It’s not exactly a secret along the lines of the KFC recipe or where Elvis really died that I dig Transformers toys. As a kid, I always wanted them but I could never get my hands on them because apparently I had to be given responsible gifts instead. Like, I crap thee not, actual soap on a rope and a beach towel one year.
Anyway, I’m an adult now. An adult with disposable cash who usually flicks a finger at the idea of having a pension fund, and Transformers are still going strong. Hell, they’re better than ever, featuring some kickass designs and sculpts. But where does one even begin? The last couple of years have seen hundreds of the shape-shifting buggers released, thanks to Michael Bay’s movies and successful cartoon series which have been licenses to print money.
But worry not, because your friendly D-cepticon is here to give you a brief guide into the world of collecting official Transformers toys in 2016.
It’s not enough to have a good figure when it comes to Transformers. You want a good-sized figure as well. And when it comes to robots in disguise, Hasbro has a simple and sometimes slightly inconsistent selection of size classes for their premier toy brand. Broken down, you get five distinct categories for these fellas:
The smallest Transformers class, figures that fall under the Legends category are usually around 9cm in height, or 3.5 inches. They’re still fully capable of transforming however, have some degree of articulation and are otherwise cheaper entries in the official line of Transformer toys.
Now we’re talking. Deluxe-class figures are when you start to see the best of Transformers shine through. They’re around 5-6 inches/12-15cm tall, have a much wider range of articulation and they form the backbone of any new wave of releases. They’re a bit more moderately priced, but they usally boast some fine quality overall and a much wider range of variety between Decepticon and Autobot ranks. Basically, they’re the foot soldiers of any collection.
But the cream of the crop are undoubtedly the Voyager-class figures. They’re a fantastic middle-ground between the articulation of the Deluxe-class figures, but with a noticeable size difference of 17.7cm/7 inches that leans closer to the Leader-Class figures. Much like their smaller pals, Voyager-class figures are fully capable of transforming and also have some of the best and most detailed designs of all the Transformer figures.
If you’re willing to shell out a little bit extra for them that is.
And now we’re onto the big boys. Leader-Class figures live up to their names, towering above all other Transformers in their respective families with a scale of 9 inches or 22cm. They’re usually bigger and bulkier in design, can still transform and have a few other cooler details like semi-articulated fingers. That size does come with a few limitations in terms of posing them, but they’re awe-inspiring nonetheless.
Hoo boy. This is technically the Kaiju of Transformers, and you don’t see these guys released often due to the sheer size and scale of them. Metroplex is the big big example here, an absolute brute of an Autobot who clocks in at a height of over 2 entire feet. Or over 60cm. That’s even bigger than his nearest counterpart, the Decepticon Devastator who happens to be made up of six Voyager-class Constructicons.
You can usually classify Transformers toys further according to the era in which they were launched. The early 2000s had the Armada line, the mid-2000s introduced the Universe line and the most recent addition to the franchise has been the Generations line which is technically an umbrella term right now for the current crop of figures that have been released since 2010.
Initially heavily focused on the Activision and High Moon’s Cybertron games, 2013 saw a fresh wave of older characters with new designs from the IDW Comics in the Thrilling 30 series. Generations would soon hit a high point however with a novel idea that harkened back to the classic cartoon series: Bigger, badder robots in disguise.
2015 and 2016 unleashed an entire army of Autobots and Decepticons, figures who all came with a neat gimmick: They could transform not only into a vehicle, but also into limbs. By combining four such Deluxe-class Transformers into a Voyager-Class figure which formed the torso, fans could create legendary giants that were bloody massive in scale, dwarfing even Leader-Class figures.
Defensor, Bruticus and Menasor were just a few of the options available, but collectors weren’t limited by those canon characters? Want to build a Defensor made out of Rook arms and legs? Onslaught combining with Computron minions? As long as you had the cash, you were sorted.
2016 saw a new new sub-line launch: Titans Return. The gimmick here, being that various Deluxe and Voyager-class figures were capable of detaching their heads like Highlander fans run amok. Harkening back to the Headmasters cartoon that most of us wish that we could forget about, Titans Return features each Deluxe, Voyager and Leader-Class figured paired up with interchangeable Titan Master pals. The weapons of each character also feature slots to pop these little fellas into, or even into their vehicle mode. Neat.
And that’s just a small taste of Transformers in 2016! Going even deeper down the rabbit hole, there’s a whole world out there of even more collectible figures that’ll leave you completely broke and covered in brightly-covered plastic toys. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Last Updated: January 4, 2017