Last weekend, I asked the members of the TFW2005 forums about what toys they kept coming back to over the years and received some pretty surprising results with some very clear "winners". This discussion wasn't just a one off thing, as the very subject I asked the readers about was also aimed toward myself in this new article about the very same subject where I go over five Transformers toys I keep going back to again and again, and also share many of the responses from both the TFW2005 Forum and the TFW2005 Lounge. Take the jump to see the article, and as always stay tuned to TFW2005 as news and original content goes live. --- When the Dark of the Moon toyline began in May of 2011, the already split perceptions within the fandom over the Movieverse toylines became even more divisive due to over-saturation of the movie aesthetic and the infamous Budget Crunch that hit Transformers after the Reveal The Shield and Generations Lines ended. Regardless, some of the more simplified and borderline genius toys came out of the Dark of the Moon line, but due to many people (including myself) already owning definitive versions of many characters it was often the repaints and retools such as Cyberfire Bumblebee that took the spotlight.... and no toy says that louder than- Dark Steel (Deluxe, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) Gonna just get it out of the way. Darksteel (Formerly Dark Iron) is a fantastic homage and reference to my favorite Beast Wars character- Quickstrike, thanks to a clever deco job and a new head. According to word from his original reveal at BotCon 2011, the entire push for this Quickstrike homage was due to a specific designer just really liking snakes and I'm super glad his obsession eventually resulted in Darksteel, and thankfully the mold has several changes and features to separate itself from the fact that he's nothing more than a Sideswipe retool, albeit a clever one. Multiple panels along the Robot Mode's back can be re-angled and adjusted into multiple positions, and Sideswipe's trademark arm blades can be pulled back to their default position in vehicle mode to give Darksteel his own individual silhouette to stand out on his own. The sheer level of love toward the idea of making Quickstrike into a movie-style Decepticon is very apparent the longer one handles the toy. Blue flame-like patterns across the hood of the vehicle echo the striping on top of the Beast Wars counterpart's cobra hood and scorpion body, the core of the Corvette mode's color as color matched as close as possible to the dark copper of the original, and the head itself is a close yet stylized take on Quickstrike's face. Even Darksteel's weapon itself, while being a retool of Dark of the Moon Deluxe Starscream's weird... sword... stick, calls back to Beast Wars Quickstrike's cobra and scorpion motif with a blade that evokes the sting and the poisonous bite of his alternate form. If it wasn't for the fact that this basic robot design was crammed down our collective throats in various forms for three years before this toy came out, I'd be damned if I could tell you this was a Sideswipe retool. Other than... you know. The alternate mode. The Corvette. It's the same car. Hooligan, (Cyberjet, Generation 2) Frankly there's not much to say about Hooligan. Nothing can keep a good Cyberjet down, not even being painted like an 80's Hair Metal band. Of all the toys to cross my desk in the nearly ten years I've been collecting, Hooligan is the only one to retain a constant presence among the clutter. The Generation Two Cyberjets, in my mind, are the perfect desk toy due to their small size and simplicity. ---- Before we move on to the next entry, I'd like to post in a selection of some of the opinions and thoughts from the TFW2005 Lounge. To find out more about the TFW2005 Supporter Badge, click here. Kraken: This is going to be a weird one, my dirty little secret as it were. I'm going to have to say... Transformers The Movie (2007)... Swindle. You're looking at me funny now. I know why too. It's an ugly, weirdly proportioned, floppy little bugger of a toy. I know all this, and yet... I just keep going back to him. I'll put him on my shelves for a bit. For a while he'll be at the front, then he'll slowly get pushed backwards, until I say 'Gah! Why do I even have that p.o.s. on my shelf? So many better toys that can go there instead.' So I'll chuck him in a box, and forget about him. And then I'll find him again, and transform him a few times, then he'll live on my desk and I'll fiddle with him for a bit and the chest cannon will mightily amuse me, then the whole cycle starts again. I've sold him before. Then I bought the Camshaft version of the mold. And then I sold it. Then I unexpectedly got him again in a box of junkers where he was the only one actually intact. It's like our fates are intertwined, mine and Swindle's, the ugly little monocular Chevy that he is. I've learned to live with it, I just keep my head down and hope that people don't snigger at me in the