Allspark List Wars 003: Every Transformers Movie Toyline, Ranked!
It’s been a decade since the release of the first Michael Bay-directed Transformers movie, and more than three decades since the original hit theaters. So in this installment of ALLSPARK LIST WARS, we’ll present the definitive ranking of every major Transformers movie toyline. Click through for more!
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
The best thing that can be said about this line is that it gave us a new set of Dinobots, and they were some of the most colorful movie figures of all time. Their quality varied, but all together they paint a striking picture.
It’s downhill from there.
Hasbro made some controversial (to collectors) decisions with this line, splitting it into several “age brackets,” with the same character represented in multiple sublines of varying complexity. The “Generations” subline represented the figures that most collectors cared about, and it was one of the most meager selections we’ve ever had in a movie line, with a total of less than 20 figures made available at general retail through the line’s life. Paint ops were far fewer than ever, and some characters (Stinger) could only be found in TakaraTomy’s version of the line.
But at least we got those cool Dinobots…
6. The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
Now we know what you’re thinking. The original Transformers movie? Isn’t this practically the sacred text of the whole Transformers franchise? But hear us out.
First of all, it’s no secret that the G1 toyline had discrepancies between the toys and the animation models. Partly, this was because of the difficulty of translating complicated or inhuman mech designs to a cartoon that had to be animated on a limited budget and appeal to children.
Then the movie came along, and with it, a completely new cast of characters, with only one of them based on an existing Diaclone design. So, you would think that with the opportunity to design figures from the ground up to coincide with an animated product, you’d get toys that were more accurate than ever before, right? Wrong.
Many figures were produced using designs that weren’t final (Cyclonus, Scourge), some had size discrepancies for electronics or other reasons (Galvatron, Gnaw), and some were just flat-out awkward (Springer, Rodimus Prime, Wreck-Gar, Wheelie). Not only that, but many of the most memorable new characters in the film didn’t get toys in 1986 (Arcee, Unicron), and some – despite having toyetic features – still haven’t had toys! (Arblus, Allicons).
Finally, what figures we did get had an aesthetic that clashed wildly against the more real-world style that had dominated the line through 1985. While the line would go on to shift to this more sci-fi aesthetic over time, in 1986 it was enough to sour many fans to the franchise.
So while it may be one of the most nostalgic lines in Transformers history, it still deserves its spot near the bottom of this list.
5. Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Without a doubt the weirdest of the Transformers movie lines, The Last Knight was bizarre right out the door with a truly head-scratching selection of characters in its first wave. Evidence seems to show a near-total lack of communication between Hasbro and the film crew, with multiple figures of a character who barely appears in the film (Berserker), a non-movie Dinobot redeco in the first wave (Slash), important characters relegated to a so far vanishingly rare final wave (Cogman), and name-dropped characters not appearing in the toyline at all (Mohawk, Onslaught).
But elevating this line above the fourth movie is a resurgence in quality and complexity in individual figures, particularly in the Voyager range. We also have gotten some interesting store exclusives in the form of a blazingly orange-and-purple redeco of Cybertron Primus, a retool of Prime Beast Hunters Abominus as Infernocus (with a tiny Quintessa), and a purple/gray retool of Thrilling 30 stealth bomber Megatron with a movie-esque head.
The line also boasts some unusual and underrated subline gimmicks such as Allspark Tech and Tiny Turbo Chargers. But despite these features, the haphazard way the line was handled easily ranks it lower than most other movie lines.
4. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Coming off of the massive high that was Revenge of the Fallen (but we’ll come back to that later), Dark of the Moon was a decidedly mixed bag. On the negative side, this was the first movie line that failed to represent all of the film’s major characters in toy form – a trend that would unfortunately continue through subsequent lines. New Autobots Que/Wheeljack and Dino/Mirage, Soundwave’s new car mode, and two of the three Dreads – not to mention numerous interesting designs seen in crowds – didn’t receive toys during the main lifespan of the line.
Rising oil prices and lessening box office revenue meant the DotM figures were smaller, simpler, and less painted than what we’d gotten used to in our movie lines, which further set them apart from the previous two lines.
Not only that, but screen-accurate weaponry often had to be compromised for a new “Mechtech” gimmick that gave each figure a blocky and often cumbersome spring-loaded weapon. The Mechtech gimmicks were fun in practice, but anathema to anyone interested in movie accuracy. They also make the DotM figures stick out among other movie lines.
