Robots in Disguise

Top Ten Robots In Disguise (Car Robots)

(2000 Japan 2001-2002 USA)


A few notes about these lists, and my biases - These lists are centered around the American market, basically meaning that, where possible, the American name for a given toy will be used over others (Optimus Prime instead of Convoy, for example). Also, 'new' toys that are recolored or repainted versions of older toys will not do too well here, except in those cases where the changes constitute a significant enhancement to the original version. Also, I reserve the right to list a group of similar robots, or a robot formed from a group of smaller ones, as one unit. Finally, I know it's not necessarily fair, but I might give a better mark to a toy if it has a good presence as a character on its TV show or comic. These aren't just toys, they're living robots with personalities, after all. Now on with the show!

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS - The single best thing that the whole 'Car robots' line had going for it is that it combined a lot of the bases of the original Transformer toys from 1984, with their realistic and specific vehicle designs, clear windows and rubber tires, and combined them with the technology, design, and articulation found in the Beast Wars toys. Folks have been clamoring for something like that ever since they admitted that Beast Wars actually had some good toys in it. It's not exactly all perfect though, as Takara designed many of these toys similar to their BW Neo line, resulting in spindly robots with tons of car parts hanging off them, compared to the original toys, where the vehicle elements were more integral to the robot form. Since it's a Takara-started TF line, there's a large number of toys that were repaints of earlier toylines, many of which don't even quite match the design of the other toys they share the line with (the unposeable Combaticon and Spychngers being good examples), or even repaints or modifications of toys within the line itself. Out of a line with over 50 toys in it (though several are in packs of 2 or 3) less than half are toys we haven't seen before in this country. (about 20 or so out of 36 in the original Japanese release). I guess we can't expect too much, since this was a 'filler' line to pad things out until the big release of Transformers Armada. Even so, this line has done rather well, and may well have charged things for a while.

10. Ultra Magnus (Spychanger version)
The main reason I included this toy in the lineup is the simple idea that it's a surprisingly accurate recreation of the large Ultra Magnus toy at a much smaller and simpler scale. I even prefer it to its predecessor since you don't need to take it apart to transform it. About the only things it doesn't do are light up, speak, or combine with the spychanger Optimus.

9. Landfill (Build King)
What's special about this combiner is that he's an updated idea with interchangeable parts similar to the the old five-member combiner groups, only this time any one of three can form arms, while the other two each make a leg, with Wedge as the center body. Even better, is if you don't like one of the three larger team members (I don't care for the green steam shovel), you could just get a duplicate of one of the others and still form the large robot. You could even get three copies of Hightower and have an all red and orange version of Landfill with solid limbs and three guns!

8. Rail Racer (JRX)
Not quite as innovative as Landfill, but better looking IMO. Three Shinkasen (High speed bullet trains) transformers combine into a sleek robot. Even my boss Zig Zag likes these toys, though I'm not very sure why.

7. Megatron/Galvatron (Gigatron/Devil Gigatron)
He transforms in up to ten different modes, hundreds if you include fan-created modes. Admittedly, a lot of those modes don't look like much of anything, but at least the robot mode is very good looking and decorative. He comes in two versions, so you can get either the mostly black Megatron or the mostly white 'powered up' Galvatron. Personally, I prefer Megatron, as his color scheme seem to better fit the bad guy he's supposed to be.

6. Wind Shear
This one is actually a repaint from the Machine Wars toy line, but that was not widely released, and I think this version improves on the older version in terms of looks. He's a sleek jet, all black and purple with yellow trim. It just screams 'Decepticon' :3 He's a nice looking robot too, if a little reminiscent of Megatron, since that what he was in Machine Wars.

5. Prowl (Mach Alert)
The three 'car brothers' bring you back to the days of the original realistic car Transformers, but they also had a lot of the annoying 'shell transformation' designs from Beast Wars Neo. Prowl is one of the least shell-like of the bunch, and comes off very well in all his modes. I prefer the blue and white 'super' version to the mostly white original. It has a better balance of color contrasts.

