Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mike's Top 50 Favorite Transformers Characters Part 6: Honorable Mentions and Least Favorites

Before I get into my five LEAST favorite Transformers characters, here are some honorable mentions that just missed being in the top 50 favorites.  Characters that I like, were considered, but ultimately fell just short of the top 50.

 Countdown (G1)

I always liked Countdown's tendency to look outside the Transformers' war and feel like he had a responsibility to protect the larger universe.  He had a good role in the Dreamwave Micromasters mini-series and his later "Universe" toy (the Cybertron Defense Red Alert repaint) is one of my personal favorite repaints ever.  I always imagined Micromaster Countdown was inside the larger body, controlling it like a mech suit.


Nautica is, as the kids says, totes adorbs.  I immediately latched onto her instead of fellow new female character Windblade, despite them both be introduced in the IDW comics at the same time.  Nautica's more my speed of character- quirky, awkward, but relatable.  Sorry, Windblade, but special wrench beats special sword!

 Rampage (BW)

As discussed in Depth Charge's entry, I enjoyed his and Rampage's twisted Batman/Joker-esque relationship.  Rampage's starring role in "Beast Wars: Uprising" as a reluctant anti-hero with an oddly-sweet relationship with his "sister" Transmutate was also a particularly good showing for him.

 Dualor (Armada)

The underrated chief antagonist of the third Dreamwave Armada comic arc.  Dualor tied human kid sidekick Rad to a floating mine- that's gotta count for something!

Streetwise (G1)

When it comes to this type of "law enforcer" character, I prefer Prowl and Nightbeat, but Streetwise possesses some of their attributes and is more of a "street-level" cop/investigator.  If Nightbeat is Sherlock Holmes, Streetwise is John Shaft.

Night Viper

Night Viper is one of my favorite "Basic"-size toys ever and possesses superb engineering that allows for his snake beast mode.  He also has a cool scene in the Fan Club "Wreckers: Finale" text story that stood out to me.

Eject (G1)

Eject's always had an amusing personality quirk and he didn't get much play in fiction for a long time, granting him that "mystique" that sometimes draws me to a character.   He would go on to have great starring roles in the fourth Devil's Due G.I.Joe/Transformers mini-series and Beast Wars: Uprising.

Prowl (Animated)

This version of Prowl is not exactly my "type" of character, but any homage to the original G1 character will get some of my attention.  Animated Prowl had a good character arc and an appropriate and meaningful death at the end of his series. 

Bonecrusher (Movie)

My favorite action scene in the first Bay movie features this guy.  I like Movie Bonecrusher's design, his "skating" movements in the film, his "hates everything" personality that became a meme among the fandom, and even his Deluxe-Class toy.

Thundercracker (G1)

Thundercracker here wouldn't have even been considered for this list at all if not for his IDW comics portrayal under John Barber.  I love this guy's current personality and status as an Earth-dwelling wannabe screenwriter with a dog and I'm glad he finally took a stand after decades of his personality solely being "he's kind of doubtful sometimes".


Before I detail my top five LEAST favorite characters in the franchise (entries -1 to -5), here's a special "0" entry!

0. Windblade frum combiner wasz
first appear in Combiner warz 1

Winblade is super strong autobut robot. her powar is maximum.  she is best and most powerfel charaterr in Machenma combiners Wars.  all teh transformers fans got tegother and sad “WE NED A GOOD CHARaCTR hasblow so MAK US 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  for that raisen, hasblow mad the greetest new chracter ever named Windblad and she is my favorete andcombiner war is teh best TRansformer show!!!!