But on the bright side, DotM brought us some excellent individual figures like Voyager Megatron, Leader Sentinel Prime, Leader Ironhide, Deluxe Laserbeak, Cyberfire Bumblebee (AKA Murderbee), and others. Not to mention the fantastic basic-class Human Alliance subline, which paired new movie-aesthetic characters with 3-inch human figures. These figures had a wide range of alternate modes, and each transformed into weapons that could interact with the human figures or larger DotM figures.
3. Transformers (2010 Toyline)
This is an arguable inclusion on this list, but as the 2010 line was primarily engineered with a movie aesthetic, we think it belongs. Unique among most other Transformers lines, the 2010 series featured a mixture of both movie and G1 characters, including several G1 characters reimagined in movie-style designs, which seems like madness in the current collecting atmosphere.
The 2010 line brought us such unusual and creative figures as Axor, Hailstorm, Breacher, Brimstone, Sea Spray, Highbrow, and Lugnut, the likes of which we haven’t seen in any following Transformers line. It also filled in a few blanks left by the RotF line, such as Elita-1, and gave us the best mainline movie Bumblebee and Starscream to date.
2. Transformers (2007)
We’re at the point now where the youngest adult fans of Transformers will have grown up with the original movie line, a sobering thought for some of us old-timers who can’t bear to see flames on a semi. But without a doubt, the 2007 movie line is one of the high watermarks for our fandom. It was an engineering feat to distill the enormously complex CG models of the movies into small plastic toys that somehow actually transformed into accurate Camaros and Ford Saleens.
The line stumbled a bit at first, with unusual paint choices (the first deluxe Bumblebee), design flaws (deluxe Brawl), and just general awkwardness (leader class Megatron). But past those hurdles, we got a huge and fun toyline that more or less accurately transcribed what we saw on film into our hands.
And even when the figures weren’t 100 percent accurate, nearly all of them came with clever “Automorph” features, where parts of the transformation would automatically activate as way of referencing the complicated panel-shifting seen on the big screen.
Not only that, but the limited number of characters in the film meant Hasbro had to get creative with its lineup, soon introducing many new Autobots and Decepticons with alternate modes based on mundane vehicles from scenes in the film, or concept art, or just entirely original. Characters like Landmine, Incinerator, Dropkick, Stockade, Wreckage, and others helped flesh out the movie’s universe, and gave us a heap of cool toys to boot.
And we can’t forget the Real Gear Robots, which brought back a vintage Microchange feel to the line and gave us some very cool (and unfortunately, still obscure) robot designs.
Best Toy: Brawl (Leader Class)
Worst Toy: Megatron (Leader Class)
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Since it’s generally considered to be the worst of all Transformers films, it may be surprising to see it at the top of this list, but maybe not for those of us who lived through it.
RotF still has some of the most bizarre and otherworldly mech design among any of the Bayformers films, and its designers rose to the challenge presented by the film’s artists. Nearly every unique character in the film had a new toy, each more complex than the last. It’s telling that the Leader-class Revenge of the Fallen Optimus Prime remained the best and most accurate movie version of Prime for years, being consistently released in different formats, and only recently being just barely one-upped…by a Masterpiece figure.
But it wasn’t just the most expensive figures of this line that made it so special – the Scout class was on fire in 2009, giving us a buffet of interesting, new characters, many of which were completely original, boasting alternate modes like forklift, delivery truck, and World War I fighter plane. We were being spoiled, but we didn’t know it at the time.
The previous line’s Automorph features carried over under a different name – Mech Alive – and continued in working physics-defying transformation schemes into every figure. We had home-run figures in every size class, ranging from the aforementioned Scout range all the way up to a unique and colossal combining Devastator.
It’s true that the line’s reach may have exceeded its grasp – some figures were so complex that they were a nightmare to transform. And even in this era of excess, we did start to see cost-cutting with figures like Voyager Starscream and others. But it’s fair to say that RotF was among the most ambitious Transformers lines of all time, and for that, we have to award it the rank of best movie toyline.
Just don’t make us transform Mixmaster again.
What was your favorite and least favorite movie lines? Think we got the right ones? Let us know on our forums!
And after that, check out previous installments of List Wars!
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