[Throwback Thursday] Top 10 Freedom Defending Autobots/Cybertrons

For today’s top 10 character list, we are covering the Top 10 Freedom Defending Autobots (or Cybertrons in the Japanese version) from the legendary Transformers series. I know what some of you readers are thinking, Transformers? An anime? Of course, there are some debates amongst fans of anime and Transformers in which this series that has served as an immortal toy line qualifies as an anime.

In considerations that its origins are influenced by Takara’s Diaclone and Microman (exclusively sold in Japan in the early 1980s), contributions from Toei studios, and that the original first generation animated series continuing exclusively in Japan with Scrambled City, Headmasters, Victory, and Zone, it’s very difficult to deny this series as not just a Japanese anime series, but a very distinct one that the west helped expand.

With the franchise still alive thanks to newer animated series from Japan such as Micron and Superlink (renamed as Armada and Energon respectively for its western releases), and the controversial but financially successful movie series by the infamous Michael Bay, it continues to transcend generations. And for the past 30 years, some of these characters representing out heroes, the Autobots, and/or Cybertrons have played a part in contributing to the legacy of this series all over the world whether it would be in animated, toy, or live action form.

So let's roll out for Today’s 10 ten list countdown of the Freedom Defending Autobots.

10. Rodimus Prime/Rodimus Convoy

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Though originally named Hot Rod, due to copyright reasons in relation to the word Hot Rod, the character’s name has been changed to simply Rodimus in his original form, or whenever he assumes the Matrix, he would become Rodimus Prime or Rodimus Convoy in the Japanese version. Rodimus originally makes his debut in the 1986 movie and he’s just a regular Autobot/Cybertron. But after being chosen by The Matrix of Leadership, Rodimus would become Rodimus Prime and would serve as the leader until Optimus Prime’s resurrection.

As his original namesake suggests, he is rather rash and tends to act without thinking at times despite his best of intentions. One example is when he noticed the Decepticons (or the Destrons in the Japanese version) had taken over a shuttle, he immediately attacks without warning the others (giving Cupp/Char the misassumption he was attacking recklessly).

Thanks to The Matrix containing the accumulated wisdom of previous leaders, Rodimus matures and grows into his leadership role despite feeling he will always be in the shadow of Optimus. While Optimus has more of a paternal role as a leader, Rodimus approaches his role as more of a big brother and allows him to have more of an equal relationship with the Autobots/Cybertrons.

In the Japanese exclusive Headmasters season, Convoy’s resurrection would be short and his sacrifice to save Vector Sigma, the mainframe of the home planet of Cybertron (or Seibertron in Japanese), Rodimus once again assumes leadership of keeping peace throughout the universe only to surrender leadership to Fortress Maximus as a recognition of his superior experience and wisdom in leadership.


9. Twincast

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Twincast is the upgraded form of Blaster/Broadcast in the Japanese Headmasters series. After a hard one-on-one battle with Soundwave, his evil counterpart in the Antarctic, Broadcast would shut down and his mini-cassette bots (along with Wheelie and Daniel) would mourn for his passing. Thankfully, the Cybertrons bring him back to life as Twincast (as the Destrons upgraded Soundwave to Soundblaster).

His design is pretty much the same as his original form but is repainted as blue as opposed to red, his original color as Broadcast. Though he is back more powerful than ever, Twincast retains his role, memories and his personality as Broadcast. He maintains his upbeat outlook and his love for music and continues to serve as the intelligence and communications officer for the Cybertrons.


8. Bumblebee

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One popular mainstay throughout all incarnations of the Transformers franchise is Bumblebee, who transforms into a Volkswagen. Due to being one of the smallest regular Cybertrons/Autobots (appropriately excluding the cassette bots), he is normally seen as weak and useless by friend and foe alike. Due to his much smaller stature, he easily befriends Sparkplug and Spike and tends to find himself in trouble whenever he hangs out with Spike. But whatever he lacks in size, he makes up with in spark.

