Generally speaking, lots of fond memories of Transformers toys is an indication that you had a pretty awesome childhood. Over three decades ago, the idea of toys that transformed into other toys was downright revolutionary. These toys would go on to spawn several cartoon series, multiple comic books, a beloved animated movie and a not-so-beloved series of live-action films. And the toys just kept coming. Arguably, there has never been a better time to be a Transformers fan: from the cool Titans Return line of figures at your local Wal-Mart to the painstakingly-detailed Masterpiece figures at your local hobby shop, there’s a cool Transformers toy for everyone. At this point, there are even amazing third-party (read: not official) Transformers toys that rival what Hasbro has to offer!
However, not all Transformers toys are so great. Some of them are hampered by silly gimmicks, while others suffer from poor design. And some are…well…some are just ugly. How do you know which Transformers you should buy and which you should avoid spending your hard-earned energon on? You don’t have to wait for a report from Perceptor or Soundwave to get this info…just keep reading to learn all about the 15 worst Transformers toys ever!
15. TRANSFORMERS PRIME DELUXE AIRACHNID
On paper, Airachnid is a pretty cool character. She is a female Decepticon (which is pretty rare in and of itself) who specializes in torturing Transformers for information. She’s got neat, alien-looking features owing to her Insecticon background, and she seemed destined for an awesome toy. What we got, though, is hot garbage.
The Transformers Prime Deluxe Airachnid has some weird features. First, she looks more like Disney’s Maleficent than any kind of robot. And the stingers that form her hands make it look like she is constantly getting ready to facepalm herself. Her robot form (a helicopter) is just a dark chunk of basic vehicle, with no real style or Decepticon symbols. The figure has super-thin legs and feet that are missing the cool paint that was promised on her promotional images, too. Ultimately, this was hyped as a cool figure and ended up being an absolute disappointment.
14. BEAST MACHINES SUPREME CHEETOR
If you don’t know, the Beast Machines series was a continuation of Beast Wars, which was itself an unlikely sequel series to the original Transformers cartoon. The idea of the cartoon revolved around robots now emulating various animals instead of vehicles. This eventually gave us one of the worst Transformers ever: Supreme Cheetor.
Where to start with this figure? The horrific rictus grin of the figure is the stuff of nightmares. The only thing “supreme” about the figure is how supremely gangly he is, making him look like he’ll fall over as soon as you stand him up. And the final insult is that he doesn’t really scale well to the Beast Machines figures…for both children playing with the figures and adults displaying them, bad scaling is one of the worst sins for any Transformer.
13. TRANSFORMERS ARMADA SIDESWIPE
For better or for worse, the entire Transformers toy idea is based on a gimmick: what if your robot toy could turn into a vehicle toy and then back again? It’s a great idea, but Hasbro became their own worst enemy over the years as they tried to find new gimmicks. One such gimmick provided us one of the stupidest designs ever: Transformers Armada Sideswipe.
Aesthetically, the figure is aggressively plain, with a whole lot of bland blue broken up by bland yellow. This is especially noticeable in his vehicle mode, which is disappointing compared to the standard Autobot (if we wanted a normal-looking car, we’d buy Hot Wheels). But the gimmicks take the cake: he had several spring-loaded features, including spring-loaded hidden compartments and attacks. It sounds good in theory, but this forced designers to make both his design and transformation overly simplistic for many fans.
12. UNIVERSE GALVATRON
As a character, Galvatron is pretty cool. After all, Galvatron is the upgraded name of the upgraded Megatron, who gets his powers souped-up by Unicron in the beloved Transformers Animated Movie. He’s got a cool design, he’s super-powerful, and he was voiced by the late, great Leonard Nimoy. However, none of the awesomeness of that movie rubbed off on the Universe Galvatron figure.
This is a figure haunted by the ghost of what could have been. For example, it was originally designed as a “Voyager”-class figure before being downsized. This downsizing meant that we did not get another transformation mode, and while Galvatron’s tank mode was neat, fans wanted the cannon form from the movie. And while the parts were super-detailed, the downsizing resulted in a robot mode where his parts constantly fell off. Ultimately, the figure squandered some really great potential, and the fans have never forgotten.
