2020: What could be next? (Part 2)

Welcome back, we’re counting down the list of likely characters that might show up in Transformers TCG next year. Part 1 covered #20-#11, now we’re covering the rest… and a few honourable mentions that snuck past.

Quick reminder of some guidelines for the list:

  • Original Generation 1 Toyline only.
  • No IDW original characters.
  • No cartoon-only characters.
  • No characters from other series.
  • No characters that only appeared in particular countries.

Got that? Great!

Note: Several days after I finished writing and editing this article, two videos (Really Dicey and Vector Sigma, probably even more by time of publication) have come out stating that Wave 5 is a ‘throwback’ set, similar to how Rise of the Combiners was.

First up, those honourable mentions…

HONOURABLE MENTION
JUMP STARTERS

(Topspin and Twintwist)

Imagine my surprise whilst editing this article and sorting photography when I realised… I had managed to not include the bloody Jump Starters. How did they manage to miss the cut?

Topspin and Twintwist were two of the worst toys in the ’80s. They had little movement, and an extremely simple one-step transformation. They always seem to be that toy that everyone had but nobody liked; they were often discounted and on sale even back in the day.

That could have been because neither character appeared in the cartoon; but like Roadbuster and Whirl they did get to be in the Wreckers in the Marvel comics, and had a memorable appearance in Nick Roche’s Last Stand of the Wreckers mini-series. Both have seen toys in the Titans Return toyline, which were far better received than their originals. Seriously, if you get a chance, pick up Topspin, he’s amazing.

The obvious existing counterparts in the card game right now are Runabout and Runamuck; but with their interesting alt-modes (a drill tank and a … spaceship?), these two could probably prove more interesting.

HONOURABLE MENTION
RODIMUS PRIME

I mean, I guess he is different from Hot Rod. I guess.

Maybe.

*shrugs*

Okay, now back to the list…

#10
WRECK-GAR and GNAW

Wreck-Gar is one of the most well remembered characters from The Transformers: The Movie. He was voiced by the amazing Eric Idle, had funny snappy dialogue, and most of his scenes were accompanied by Weird Al’ Yankovic (who later voiced him in Transformers: Animated).

Meanwhile, Gnaw isn’t really a character, so much as he is a given name for a generic Sharkticon; a group that in themselves are quite memorable for their antics in the movie.

Both of these characters have had toys in the last few years, and Gnaw was even part of a public vote for a toy in the upcoming Earthrise toyline. Gnaw is particularly noteworthy in that he is often seen as an army-builder character – the kind of toy you buy multiples of to form a giant mass of bodies for your other toys to fight against. The thing is, neither are really Autobot or Decepticon, being members of the Junkion and Quintisson factions respectively.

… but Wave 4 introduced mercenaries, so the chances of outsider characters sneaking into the game has gone up considerably. In fact, Wreck-Gar wouldn’t even be the first Junkion in the game – because Detritus got there first. As for Gnaw, the development team have hinted at possible ‘army building’ characters in interviews, and Gnaw (or the Sharkticons in general) would be a great candidate for such a character card.

Image
Picture courtesy of Tankhunter48

#9
SKYLYNX

When you’re a kid, you’d have lots of various different toys from different toylines and rather than just play with one toyline at a time, you’d grab toys from all sorts of different places and smash them all together, creating these insane narratives where Star Wars characters fight off Battle Beasts and He-Man before being stomped on by Go-Bots.

… which I guess would be some of the appeal of a character like Sky Lynx, a transformer comprised of a shuttle and… cargo crawler? that turns into a… lynx? and some sort of bird thing? Clearly this kind of character didn’t fit in with the rest of the Transformers line, but because Transformers was lots of different toylines taken from Japan and fused together to form one thing, you’d end up with weirdness like Sky Lynx. He is obviously a fan favourite, rumoured to get a new toy next year in Earthrise (his Combiner Wars toy isn’t popular), and would make an excellent addition to the card game.

He could work in many different ways too; personally I’d like to see him implemented as some sort of combiner-type character, but he could work like a duo-con just as well.

#8
REMAINING TARGETMASTERS

(Misfire, Slugslinger, Point Blank, Sureshot, Quake, Landfill, Quickmix, Scoop, and so on…)

Both Wave 3 and 4 of the Transformers TCG gave us Battlemasters, Transformers that had no alt mode but instead transformed into an upgrade on death. These waves also gave us a few of the original companion bots – in particular it gave us Spinister and Crosshairs (both of whom have toys in the Siege line), as well as the surprising inclusions of Needlenose and Triggerhappy.

