Star Wars, remembered by fans fondly as a Cambellian epic of family, identity, and intergalactic conflict. The Transformers, a cross-generational story featuring the war between two factions of mechanical warriors with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. Together these two titanic franchises make up the pillars of 1980s sci-fi adventure action figures. The Star Wars line of toys was previously produced by now-defunct toy company Kenner, which was purchased by competitor and producer of the Transformers toys Hasbro in 1991. With both brands under one roof, Hasbro decided to merge two of its most popular properties in 2005 with the release of Star Wars Transformers. Star Wars Transformers (briefly re-branded as Transformers: Crossovers before returning to its original name) took the most iconic vehicles and ship designs from Star Wars lore and converted them into robotic versions of their in-universe pilots.
The similarities between both toylines would imply that this union was a dream come true this was not always the case. The engineering process of a Transformer means that sometimes one mode suffers to make its other configuration more appealing. Because of the Star Wars Transformers line's commitment to sustaining the iconic looks of its vehicle modes, many figures were saddled with unappealing robot modes that had poor proportions, extensive amounts of kibble (the excess parts of a Transformer that have nowhere to go in one mode), and very little resemblances to the characters they represented. Here is CBR's list of the 10 best looking figures to survive such design impediments and 10 that are tragic casualties to design wars.
20 MISS: CAD BANE TO XANADU BLOOD
A consistent trend with the Star Wars Transformers figures is that the less organic a character's design is, the better its chances are of being translated as a good looking toy. There is possibly a no better example of this than Cad Bane.
Cad Bane transforms into his ship the Xanadu Blood, his toy itself a redeco from the MagnaGuard figure whose Porax-38 starfighter was in fiction the basis for the Xanadu Blood. The toy's design work for the MagnaGuard due to their skeletal robotic design, but on Bane, reveal a mess of flaws. Spindly legs, awkward shoulder pads, clunky fists, and design lacking any of the hunter's iconography and colors leave this toy missing the mark.
19 HIT: GENERAL GRIEVOUS TO WHEEL BIKE
Like his MagnaGuard, Grievous skeletal cybernetic appearance lends itself perfectly for a Transforming redesign. Pairing that with the fact his Wheel Bike alternate mode is one of the more unique designs from the Prequel Trilogy and you have a very satisfying looking Transformer.
The figure does have a slight issue of kibble, with half of the wheel's circular shape forming a spiky metallic looking hump. But unlike the kibble of other figures, Grievous' back portion almost looks fashionable including strategically placed lightsaber holders to make it a literal heavy metal backpack.
18 MISS: CLONE PILOT TO ARC-170
The ARC-170 Starfighter was a flagship model for the Galactic Republic's Clone army. A sleek design that thematically serves as a forerunner to the Rebellion's X-Wing, the Arc-170 made its debut in the Star Wars Transformers line as the first incarnation of a Clone Pilot Transformer. The significance of the ship makes this appearance unfortunate due to the fact the Arc-170 pilot is a poorly executed figure.
Cumbersome kibble from the wings is the start of the Clone Pilot's woes, with awkward proportions of the tiny arms and massive shoulders following. Even the retooled and recolored release of the mold, featuring a cool alternate shark color scheme and much nicer helmeted head sculpt, doesn't save this vessel from a messy entry.
17 HIT: LUKE SKYWALKER TO SNOWSPEEDER
Speaking of rough landings, series protagonist Luke Skywalker also had a rough beginning entering the Star Wars Transformers line (more on that later). But his second appearance based on his Hoth Snowspeeder made for a much better Transformer.
The square-shaped design of the Snowspeeder keeps all of Luke's robot pieces well hidden, allowing them to unfold neatly in an even proportioned robot mode. It should be noted Snowspeeder Luke's robot mode includes a kibble backpack and obstructing cockpit chest, but these are slight flaws in an overall solid figure. A figure that is both strong with the Force and pleasant looking on the outside.
16 MISS: STORMTROOPER TO AT-AT
Ah the AT-AT, one of the most iconic vehicles in all of Star Wars. Big, powerful, massive artillery, and enough bulk to storm a heavily fortified base on a snowy planet like Hoth. The imagery of fear and awe the AT-AT has instilled into fans makes it a natural choice for selection in the Star Wars Transformers line.
The AT-AT Pilot leaves something to be desired, however, primarily failing due to issues of scale. A standard carded Star Wars Transformers figure is just not large enough to accommodate the design of the AT-AT. It tries to compensate its, literal, shortcomings but unfortunately only leads to an unimposing scrawny figure. Awkward proportions and twig-like limbs leave this figure lacking any intimidating factor an AT-AT Transformer should possess.
15 HIT: HAN SOLO AND CHEWBACCA TO THE MILLENNIUM FALCON
Here's a unique concept for the Star Wars Transformers line, a Star Wars combiner! And what more fitting characters from the galaxy far far away to embody combination than the smuggling duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca. Han and Chewie come together taking the form of their ship and home the Millennium Falcon, Han forming the front section and Chewie the back.
