Movies / Comics To Film News

Top 10 Transformers’ Controversies

By Hervé St-Louis
May 7, 2012 - 12:33


The Transformers have a rabid fan base and a lot of history covering nearly 30 years of depiction in toys, comics, cartoons and film. With many different continuities, there are a lot of points about the history of the Transformers that can create a lot of animosity between fans. I’m sure this article, even if it seeks to inform and entertain will be as controversial as anything else. People will argue about our rankings and will certainly point out some important controversies we’ve forgotten. Well, that’s the whole point of this article! Enjoy.

10-Megatron’s Origin

* Constructicons created Megatron. Apparently, Hauler was one of them - the traitor

This one pertains to the Generation One animated continuity. Who exactly created Megatron, leader of the Decepticons? In one episode from the first season, Megatron says that he recently created the Constructicons. In another episode, it’s mentioned that the Constructicons, of which there were more than six, created Megatron so he could lead the Decepticons. So we’re faced with a chicken and an egg situation here. So who exactly came first? My answer; the Constructicons have created Megatron to lead them and the other Decepticons. However, the sparks of the Decepticons had been preserved without bodies when they arrived on Earth on the Nemesis spaceship. Megatron and his Decepticons simply created new Earth bodies for the Constructicons but ran out of material for the extra ones missing!

9-Which Autobot Died During the Movie

We see a body, so we know he's dead

Until recently, I never k new that this one was even a controversy but apparently it is. We all know that six Autobots died besides Optimus Prime in the Transformers 1986 movie. We clearly saw Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl, Brawn, Wheeljack and Windcharger die or we saw their lifeless bodies. But apparently a bunch of other Autobots also died that day when the Decepticons attacked. Some say Mirage, Bluestreak, Hound, Sunstreaker, Huffer, Smokescreen,  Beachcomber, and many more died that day but off-screen. Apparently the original script of the movie called for the death of nearly all of the first generation of Autobot except for jazz, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. Some of the Autobots named in that list were with Optimus Prime as he was about to take on Megatron for their last fight. Sunstreaker and Hound were both piloting the ship with him before the Dinobots attacked Devastator. They certainly didn’t die. My take on this is simple. Just like in comics, if there’s no body, they’re all alive and well living off their retirement on a nice island with Elvis.

8-Who is Hauler?

Hauler looked much like Grapple

In the first episode of the Transformers’ cartoon called More than meets the eyes, Hound falls off a cliff and has to be rescued by Ratchet and a yellow mechanical arm that looked liked it belong to Autobot Grapple. Over the years, some have said that this “Hauler” which Cliffjumper thanked, was another unseen Autobot similar to Grapple. Here’s my take. This was actually just a piece of equipment and not a full Autobot like Grapple. Ratchet had access to a lot of technology and gear in his lab. This was just one of them. It could even have been spare parts from Grapple who had actually travelled to Earth and crashed at the same time as the other Autobots as suggested in the first Marvel Comics series but had not been reactivated yet.

7-Red Bumblebee / Yellow Cliffjumper

red Bumblebee, yellow Cliffjumper - Source: Ebay

This one I thought had been resolved for years but may be controversial to this day. Way back when the first Transformers toys were introduced, Some Bumblebee toys were painted red and some Cliffjumper toys were painted yellow. Or something like that. It’s tough to keep track of these things. Maybe they were just packaged with the wrong information. The early toys were a heaven of badly packaged goods as they were made in Japan. Some even claim that some Japanese variants made it to North America. It’s hard to figure out actually. One thing for sure, there are red Bumbebees and yellow Cliffjumpers. There are also rumours of blue Bluestreaks but that’s another story for another time.

6-Skyfire vs Jetfire

Model sheets for Jetfire and Skyfire

OK, that one is easy to figure out and should not even be in contention but some fans still have preferences over one name above the other and that we can’t really decide for them. To each his own. The controversy originated when the big white Autobot jet in early Transformers episodes and comics that was called Jetfire in comics and toys, and Skyfire in the cartoon. They were the same guys although they didn’t have the same personalities. It’s something to do with toy maker Takara not wanting to promote the toy of a competitor in Japan which was modelled after the Valkyrie aircraft from Macross/Robotech (I just dumped Macross and Robotech together – now I’m asking for trouble from another hardcore fanbase). Hasbro, the American license of the toys picked early Transformers models from many manufacturers such as Diaclone and Takara. Anyway, the cartoon version of the big white jet guy was modified to be different from the Valkyrie toy and renamed. I think Skyfire has more punch than Jetfire, but I really don’t care much about one name or another. Since he appeared more often in the comic book and that his toy was called Jetfire, I guess Jetfire is how we should call him.