There’s plenty of original targetmasters still to appear in the game – the most famous might be Misfire, the targetmaster originally bonded with Aimless. Misfire appeared frequently in the comic series More than Meets the Eye, up to various misadventures including playing the shooting game Shoot Shoot Bang Bang (which is where this site takes its name). A toy for Misfire was released a few years ago in the Titans Return toyline along with Triggerhappy, and other Decepticon targetmasters Quake and Slugslinger (original companion for Caliburst).

The Autobot targetmasters haven’t been as fortunate with toys; only Scoop has seen a toy release recently, and even that was about five years ago. Whether we’ll see the likes of Point Blank or Sureshot soon, in either toy or card form, is a good question.

#7
PERCEPTOR

Card games attract a certain type of person, quite often kids who grew up being ‘the smart one’, maybe coping with being the weird nerdy one in their group of friends. The Autobots had a character just like that, who had a regular role in the second season of the original cartoon and got a fairly hefty supporting role in the movie when few other second season characters did. It’s not surprising that he is often a favourite for many adult Transformers fans.

Perceptor is a scientist – because he is a scientist, he turns into a scientific instrument; a microscope. In fact, he turns into a working microscope. Later versions of the character, like the one released as part of Titans Return, also turn into working microscopes.

Like cameras and boomboxes, a microscope is a bit of an awkward alt mode so maybe it can have some sort of interesting feature to it. Perceptor has had other alt modes – like a jeep at one point – and in the IDW comics the character of Perceptor has gone from every day scientist to bad-ass sniper (see the art from Last Stand of the Wreckers used in the card Inverted). Whatever they inevitably do with Perceptor, he’s likely to be a popular character with fans.

#6
MINI BOTS

(Brawn, Gears, Huffer, Windcharger, Beachcomber, Powerglide, Seaspray, Hubcap, Outback, Pipes, Swerve, Tailgate, Wheelie)

The original toyline was built around two Japanese toylines – Diaclone and Microman, both of which included robots that turned into cars and other vehicles. The thing was, Diaclone were meant to turn into actual cars, whilst Microman were robots that turned into… toy cars, at 1:1 scale. These toys weren’t meant to sit next to each other; but Hasbro decided that they’d be in the same toyline, where the truck Huffer was somehow far tinier than the jeep Hound. These characters are often referred to as mini bots, and include some of the most well known characters in the series, such as Bumblebee and Cliffjumper.

Despite being fairly noteworthy characters, very few of the mini bots have made it to the card game. Bumblebee obviously has a staggering six different cards (with two further reprints released as store promo and collector’s edition cards), but beyond that we’ve only seen Cliffjumper, Warpath and Cosmos. We’ve yet to see fan favourites like Powerglide, Brawn, Tailgate, Swerve, Pipes or Seaspray. Although people probably would prefer to wait longer for Wheelie.

Look to see more of these characters slip into future waves, filling the gaps in those Autobot ranks.

#5
SIXSHOT

From completely reasonable expectations… to just one that we all want to see realised just to learn how the hell they’d make it work.

I remember being amazed the first time I saw Sixshot advertised on TV. He didn’t just have an alt mode, he didn’t just have three forms like a triple-changer… he could turn into six different things! Amazing!

Of course, what I didn’t realise is that all of those alt modes were a bit naff, but still Sixshot was kind of cool and badass, and whilst the Titans Return version of the toy continues to have terrible alt-modes, the general look of the bot mode is still really cool. There’s been a few other six-changers over the years (Quickswitch and Greatshot), but Sixshot is the only one we really care about.

Still have no idea how he’d work. Other than being a cube. Try packing that in your card case.

#4
SCORPONOK / FORTRESS MAXIMUS

With Wave 4 we saw the introduction of pack-in large character cards with booster boxes; letting us know that whilst the first Titan-class character (Metroplex) had his own starter set, large characters could end up being featured in all kinds of ways. Suddenly the doors were open for new large characters!

Enter Scorponok and Fortress Maximus, two Titan-class characters. Whilst depicted in the comics as regular size, in the cartoon they were monstrous former Hive cities. These two followed in the footsteps of Metroplex and Trypticon as giant transformers that turned into bases for the rest of their allies. However, both had third modes – Scorponok, naturally, turned into a giant scorpion where’s Fortress Maximus – amusingly called Spaceship Bruce in the dub of Japanese series Transformers Headmasters – turned into a giant spaceship.

In addition both of these characters would have support characters, including the bots that would form their heads, since they were both headmasters.

