Everyone loves Minibots, right?
After all, the little lads are a staple part of the first few years of Generation 1, and pretty much set the template for smaller-scale Transformers toys throughout subsequent years of the franchise.
Yet not all Minibots are created equal, of course. So today, let’s have a look at every Minibot toy released from 1984 to 1986 and rank them from worst to best. Opinions incoming!
Be sure to check out part 1 in case you missed it!
As we move into the second half of our list, there’s an argument to say that there’s some splitting of hairs required to really distinguish the remaining Minibots from one another in terms of which is truly better, as frankly, they’re all outstanding. Windcharger is a perfect example of that, as I don’t think I could love this little lug more if I tried! There’s so much to admire, including his bright red finish, stunning chrome, fantastically nondescript face, and that weird transformation step everyone always forgets where the arms click up and down a notch. Oh, and let’s not forget about the outrageously great Pontiac alternate mode, eh? Ultimately, he loses points for being one of the least solidly-standing G1 toys, but overall? He’s a marvel.
No doubt some will baulk at me placing Windcharger’s 1986 retool above the original himself, yet I stand by that assertion! For one thing, he can stand at least a little more stably than his mould-mate, so that’s a definite plus right off the bat. Then there’s that exceptional newly-mould head, which captures every bit of the spirit of early G1 and imbues the toy with a strong sense of character despite it having a visor and mouth-plate (although this was helped on subsequent reissues where the visor is blue). I also adore the new chest sticker, with its little notches and slider mechanisms, looking like some bizarre mathematical apparatus from the ’80s. Then there’s the colour; the main body already looks lush, but that teal? Forget about it. His name may be Tailgate, but he’s definitely not lagging behind.
Oh, Danny boy! If the Pipes are calling and they look like this, then I’m definitely answering. Standing out as the most successful 1986 retool of the lot, this little blue lad is just an outright pleasure from start to finish. It no doubt helps that the Huffer design has been enormously overhauled here, separating Pipes from his forebear quite a bit, but even then, there’s just something so lovable about the result. The chrome piped arms work a real treat, and his tiny redesigned head looks simply marvellous. Then there’s his specific chest aesthetic that can only really be described as ‘seat boobs’ for a voluptuous twist. Throw it all together, and Pipes may not be the most obvious choice for a high ranking on this list, but he’s undoubtedly one of the most deserving.
Admit it: you expected this guy to be higher, didn’t you? I did, too, in a way, perhaps because of how ubiquitous this original Bumblebee design has been over the years. I recall this being the toy everyone on the playground had in their pocket back in the ’80s, which explains why there are so many knackered copies out there now. Even my boy has adopted this as one of his favourites all these years later; it’s just so inherently adorable. It may have been reissued since, often with a retooled face, but I don’t believe it’s ever been done finer than those original releases with the classic toy vibe, personally. I’m going to take some marks off for just how delicate this design is, unfortunately, as it’s now tough to find copies with arms that don’t flop round and round, and that’s to say nothing of the chrome wear you often see, or the cracked plastic on areas such as the feet. Still, this design won so many of us over and left a generation of kids confused about what a real VW Beetle actually looked like.
Full disclosure: I absolutely wanted to place Seaspray even higher than this. If I’m honest with myself, a lot of that is because I adored this thing back in the day and recall travelling with it just about everywhere (especially if there was water involved!). Seaspray already feels quite unusual as one of very few aquatic G1 Transformers toys, but his inherent charm makes him a real standout. With a design that’s about as straightforward as they come, he’s a lot of fun to quickly slip between modes, and whilst his robot form may be a little usual, it still somehow manages to hit the spot. The only real downside is how common it is to find supremely knackered copies of this toy, with discolouration being a common problem, not to mention floppy joints and legs making him not hold together very well. As one of only two 1985 Minibots with no reissue, he’s worth tracking down in tiptop condition.
I’ve always admired Beachcomber. There’s something about his laidback pacifist nature in the cartoon that made him stand out for me, and even if his Chenowth Fast Attack Vehicle alternate form doesn’t quite gel with that, the toy is still a thing to marvel at. Despite not being part of the first-year assortment, this is still the essence of everything that makes your typical Minibot work. Exceptional vehicle form, quick and engaging transformation, and cute-as-a-button robot mode, albeit with a few surprises. In Beachcomber’s case, that includes being able to click the legs down for an additional notch of height, something that is all too common to miss! He may be a simple thing, but I can’t help but love this classic design and would have loved to see it produced in many more colours besides.
They may not call him Warpath because he’s gentle, but he is quite precious! It’s hard to see this toy’s cartoon counterpart on screen and not instantly be wowed by how loud and over-the-top he is. Yet somehow, the 1985 design manages to pack in every ounce of that bombastic spirit and still come out looking as lovable and endearing as anything on this list! First up, the miniature tank form is top-tier stuff, immediately giving the Autobots a bit of much-needed firepower, even if it is on the small side. However, it’s the robot mode which is the most bizarre bit of this offering, with his signature turret chest being a strange but inspired choice that somehow works better than it has any right to. Yes, it’s ridiculous, with hugely oversized feet and proportions that would typically make you question its existence. But G1 Warpath is just about as perfect as Minibots get, and that’s a fact.
SPECIAL MENTION: Bumper
I debated whether to include Bumper on this list, given that he’s not *officially* a named Transformers toy at all! However, in the end, I reasoned to give him ‘special mention’ status due to what a legendary part of the franchise’s history he is. The Mazda design also happens to be a bit of a belter, providing a welcome alternative to similar uses of this classic core design. These days, you’ll struggle to find a copy of the toy in tip-top condition without a fair fee to pay, but having such a true oddity on your shelf is worth it.
I had to! I always wanted a Cliffjumper toy as a kid, but for some reason, I don’t recall ever even seeing one up close. Fast-forward to more recent times when I finally acquired a minty pre-rub specimen in 2019, and it was love at first sight! True, it might share the same core design as Bumblebee and Bumper (and more directly Hubcap, of course). Yet the differences make this one an entirely different prospect and give the toy so much personality as a result! The robot mode is just about as perfect for the character as they come, with one of my favourite head sculpts in Generation 1. It no doubt helps that it captures the spirit of Cliffjumper’s cartoon portrayal surprisingly well, too! Then there’s the vehicle form, which has forever left me thinking that the real-life Porsche 924 Turbo looks too long; it’s that good. This toy is just so captivating for me, whether it’s in the more-familiar red, the alternate yellow, or any of the other colour schemes introduced over the years. It’s a highlight of my vintage collection and reigns supreme as my favourite Minibot.
So that’s our list! Do you agree with the choices?