TOP TEN 2022
The Transformers kicked off 2022 with the release of Legacy and continuations of the Studio Series, Masterpiece, Classic Heroes, Buzzworthy Bumblebee and other sub-lines including the (seemingly) final wave of BotBots. To say the toy line is rich and full of choices would be an understatement, so picking just 10 figures that are "the best" is a tough assignment but after spending a few days just going with my gut emotional reactions to the choices below I have chosen my ten favorite Transformers figures of 2022! There only criteria for me to pick a figure was that the figure needed to come out in 2022. While not a rule, it is worth noting that I do own all the figures in the list below. Where appropriate, I will link to my reviews of those reviews. Let's get to it!
10. Legacy Galaxy Shuttle
The Generations toy line has always been very G1 focused but within that context it generally stays within the 1984-1987-ish time frame of G1 with a heavy emphasis on the 1984/85 cast. What I don't think many fans thought would happen is a sudden celebration of 1989's Victory series with the release of HasLab's Victory Saber and Galaxy Shuttle in one year! Galaxy Shuttle is relatively obscure, with the only other action figure of him being the original. I honestly found myself surprised that he was released outside Japan. Sure he's a redeco/retool of Siege Astrotrain, but it totally works!
9. Legacy Crasher
In the 1980's, there was a famous marketing and fan rivalry between the Transformers and Gobots toy lines. Years later, Hasbro would go on to acquire the Tonka brand and with it, the Gobots. The Transformers line has paid homage to the Gobots in the past, but it was great to see this being done again as part of the Velocitron Walmart exclusive line. I honestly think Crasher could have been a mainline release with much success but I'm happy she was released at all!
8. Legacy Cosmos
If there was one figure in 2022 that caused Transformers fans a range of conflicting feelings it is Cosmos. The character is widely loved by fans thanks in part to his unusual alt-mode and his rather chonky appearance. Had this been a mass release, I think fans would have bought him up in droves, but sadly his status as a one per case Walmart exclusive that had a limited release window has made him difficult to obtain, much to the frustration of fans everywhere. That said, the figure itself is fantastic, and that frustration is warranted because in my book every fan should have this guy and his adorbs checkered flag in their collection.
7. Legacy Tarantulas
In 1996, most Transformers fans were happy with their Beast Wars Transformers Tarantulas figure. It looked a lot like the character on the show and it had a fun action feature. In 2022 however, Hasbro showed fans that things could be better! Legacy Tarantulas looks like the character jumped off the screen in robot mode and his beast mode is wonderfully creepy and stands on all its legs! Blast Effects allow you to replicate his "machine gun spider arms" action from the TV show and he even comes with an extra weapon as a homage to his Transmetal form. This figure is an absolute delight and deserves to be on the shelf of any Beast Wars fan.
6. Legacy Inferno
At the risk of sounding repetitive, almost everything I said about Tarantulas above applies to Inferno. He improves on the original 90's figure in almost every way. His jaw can open up to duplicate his insane laugh from the show. His transformation is unique and fun while allowing him to actually stand in ant mode and not just splat on the ground. The sculpt is beautiful and he's the right size to stand tall by his Queen, Megatron! This is another figure I consider a must have for any Beast Wars fan.
5. Shattered Glass Ultra Magnus
Sometimes a Transformers figure redeco/retool surpasses the original figure it was based on, and that is the case with Shattered Glass Ultra Magnus. This figure is a redeco and retool of Siege Ultra Magnus featuring a new/extra head and extra weapons. For those in the know, the deco on this figure is based on the Diaclone Powered Convoy deco featuring red, blue and black colors instead of G1 Ultra Magnus' red, white and blue colors. The beauty of this piece is that the designers included both a "regular" Ultra Magnus head and his skull-like Shattered Glass head. This allows you to make the figure one or the other! This is a rarity among Transformers toys and it pays homage to Diaclone to boot. This is a really solid offering in the Shattered Glass line up.
4. Legacy Motormaster
Part of Legacy has been the build up to fans being able to complete a new version of Menasor in 2023. Unlike the Combiner Wars Menasor, this version would be much more faithful in appearance to the character's G1 animated appearance. One of the main keys to this is a new version of Motormaster where the trailer of the vehicle essentially becomes a gigantic robot frame for Menasor. This totally works since Menasor was essentially one big animation cheat (look, a robot frame with cars attached!). The fact that the designers figured out how to do this in a Commander Class figure while making the robot mode look like his G1 animation model is awesome.
3. Legacy Transmetal 2 Megatron
Much of Kingdom's initial offerings focused on the early days of Beast Wars, but with much of the original cast "done" in new forms, Hasbro turned its eyes to later parts of the saga. One of these is Transmetal 2 Megatron. Why skip the roller skating Transmetal Megatron? My guess is they figured a big ol' dragon-bot would appeal to more of a mass audience than a roller skating T-Rex (though I do want that eventually darnit). Transmetal 2 Megatron is gorgeous in both modes. Rich, bright and eye catching colors along with a beautiful sculpt make for a must have figure not just for Beast Wars fans, but anyone who appreciates a cool dragon/robot.