Sum peeple say that she is better and moar develop charaker in comic but comics ar dum becusse they make you reed words with ur eyes instead of reeding them with ur ears.  also teh comics draw her bad sumtimes and I think the comics shuold get a REEL manga artist liek pat Lee or shuld I say his japan name Michiyamenotehi Funana.  he is a real Transman and drawed teh best transformers with crack in metals and extra thic fingers.  if not him, then maybe get a reel american artist like Rob liefield who i hurd teached Pat lee to be a superstar artst and do machines.

windblade is dum in kiddie robots in Disguise cartoon too, and Hsabro need to make moar show like Combiners war for adult.  teh best part of combiner warz iss when Windblsde kill meansaur and goes “THIS FOR MY FREND MAXAMA!” it was grate becuz someone dyed and tht never wuld hapen on a kiddi show.  then windBLade craid bescuse the her frend died and teh combinesrs were gunna destroy teh erath with combine powar.  Butt she wuld save tem all because She is strong interdependant female chacter.  she is so strung that she only need otimus prime and Megatron and metroflex to help her beet starscrem wen he was made of farts.

Wondblade is gettin new toy soon and hasblow made her headmster!  She can give head to othe autobots and even teh decepticoks too. and they can give hed to her too!  Hasblwo shuld mak a line of oly Winblade figuers becuz she is clarely tehre most populaz caracter.  she needs difernt gears to fite in differnt enivoments.  i wanna see a windbald with spac armor and water armor and one wit bigger turnbo fans so she can beet optimus prime nex time.

I cant wait for Cominer wars 2 but it will bee TITIN Wars next tim.  I think windblada will be her new Headmsater toy in it and meybe windsade can even give head to Forktongue Maxiface in it!  That would be AWESUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!11!!!


Okay, fun's over.  Here are my top five LEAST favorite Transformers characters!

-1. Ironhide (Energon)
First Appearance- Transformers: Super Link/Transformers: Energon episode # 1 (2004)

While considered to be one of the worst Transformers animated series of all time, Transformers: Energon… or really its more technically-refined Japanese version Transformers: Super Link actually started with some promise.  We were introduced to Ironhide (or Roadbuster, as he was named in Japan) as the new rookie member of Optimus Prime’s personal team in the first episode.  This is a common anime trope and you usually expect such a character to grow and mature over the course of the series until he finally proves himself a worthy hero or even inherits the mantle of leadership.  Ironhide… does not really do either of these things, and his character as portrayed over the course of the series is fairly emblematic of Energon/Super Link’s wasted potential and slapdash production as a whole.

Where the writers of the show really failed with Ironhide was… not really giving him a personality beyond “stupid rookie”.  He’s an incredibly generic example of that kind of character archetype in fiction, particularly in anime.  He’s a dumb kid, eager to please his superiors, full of “BURNING SPIRIT” when confronted with injustice, and makes a lot of careless, brash decisions.  There’s at least a few dozen other Transformers characters that fit this description… but most of them have other defining character traits or at least some special quirk about them.  Not really so with Ironhide… his character begins and ends with “overeager rookie”… and that’s not actually a personality, really.

He had sort of brotherly relationship with the main human character Kicker in the show, and that provides a little bit of connection to the character through their relationship.  Kicker started off as the “angry young man” who wanted little to do with the Transformers, but the writers quickly forgot about that within a few episodes and just made him petulant and irritating for most of the series.  However, at least Kicker usually contributed a lot in dangerous situations and certainly moved what little plot there was in Energon forward more so than Ironhide.  It really kind of felt like Kicker was saddled with Ironhide, and not the other way around… which is what you’d usually expect from a Transformer-human partnership.

Later in the series, Ironhide is introduced to a trio of smaller, younger Autobots who idolize him for being on Optimus Prime’s team, and there’s a brief notion that he’s going to learn how to be a leader by taking responsibility for them.  The best advice Ironhide can give to them is “faking” having courage and just charging blindly into a firefight.  The trio later utilize Ironhide’s advice and attempt to take on the big bad Scorponok… all three dying in the attempt.  Aside from being generically angry and full of burning spirit from their deaths, Ironhide doesn’t really seem to learn anything from it.

At the end of the series, all the Autobots are sending their “Combination Sparks” to Optimus Prime to power him up.  Not Ironhide though- he’s been defeated by Scorponok, who TAKES PITY ON HIM and drags his unconscious body to the final battle so the loser can contribute his minor piece of power-up to Prime.  Apparently ashamed of having such a lame rival, Scorponok then drops dead on the spot.

