Autobots, roll out! Every since Transformers debuted in toy and animated form in the early 1980’s, the world has been captivated by the endless battle between the (good) Autobots and (evil) Decepticons. With a long-running series of modern blockbuster CGI-heavy motion pictures, the classic Transformers theme has never been more popular, the toy line firmly cemented in pop culture history.
He may have started life as a plain ‘ol yellow Volkswagen beetle, but Bumblebee quickly became a fan-favorite back in the 80’s because of those exact nondescript qualities. Bumblebee, not a flashy jet or sports car, was always an underdog in cartoon and toy form. The modern movies, include a starring solo film, hammered home a Bumblebee as a down-to-earth character that everyone could relate to. Having him convert to a racing Camero certainly didn’t hurt his brand appeal.
I almost gave this slot to Prowl for his unique cop car conversion. But let’s be serious, a red Lamborghini Countach is far more appealing. And that exotic car transformation WAS the main allure to Sideswipe for many G1 collectors. While not the most interesting character in the animated or live-action movies, Sideswipe is popular for what he is – a toy car that most people will never be able to afford or own in real life.
I might come across biased here, but Soundwave is my favorite Transformers character because it was my first Transformers toy. Back in the ’80s, the Sony Walkman was all the rage in portable music. Yes Gen Zer’s, we actually had things before CDs and digital MP3s called cassette tapes… that played music. “Ghetto Blasters” were a thing too, the bigger the better. That combo of cultural music mayhem collided nicely with Soundwave’s design back in the day – and still rocks to today with his smooth, calculated robo good-looks.
Taking a cue from the expressionless Soundwave, Shockwave emoted evil with his awesome purple color scheme, mono-eye and lethal conversion. Music player? That’s so yesterday. Shockwave converted into a GUN. And not just any gun… a LASER GUN.
The big bad himself. The leader of the Decepticons is iconic for two reasons: his incredible name and his original Walther P38 handgun conversion. It was Megatron’s latter quality that created controversy in modern years, guns being a thing frowned upon in some circles, especially as playthings. However, as all things frowned upon, popularity is insured. Megatron also received extra love by being resurrected in the the live-action Transformers movies, albeit at the loss to a lame conversion into a futuristic spaceship (although his Cybertron tank mode in toy form isn’t half bad).
Starscream is easily the most recognized. Megatron’s second-in-command, Starscream’s defining trait is his desire to overthrow Megatron and take his place as Decepticon leader. Sure, he has whiny voice, but he’s also a sleek F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor fighter jet and other advanced forms of fighter jets. Starscream practically defined what a Decepticon was in the early days. Autobot = car. Decepticon = jet.
Speaking of jets… This guy was controversial for his G1 debut due as a blatant Macross/Robotech design rip-off. G1 Jetfire was created from the same mold as the VF-1S Super Valkyrie from the Macross series, resulting in some licensing legality issues soon after. He’s been an Autobot future jet ever after… just not the iconic crossover design he originated as.
Grimlock flipped the Transformers toy line on its head. Cars? Planes? Dinosaurs! While depicted as slightly dimwitted, this Autobot ally was extremely powerful – not only in the original animated series, but also in his CGI-revised incarnation. Bottom line, it’s a robot with attitude that converts into a Tyrannosaurus rex. Nuff said.
Devestator is important for many reasons, the first being that he was one of the first Combiners. As a Constructicon (read: gimmick to buy more Transformers toys), Devestator attracted collectors with his awesome lime green color scheme and nostolgic sandbox vehicle vibe of dump truck, crane, bulldozer, etc. Tack on the fact that you got six (7 total?) figures for your buck, and this complex Transformers toy easily earns his spot.
10) Optimus Prime
Ah, you knew this was coming! Optimus Prime, iconically voiced by Peter Cullen in both the cartoon AND the blockbuster movies, IS the face of the Transformers toy line. Heroic Autobot? Check. Converts into a rugged semi-truck? Check? Optimus Prime embodies everything the Transformers franchise aspires to be: Powerful robots that convert into powerful objects, all wrapped up with a good heaping of human morality.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best action figures and collectibles. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.