4. Scourge (Spychanger version)
Another tiny version of a larger toy. This one is a near-perfect recreation, albeit without the tanker trailer and some articulation. The only problem I have with it is that it's a bit too small to look right next to the other spychangers, but it's still a great toy to take with you and tinker, not to mention hide in your pocket when needed.

3. Scourge (Black Convoy)
Technically, Scourge is a repaint of the Generation 2 Laser Optimus Prime toy, and doesn't even have the electronics the G2 version had. I had to get one to realize what a strong toy design, not to mention fun, not to mention a very good job of recoloring it actually is. Normally I try to avoid putting 'repaint' toys in these listings, but this is such a nice toy regardless of where it came from, and a strong character on the television show as well, that it deserved a mention. The fact that it is a repaint may be the only thing keeping it from the number one spot. One of the unfortunate things is that many fans may not get this larger-size toy of Scourge, as it was limited to being a store exclusive, which limits who can find one. I like the spychanger version, but it doesn't exactly stand up to interaction with the larger toys, although I hear he sits nicely inside the control cabin of the Fortress Maximus (Brave Maximus) toy, as Scourge did in the show.

2. Tie: Optimus Prime (Fire Convoy), Omega Prime (God Fire Convoy)
I have a soft spot for most Optimus toys, and this one is no exception. It's loaded with gimmicks too. Similar to the Powermaster Optimus Prime from G1, You can make a small robot, or combine it with the back half to make a larger 'super' robot. You can also combine Optimus with Ultra Magnus (who is a rather weak toy on his own IMO) to form the huge Omega Prime robot, though you should be careful how you pose him, as he's very topheavy, and prone to falling over. It's also possible to fit much of the armor and weapons from both bots to make something even bulkier, but also more unwieldy.

1. Wedge (Build Boy)

That's right, not the combined form of Landfill that this guy becomes part of, but simple, cute little bulldozer Wedge himself. The main reason I choose him is because I feel he's one of the best examples of what many fans were looking to find in the Car Robots line. Based on the things I remember hearing. Back in the days of Beast Wars toys, people talked about wanting to see 'classic-style' Transformer toys, with the advancements in poseability and looks seen in the Beast toys. In many ways, the Car Brothers toys were that, but they also seemed like spindly robots wadded up into a shell made from car parts, similar to Japan's Beast Wars Neo toys that came before. Later toys, like the build team members seemed more like the G1 toys, in that their limbs came from sections of the vehicle mode, rather than just hidden under it, but the joints and articulation were not lost either. Wedge is one of the best of this group. Although small, he's well-proportioned, poseable, and looks nice. He transforms easily, but not TOO easily, and is solid in either mode. That's why I think he's the best.


Top three WORST Robots in Disguise toys:

3. Spychanger Side Swipe
He is, by far, the worst of the Spychanger toys. A Camaro is a nice car, but not in green, black, yellow, and blue. He has a wierd face with what seems to be goggles, for a Mr. Freeze look, and his car hood won't even fold down all the way to form his chest like it should. Pass.

2. Midnight Express (J-7)
While the combined Rail Racer is a decent robot, most of the Bullet Train 'bots are fairly weak on their own (as opposed to the build team, where the individuals look better than the combined robot) Midnight Express is the worst offender, mainly because his legs are unusually large, since they are also the legs of the combined form. On his own, Midnight Express looks a little like a pair of stilts wearing a hat.

1. Bruticus (Cerberus)

Bruticus was originally intended to be a Beast Machines toy, but became part of Robots in Disguise instead. He would've sucked as a toy regardless of what line he was part of. He has some curious ideas, such as extra arms and two extra faces, to fit in with the 'three headed dog' motif, but it only serves to make the toy more freakish, which is a quality I don't usually like in robot toys. It seems someone at Hasbro really enjoys ugly. freaky Transformer toys, and we got Manterror, Bruticus, and most of the whole Fuzor line as a result.

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