A little while back, I did an article for this blog about some outstanding Generation 1 head sculpts. We’re talking noggins so nice that they make you sit up and take notice. Seriously, it was really good – you should check it out sometime. Anyway, we’re back for another dose, because believe me, there are plenty more to choose from! Observe…
Let’s kick things off in style with the idiosyncratic Action Master, Banzai-Tron. This non-transforming specimen is one of the more distinctive examples from the 1990s subline, although is sadly oft-overlooked on account of the overall reputation surrounding the toys from that year (as unfair as any of that is!). Still, he has featured elsewhere since, even popping up in random places such as the brief Takara Alternity line, and is set to have another figure based on his classic appearance soon with the officially-licensed Super 7 Ultimates range doing a grand job of it, from what we’ve seen so far. Good thing too, as just check out that for a simply terrific head design, eh? The colours!
Now let’s take it back a bit to 1985, or perhaps even further depending on how much of a stickler you are for acknowledging this toy’s Diaclone heritage. Either way, Sludge is a handsome lad, with a head sculpt that never fails to please the eyes. True, he has a chin that could carve wood and even a minty copy such as mine will show you that the paint job is a little patchy in places, but none of that detracts from this being one for the ages. The best Dinobot dome? Maybe.
Now let’s draw from the Takara side of things with what may be the best-looking Sixcombiner of the lot. The whole gimmick of six Micromasters teaming up to make a rather epic Big Man mode is fantastic to begin with, but when they look as stunning as this? Forget about it. I also like that Sixtrain feels like a bit of a departure from a lot of the classic Generation 1 toys that I grew up with, as you can see the journey Takara were on at the time with designs such as this and their concurrent Brave series. That head crest. That pout. Those eyes! Simply gorgeous.
One of the more forgotten-about G1 combiners in many respects, Monstructor is also the littlest Big Man of them all (yes, even smaller than the Sixcombiners mentioned above!). Still, he packs in a lot of gimmickry to his tiny form, not to mention a lot of charm. Like Sludge, this head may falter a little on the finish, with the painted edges of the grey face feeling a little rough in places, and I’d have personally opted for a different colour to help the eyes stand out, but still, there’s a lot to admire here overall and it feels entirely distinct if nothing else.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Ol’ Calcar here isn’t exactly the prettiest, is he? Well, not by conventional standards, anyway, although none of that takes away from what must be one of the most memorable and quirky faces from latter-day Generation 1. Looking at this dude even now, I can never decide if there’s more of an insectoid or aquatic vibe going on, or maybe even a bit of both! He’s so brutally hideous that it just works, and the light piping is a major draw too. This whole era of European exclusive Decepticon toys run with a similar theme when it comes to head sculpts actually, and a lot of it really reminds me of the Bayverse aesthetic in many respects.
Oh mama, it’s this guy. You just know he’d be all too pleased (but probably not all that surprised) to be on this list. Yet the Tracks we have before us bears little resemblance in the head department to the persona seen on screen, particularly as the 1985 toy famously sports a mouth plate for one thing. Whatever your feelings about that versus his more well-known portrayal, there’s still a lot to love about this classic Diaclone carbot design, particularly with how chiselled and angular the whole thing is. Turns out Tracks is always handsome no matter how he looks, eh?
#6: Twin Twist
Here’s a bit of a twist for you… two of them, if anything! Hailing from a similar Diaclone origin to Tracks, it’s fair to say that the Jumpstarters fall into the category of “most overlooked” when it comes to appreciating vintage Generation 1 toys these days. I often chalk that up to the fact that they were so common and plentiful back in the day – seriously, Twin Twist was the toy that *everyone* had at school in the ’80s – and without a reissue in sight that means most copies you tend to find still floating around have been through the wringer a little. But find a minty specimen and you might be struck by just how lush they both are, particularly in the head sculpt department.
#5: Sonic Bomber
Let’s change it up a bit now with one of the most delicious Japanese-exclusive lads from the Generation 1 era, it’s Sonic Bomber! This guy is noteworthy for two reasons: firstly, because he’s not all that often featured in online photography, so seeing him up close and personal is a double treat for the eyes given how unfamiliar he can be, but secondly because, well, he’s so bloomin’ gorgeous! All of the Big Powered crew have fantastic faces but just check out this chap with his perfectly sculpted visage, wondrous head crest and, oh, those shocking green eyes. LUSH.
#4: Turbo Master
Now back to the European exclusive arena of G1 with Turbo Master, although perhaps not the kind of Turbomaster you’re thinking of! Yes, this confusingly-named example is one of four Action Master Elites, which are Transformers that don’t transform except this time they actually do. It’s all very confusing, especially as three of them bear an uncanny resemblance to classic characters from early G1, although done over in snazzy new colour schemes. Turbo Master himself is doing his finest sparkly pink Bruticus impression and you know what? He’s rocking it.
They say bustin’ makes you feel good and that’s certainly true when it’s as attractive as this! Roadbuster was one of those characters that utterly intrigued me as a kid, mostly because the toy was a complete mystery despite his memorable turn in the UK comic at the time. It then became a bit of a dream of mine to own a pristine copy despite all the many challenges such an endeavour throws up, but let me tell you, I was not disappointed when I finally achieved it. He’s entirely distinct on account of his Takatoku origins, looking very different to your typical Transformers’ fare. And for that, I love him.
Perhaps these are the Turbomasters you were thinking of, eh? Yes, the 1992 Euro-exclusive line-up is legendary amongst collectors despite most of them being continually passed over for new toy treatment in the years since. It’s not hard to see why though, with all of them bringing the goods in the looks department, as evidenced by this simply stunning specimen. It’s familiar in its way but still entirely distinct, and is absolutely rocking that set of blistering pink peepers. Like a MF BOSS indeed.
#1: Hot Rod
Oh come, I had to! Yes, it’s obvious but I don’t care. Just look at him… look at him! In many ways, I think Hot Rod may be *the* quintessential Generation 1 Transformers toy, in that he has two amazing modes, he’s fun (and memorable) to transform, is involved but still user-friendly, and boy, does he have one of the best head sculpts there is. It varies in a lot of ways to his familiar cartoon appearance but it doesn’t matter, as it’s still the turbo-ramming young punk we know and love in all the right ways. Hot stuff, indeed.
So that’s our list! What are some of your favourite G1 head sculpts?