Copied from my thread at the Allspark:
We've got 10 days left in the year. While some releases are still squeaking out - like Legends Soundwave & Wheelie, and NEST Dirge and his wavemates - I figured we could go ahead and discuss what makes the grade in this pretty special year for Transformers.
Best overall Transformer: ROTF Leader Optimus Prime. Masterpiece-level engineering for ~40 dollars. Manages to improve in every way on the 2007 mold, which I thought was absolutely great at the time. Then there's the "Buster" versions, too.
Best ROTF (overall): Tie: Human Alliance Bumblebee and Skids. These guys manage to perfect the Alternators formula and at the same time adapt it to a very non-G1 aesthetic. The humans are a great throw-in, as is "Arcee." Bumblebee in particular gets everything right that the very expensive "Ultimate" mold doesn't.
Best Animated toy: Not many options this year, but Samurai Prowl. It shows what a remold with thought can do. It's a great toy even without the armor, managing to be worth owning in addition to the armor-less original mold. The [i]only[/i] fault is the neutered shurikens. much better sidecar than ROTF Arcee, too.
-Runner up: Electrostatic Soundwave. First - we finally get an official Soundblaster deco released in America (Titanium SB was cancelled, of course). 2nd - great new instrument/minion - Ratbat as a keytar! How many of us bought this for Ratbat alone? Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he's about 100x more interesting/exciting than his wavemate Freeway Jazz.
Best Robot Hero: Jetpower Prime (from the Battle of the Fallen set). Best-looking ROTF Optimus RH, even though he's gotten quite a few new molds. Plus, it's (so far) the only way to get RH Jetfire, even if he is dead. Runner-up: the Fallen. Big, well-detailed, and in proper colors.
Ok, size class breakdown:
Best Legends class: ROTF Mudflap. Sure, his bot mode is a bit of a cardboard stand-up, but the transformation (especially the method of differentiating the hands) is really fun/innovative. And there's just something about that Trax mode - it's so damn cute. Plus, he was really hard to avoid, showing up barely altered in 2(!) exclusive sets.
-Runner up: ROTF Jetfire (Kmart repaint) - decent SR-71 mode in a real-world alternate deco, plus really good bot mode. Additionally, first super-mode buddy for Prime at the legends scale.
Best Scout class: ROTF Ransack - first WWI-era plane mode! Does a great job at it, too - minimal kibble in either mode. Plus, it's actually based on a movie design (albeit one that turned into a Model-T). Great terminator aesthetic in bot mode.
-Runner up: ROTF Knock Out. He's ROTF Wasp, first of all. 2nd, he's in my favorite colors (see avatar, Lockdown, Cyb. Downshift, etc). Also, he takes the basic design of Energon Arcee (and really, therefore, Movie 2007 Arcee) and perfects it.
Best Deluxe class: Whoo, this is a tough choice. I suppose ROTF Breakaway, if only because he began as a toy I had no intentions of getting, but ended up being one of the most fun of ROTF. Also, he's on par with Cyb Thundercracker for having low jet mode kibble while being a much better toy. I even like him better than Thrust, who objectively looks nicer and has a much "cooler" head mold.
-Runner up: Sideways. Great, solid car mode, fun transformation, unique and insectile bot mode. Actually a much better toy than his counterpart, Sideswipe. Better than his repaint/remold Dead End because Dead End's head is kind of ridiculous.
Best Voyager class: ROTF Megatron. Very solid toy, not very complicated transformation, good Mech Alive gimmicks, and very dynamic bot mode. Would only be better by actually being silver, although the green's not that bad.
-Runner up: ROTF Mixmaster - best of the "true" ROTF Constructicon toys. Really nice alt mode in both color and detail, and his bot mode is a real treat in how alien it looks and the number of cool poses you can get from it. The big negative is his inability to properly use his cannon in bot or truck mode, while the "3rd mode" is totally lacking. Fan-made third modes are easy to discover, though.
Best Ultra class: Universe Predacon Bruticus. If only because there weren't many other Ultras this year, and who would have thought that RiD Bruticus would've gotten an homage repaint?
-Runner Up: Universe Powerglide (Red WM exclusive) - like TRU Reissue Soundwave from 2007, just another way of showing that sometimes you should just wait for Hasbro instead of jumping the gun and buying from Japan.
Best Leader class: ROTF Prime, for reasons seen above.
-Runner up: ROTF Jetfire. Plenty of problems, but it's had to beat that GIANT SR-71 mode. Looks great on display. Also, the combined mode with Prime is similarly massive and can be fiddled with enough to find a suitable arrangement of kibble.
Best exclusive repaint: Animated Shockwave (Target Purple version). I was originally kind of down on this toy to begin with, seeing it as a real no-brainer toy with no thought put into it, especially in contrast to the original colors (It's in Nemesis Prime/Scourge colors! Because Longarm is the bad Prime! Get it?!). But after finally getting it last month (thanks to a fellow Allsparker), it works really well in hand. Even the Longarm Prime mode looks great if you leave him with the purple Decepticon sigil. And, of course, this repaint allows you to make the most of both releases of the mold, displaying the original in Longarm Prime mode and the new one in Shockwave mode.
-Runner up: Masterpiece Skywarp (Walmart). Looks very nice - the classic Decepticon colors work on the mold a bit more slick than the 2007 MP Starscream colors do. However, he also costs 10 dollars more due to inflation (unless you lucked out and got him for 25 or 30 bucks somewhere), so that kind of stung when purchasing him. Essential part of any Skywarp/Seeker collection (unless, again, you jumped the gun and bought the Japanese release).