Did I mention how annoying Ironhide’s voice is in the English dub yet?  Well, he’s voiced by actor Matt Hill, who… I’m sure is a nice guy in real life.  However, his “burnt surfer dude” accent that bleeds into nearly EVERY animated character he ever voices is annoying as hell, and is certainly another factor that contributes to Ironhide’s lameness for me.

I haven’t even gotten into Ironhide’s actual character design, which is… well, pretty ugly.  He transforms into some kind of off-road jeep with a clunky rotating light/communications suite on top, and for whatever reason- has weird, vaguely-super-deformed proportions.  His robot mode head is BARELY hidden in vehicle mode, although you can kind of slide that “upside-down crock pot” helmet of his over his face a notch… but not enough to obscure his stupid puss in any meaningful way.  Unsurprisingly, Ironhide’s figures were hideous shelf-cloggers during Energon’s run on toy shelves and wouldn’t even sell when Hasbro repackaged them with more popular toys in double-packs towards the end of the series.

Man, I don’t even like Ironhide’s NAME.  Well, it’s a good Transformers name, but it doesn’t fit this character AT ALL.  In Transformers, guys named “Ironhide” are generally portrayed as older, gruff, war-tested veterans, or at the very least a tough-talking guy with thick skin.  NONE of this applies to Energon Ironhide, and it is blatantly-apparent that Hasbro just stuck the name on him to maintain the trademark.  His Japanese name “Roadbuster”, is SOMEWHAT better… being a less attribute-specific name than “Ironhide” and a better match for his off-road vehicle mode.  But...being that G1 Roadbuster is one of my favorite Transformers characters, I can’t help but feel some pity that he has to share his name with this red and blue doofus.  In Japan, the “Generations” Roadbuster Voyager-Class figure was even repainted and released with Super Link Roadbuster’s color scheme… and it apparently didn’t sell that well either.

It isn’t ALL bad though… when it came time for Simon Furman to tackle the Energon franchise in the Dreamwave comics, he rightfully recognized that Ironhide was a very thin character as initially presented and gave him a real personality and specialization.  Comic Ironhide was still a nervous rookie, but he was also a skilled engineer and new to the ways of being an Autobot soldier.  Furman even gave him a decent backstory as a former P.O.W. who had been held captive by the Decepticon Tidal Wave during the war and forced to build weapons for the enemy.  Energon issue # 24 is a solid done-in-one tale focusing on Ironhide where he turns the tables on Tidal Wave after being taken hostage and finally overcomes his past demons.  It really accomplished what I thought had been impossible up until that point; making me think Energon Ironhide was… an okay guy.

Unfortunately, that one good portrayal of him in the Dreamwave comics can’t counterbalance all the things working against him in my eyes.  When asked directly, I’ll probably always say that Energon Ironhide is my least favorite Transformers character of all.

No, Ironhide.  No, you are not.

-2. Skids and Mudflap (Movie)
First Appearance- Transformers: Alliance issue # 4 (2009)

If the Transformers franchise as a whole has a “Jar Jar Binks”, it is most certainly these two.  Created with the same “let’s make some characters for the kids!” notion in mind as Binks, Skids and Mudflap are the abominable product of some incredibly taste-deaf and misguided thinking on several levels.  “Revenge of the Fallen” is a pretty poorly-paced and written movie ANYWAY, but these two certainly make the crap cake even crappier.

Skids and Mudflap are pretty much racist caricatures, and the primary screenwriters of the movie even had to register their own distaste of them and declare that they did not write any of their dialogue.  The twins’ whole “wannabe kid gangsta” schtick was apparently worked out by their voice actors and approved by Michael Bay… and if you’ve seen the final result… you really gotta wonder what the hell they were thinking.  There was an attempt in the IDW tie-in Movie comic series “Tales of the Fallen” to explain the twins’ obnoxious behavior.  Their brains were experimented on by the Decepticon medic Flatline, which left them… uh… the way they are.  That reaaaaa-lly kind of makes it worse, doesn’t it?  Now they’re offensive to black people AND the mentally-disabled.