11. GENERATIONS WINDBLADE
Chances are that you may not recognize the name “Windblade.” Rather than being featured in the Generation One cartoon, Windblade was introduced in the IDW comics featuring that continuity. Her characteristics include being hotheaded, good with a sword, and being able to communicate with Titans. None of this, however, translates to a good toy.
First, there’s the face, which looks like a Japanese Kabuki mask. This is a weird (and rather culturally offensive) decision for a toy robot. The material was also of cheaper quality than most Transformers toys of the time, resulting in parts like shoulder pads falling off very easily. The toy ended up super-thin and was difficult to transform. How bad was this toy? Hasbro ended up remaking it multiple times, presumably in the hopes of eventually getting it right!
10. REVENGE OF THE FALLEN SCALPEL
Most Transformers have the same general robot mode appearance (bipedal) and very similar vehicle mode appearances (truck, car, or plane). This means it’s always refreshing to get something a little different, and this is why fans had hope for the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Scalpel figure. However, as with the film itself, our hopes were soon dashed.
He’s a weird, insect-looking Decepticon, but the problems start right away. First, he looks almost nothing like his onscreen counterpart. Second, all those extra legs ended up giving the figure less articulation instead of more, making him difficult to pose. Finally, his microscope transformation mode is disappointing, both in looking so basic and in lazily hiding most of the robot form in the microscope’s base. The bottom line? If you’ve watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, you’ve already suffered enough, so skip this toy!
9. CHORO-Q MEGATRON
And now, for something completely different! Most of the toys on this list are standard Transformers of some stripe or another. However, the Choro-Q line was designed as “super-deformed” toys with an old school design: kids pull them back and watch them go. And while there’s nothing wrong with Transformers for kids, the Megatron of this line was really awful.
First, the obvious issues: this toy is super-simplistic, so if part of the Transformers joy for you is figuring out how to transform the toy, you’ll be let down. And the transformed gun form is pretty weird because it only looks good from the side — head on, the gun is a monstrosity. Finally, the figure looks much, much worse than others in the line, like Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime. Throw in some cheap plastic that is sure to break, and you’re better off just throwing this one away.
8. MOVIE LEGENDS JAZZ
In some ways, the movie version of Jazz already had built-in controversy. In the very first live-action Transformers, Jazz was envisioned as a racist caricature of an African-American male, effectively kicking off the weird strain of racism that would continue to haunt these films. And while neither Michael Bay nor racism is involved, the Movie Legends Jazz had his own set of problems.
First, the robot mode has some issues: there are not many paint applications going on here, making Jazz look like globs of silver and black. The car doors attached to the arms and legs make him look a bit goofy, but the main sins are in the vehicle mode. The clean lines of the car are broken up by protrusions from the front and, inexplicably, the robot mode’s grill on the roof. Sloppy-looking and sloppy design are the kiss of death for a Transformer.
7. G1 IRONHIDE
It’s a bit mean-spirited to criticize a Generation One toy. After all, the cartoon was made after the toys came out, so it’s not really fair to criticize a figure’s likeness to the cartoon if the cartoon changed the design up. With that being said, though, the Generation One Ironhide is still terrible.
This is one of the rare Transformers where all of the design sins are in the robot mode. The vehicle mode is pretty neat, offering a miniaturized version of a design we see again with the trailer of Optimus Prime. However, the robot mode is a blocky, ugly mess, looking more like the suit of a vintage cosmonaut than a Transformer. In fact, your only hint that it’s not a suit for humans is a creepy black head peeking through the windshield. If the overall design doesn’t haunt you, the face surely will!
6. GENERATION ONE TOPSPIN
Sometimes, a Transformer is bad for being too simplistic. Sometimes, a Transformer is bad for being ugly. And sometimes, a Transformer is bad for being aesthetically vague. Every now and then, though, we get one that hits all three metrics, and that’s the case with the Generation One Topspin figure.
