Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was attached to a lot of different fandoms. Whether it was horror films and fantasy novels, Calvin and Hobbes, or the various cartoons of the day, if it was something I could watch or read or experience, I would latch on to it. Then, I would learn as much about it as I could. As for cartoons and toys of the 80’s though, Transformers was always my number one jam.
I was obsessed with these “robots in disguise”. I had stacks of the Transformers comic books, I watched Transformers: The Movie more times than was probably considered healthy, and I was all about the TV show, which was not lost on my grandfather.
I’ve mentioned in past writings being raised by my grandparents, and when I was in either the first or second grade, my grandfather would record episodes of Transformers for me onto blank VHS cassettes while I was at school. That’s right kids, there was no Netflix or Hulu or Crunchyroll in my day, we had to work for that shit!
Eventually, he filled two 8-hour VHS cassettes with Transformers episodes, and I watched them repeatedly, reveling in the clashes between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Of course, what’s a cartoon without toys, right? I wanted the toys, I needed the toys and through my allowance, Christmases, birthdays and the like I ended up with those toys! Not all of them, but enough of them to keep me occupied for hours.
The new Bumblebee movie is being released next month on December 8th, and the accompanying toy line is already on the market. So, with the film is set in the 80’s, conditions are perfect for a trip on the nostalgia train. And on PopLurker today, I’m taking us back to the 80’s as well, counting down 5 of my favorite Autobots and Decepticons from the G1 series, and their badass toy counterparts.
Let’s roll out!
In addition to being a Transformers nerd, I was also a gigantic dork for dinosaurs as a kid.
Dino Riders, The Land That Time Forgot, the arcade game Turok, as well as the tv show Dinosaurs. Anything dinosaur related, and I was stoked. So, it goes without saying when I first saw the Dinobots, I geeked out hardcore.
All five looked completely badass. I’ve always loved pterodactyls the most and Swoop for me is the coolest of the bunch, especially in his robot form. He just looks sleek and heroic, and 7-year-old me always imagined Swoop as the real leader of the Dinobots instead of Grimlock.
4) Omega Supreme
What’s not to love about Omega Supreme?
The largest, and arguably strongest of the Autobots although Metroplex may be larger in robot mode, Omega splits into three distinct components, with his chest and head forming a tank, his legs and back form a rocket base which makes way for the rocket component formed by his arms. In robot form Omega comes equipped with a claw on one arm and a plasma blaster on the other.
While Omega isn’t the most mobile of the Transformers, he’s one of the most badass for me with his immense, blocky and chunky design. He wasn’t on the show often, but when he did appear it was cause for celebration from me.
3) Sky Lynx
My most prized and beloved of the Transformers in my collection as a child was Sky Lynx. Part bird, part lynx, all awesome!
Sky Lynx top half was a NASA style spaceship, while his bottom half was a mobile assault vehicle. In robot form, the top half would resemble a prehistoric bird (tying into my dinosaur love again), while the bottom resembled a lynx, naturally. Both sections combined in either robot form or vehicle mode, but the best thing about Sky Lynx was when you transformed his mobile unit into the Lynx…it walked!
It ran on two AA batteries, and they’d always drain way too quickly, and batteries are always hella expensive, but I felt like the king of the playground when I flipped his switch and Sky Lynx would walk across the playground while my friends looked on jealously.
Jazz was always the coolest and my favorite of the Autobots on the show, and he’s more like my 1A on this list. Maybe it was that voice, which I later learned was Scatman Crothers from the Shining, or maybe it was the name Jazz and how he was always ready to get down, either in battle or on the dance floor.
I remember being jazzed (pun totally intended) when I found out he was going to be in the first Michael Bay Transformers movie, only to be let down to the point of being absolutely infuriated when Megatron tore him in half, killing him near the end of the film. But who would Michael Bay be if not the destroyer of our childhoods?
One of the comic shops here in downtown Calgary has him for a great price, and he will be mine again. Oh yes, he will be mine.
1) Optimus Prime
Who else could possibly be number one for the Autobots but their fearless leader?
From the deep baritone Peter Cullen affixed Optimus with, to his unshakable will and devotion to all that is right, Optimus is who many of us kids looked up to and strived to be. I didn’t have the Optimus toy growing up, my best friend Perry did, and I always felt a slight twinge of envy when I’d go over to his house to play and saw all the amazing accessories Optimus came fitted with. His trailer opened into a battle convoy, and few Transformers look as amazing or as iconic in vehicle form and especially in robot form as Optimus Prime.
Going back to my love of dinosaurs, we start the Decepticon countdown with Trypticon. This giant T-rex looking line of defense makes me think of Truckasaurus from the Simpsons. I’m waiting for him to lament his want for destruction with a Marlon Brando Godfather accent. He was always a wild card, because he hated the Decepticons as much as he hated the Autobots, but his thirst for destruction motivates and powers him forward.
I was almost going to include his counterpart Metroplex in the Autobots list above, but Trypticon is the more menacing looking of the two, plus dinosaurs’ man.
This is the first of two Decepticons on this listicle that may be considered cheats.
I’m not a huge fan of the five Constructicons individually, but when they merge to form Devastator what’s that old saying, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
Well, when the Constructicons become whole and lay waste as Devastator, I’m as giddy as Homer is when someone says the word titmouse. I’ve always loved robots that can merge into a larger robot form. From Voltron to some of the other Transformers like the Aerialbots merging into Superion or the Stunticons transforming into Motormaster, anytime a group of robots combine into a larger, even more badass looking robot, it’s party time! Devastator sits at the top though and will always have a special place in my heart.
Starscream is a jerk.
There’s no two ways around it, and he clearly has a raging inferiority complex, but I was always entertained by his brash, and domineering personality. Boastful, vain and always a thorn in Megatron’s side, trying at every opportunity to usurp him and become the Decepticon leader. The name Starscream itself sounds heavy metal and terrifying.
Much like Optimus, I didn’t own his figure as a child but I’m on the lookout for his G1 reissue that just came out at my local Walmart.
Much like the comparison of Trypticon and Metroplex, who’s the cooler robot into boombox counterpart? Blaster was cool in his own right, but for me Soundwave was always way cooler. Just look at the toy in the picture and tell me you’d rather have Blaster between these two. Maybe you would, and that’s fine with me I’ll take Soundwave, thanks.
Just like Sky Lynx was my favorite Autobot toy in my collection as a kid, Soundwave was my favorite Decepticon to play with and was their de facto leader in the stories that I would act out with my toys. I dug him more than I did Megatron, and he’s pretty much the Jazz 1A here as well, and would be number one overall if not for what Megatron would later become…
The second of my “cheats”. I couldn’t decide between Megatron or Galvatron, so I went with both, and why not they’re the same person. Galvatron was an upgrade thanks to Unicron after Starscream left Megatron for dead at the opening of the 80’s movie. Galvatron however was far more erratic and insane, but his unpredictable nature was what kept me watching the series, despite preferring the storylines and characters from the shows first two seasons on Earth.
Megatron’s robot form for his toy in the 80’s always looked a little wonky though, like a bastardized version of the T-800 from Terminator, he always appeared half finished to me. It also always bugged me how in the show he would shrink down when he transformed so another Decepticon could hold him and fire him. Galvatron was a far superior design, transforming into a laser-cannon and made for a much cooler looking toy.
And that’s it! These are my favorites, both as a kid and still to this day as an adult in his late 30’s, and while I’m sure I left off a few of your favorites (including Bumblebee himself) lists like these are always subjective. In fact, you could say they’re more than meets the eye…
…I’ll show myself out.
Jonathan is playing with his dolls again on Twitter.