character that actually exudes the sleek, speedy energy she was always designed to embody.

A picture of Override's vehicle mode.

looking at vehicle mode, it's fairly clear the ways in which the changes to the robot design have carried over - slimmer, taller proportions have led to a car that looks longer and skinnier, with larger gaps in the mid-section and a fairly small cockpit. this is also where some of the missing paint applications of the original are felt hardest, like the golden highlights on the feet and engine. regardless of these shortcomings, this mode is still just as charming as ever. the Speed Racer influences i mentioned at the top of this article shine through extremely clearly for Override, with the sharp points and swooshing curves evoking the Mach Five. even where the paint budget might not come through, the sculpted detail still feels just as fun as it did in 2005, and certain details like the transparent red wheels certainly show a lot of love for the design coming through.

with the toy in-hand, it's honestly hard to find much to nitpick with its design. both modes feel like they capture the spirit of the character, she looks great on display next to her fellow Cybertron throwbacks, and her transformation is an incredibly satisfying puzzle that avoids many of the common pitfalls of female characters in this toyline. the fact that they managed to design Override under budgetary and production constraints even lower than some Deluxe-class figures only makes her even more impressive, and makes me much more willing to forgive things like a slight lack of painted detail, given how much paint is being used on more immediately necessary features.

A picture of Override's robot mode.

Legacy Metroplex was, financially and physically, a bigger moment for Cybertron nostalgia, but Override and the rest of the Velocitron Speedia 500 Collection still feel like yet another milestone. the current design team seems eager to dip into more and more of Transformers history, to the point where their guiding principles for the next big retail-exclusive line is based on not just the aesthetic of Velocitron, but the lore written for it all the way back in 2005. Velocitron hasn't been a terribly uncommon namedrop in Transformers fiction, but it's being put front and center as part of the identity of this sub-line. IDW even published an entire miniseries featuring the fan-favorite Wreckers team set around the Speedia 500 back in 2021, in a move that now seems like a promotional tie-in that jumped the gun.

so, just like with Metroplex, this figure definitely provokes a lot of thought in me. the big $200 centerpiece is not the end of this wave of nostalgia - we are still very much in it. trying to detach myself from my enjoyment of this toy as a toy, perhaps the biggest flaw a lot of people would see with Override is in her pricepoint. i certainly understand the logistics that go into why Override is closer to $30 than $20, but i can also understand the basic fact that perhaps she's a bit small for a figure at that price, and that perhaps i'm getting a little more okay with getting ripped off as Hasbro taps into my childhood rather than my dad's. it's something i'll try not to make a habit out of, i suppose. for what it's worth, i think Override is yet another fantastic upgrade that shows how much this design language still works almost 20 years later, and arguably, even more of a necessary improvement for a modern collector's standards.


A picture of Hot Shot's robot mode.


so, with a humble little corner of my collection dedicated to my personal nostalgia and the promise of Legacy continuing to delve into all eras of Transformers history as we approach the 40th anniversary of the franchise, where do we go from here? my own focus might be on Cybertron, but Armada is bringing in plenty of Unicron Trilogy love too, with a new Starscream and Hot Shot releasing soon and some promising teases from Hasbro, talking about reincorporating Mini-Cons and noting that they hear demands for a new Tidal Wave loud and clear. there's no telling where exactly Generations will keep heading past 2024 - i personally predict we'll eventually be due to snap back into a heavy G1 focus, as nostalgia and demand ebbs and flows - but to close things out, i'll talk about a few characters i'd love to see redone while Hasbro's feeling the itch to cover Cybertron.

just to make sure i am giving complete and unavoidable credit - these images are sourced from seibertron.com, one of my favorite Transformers fansites. seibertron has an archive consisting of over 4000 galleries of high-grade toy images that were actually taken by someone with an understanding of photography, unlike yours truly. i highly recommend browsing their collection if you're ever curious about any era of Transformers toy design - like, for example, any of the toys being homaged by today's article. all three of these are toys i did own at some point in my life, but they're all long gone in one way or another, so i can't just fish them out and get photos for this article - seibertron's own galleries include tips on how to embed their images through HTML, so i'm assuming using them here is above deck, but just to be sure, i'm putting as many links to their site as i think you'll tolerate as a reader. go check them out!


A picture of Override's vehicle mode.
sourced from seibertron.com

Megatron's been in a weird spot for decades now as modern toy laws have rendered his original alternate mode of 'realistic model gun' unusable, and Cybertron took one of my favorite approaches to the design yet. styled out in with details meant to resemble Unicron, with an ecletic palette of muted grays, bright orange, purple, and teal, this is one of the wildest Megatron looks in the franchise's history. his alternate modes are similarly strange, transforming into both a jet and a massive dragster-style race car that gives me some vampiric vibes and makes me want to put on some Rob Zombie. from head to toe, he is unapologetically weird. he's even wearing fingerless gloves. this Megatron is goth as hell and i love him for it.

i remember this original figure being unfortunately fiddly to play with, but i feel like a modern pass at the design could secure a lot of those floppy joints and dial back on the gimmicks to make him a much more fun figure to handle. i feel like to do him proper justice, you'd have to put him at the recently introduced 'Commander class' pricepoint, but i'd be willing to budge on that. you even have your built-in redeco potential, putting him in the G1-inspired silver and black palette he wore as Galvatron later in the Cybertron series.


