It’s not an exaggeration to say that a decent headsculpt is essential to fall in love with a particular Transformers toy. They can boast all the articulation, gimmicks and play value you like, or be as otherwise attractive as you can imagine, but if the face or headsculpt is a duffer, it’s hard to get too enthusiastic.
That might sound shallow, but then the headsculpt is often the thing that gives an individual ‘bot all their personality, seemingly bringing them to life and making them more than just a heap of plastic in our imagination. It’s what defines their sense of character.
So with that in mind, we’ve scoured the depths of deepest darkest Generation 1 and brought you 15 favourites for today’s Countdown. They’re presented here in no particular order other than for you to soak up and enjoy. Never say we don’t give good head.
Spinister has been through a bit of a renaissance of late, having found new popularity on the back of the IDW comics, which was further solidified by a popular new toy in the Siege line. Yet the original toy is no slouch either, packing a noggin that is truly one of a kind, with that teal face and distinctive faceplate vents giving off an unmistakable no-nonsense vibe. Props to this one having a fairly rare dose of head swivel, too.
When you think, “Monsterbots”, you don’t exactly imagine a happy-go-lucky lad with a casual smirk on their face, yet that’s exactly what you get with Doublecross. For someone who has literal dragon heads for hands, it’s quite surprising to see just what a mirthful mouth he’s rocking in his robot mode. Something’s tickled him, that’s for sure.
There are plenty of mouthplated Transformers in Generation 1, but Dreadwind might be one of the most unique. He looks like he’s wearing some sort of bulbous chin strap underneath a piece of purple protective headgear. Then there’re those piercing yellow eyes and the easy-to-miss antenna ears, which altogether sounds like a frankly bizarre combo but somehow it comes together to form an truly cracking cranium.
One of the second wave of Headmasters, Hosehead is also one of the most handsome. Those strong lines help to define his jutting mega-chin quite nicely, whilst the crest looks superlative in its detail. Of course he’s technically wearing a rather large hat, but either way Hosehead has one of those heads that’s plainly ahead.
#11: Star Convoy
Optimus Prime headsculpts are all riffing from the same songbook, yet it’s never not interesting when one of them mixes up the little details to produce something entirely distinct. So it is with Star Convoy, the character’s final toy as part of G1 – just look at that beautiful bonce! The crest is one of the standout elements, but even the unusually-rectangular side pillars make a statement here. Optimus FINE.
Another slice of Japanese G1 and another delectable dish for you to devour. Landcross is the combined mode of the Multiforce teams, a unique set of chaps who are packing in more fun factor than your average combiner team. Yet my first reaction on building them into the big man was to forget about everything else except that knockout conk. The features on the face are wonderfully defined and coupled with the piercing yellow eyes make this one an absolute winner.
If you’ve never delved into the waters of late European G1 then you’re honestly missing out. Take Stalker here, who is without question one of the most attractive Transformers toys I think I’ve ever seen. If you think there’s something familiar about his face then that’s possibly because he bears more than a passing resemblance to Soundwave (and of course, would be repainted into that character for Machine Wars), yet Stalker remains his own beast entirely. Oh, and as if the sculpt wasn’t good enough already, there’s lightpiping aplenty.
One of the earlier examples on this list, Inferno is also one of the most beguiling designs handed down from the Diaclone line. I remember appreciating this one as a standout even when I was a kid and my enthusiasm for it hasn’t waned in the years since. It features a combination of winning elements, including a sharp and pleasingly-angular face, attractive details such as the vents on the sides, and a haunting set of peepers. Red hot indeed.
A lot of the Action Master toys had incredible headsculpts, so choosing just one would have been a tricky task were it not for the knockout that is Kick-Off. Though it’s somewhat cartoony in style, there’s something very classic about this design, featuring all of the elements that typically make G1 headsculpts work. It’s a shame the red paint from the visor has been rather sloppily applied over the helmet section, although in fairness I only noticed it when completing the HD photography required for this article, so I’ll grant him a pass!
On the face of it this is quite a simple one – rectangle eyes, simple mouthplate, not a lot of detailing, all in white. Yet somehow that simplicity is Sixshot’s biggest asset, as this particular pate is positively pulchritudinous. Sixshot is notoriously known as a “ninja consultant”, and perhaps it’s that this head design doesn’t given too much away in terms of the character it portrays that it somehow fits that description so incredibly well.
If Sixshot’s design is understated and smooth, Sandstorm swings the other way entirely! For such a small skull, there’s amazing amount of detail on offer here. It looks exactly nothing like his cartoon interpretation, but for my money I think it’s better (and certainly more interesting) for it. One thing that is quite funny is how similar this is to Spinister’s design, when you look at the details!
The second Headmaster on our list. Honestly, it was a tough call narrowing the 1987 crew down to just one example, as they’re all deserving of a shoutout in their own way. Yet I’ve always felt that there is something especially alluring about Brainstorm’s block that merits additional mention. It could be that glowing orange face, which contrasts so superbly against the cool grey of the main helmet, or it could be the nicely-sculpted detail mixed with some superbly smooth sections. Either way, Brainstorm’s a babe.
Their weapons may be their most talked-about features, but the 1987 Targetmasters are no slouches in the dome department either. Take Slungslinger as the ultimate testament to that, as his smooth facial features and rocking red visor all serve to make him a natural inclusion on this list. This is a hard toy to find in nice condition, but you owe it to yourself to try when he’s as bewitching as this.
One of my favourites from the whole of G1 this. I only recently tracked down a minty G1 copy of this toy in hand (oh hey, he made my vintage top ten for last year!) and I was *not prepared* for just how bloomin’ marvellous Cliffjumper’s coconut was going to be. Every detail of it is superb, which is even more remarkable when you consider just how teeny this thing actually is. It’s maybe one of the more traditionally-handsome headsculpts on offer, but my word it brings the horn.
OK, I did say I wasn’t ranking these… but if I was then Rotorstorm would probably still be #1! Admittedly, there isn’t much in the way of overly remarkable features, but it matters not a jot. Simple, clean lines, a nicely-proportioned noggin and a square jawline. Oh, and then there’s that la-la-la-la-la-LIGHTPIPING. In fact it’s my go-to example of how good a gimmick it can be when done right. Rotorstorm certainly knows how you get your motor running.
So that’s our list. Did we miss any of your favourites?