They contribute virtually ZERO to the “plot” of Revenge of the Fallen, and are often more a hindrance than help.  Their antics aren’t really that funny and are totally unnecessary considering that the human characters of Simmons and Leo that they pal around with are also largely-comedic characters.  As usual, Simon Furman tried his bloody darndest to make a bad idea work in the Titan UK Movie tie-in comics, thankfully jettisoning the twins’ “street” dialect and portraying them as a simple pair of hapless mooks.  However, it was quickly apparent that no one wanted to deal with them for very long, even within the confines of the actual story.  I mean, just look at their stupid faces… it’s practically irresistible to want to smash them together.

The audience reception to Skids and Mudflap was so bad that Michael Bay cut them entirely from the next movie, although you can still just barely see their vehicle modes in some shots of the Autobot convoy at various points.  It’s almost a shame… because apparently the original script and plan in “Dark of the Moon” was to have them get horribly killed by Sentinel Prime after he kills Ironhide.  Thankfully, this lovely scene is preserved in the novelization and IDW comic adaptation of that movie.

Being on-screen Movie characters, Skids and Mudflap have had a lot of toys, and I’m sure most of them are good insofar as being very accurate representations of their designs.  Of course, I’ve never had the desire to purchase nearly any of them though, the twins being as repellent as they are.  Actually, if I’m honest… I did briefly entertain the notion of getting their combined ice cream truck figures, as it seemed to be something of a novel idea that called back to G1 Micromaster Combiners.  Plus, I am a proponent of “duo act” characters being included in the same package… but like I said, the revolting characters themselves prevented me from having that much interest in it.

The twins deserve to be quietly tucked away in the darkest, most shameful corner of the Transformers franchise.  Even Jar Jar Binks has his fans, but I honestly don’t know ANYONE who liked Skids and Mudflap. Now get the f**k outta here.

-3. Nightscream (Beast Machines)
First Appearance- Beast Machines episode # 5- “Forbidden Fruit” (1999)

Look… Beast Machines is a fairly-polarizing show among the fandom.  I don’t want to get into it in more detail than I have elsewhere, but let’s just say… I was NOT a fan of the show.  There are bigger, more overreaching problems with it, but as this list is focused on characters, I’ll just say with as much elegance as I can muster… that Nightscream was an annoying snot-nosed little puke that very few people liked, even if they liked the show.

Nightscream was originally intended by the show-runners to be a young female Maximal in the vein of Newt from “Aliens”… the survivor of a horrible event who bonds with her rescuers.  The executives in charge of the network shot that idea down, most likely because girl character toys didn’t usually sell as well in a primarily boys-focused series.  The show-runners then changed the gender and their sci-fi character template to the young John Connor from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”.  That’s right… Nightscream is supposed to be Eddie Furlong… complete with “flippy” hair on one side and all.  I guess where you can see where the “annoying snot-nosed little puke” part enters into the equation… but even Furlong’s John Connor has his defenders.

Nightscream was supposed to supplant Cheetor as the “kid identification character” in the Beast Era cast, but while most fans were along for the ride with the affable Cheetor during Beast Wars, Nightscream was just irritating and hard to like over the course of Beast Machines.  His off-putting appearance didn’t help matters- aside from the flippy hair, his bat mode wings ended up on his ankles in robot mode, sort of like Namor the Sub-Mariner’s feet-wings… only lame.  He had a shrill sonic cry and ejecting fangs that drained an enemy’s energy, leading to such obnoxious lines as “You can take a lickin’, but can you take a BITE??”  Augh.  It’s a miracle that his voice actor, the admittedly-talented Alessandro Juliani, could deliver such material so convincingly.  I mean, he certainly convinced me that Nightscream was super-annoying!