A picture of Override's vehicle mode.
sourced from seibertron.com

of the current crop of Cybertron homages, Jungle Planet has been noticably absent. it makes sense - even as they've gone back and redone Beast Wars in a modern style, they've focused on realistic animal modes, which doesn't mesh with the bio-mechanical stylings Jungle Planet figures always had. there's plenty of characters i'd love to see done up in full Generations glory (honorable mentions to Undermine and Brimstone), but i think Leobreaker offers a few interesting opportunities and could be done a few different ways.

the original Leobreaker toy is a pretty notable case of a toy that changed a lot in development. in-fiction, it represents the character Overhaul getting a cross-planetary upgrade, turning from an SUV into a lion that can form an oversized clawed arm for Optimus Prime's super mode. the duality of the character was originally more apparent, with a faux-SUV chestplate that folded away, and the articulation of the arm mode had to be reduced severely for budget reasons. it wouldn't be 1:1 accurate with the character's finalized representation, but i think there'd be a real novelty to reintroducing these lost elements and giving us the Leobreaker that we could have had in 2005.

on the other hand, if attachment to Optimus is the top priority, i could see designing a smaller version of the character in the style of WFC's break-apart Weaponizers and Fossilizers, disassembling and using standard 5mm ports to attach to GUOP. as recently as SDCC 2022, Hasbro seems open to the idea of producing Cybertron Optimus's other companion-turned-attachment Wing Saber at a scale that could attach to the Siege figure, so it'd be interesting to see Leobreaker get that treatment too. Megatron even has his own 'shadow copy' of Leobreaker in the form of Nemesis Breaker, making for an easy redeco option.


A picture of Override's vehicle mode.
sourced from seibertron.com

it's hard to talk around Primus's presence in the Cybertron toyline. for as massive as Metroplex was, he wasn't even at the largest size class on offer. that honor would go to two characters - a bizarre choice of a giant-scaled Starscream, and Primus, the closest thing Transformers have to a god, with his alternate mode literally being their homeworld of Cybertron. Cybertron (the toyline, not the place. italicized.) represented the first time a proper toy of Primus was produced, acting as a sort of counterpart to Armada giving us the first toy of his evil counterpart, Unicron. the original Primus toy was a flagship item for the entire two-year run of Cybertron, with all kinds of lights and sounds, an 'Omega Lock' accessory with slots for all four types of Cyber Keys, and a beautifully sculpted planet mode with details inspired by years of establishing shots of Cybertron (the place, not the toyline.).

a new take on Primus isn't exactly the highest priority i have in mind for new Unicron Trilogy homages, but it feels sort of inevitable that they revist the concept one day, right? it's hard to go for a bigger sell than "this Transformer is their god", and this design represents one of the most important common threads throughout nearly 40 years of brand history, the homeworld the Transformers hail from. to put a capstone on the entirety of the War For Cybertron trilogy (not the place or the 2005 toyline, but the late 2010s Generations brand), Hasbro deployed their relatively new crowdfunding platform HasLab to create a 27-inch tall, $575 figure of Unicron. with the big 40th anniversary looming just a little over a year away as i write this, i could easily imagine a similar campaign being run for Primus. even for people who have no personal love for the Cybertron era, he represents a sort of all-encompassing presence over Transformers. in fact, this original toy was sold under the G1 label in Japan.

with all that said, there's still plenty of Cybertron they could still tap into for new figures for years to come, whether that's going for anime cast completionism, bringing niche toy-exclusives back to life, or even doubling back to redo some of the earlier, less dedicated homages. eventually, we might reach a point where there's more than one modern interpretation of some of these characters, which is weird to think about. i don't think anything will ever dethrone G1 as Hasbro's one true love and anchor for the brand as a whole, but we're reaching a point where 2000s nostalgia can start to ebb and flow just as 1980s nostalgia has for decades.

ultimately, if i were given the wheel, i'm not even sure how many Cybertron homages i'd be greenlighting. there's certainly a plethora of designs i'd like to see revisited, but i think the actual thing i want Transformers to invest in is introducing new characters, new designs, new takes. nostalgia is potent, and indulging in the old can be fun, but it's not healthy to stay stuck in it. i want to see Transformers innovating and creating something new fans can fall in love with, the same way i fell in love with Cybertron. as it stands, i'm not in a position to really know if their current direction of crystalizing an 'evergreen' brand identity around G1 is doing that for kids these days. maybe it works really well. maybe it doesn't. maybe it works just enough, keeping things afloat but not quite as far as they could be pushed. you could argue my opinion on what Transformers 'ought to be' stopped mattering to Hasbro years ago, really.

all i'm in a position to say is that becoming a different type of target demographic is weird. for now, i'll let myself indulge, but i wonder how it'll feel another 20 years down the line.