Though they look blocky and clunky, Han and Chewie are two of the most entertaining figures in the entire line that perfectly capture the personality of the characters while fully embracing the transformation gimmick. The strength of this concept is such that Hasbro's partner company Takara-Tomy brought it back for a new set in 2018.
14 MISS: LUKE SKYWALKER TO X-WING
The X-Wing's iconography inspired the Star Wars generation in ways not incomparable to the beginnings of aviation and real-life space exploration. Even if the stars it soared are entirely fictional its, that profound magical effect it had on real-life children cannot be understated. If such a claim is hyperbolic, then the assumption that the Star Wars Transformers Luke X-Wing would instill similar feelings is downright impossible.
The figure is a mess, with shoulder kibble that eliminates articulation, poor esthetics, and weak legs. It also doesn't help that the first run of the figures included a design flaw that would result in some copies snapping at the thigh. As the first Luke figure in the line, and the line's only X-Wing representation, this figure deserves to stay in the swamp.
13 HIT: CAPTAIN REX TO FREECO SPEEDER
An addition to the 2008 Clone Wars animated film and series, Captain Rex is distinguished from other Clone Troopers with his uniquely colored armor. With a strong personality and story continuing story arc told not only through Clone Wars but its sequel series Star Wars Rebels, Rex had a character that fully resonated with fans. His depiction in this line, transforming into the shielded Clone Army Freeco Speeder, is outstanding.
The thrusters of the arms give Rex's arms an armor platted look, with excellent proportions from the legs, and numerous points of useful articulation. And the center of the of the bike unfolding to reveal his equally armored chest and helmet is spectacular.
12 MISS: EMPEROR PALPATINE TO IMPERIAL SHUTTLE
A consistent issue across the entire Star Wars Transformers line is how to adapt the organic non-droid, non-helmeted characters into mechanized robot people. An instance of this issue is present in their incarnation of Cad Bane, but the problem is very illustrated with the figure of Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine.
Palpatine transforms into his vessel of choice the Imperial Transport Shuttle, whose retro-box like design does provide for a somewhat interesting armored look. But the whole thing falls apart the minute you take a look at the figure's head sculpt, which is wrinkly and darkly colored to represent the Emperor's iconic decrepit look. It comes off as weirdly frog-like, and not at all the kind of scary visage expected from a robotic master of the Dark Side.
11 HIT: YODA TO REPUBLIC GUNSHIP
The Republic Gunship Yoda Transformer should not work for a multitude of reasons already presented on this list. The design of the Republic Gunship is large and imposing, scaled down into a smaller figure. The character of Yoda is an incredibly organic character, which has proven to be a fault for others. And yet the Yoda figure is an incredible exception of the rules, defying expectations while being a brilliant figure in its own right.
For starters, the figure benefits from adopting the Clone Wars design of Yoda, whose stylized angular design lends itself to a Transformers version of the character. Next, it breaks the trend of slavish devotion to the vehicle's design, taking artistic liberties like removing the Gunship's undercarriage and making a more compact interpretation.
10 MISS: SAESEE TIIN TO DELTA-7 JEDI STARFIGHTER
Ah, Saesee Tiin, the Jedi Council's own weird lizard goat person. Saesee Tiin was the first Jedi to debut in the Star Wars Transformers line using the Delta-7 mold but far from the last. Since the vehicle's first appearance in Attack of the Clones, it has become one of the signature Jedi spaceships within Star Wars lore. This figure would see reuse as his fellow Jedi Kit Fisto and Anakin Skywalker.
It's a shame then, considering how many releases this figure would have, that it had such a rough start. The Delta-7 Transformer is an angular mess with some of the most obnoxious back kibbles in the entire line. Admittedly the colors on other releases are better than Saesee Tiin, but all suffer from bad tiny head sculpts.
9 HIT: CLONE PILOT TO TORRENT STARFIGHTER
The Torrent Starfighter is the Clone Pilot Transformer figure the Arc-170 wishes it was. The first thing to note is the Torrent Startfighter's cockpit chest, which is one of the smallest and least intrusives examples in the line, not affecting the Clone Pilot's chest design at all.
Next, you have a beautiful helmeted head sculpt, even proportions, and shoulder cannons that can be positioned up or down in either direction giving lots of possible options. Great articulation, great use of the design, this Clone Pilot is ready to take to the skies and bring every droid down with him.
8 MISS: BOBA FETT TO SLAVE-1
Even his devoted admirers admit that Boba Fett has sustained popularity in Star Wars' legacy in part to his solid character design. The bounty hunter was able to exude enigmatic and dangerous energy which made fans all the more excited to learn as much about the character as possible. His Star Wars Transformers figure could use some of that energy we think.