Topspin was an early example a Transformer driven by special gimmicks: his vehicle mode could propel forward after you pull him back, and then he flips forward into his robot mode. While this is a neat idea, the figure design is bad: his vehicle mode looks like no vehicle in particular, and his robot mode looked like something you’d get for a quarter at the supermarket. Finally, that gimmick of popping into robot form meant you didn’t actually get to transform him. Where’s the fun in that?
5. POWER CORE COMBINERS DOUBLE CLUTCH
A sure sign of a bad figure is when the accessories are much cooler than he is. This is certainly the case with the Power Core Combiners Double Clutch figure. The combiners in question are cool drone “rallybots,” and these are the highlight of the toy. Unfortunately, the Transformer himself truly sucks.
His gimmick is that he can combine with his rallybots to form a bigger robot, like a scaled down Devastator. However, this guy is no Devastator: the mismatched colors and poor articulation in his combined mode makes him ugly to look at and no fun to play with. The base Transformer himself also seems like the victim of a size-changing ray, with some parts being too small and some being too big. How bad is the design? These bloated parts get in the way of his articulation potential, turning him into little more than an ugly paperweight.
4. TRANSFORMERS GO NINJA TEAM
On a long enough timeline, every toy line goes through a ninja phase (just ask your dad’s G.I. Joe toys). It’s actually impressive how long Transformers managed to hold out. However, the Transformers Go cartoon introduced a “swordbot” team, and we got some corresponding figures. Unfortunately, these particular ninjas are enough to make a Transformers fan commit seppuku.
First, the robot modes don’t look very ninja-like, with legs designed to go nearly to the character’s heads. The individual bots look pretty bloated — not exactly the aesthetic you imagine for ninjas. The vehicle modes vary in quality (there is a cool shark mode that’s still not as cool as the Sharkticons), but the big gimmick is that we combine the three ninjas into one giant figure. However, the combined figure sports an ugly color combination and a top-heavy design that ensures he’ll always fall over on his spindly little legs.
3. AGE OF EXTINCTION LEADER PRIME
More so than most toys, Transformers is a line that is fueled by nostalgia. And for the sake of nostalgia alone, it’s tough to criticize any figure of the beloved Optimus Prime. At the same time, there have been so many versions of this character for over three decades, so not all of them will be good. And the Age of Extinction Leader Prime is downright bad.
The colors, while movie-like, remain ugly: the figure is predominately gray and silver, reducing the iconic red and blue colors to accents. The figure appears to have an oversized backpack weighing him down — a symptom of bad design and barely trying to hide the vehicle mode. And while the vehicle mode looks good, the simple transformation process is a turn off. Finally, what is meant to be a highlight is a giant sword and shield, making Prime look more medieval than mechanical.
2. ENERGON HOT SHOT
The Autobot Hot Shot is often mistaken by casual fans for another bot. Is he Hot Rod? No, Hot Rod was the young, hot-headed Autobot that transforms into a car. Instead, Hot Shot is his own character…despite ALSO being a young, hot-headed car bot. Fans hoping for a toy to help this character really stand out were quite disappointed by the Energon Hot Shot figure.
First, the character is not very easy to pose or play with: he is a simple chunk of yellow and black in his robot mode. The colors are odd: while his car form is almost entirely yellow, his robot mode is mostly black. The little kneecaps poke out weirdly, and the inability to move either the head or the waist is very sad. The result is a robot mode that might as well be a statue…and did we mention it’s an ugly statue?
1. PRETENDER GRIMLOCK
Everybody knows and loves Grimlock. He’s the big, powerful Transformer who turns into a big, powerful T-Rex. He leads the Dinobots with enthusiasm (if not brains), and he’s been a fan favorite for decades. However, Pretender Grimlock took everything you liked about the original character and figure and made it worse.
The Pretender gimmick was that the robots had a human outer shell. That human mode has almost no ability to pose outside of some swiveling arms, and it doesn’t help that his face looks like you caught your history teacher out on Halloween. Inside the human shell is a tiny Grimlock that disappoints: he is small, thin, with poor details. His poseability is bad, the T-Rex mode is even worse, with simple colors and simpler design. Finally, the entire concept is insulting: if Grimlock towers over human beings, how the hell does a human shell help him fit in?
Did you own any of these awful Transformers toys growing up? Let us know in the comments!
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