Ranking Robots is a blog dedicated to critically evaluating Transformer toys that mostly no one cares about. By which I mean: I won't be reviewing the latest figures that you might be considering buying all that often. Instead, I'm going to be lovingly reviewing all the figures in my collection, even if they're old. If you love reading Transformer reviews -- which, lord help me, I do -- then it almost doesn't matter what's being reviewed, right?
I've got a particular philosophy about these reviews. Personally, I always skim past the part where someone describes a figure, explaining elements we can clearly see in the photos, or ticking off points of articulation or boring details about accessories. I always just want to know the reviewer's opinion. How does it feel in hand? How fun is it to transform? Is it satisfying to gaze at it on your desk? How does it make you feel, dang it? FEELINGS ABOUT ROBOTS: A rejected name for this blog.
The Ranking Systems
This blog will use two, count them TWO ranking systems: One based on character, and one an overall rating of the quality of the toy.
The Character Rankings
Let's face it: Usually, when we buy a transforming robot toy, it's because we have some love for the character it represents. Often what I want to know is, how well does this toy represent that character? In my head, this is the rating system I use:
Best Imaginable - This isn't literal, obviously, because technically imagination is infinite. But "best imaginable" means that you can't realistically imagine a figure ever being produced that is significantly better than this figure at representing this character. If this were the last version of this character ever produced, that would be fine, because it is basically perfect.
Best Available - While there's room for improvement here, this is pretty concretely the best, or tied for the best, version of this character ever produced. This used to be a lot more common back before there were 700 third party companies making Masterpiece-Alikes.
Worthy Tribute - This may not be the best around, but it's a damn fine version of the character. If you are cool with having multiple versions of a character, this is a fine thing to own. Often given to great main-line CHUG versions of characters that are good at what they're trying to do even though they can't measure up to the MP crowd for accuracy or quality.
Lesser Option - There are just more compelling versions of this character than this, even at this size and general price point.
Half-Assed Likeness - Oh, yeah, I guess that does sorta look like Smokescreen. Cool?
Overall Grading System
I'll be using a letter-grade system as follows:
A: The best of the best. Every Transformer fan should at least consider owning this, even if they're not that interested in the concept, because it's that damn good.
B: An excellent execution of the concept. Not flawless, but does a lot more right than wrong. If you're even a little interested in the concept, go ahead and buy it.
C: Filler toys. These are fine figures to own, but not elite. You probably won't regret adding these toys to your collection, but you also won't be missing much if you pass them.
D: Disappointing toys. Flawed in some serious way, you're better off passing on these unless you just can't help yourself.
F: You know that look on Ultra Magnus' face when he's trying to open the Matrix, but the damn thing won't budge, and he's all like, "Damnit, Prime, I thought you said this thing was more than a shiny chest ornament?!", and then instead of getting it to work he falls down and dies? That's what an F is like. Yes, I am saying the Matrix was an F toy. Come at me.