Not to get too esoteric, but I’ve been thinking about this hobby and our personal tastes a little bit. Some of us hate Beast Wars, others consider it the highest point since 1984. Some of us love Alternators, others think they are a big jumbly mess of repaints. I’ve been thinking—is there a set of criteria of which makes a Transformer “excellent” that is universally agreed upon by Transformer fans? Of course, everyone has their own personal taste. But I’m talking about things like “is a realistic alt-mode a necessity?” “Can a color scheme alone make or break a Transformer?” “How complicated is too complicated?” I’m not going to try to answer these questions (or come up with any more of them) on my own. That’s why I’m posting it…y’know…on a forum. However, I do have one example of a toy which I think meets the standards for an “excellent” Transformer and probably shaped the expectations for years to come: Soundwave. Soundwave, I would imagine, is a Transformer everyone would rate between “good” and “best ever made.” His gimmick (the whole tapes thing) is a very reasonable thing for a cassette player to have, and doesn’t get in the way of transformation or ruin his overall “look” in either mode. His alt-mode is realistic (or was 20 years ago) down to some fairly complicated details. The AM/FM switch, the volume knob, the headphone jack…a lot of thought went into the detailing of the alt-mode, and it’s quite plausible that if someone passed a Soundwave in tape player mode, they would not even realize that it’s a transformable robot. Soundwave’s transformation is also something to note—it’s not overly complicated, nor is it easy to break him while transforming him. The robot mode has a powerful look to it, with a broad chest and well-proportioned arms and legs. Yet, his body is squared off and made of sharp angles. You know that what you’re looking at is a robot in disguise. Soundwave’s colors are also complimentary to both modes—you’d expect an evil robot to have dark colors, and before iPods came out most portable music players weren’t white. His articulation is also quite decent, and you can achieve a wide variety of poses with him. I’m not saying Soundwave is objectively the best Transformer ever, but I do think that the general qualities he has are common to most other extremely well-regarded Transformer toys. Are there any Transformers you consider to be excellent? Do they all share any traits? Do you see anything in common between most popular Transformers?