When it came time for Japan to dub Beast Machines into their language, they must have been at a loss when interpreting Nightscream’s character for their audience.  The Japanese dub of Beast Wars had a jovial, gag-laden theme that was many times at odds with its original Western airing and the plan was to do the same for Beast Machines, or “Beast Wars Returns” as it was renamed.  Beast Machines was inherently a much darker show, with virtually none of Beast Wars’ occasional slapstick humor and levity.  So how did they re-imagine a character like Nightscream- the last one standing after an apocalyptic cataclysm, a kid who had a chip on his shoulder and grappled with survivor’s guilt?  I can only imagine they took a look at his character design and how he was animated in the show and…

Okay, I’ll just say it… they made Nightscream FLAMINGLY GAY.  Yes, the Japanese dub of Beast Machines features Nightscream as a preening fashion-obssessed dandy who regularly called Rattrap “Aunty” and hit on Silverbolt, who was constantly reassuring Blackarachnia that he himself was not gay.  I guess your current options for Nightscream portrayals are “annoying brat” or “offensive stereotype”.

Nightscream is even an epic fail as a toy- he was released in the Beast Machines line as an ULTRA-Class figure, the second-highest scale and price-point… even though he’s one of the smallest Maximals in the show.  While the Beast Machines toyline was known for inconsistent character scaling, Nightscream is one of, if not THE most egregious example of this.  I’ve never owned his Ultra-Class toy (obviously), and I guess it looks good enough if you really wanted a big “Masterpiece-lite” version of Nightscream, but seriously… who the hell would want that??

I will say that Nightscream was a little better in season two of the show in general, and his relationship with the cast-off dog-like creature “Savage Noble” might have had some worth… but it’s not really enough to salvage this little dipshit.  And yes… I did call “moi” a dipshit.

-4. Sam Witwicky
First Appearance- IDW Transformers Movie Prequel # 3 (2007)

Sam Witwicky is the first main human protagonist of the live action film franchise, and as far as the first movie goes… he was pretty okay.  He was the typical “everyman” who finds a greater destiny and gets the girl in the end.  Shia LaBeouf wasn’t batshit crazy yet and lent a manic sort of charm to Sam, and you rooted for him to succeed.  By the sequel, things started to get a bit chaotic for Sam with him attending college, and his relationship with Megan Fox’s Mikaela Banes became a bit rocky.  Despite Revenge of the Fallen’s flaws, Sam still mostly seemed to be an okay kid we could relate to.  However, by the time of the third movie, I started to really despise Sam and his views on life, and I felt like art was reflecting life a bit for Shia LaBeouf.

(Pictured above- someone with a hard life.)

In “Dark of the Moon”. Sam’s main character thread is feeling worthless and aimless because he can’t find a job right out of college.  Now, I can personally relate to that, but I also was not living rent-free with my gorgeous model girlfriend in a beautiful apartment, nor had I met the president or saved the world from Megatron twice already.  Sam’s complaints and “problems” just did not land with me, and his entitled attitude about it just really rubbed me the wrong way.  Like I said, maybe Shia LaBeouf was expressing some of his own frustrations through his portrayal of Sam in that movie, because there’s some real restlessness and self-loathing being projected there and I kinda picked up on that vibe.  Sam is just intensely unpleasant to me in that movie, and I only have this vague feeling as to why that is.

When Sam is contemplating breaking up with his new girlfriend Carly, his mom rightfully wonders how he can even think that, considering Carly loves him for who he is.  I’m sure Mikaela loved Sam for who he was too, but dumped him because she probably picked up on that same self-centered vibe that I got from Sam in Dark of the Moon.  Heck, a lot of the humor in those movies regarding Sam, especially in the sequels, is from watching him get hurt or put in uncomfortable or humiliating situations.  We quite literally are made to laugh at Sam’s pain and suffering.  I suppose we’re intended to admire his resilience or feel that much better when he succeeds, but I just don’t.  That’s probably a failure of the director, but I can’t help but wonder if the actor is channeling something personal too.

Okay, enough playing psychoanalyst… the fact of the matter is that despite being the protagonist of those movies, Sam actually doesn’t accomplish a lot on his own.  Mikaela did a whole lot more to actively defeat Decepticons and generally be more useful than Sam is.  All Sam usually does is run away until it is time for that one last critical saving throw that wins the day, yet he usually receives all the credit for the win.  He’s what we call in scientific terms… a “poser”.  Sam could have stepped forward after Dark of the Moon and became the Autobots’ advocate on Earth… but anyone who has seen “Age of Extinction” knows that it either didn’t happen or ended badly, as the Autobots are treated like fugitives or hunted down like dogs by that point.  Sam was probably just too wrapped up in his own problems to help his friends and there was no convenient MacGuffin Game Gear cheat code to save everyone that time.

