#16G1 Jetfire (1985) – Robotech can kiss my a**!
Voting Percentage: 18%
Average Ranking: 8.89
The history of this particular toy is a long and complicated. It began life as the Macross VF-1S Super Valkyrie from Takatoku Toys. When Hasbro was licensing Japanese toy robots left and right to get their initial Transformers toyline together, the Valkyrie was one of the relatively few non-Takara toys they selected. Given its size, they naturally wanted to include it in the cartoon for advertisement purposes, but given Takara’s collaboration in the production, they didn’t want to offend their partner, either, by including products of Takara’s competition. Thus cartoon Jetfire was called Skyfire and looked somewhat different. The situation got even murkier and more complicated once Harmony Gold licensed the Macross series for Western audiences and called it Robotech, thus starting a long, long history of marketing squabbles, licensing fights, and court dates. It was only last year that Harmony Gold threatened to sue Hasbro for their Jetfire-like Skystriker exclusive toy from the San Diego Comic Con.
Anyway, the actual toy is one of the all-time classics of transforming robots and apart from the Transformers variant here, there are probably dozens of other versions of it out there to represent the various Valkyrie models from Macross / Robotech, plus countless knock-off versions. Hardly surprising, as this is one beautiful toy. Able to transform from robot to jet and stop halfway for a so-called Gerwalk Mode, Jetfire comes with a host of additional armor, including a booster rucksack. He towered over most other Transformers from that time, standing eye to eye with Decepticon Shockwave. The figure was also released as Autobot leader in Europe during the toyline’s original Milton Bradley run, as Optimus Prime was notably absent in that first year due to Joustra releasing the Diaclone toys (including Battle Convoy / Optimus Prime) during that time.
So bottom line: G1 Jetfire is a classic for a reason. Good luck finding a fully intact one for a reasonable price, though. And we’ll probably never see an Encore release of him unless Harmony Gold finally closes down.
#14G1 Devastator (1985) – Nothing stops the Devastator!
Voting Percentage: 18%
Average Ranking: 8.67
Like many of the initial Transformers toys the Constructicons started out as part of Takara’s Diaclone toyline. Now one gets the feeling that combining robots have been part of Japan’s culture as long as anyone can remember (there are probably cave paintings of combining Zords somewhere), but for the Transformers the Constructions and their ability to combine into Devastator were a first. The first combining robot (or Gestalt, as the fans termed it later on) and probably the most bootlegged toy of all time. The Constructicons were available in numerous ways (single or gift set) on numerous continents in different colors, sometimes with and sometimes without the combiner kibble.
The six individual figures are pretty typical for their time, limited articulation and emphasis on realistic vehicle modes. Said vehicle modes could be enhanced with the various combiner kibble parts for attack modes, which looked good in some cases, not so in others. But the kicker for all fans was, of course, their ability to combine into Devastator. Now scale-wise the Devastator toy wasn’t exactly a towering giant, standing less tall than figures like Jetfire or Shockwave, but scale was never really an issue with Transformers anyway, right? The fun was having a robot that was really six robots, period. Sure, the later Scramble City style combiners like the Aerialbots or the Combaticons made for sturdier robots and offered interchangeability, but Devastator was still the first and is usually the first name mentioned when it comes to combiners. While not getting any number 1s from any of his voters, Devastator got enough votes and a consistently high rank to easily climb to number 14.
Honorable Mention: the Decepticon combiners clearly rule! G1 Bruticus comes in at 57 and G1 Predaking at 62. The highest-ranked Autobot combiner is G1 Defensor at 159, followed by G1 Computron at 176.
#13ROTF Optimus Prime (Leader, 2009) – I rise, because you love me!
Voting Percentage: 22%
Average Rank: 12.55
I know, we already had Buster Optimus Prime at number 28. What can I say? As many votes as Buster got, the original Hasbro version of this toy got even more (nearly twice as many, in fact). And while he has a far lower average ranking than his Buster brother, the sheer number of votes propels him onto this spot. And it also makes him the only mold that has managed to get two versions of itself into the top 30 (Unicron is the only other mold who got close with Armada Unicron at 35.)
Honorable Mention: ROTF Prime could link up with ROTF Jetfire, who made it onto number 60. The two of them were reissued in a two-pack for the DOTM line and that particular combo was voted onto number 202. No votes for the HFTD Battle Hooks Prime, though.
#12Prime RID Vehicon (Deluxe, 2012) – Doomed, but cool!
Voting Percentage: 24%
Average Rank: 11.58
The highest-rated Deluxe-class figure in our Top 30 countdown and rightfully so, I might add. This is one toy that definitely didn’t get this high into our top 30 because of the character it portrays, because the Prime Vehicons were pretty much just disposable red shirts. But the toy… oh my, what wonderful piece of engineering. If it wasn’t for the fact that he has wheels on his shoulders, there would actually be no telling what he transforms into. Almost the entire vehicle shell folds together into his lower legs and vanishes from sight. We have plenty of Transformers where the vehicle shows no trace of the robot. But this is one of the few instances where the robot shows (almost) no trace of the vehicle. It also made this toy easy to remold, giving it a new vehicle shell for use as the (Japan-exclusive) Jet Vehicon.
For all that they were pretty much the definite army builder toy, the Prime RID Vehicons were pretty hard to get at first, making said army building a rather pricey proposition. They did see a wider distribution later on, so I’m sure quite a few of these utterly disposable bad guys made it into a wide array of collections. Judging by the number of votes and consistently high ranking, many of you really love them. And rightfully so.
#11G1 Optimus Prime (1984) –I am the Right of all sentient Fans!
Voting Percentage: 24%
Average Rank: 10.83
Pretty much the toy that started it all and the only surprising thing here is that he missed the top 10 by a very, very narrow margin. Optimus Prime, the original G1 toy from 1984, began life as the Diaclone Battle Convoy, released in 1982. And 32 years later it’s still one of the most fun toys to ever grace a kid’s room. Even apart from the incredibly cool and iconic looking robot itself, the trailer / battle station offered endless hours of playing fun with its launching roller, its missile-shooting repair module, and the capability of taking smaller Autobots for a ride in car form. And even in terms of articulation Optimus Prime was pretty much the prime of the crop back in the day, featuring fully articulated arms and legs with knee joints. His only limitation was the inability to bend his legs forward at the hip.
There have been so many different versions and variants of this mold that it blows the mind. From minor production differences (from a time when Hasbro had manufacturing plants in different parts of the world instead of having everything done in China) to numerous reuses of the original Battle Convoy figure to reissues in various anniversary lines, G1 Optimus Prime has never ceased being present across the Transformers franchise. Easily the most recognizable toy of the entire line and an icon to a generation of children.
~ Back to our Top 30 Main Page ~