5-Did Spike Swear?

Stop swearing Spike

Again the original Transformers’ animated movie from 1986. Apparently Spike, the trusted Autobot human sidekick swears in one scene. I can’t verify. I don’t recall it. Maybe he did. Who gives a f****. Oh by the way, talking about Spike is my way of hinting at the Spike versus Sam debate from the comics and the film. Spike used to be his name in the cartoon but the comics called him Sam. The film called him Sam too. Recent comic books have established that they both exist but are brothers. That’s a cop out.

4-Elita One vs Alita One

It's Elite One

That one is nasty. Was Optimus Prime’s Autobot girlfriend seen in the generation one animated cartoon called Elita one or Alita One? I’ll go for the proper spelling and say she was called Elita One. Some recent comic books try to settle the issue for fans but the guesses of their writers and editors are as good as anyone’s.

3-Frenzy vs Rumble

If you say Rumble is on the left and Frenzy is on the right and vice versa you're both right!

That one should have been settled years ago as another toy screw up. I once met a real hardcore Transformers’ fan who got really angry when I made the mistake of inverting the names of the two Decepticon brothers that live inside Soundwave’s chest. In the cartoon series, Rumble was the purple one Decepticon humoid cassette. The blue and red humanoid cassette was Frenzy which we didn’t get to see too often. In the toys and comics, it was the opposite and the colours didn’t really match the cartoon anyway. I kind of like Rumble as the purple one and Frenzy as the blue and red one. I know I’m committing heresy but I’ll keep referring to them like that. Cartoon nostalgia rules over toy and comics evidence.

2-Who was reformatted as Scourge and Cyclonus?

Is Cyclonus a jet or a bug?

Now, this is one major question about which dead character came back from the dead and was given a second lease on life. This is from the cartoon movie, of course. Here it is. In the movie, after the death and ejection of Megatron’s damaged soldiers from Astrotrain by Starscream, the rejected Decepticons are retrieved by the giant planet known as Unicron. Unicron offers Megatron to reform his troops and himself as new Decepticons. Of course Megatron is reformatted as Galvatron. No one debates that. They don’t even debate how much he remembers from his Megatron days. But the Insecticons and two of the original Decepticons seekers, Skywarp and Thundercracker are all reformatted into new Decepticons. Apparently, Thundercracker is reformatted as Scourge, the leader of the Sweeps. Two Insecticons are also reformatted as sweeps. The problem comes with who was reformatted as Cyclonus. The cartoon clearly shows that it was an Insecticon. But another soldier behind him, who was probably Skywarp also has the same Cybclonus shape is reformatted as well. Because the Insecticons are not popular, many fans like to say that Thundercracker and Skywarp were both reformatted respectively as Scourge and Cyclonus, even if the cartoon shows that this is not exactly the case. Cyclonus is a former Insecticon. Don’t ask which one, which one (did you catch that?).  I too am not a fan of the Insecticons. I think they make good fodder as sweeps. But then again Skywarp and Thundercracker barely had any personalities themselves. They let Starscream take the entire spotlight and were only good to fight Autobots and lose. I mean, they looked good as background characters. But that question really can’t be answered here as there is an even more important debate related to that.

1-Cyclonus and his Armada

The armada

Yeah, the same scene that introduced Galvatron’s new troops also screwed in another way. It mentioned Cyclonus’ armada – which was one guy – Skywarp being transformed as a clone and never to be seen again except for one brief scene. Animation errors sure permeated the Transformers’ cartoon. Was the armada the assembled sweeps with Scourge and the Cyclonus clone? Or, as many have suggested, the armada was actually one guy called Armada that looked like Cyclonus? Well, an armada usually refers to a group not one guy. We also see the number of sweeps increasing thereafter while the Cyclonus clone disappears. In all there would be four sweeps including Scourge and one Cyclonus. That’s about what an armada would look like, right? I say it was an animation error. There are three sweeps, Scourge who is shaped like a sweep and one Cyclonus. Scourge directly leads the sweeps. Cyclonus leads the whole bunch of them. We didn’t really see Cyclonus lead them in the movie, but in the following third season, he did lead them as his personal army. There is no Decepticon called Armada. The armada is just that four sweeps and one Cyclonus.


And that’s it for the top 10 most controversial Transformers topic. The common thread is that there were a lot of errors in the cartoons and the early toys released. The comic book was pleasantly consistent. But there are so many versions and continuities that it’s easy to get confused. A lot of it has to do with some fans seeing one version as being the cannon version above the other ones. The recent comic books and toys are clearer than ever and errors rarely creep in anymore. But the just being able to notice these errors is what makes being a Transformers’ fan such a joy.

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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