street. thenatureboywoo: My go to figure is Beast Wars Neo Big Convoy. I came back to Transformers with all the movie hype, and started with the movie figures then grew went onto start my classics collection. But as I would look at everyone's pictures Big Convoy always looked awesome, a freaking woolly mammoth! I think SydneyY would post pics of him every other week. I remember how geeked I was to find one cheap ($40Ish), and the rest is history. It's a fantastic toy. Awesome alt mode, the robot mode just looks massive, like nothing can stop him. Because of him, I had to go on and collect as many other Beast Wars Neo toys I could get my hands on. knockoff: City Commander from Fansproject. I had been out of the collecting game for a cool minute. On a chance visit to TRU, I stumbled upon the Transformers Classics line. I was stunned. All my friends from G1 were being reborn! It was like the second coming of Christ for me! Amidst the collecting, Target released their Ultra Magnus and Skywarp set. And while I was overjoyed at their release, I was disappointed that the Magnus was so... naked. Enter Fanproject's City Commander... The gimmick was what I needed. The design blew me away. And the aesthetics were those of that which "could launch a thousand ships" (or dollars rather, heh). Oh and Venksta's Transformation video helped as well! I have owned every legit and KO version of the mold, but at this particular point in time, I own zero. Binge and purge, binge and purge. Right now I'm at a purge point in my life, but if/when I decide to get back into it, City Commander always stands as one of those reclamation agendas. ---- Landmine,(Ultra Class, Transformers Energon) A lot could be said about the Unicron Trilogy, but one point I will never back down on is the fact that despite a sluggish start the Unicron Trilogy era produced some fantastic toys- and not a single toy in those three years emphasizes that point better than the Energon Landmine mold for me (in any of it's forms.) The multiple possibilities for both his vehicle and robot modes, combined with the brutish warrior aesthetic and proportion of his bigger robot mode when he basically rips apart his own trailer and decides to wear it like a pair of over-sized boxing gloves? It just hits a bunch of aesthetic preferences of mine in a single retail release. ---- Digilaut: 2007 Movie Voyager Starscream was the first 'new' Transformer I picked up when I started this hobby. An impulse buy after seeing the movie trailer, I wanted to go out there and get a figure to relive my past (I had only a couple of G1/G2 figures, and a bunch of Beast Wars that I had sold off back in the day). One week later I got two more, two weeks later still two more, etc. etc. Even though the character looked nothing like the Starscream I remember, I really dug the new design and altmode right from the start. And even though the ROTF Voyager WAS an improvement over the first one, it wasn't perfect, in either size or looks. I went kind of nuts when the first image of Leader Starscream leaked. It's so easy to talk about his faults: how the figure has those annoying tattoos, how the altmode is too 'thick' and the bot mode not wide enough - or the most important one: the lack of wrist swivels that would've really helped this figure. But to me: this guy is perfection. Looks great, and is fun to mess around with. If I had to pick one Transformers line, just one that I was allowed to keep, while having to sell off all others, I would pick Transformers Animated - but if I were somehow allowed to only keep one figure, I'd pick HFTD Leader Starscream. Mechafire: A while ago, it dawned on me that the character of Animated Megatron is nearly everything I want out of a Megatron; awesome design, awesome voice, awesome power, etc. The Leader Class toy itself is brilliant too; intuitive in its design - simple, but not compromisingly so. It hits that perfect sweetspot of being simple but awesome and fun at the same time. It's become my defacto Megatron, and whenever I think "Megatron", its the figure I go to. Nothing since then has been able to dethrone it from that position for me, not even the newly-revealed Generations Leader Megatron. Quite frankly, I somewhat doubt it ever will be dethroned. Although not without its issues, it still to this day remains the best Megatron figure ever made. ---- The lifespan of the Transformers: Animated portion of the Transformers franchise was a roller coaster to experience in it's brief stint: TFW2005 went from screams and cries of Teen Titanformers and the usual RUINED FOREVERs, to nearly universal praise and hype for the toyline that lagged behind a bit from the show itself and the dawn of the era of the Stolen Chinese Toy Reviews, to cries of sadness when the toyline and series itself came to a grinding halt eighteen months after it's first episode premiered. While the cartoon received praise from many, the toyline itself was no slouch. Where lines prior to the movie focused on core gimmicks across an entire