In some instances, his size has been an advantage in getting out of traps and for simple reconnaissance missions. However, he wouldn't be able to seek his recognition as more of an adult figure when he was upgraded as Goldbug after the effects a Hate Plague on his body. The redesign allowed gave him stronger armor and a more mature look. Thanks to the re-design, his peers took him more seriously as an equal.


7. Jazz

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Ranking in at lucky 7 is the stylish Porsche 935 transforming Jazz. Jazz serves as one of the top-ranking officers of the Cybertrons/Autobots with Ironhide and Prowl. In the English version, he tends to talk in a jive-like manner from the 70s as a reflection of how he likes to keep things cool. He never panics and is flexible to all of his surroundings.

In addition to his respective leadership skills, he is also a genius inventor. In one episode, he managed to avoid being brainwashed by the Destrons/Decepticons due to a sound system he invented with Sparkplug. His personality allows him to easily accumulate to re-starting life on Earth and easily start a kinship with Sparkplug, one of the first humans the Cybertrons/Autobots befriends. And if there is one thing that Jazz loves from Earth and would make him fun for parties, it’s his love for music.


6. Star Saber

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If there is any Cybertron/Autobot leader that could ever live up to the legacy of Convoy/Optimus Prime, it would most certainly be the leader of the Brainmasters from Transformers Victory, Star Saber. Star Saber has the ability to transform into a Cybertronian jet. Since the series takes place far in the future where Transformers no longer need to disguise themselves as modern vehicles, Star Saber retains his original vehicle mode whenever he transforms.

In addition to having Prime’s combat prowess and charisma, he also exhibits the wisdom of Fortress Maximus knowing where and when to fight. Many of his natural qualities are attributed to not just him but the entire Brainmasters force due to their brainpower. At times, he has personality clashes with Victory Leo but thankfully his wisdom is capable of convincing him of seeing the bigger picture of what’s at stake. Along with Victory Leo, they can combine to form Victory Saber.


5. Victory Leo

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Victory Leo is the remodeled Ginrai, an Autobot/Cybertron sub-commander whose design bears a strong resemblance to the iconic Optimus Prime/Convoy. Ginrai, in turn, was first introduced in Super-God Masterforce, who was a Japanese youth who got his hands on a Transtector, or robot body that a human consciousness can fuse with. Ginrai’s Transtector just happened to be a body based on the legendary leader himself. But what leads to his upgrade as Victory Leo is when Ginrai was killed by Deathsaurus’ canon, his body was damaged beyond repair but thanks to Star Saber’s new medical methods, he came back better than ever as Victory Leo.

As Victory Leo, he could transform into a lion but the effects made him more wild and feral as a real lion, which caused consequential tension with the other Cybertrons, most notably Star Saber who he can fuse with to become Victory Saber where their combined abilities amplify. But thankfully, his strength and courage is always a great asset in the long war against the Destrons.


4. Metroplex

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After the events of the animated Transformers movie with Autobot City destroyed by a Decepticon/Destron attack, the Autobots/Cybertrons rebuild it as a Transformer itself named Metroplex. Due to being a transforming base, he is probably one of the biggest Autobots/Cybertrons there are to the point that combiners such as Devastator are ants compared to him. The only one capable of combating him is the transforming city/dinosaur, Trypticon/Dinosaurer.

As the war between the two Cybertronians factions spreader across the galaxy and to many planets after the year 2005, Metroplex assumed leadership of the Earth faction of the Autobots/Cybertrons. Unfortunately, sometimes one’s biggest strength can be one’s biggest weakness. Due to his size and his function as a base, he needs to be heavily protected by the other Autobots/Cybertrons from any damage. But get him in robot mode, and everything to him is road kill.


3. Fortress Maximus

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In the Headmasters series, Fortress Maximus (or Fortress for short) is the leader of the Cybertron Headmasters. In addition, Fortress is an old friend of Charr (or Kup in the English version) and they go millions and millions of years back. As a headmaster, he is a smaller variety of Cybertronians who transform into heads that fuse into the bodies of regular Cybertronians. As for Fortress, his head form fuses with a giant space ship.