As much as Fett is known for his cool character design, Star Wars ships, in general, are known for their unique shapes, and the Slave-1 is no exception. That same unique shape, however, creates a boxy Transformers in all the wrong ways. Boba Fett's bloated body and weirdly positioned limbs aren't striking fear into prey any time soon.
7 HIT: DARTH VADER TO STAR DESTROYER
The larger Star Wars Transformers figures were produced at a higher price point, allowing them to have more engineering and parts which in turn leads to a more sophisticated design. The Darth Vader Star Destroy is one such an impressive feat of size and engineering, offering four distinct modes of transformation in one package.
The figure can assume the robot modes of either Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader, both including their own vehicles modes of Republic Cruiser and Imperial Star Destroyer. In addition to the impressive variety of its alt modes, the figure also has imposing mass and multiple weapons. One issue is its design and size do make the figure top heavy, but a portion of the ship creates a stylish cape portion that looks great and keeps stability.
6 MISS: SHOCK TROOPER TO V-WING
The Shock Trooper is once again a case of design potential ruined by poor proportions. The body is square and awkward, its pointed shoes small and weird, and its spindly legs aren't winning any sprinting awards. But the biggest issue of all with the Shock Trooper comes in those disasters it calls arms.
We begin at the shoulders, hanging unnaturally low, down his pretty thin arms, onto his bizarrely MASSIVE forearms made from the V-Wing's turrets in vehicle mode. Popeye has nothing on the size of Shock Trooper's whammers, but then again, Popeye's limbs are only vaguely inhuman compared to the Shock Trooper's.
5 HIT: CLONE PILOT TO Y-WING FIGHTER
The Y-Wing Clone Pilot is among the best figures in the Star Wars Transformers line, and a quality Transformer in its own right. Excellent proportions, a fashionable armored appearance that still looks agile, and best of all, back-kibble that comes off as a functional jetpack instead of an afterthought.
An unintended perk of the Clone Pilot's design is it bears an accidental resemblance to the Clone Commandos from the Star Wars: Republic Commandos video game. Specifically, the Pilot's bulky back armor and yellow color scheme are reminiscent of Delta Squad's Scorch. Accidental homage or not, Y-Wing Pilot is a great figure worthy of any Star Wars or Transformers collection.
4 MISS: OBI-WAN KENOBI TO ETA-2
The Eta-2 was the class of starfighter Anakin and Obi-Wan pilot on their mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of General Grievous. An impressive vessel that serves as foreshadowing for both the heroic X-Wing and villainous Tie-Advance. The use of the Eta-2 as the alternate mode for Obi-Wan's first Transformer shares little nobility to this esteemed lineage.
Eta-2 Obi-Wan is a sad shadow of a Transformer with pathetic tiny arms, a weird organic head, and silhouette that is anything but imposing. Its wing kibble attempts a cape aesthetic but looks more like spikes popping out of Obi-Wan's butt. And then there's the cockpit chest which, not only the worst offender in the line, has a bulbous beer gullet that makes it look like Obi-Wan skipped gym day.
3 HIT: COMMANDER CODY TO TURBO TANK
Despite betraying his friend and superior officer Obi-Wan as part of Darth Sidious' Order 66, Commander Cody remains a classic Clone Officer beloved by many fans, and this Transformer figure is a testament to them. Based on the Republic Army's Turbo Tank, Cody's figure uses the long caterpillar shape of the tank to compensate for his figure's lack of mass.
Much like the Y-Wing Pilot, Turbo Tank Cody utilizes the character's armored look to make the toy's design a bulky mechanical bruiser. There are some issues of wing-like kibble but unlike many other figures on this list flatter Cody's overall appearance very well. Cap that off with two firearm accessories, and you have one Commander who is ready for action.
2 MISS: Darth Maul to Sith Infiltrator
We have very little to say about this design, practically everything that could've gone wrong did. It's not that Darth Maul isn't prime for adaptation in this line cause he is, or that there weren't some good ideas such as re-interpreting the Sith Lord's notable head spikes as bolts. Even the articulation of the figure makes a valiant effort, but it ultimately just looks wrong.
The amount of gray instead of black is disappointing, the head sculpt is goofy, lack of wrist swivels hinder posing, and his kibble ruins any intimidation factor. Good intentions but flawed execution leave this toy chopped in half.
1 HIT: DARTH VADER TO DEATH STAR
The ultimate Star Wars Transformer. The deadliest dark side user in the universe paired up with the most destructive weapon in Star Wars canon. The idea to combine Darth Vader into a robotic Death Star is not only inspired it is more rad than any power converter. But the figure does not win on concept alone.
The Darth Vader Death Star figure is an achievement of toy engineering, keeping the iconic look of the planet-destroying battle station, while still being able to transform into a mechanical force user of destruction. The look, the size, the sheer power, Death Star Vader has it all and leads all others with a blackened fist. Move over Unicron, there's a new destructive heavily body in town.