line, Animated went for a simpler approach where the gimmicks were focused on the characters themselves and Transforming itself was a core factor. And of all the toys from the line itself that I completely enjoy, there's one that highlighted the entire line in a fantastic fashion in my eyes- AND he just happened to be my final purchase in the entire line. Rodimus (Deluxe, Transformers: Animated) Disclaimer: Takara-Tomy version shown. As much as it pains me to say this.. of all the Autobot Leaders over the years, Rodimus Prime has always been the one I've been more interested in both in terms of design and characterization and Animated Rodimus hits both of those nails right on the head in style. The vehicle form is sleek and compact (when you don't have a crazy compound bow strapped to his roof) and the ingenious transformation into his strong-in-stature robot mode are just icing on the cake to how much I enjoy his surprising range of movement and the sculpt work all over the robot mode. If by some chance I ever purge the Animated section of my collection, Rodimus would be among the few to remain on my shelf. Hound (Deluxe, Transformers Universe 2.0) Hound. Hound, Hound, Hound. And Ravage, I guess, but let's just focus on Hound. Where toys like Energon Landmine and Animated Rodimus are the definitive toys of their specific eras, Universe 2.0/Classics/Generations/Whatever-You-Call-It Hound is the definitive Classics-style toy for me and honestly THE toy that hits the exact notes of what I want out of a retail Transformers release. While his vehicle mode is far from being the rugged Mitsubishi Jeep CJ3 of his Generation 1 toy, the designers took liberty with his alternate form to push the first aspect of Transformers I enjoy: Bringing the personality of the character through the sculpt and design. The more rounded nature of the Jeep emits an air of friendliness from the Autobot Scout. This rounded, softer design carries over into the robot mode of Hound; specifically in his proportioning and headsculpt. While possibly not intentional and possibly just a result of trying to adhere to the original toy (Look, I'm not a designer. I don't know these specific things unless they were called out at a BotCon or Hasbro Q+A somewhere) the giant feet combined with the more rounded aesthetic and bright-eyed lightpiping work continue to push the personality of Hound to me. Maybe it's just me, I dunno. Moving unto the transformation, Hound exhibits the second aspect of Transformers I enjoy and prefer: Interesting and thought-out transformations, coupled with style and simplicity. Of the many toys TFW2005 users mentioned during the poll for this article, a surprising amount of the answers from users were for several certain toys: Eighteen mentions of the various incarnations of the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Optimus Prime mold, Nine mentions of War For Cybertron Optimus Prime, and Sixteen mentions for the larger Masterpiece Optimus Prime. While these toys are seen as definitive versions of their respective characters and are apparently considered by some to be must-have toys they all have one massive flaw in my eyes: Transforming them is kind of a pain, regardless of how big a feat of toy engineering they may be. As I mentioned in the Dark of the Moon section of my last article, ( http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/trans...54-tfw2005-special-editorial-yellow-gold.html ) when the budget crunch hit the Transformers line for the third movie, many of the toys hit a perfect balance of complexity and accuracy for me. Steps that were debatably over-engineered and designed in the Revenge of the Fallen line became simple and smooth. For the most part, the line veered away from overcomplexity for overcomplexity's sake and focused moreso on the fun and ease of the Transformation. Hound takes that concept and runs away with it, taking what would otherwise be a typical Transforming Car transformation into something that was more dynamic than the norm. Through a single motion, the entire transformation of Hound's lower half is completed outside of two seconds of folding down extraneous panels and a LOT of movement has happened in that one fell swoop including Hound's feet folding out, the waist popping down away from his body, and if you move things further down juuuuuust right, you are probably able to move the windshield away from the hood and behind Hound's back and have the rest his lower half ready for the remainder of the transformation. In that one, near-seamless bit of Transformation, a lot was accomplished and the fluidity behind the engineering of Hound becomes more apparent. It's this simplicity that makes me wish more of the Transformers line hit the perfect medium of complexity and "speed" of Transformation. Not "one touch" or "One swift movement and everything is done" levels of speed resulting in... well... Age of Extinction, but rather an emphasis on making a transformation fun and not feel like a guessing game, or a chore to transform.