Speaking of headmasters…

#3
HEADMASTERS

(Brainstorm, Chromedome, Hardhead, Highbrow, Mindwipe, Weirdwolf, Skullcruncher, Snapdragon, and many more)

In 1987, the Transformers toyline introduced the headmasters, a group of transformers who had removable heads; the heads then turned into little people who could pilot the transformer in alt mode and…

… look. Headmasters are my JAM. I LOVE headmasters. I watched The Rebirth – the final three episodes of the original Transformers cartoon – a lot as a kid, and quickly fell in love with the characters, especially sketchy inventor Brainstorm (who is still probably my favourite character today). Both him and Chromedome – who is the leader of the group in the Japanese Transformers Headmasters cartoon (not recommended viewing) – have major roles in the amazing More Than Meets the Eye comic. Hardhead, the Autobot military tank guy, also shows up in the comics a lot supporting Optimus Prime, whilst the evil Decepticon bat Mindwipe is often seen supporting Galvatron when he takes over the Decepticons in Robots in Disguise. Oh, and in the comics, the headmaster Skullcruncher (who turns into a crocodile) becomes a successful touring comedian. The comics get super weird.

Headmasters by their very nature would have to add a new mechanic to the game; so if they were to appear, they would no doubt take centre stage. A ‘Titans Return’ wave could see them alongside many of the other characters mentioned in this list that have had Titans Return counterparts (Perceptor, Topspin, Twintwist, Broadside, a whole host of triple-changers, targetmasters, and even weird stuff like Sixshot). The classic Decepticon headmasters are all animals, so their introduction could see lots of Beast-support, buffing the under-powered Apeface from Wave 4; oh, and maybe we could also see Apeface‘s headmaster partner Spasma (yeah, I know) as well?

Headmasters would arguably be the largest and most meaningful inclusion in a future wave, without going outside of Generation 1.

But there’s a few characters that might be in more demand…

#2
BRUTICUS and DEFENSOR

(Combaticons: Onslaught, Swindle, Brawl, Vortex, Blast-Off and Protectobots: Hot Spot, Blades, First Aid, Streetwise, Groove and/or Rook)

Wave 2 was all about combiners, introducing several major combiner teams… but it excluded quite a few notable ones. We already mentioned the lack of Terrorcons and Technobots, but two of the most well known teams were also excluded: the Protectobots, forming Defensor, and the Combaticons, forming the mighty Bruticus.

Defensor is probably the least well remembered of the Scramble City era combiner teams, not really getting much screen time in the original cartoon; although it did produce break out star First Aid (who went on to have a significant role in the More Than Meets the Eye comic). Bruticus, though, is extremely well remembered. A combiner team formed by Starscream, they were part of a plot to overthrow Megatron – naturally it didn’t go well, because, well, its Starscream. It didn’t stop the Combaticons trying again, this time without Starscream, and only being stopped by a combined team-effort between the Autobots and the Decepticons.

One character in particular, Swindle, would make a name for himself with several solo appearances in the Transformers Animated cartoon, and was something of a recurring trouble-maker in the IDW comic series Robots in Disguise. The whole team would get a lot more focus in another IDW title, Til All Are One.

Both are beloved teams for many reasons; one would hope that when we finally see them in the game, they’ll be front and centre in any resulting meta, just like Superion before them.

And finally, arguably the most expected characters of all …

#1
GALVATRON, CYCLONUS and SCOURGE

I’ve been running a Transformers TCG guessing game each wave for a year now and I can confirm that with the exception of last wave, Galvatron has been overwhelmingly the character everyone thinks will appear the most every single wave. Cyclonus is not far off (and Scourge not behind him). Somehow it never happens.

I don’t think any of these need too much introduction – they are the bad guys in The Transformers: The Movie, and they continued to be the main villains in the cartoon’s subsequent seasons. Galvatron continues to reappear in main villain roles when Megatron is either dead or off elsewhere; whilst Cyclonus has become something of a cult favourite thanks to his key role in the More Than Meets the Eye comic series.

Scourge has less focus, but thanks to his Sweeps – a group of clones he can order around – he could bring a very interesting dynamic to the game.

We’re long overdue these three. Rumour has it that the development team have been holding them back for a set that is focused around them, but who knows when that’ll be? Surely we’ll see them before we see more action master partners, right?

So many characters still to come!

Whatever happens with the game in 2020, it’s clear there’s still plenty of characters to show up in the game just within Generation 1 alone. With plenty of cameos likely from other toylines, cartoons and comics, it would seem like there’s plenty of characters to feature before we see yet another Bumblebee or Optimus Prime.

… but we’ll probably get those as well.

We’ll have to see what happens when they announce Wave 5.

Until next time.

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