Sam’s received some representation in plastic form, usually packaged with a Bumblebee toy.  His most fitting figure is undoubtedly the one that came with the 2010 “Human Alliance” Bumblebee.

Ah yes, what a remarkable likeness.  We can easily recognize the terrified-yet-stupified expression and poop-filled pants of Sam Witwicky.

-5. Ro-Tor (Robots in Disguise)
First Appearance- Transformers: Car Robots episode 14 ""Foe? Friend!? Black Convoy"/Transformers: Robots In Disguise episode 14 "The Decepticons" (2000/2001)

Ro-Tor first appeared on the Car Robots/Robots in Disguise cartoon as one of the Decepticon “Commandos”, a former team of Autobots who were reprogrammed by Megatron into serving him.  The Commandos were obviously repaints of the G1 Combaticons, with new names and characterizations.  This was not an uncommon practice in Transformers fiction, and fans accepted it without much fuss.  Ro-Tor himself was a repainted G1 Vortex, looking quite snazzy in his new color tones.

As far as characterization goes, well… Ro-Tor didn’t get a whole lot- he was just your standard battle-hungry bad guy gestalt team member and he rarely if ever appeared without one or most of the rest of his team.  His major role in the show was basically to show up, shoot at the Autobots a little, and then combine into Ruination with his comrades.  He’s a pretty inoffensive character by most normal standards.  So then, why do I hate him so much?  I’ll tell you why...


Originally “Hepter” in Japan, Hasbro slapped the name “Ro-Tor” on him for Western release.  Instead of picking an already-established Transformers name with the word “rotor” in it, like “Rotorbolt” or “Rotorstorm”, they just added a goddamn stupid hyphen into the base word.  Heck, I would have even accepted just “Rotor” as his name!  Lazy, sure… but at least it’s a real word that describes a key aspect of him.  The goddamn lame-shit stupid-ass hyphen just makes his name into some nonsense that drives me up a wall for whatever reason.

I’ve NEVER liked that naming convention for a fictional character, and like I mentioned above- it was quite common in the He-Man and Gobots franchises.  I always felt that one of the many stand-out things that set Transformers and G.I.Joe apart from many of their other fellow eighties toy franchises were the character names.  For the most part, both Transformers and G.I.Joe have great, creative names for the bulk of their original characters that don’t usually resort to lazy-ass shit like “Cop-Tur” or “Sy-Klone”.  “Ro-Tor” is even worse than those- they didn’t even bother to misspell the root word to make it all sci-fi or whatever!

Ro-Tor isn’t quite alone in his sucky name pit of shame; his fellow Commando Movor also has a stupid moniker.  Known more fittingly as “Shuttler” in Japan, Movor’s Western name is apparently only indicative of the fact that… he… moves?  Even as terrible as “Movor” is, at least it doesn’t have a goddamn lame-shit stupid-ass motherf**kin’ HYPHEN in it!  Shit, that hyphen makes me SO!  MAD!

Ro-Tor actually had a decent role in “Beast Wars: Uprising”, where he and his fellow Commandos were re-imagined as “K-Class” kamikaze troopers that transformed into living bombs.  Ro-Tor is the only one of the Commandos who survives this series of prose stories, his inner explosive being forcefully-removed from his chest by Rampage before he can use it.  Of course, he must remain alive to mock me with his %#$@#^&#*&@*@#^*@#^*@$@@$#%^&**&^%#$**&-ing HYPHEN!!!  GODDAMMIT!!!

Ro-Tor has some toys that are all repaints of Vortex toys, obviously.  One looks like it has some kind of skin disease, so maybe Ro-Tor will die from that one day.  It actually kind of looks like he’s covered in… curvy… multicolored… HYPHENS!!! 


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