Due to literally being the head of the ship that he is connected to, he also performs all of the ship's functions such as navigation and fighting. Due to being able to transform into a spaceship that houses regular Transformers who are already giants compared to regular humans, whenever Fortress transforms into the robot mode with his spaceship, he naturally towers over the other transformers and is capable of withstanding the offensive capabilities of combiners.

In addition to his combative capabilities, he demonstrates capable leadership based on his experiences of helping his fellow Headmasters in their own home world and gave Daniel the courage to take a mission on blowing up a meteor that was deadly to everything that is a robot. Within the events of Headmasters when the Destrons wanted to pursue a new resource on their home planet of Seibertron, Rodimus wanted to go all out attack, but Fortress thought it was too dangerous. After being proven right when it cost them their home world, Rodimus admitting to his failures surrendered leadership of the Cybertrons to Fortress.


2. Grimlock

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Before heading into number one, we need to cover the leader of the Dinobot faction of the Autobots/Cybertrons himself, Grimlock. Due to the Dinobots being intentionally constructed to emulate real dinosaurs, they would consequently have low intelligence and Grimlock would speak with a speech impediment. He may not have the smarts, but he has the strength and spirit to help the Autobots save the day and as the series progresses, he also shows that he is capable of having a heart (or in their case, a spark). Though a significant portion of his use tends to be for comedic relief, there have been moments that he saves the universe from doom. In one episode, he accidentally received genius intelligence but he sacrifices it to make Computron, the combined form of the Technobots to become sentient.

His greatest accomplishment turns out to be a pure coincidence and feels that sometimes having simple brains can be useful. In the end of the original G1 series in the battle against Tornedron (created by Primacron, also the creator of Unicron), a being of pure energy, Grimlock simply beats him pulling a reverse switch that would in turn reverse Tornedron’s energy thus saving the universe.

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1. Optimus Prime/Convoy

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At number one, we cannot deny the face of the franchise, Optimus Prime, or Convoy in the Japanese version. A significant portion of the character’s appeal is the charismatic performance of Peter Cullen in the English version of the 1984 series, who would later reprise the role for the live-action series. Thanks to his recasting, many long time fans became open to the movie’s debut in 2007. In the Japanese version, the equally charismatic Genda Tessho portrays him. Both bring performances that equally capture the commanding and yet compassionate side of the character. Complimenting his leadership is his infinite wisdom. Many of his subordinates come across as young and brash so he also serves as a father figure to many of the Autobots, most especially Bumblebee.

His design and size also solidify his position within the Autobots/Cybertrons, and his abilities on the battlefield are wonderfully put on display, most notably when he took on the Decepticons/Destrons and Megatron in the 1986 movie. However, his number one moment that hit the fans was his death in the 1986 animated movie that actually got parents sending angry letters to Hasbro. Thankfully, he was brought back later to assume leadership but would also once again be sacrificed in the beginning of the Japanese exclusive Headmasters. Either way, many western fans feel without Prime, there is no Transformers which is why he is number one.

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Final Thoughts

As you read this article, some of you may ask, why did they resurrect/upgrade Soundwave and Blaster in Headmasters and not Prime? The answer is simple, and that is to sell toys. The reason for killing off Prime and a number of other characters in the 1986 movie were simply because they weren't going to produce those toys anymore and make way for a new line.

In the 1980s, both the US and Japan would use animated series as glorified commercials for toys (Macross would pave way for this in Japan as He-Man would in the US) but the death of Optimus Prime made companies realize that their characters have more value than just to be sold off the shelves. Fans of all ages alike identify with the father-like qualities of Optimus Prime, which is why his death is still talked about to this very day. The fact that robotic characters such as those listed within the Autobot faction have touched our hearts and taught us human values such as respecting life and valuing freedom are why the series continues to be a success for the past thirty years.

For some of you readers that are Transformers fans (young and old alike), what do you think? Who are some of your favorite Autobots/Cybertrons that fight for our freedom? If you got a list, share yours in the comments.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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