2. Shattered Glass Flamewar with Fireglide
This probably won't make the Top Ten 2022 lists for man fans, but for me, Flamewar had to be on this list. After helping create the character for Fun Publications and Hasbro in 2005, I have watched with joy as the character has popped up over and over again in comic books and toy form. This latest release is an absolute joy to see and it's a beautiful figure that makes better use of the sculpt than Arcee (in my opinion). I almost put this at number one, but that would have just been disingenuous of me since number one is...
1. Legacy Star Saber & Victory Leo (with Holi & Fire)
I mean, you knew this was going to be my number one right? How do you beat something this incredible? A few years ago when there was a fan vote for possibly making a Star Saber figure, I thought at best it would be a Leader Class that transformed from space ship to robot with no Brainmaster gimmick. Now here we are in 2022 with a Leader-ish Star Saber with a Voyager-ish Victory Leo who combine and include two Micromasters to boot?! This set is simply stunning. I know, I know...some sets have had Q/C issues and that is not cool given the price point and that it's a HasLab figure (read: I define "Q/C issues" as stuff like missing parts or misassembled bits etc.). Still, if you get a solid one this set is a sight to behold and acts as a perfect year end capper for anyone's collection if you backed the HasLab.
This new Legacy release almost made it into the Top Ten. It's a fun figure that pays homage to a very different Starscream than the G1 version. It also looks great in both modes, truly looking like an update to that classic Armada Seeker design. The only thing holding me back from putting it on the Top Ten? The lack of a Mini-Con. Heck, at this point I probably would have been okay with a PVC mini-figure of the Swindle Mini-Con in vehicle mode to attach to Starscream, but he was left out entirely and to me it feels like something is "missing". Other than that, I love the inclusion of this figure in Legacy.
Technically Goldbug is part of a four pack but he is absolutely the shining star of the "Creatures Collide" set. First, he actually transforms into a licensed Volkswagon vehicle. Second, this is one of the few times in the modern Transformers line that we have gotten a Goldbug figure (count how many Bumblebees there are versus Goldbugs, 'bee wins by a landslide). I always had a deep affection for the Goldbug persona and head design so this figure absolutely gets all the love from me. Put it to you this way, I paid full price for the "Creatures Collide" set and though it went on sale for about half price later, I was totally cool with it. That's how much I dig this figure.
Studio Series 86 Ironhide
The last great mass market Ironhide figure was Siege Ironhide. The Earthrise version of the figure was in high demand as an exclusive, but sold out so fast most fans could never get it and the secondary market prices are just bonkers. This caused no end of frustration for fans who wanted a good representation of an "Earth based" version of the popular G1 Autobot. Now fans will finally have their chance with the release of Studio Series 86 Ironhide, based on his appearance in the G1 animation. This Voyager Class figure allows for a more complex transformation, converting from a van to a robot (and back!). It sounds simple, but it's taken us quite some time to get to this point. The only drawback to me? In vehicle mode he is missing his iconic yellow stripe deco and a couple of the hinges are a bit worrisome from a construction standpoint. Still, he deserves an honorable mention as a nice representation of the character who fans have longed to get for years now!
Jhiaxus is one of those weird characters who started as a new character in Generation 2's comic book, but would not get a proper toy treatment until many years later as part of the IDW Publishing inspired series in 2014. However, it would not be until decades after his comic book introduction in the 90's that we would finally get a "proper" G2 Jhiaxus in Legacy and I am thrilled about it! This is another figure that I almost included in the Top Ten itself but he was slightly edged out. That doesn't mean he isn't a fantastic figure. He absolutely is! I love how fun the figure is and the way it calls back to a very unique period in the history of the Transformers toy line and fiction.
Minerva was introduced in the Super-God Masterforce series in Japan and would fade into relative obscurity in the Transformers world after her brief appearance in Victory. Sure she popped up in Legends comics but she never had a significant presence in the toy line til now! While the original figure can still run you over $800+ on the secondary market, a new version has been released for Legacy! The only pain is that the figure is relatively hard to find as a Walgreens exclusive. If Minerva had been a Headmaster figure, I probably would have put her in the Top Ten, but I still really dig this figure and I'm kind of amazed we have a "modern" Minerva!
Studio Series Rumble
Rumble was one of the most heavily featured characters in the G1 cartoon. His abrasive personality was perfect for a little punk who wasn't afraid to take on anyone on the battlefield. He has had many toys over the years including an appearance in Titans Return and Siege. However, none of these figures focused on how the character appeared in the G1 animated series, choosing to homage his red and black G1 action figure instead. Now thanks to the Studio Series 86 line we finally have our "cartoon" Rumble! Even better? He comes with his pile driver arms! This is a wonderful little figure and definitely deserves to join your G1 cast collection.
And those are my pics for the top figures of 2022! You'll note a lack of Masterpiece figures in the line up. Honestly, while I do own most of the 2022 Masterpiece figures I have yet to actually open any of them so I did not feel qualified to judge. Do you see figures here you don't think belong? Or did I forget a figure you think should be on here? Drop by my Facebook or Twitter pages to chat about it! Happy New Year everyone.