Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars always seem to do good business. Those tiny, free-rolling little 1:64 scale cars are everywhere and I assume they always have been. Hot Wheels and other assorted cars are some of the first toys I remember having as a kid. They’re cheap and they’re sold at grocery stores, drug stores, toy stores, and basically any retail location you can think of. They’re a perfect impulse buy toy for just about any kid.
They’re popular with adults, though, too. If you know anyone who’s worked as a retail cashier, they will tell you that they absolutely dread having a “Hot Wheels guy” come through their checkout line. These dudes sometimes yell at cashiers for even touching their toy car’s packaging or putting them in a bag too roughly. They’re dead serious about tiny toy cars.
I’m not sure how well Hot Wheels were selling in 1995, but Hasbro obviously wanted to eat at least some of Mattel’s lunch. Hot Wheels appeal to kids, serious adult collectors, and basically everyone else. So Hasbro wanted a piece of the pie.
In 1995, Hasbro released the Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots sub-line– an assortment of 1:64 cars, done in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox style, with through-axle construction that made them compatible with most Hot Wheels race tracks and accessories. They also transformed into cute little robots.
They were a pretty obscure and forgotten part of Transformers G2 until the Japanese Car Robots toy line came along, which was imported to the West as Robots in Disguise in 2001.
The original Go-Bots molds became the Spychangers for RID, which is how most people remember these fun little toys.
Today we’re going to take a look at every single Go-Bots and Spychangers mold and explore exactly what makes these cheap, simple toys so much fun. That’s right– this is another big post. So fasten your seatbelt (or don’t, I’m not a cop), pour some wine into a Diet Coke can, and get ready for a long, twisty ride.
Before we dive in, I need to note that I don’t own every single Go-Bots or Spychangers toy. I’m not even close. I do, however, own at least one version of each mold. We’ll do an overview of each “era” of Go-Bots and Spychangers, take a look at each mold as a group, and then go more in-depth on each individual toy. Below you’ll find a handy table of contents.
If you want to see every single Go-Bot and Spychanger, Transformers photographer and podcaster extraordinaire Sixo put together a four part series on these toys over at TFSource. I highly recommend checking it out, as he took stunning photos of each and every Spychanger and Go-Bot, including some very rarely seen toys. He even featured all of the various Japanese exclusives!
I’ve been working on this post for weeks (there are around 400 photos in this article), but Sixo beat me to the punch. Just consider both of our articles to be companion pieces.
On with the show.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Go-Bots and Spychangers Through the Eras
II. Go-Bot and Spychanger Molds
- Ford Truck
- Indy Car
- Stock Car
- Le Mans Car
- Police Car
- Semi Cab
- Fire Engine
- Car Carrier
III. Transformer Generation 2 Go-Bots
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Blowout
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Bumblebee
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Double Clutch
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Gearhead
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots High Beam
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Ironhide
- 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Motormouth
IV. Transformers RID Spychangers
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Crosswise
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Hot Shot
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers REV
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS
V. Transformers RID Spychangers “New Molds”
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Daytonus
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Prowl 2
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Burn
- 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Swipe
- 2002 Transformers RID Spychangers X-Brawn
VI. Transformers Universe Spychangers and RID Repaints
- 2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ironhide
- 2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage
- 2003 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime
- 2003 Transformers Car Robots Spychangers Super WARS
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ultra Magnus
- 2003 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS
VII. Transformers Universe “G1” Spychangers
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Autobot Jazz
- 2003 Transformers Universe Spychangers Hoist
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Prowl
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Silverstreak
- 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Wheeljack
So, what is a Go-Bot or a Spychanger anyway? Well, they’re basic and simple little Transformers. In vehicle mode, they’re exactly the same size as a Hot Wheels car– 1:64 scale. In robot mode, most of them are about the size of a classic Generation 1 (or 2) Mini-Vehicle. They feature through-axle construction for fast rolling and are compatible with most Hot Wheels or Matchbox race tracks and accessories.
Here are some quick size comparisons.
With a G1 Minibot and a (fairly) modern Deluxe Class toy:
With a G1 Micromaster and an ARAH GI Joe:
Spychangers and Go-Bots also came with individual weapons (for the most part), so they had a little bit more playability than a standard Minibot.
Now we’re all caught up and on the same page, so let’s take a look at each era.
Go-Bots and Spychangers Through the Eras
There are dozens of different ways to organize toy lines and toy releases, but this is the best way my tiny idiot brain could come up with.
I split Go-Bots and Spychangers into four distinct eras– the original Transformers Generation 2 Era, The Robots in Disguise (2001) Era, The RID “New Mold” Era, and the Transformers Universe Era. Since Universe contained both repaints of Spychangers characters and repaints that homaged classic G1 characters, I’ll be looking at those toys in two separate groups.
Let’s go back to the 90s and start at the beginning.
Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots
By 1995, Hasbro owned Tonka and thus owned the trademark for both “Gobots” and “Go-Bots.” To either preserve those trademarks or kick sand in Tonka’s face, Hasbro both released a Transformers Generation 2 figure named ‘Gobots’ and sub-line of small, Hot Wheels sized robots called ‘Go-Bots.’
There were three waves of Go-Bots, all released in 1995. The first wave featured six distinct molds– a pickup truck, a Porsche, a Lamborghini, a NASCAR-type stock car, an Indy-style race car, and a made-up supercar that was a straight-up ripoff of a Hot Wheels design. But more on that later. They were all brand new characters.
The next two waves were repaints of the original six molds, but rebranded as classic G1 characters (who they did not resemble at all)– Optimus Prime, Megatron, Mirage, Soundwave, Frenzy, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, and Ironhide.
There were also six new molds planned for release in 1996, but Transformers Generation 2 was canceled before the toys were released. Four out of the six didn’t stay dead forever, though.
The Go-Bots toys were an odd, forgotten part of Transformers history until they got a huge makeover in 2000 in Japan and showed up on Western store shelves in 2001.
Transformers Robots in Disguise (2001)
Transformers: Robots in Disguise is one of the best Transformers toy lines ever. But, in America at least, it was originally planned as just a stop-gap placeholder.
Beast Wars was amazingly popular in the USA and completely revitalized Transformers as a brand but by the time the sequel series Beast Machines came around, sales and overall interest were waning.
Beast Wars was never quite as popular in Japan as it was here in the US, so Takara pivoted back to something more “classic.” In 2000, they released a cartoon and a toy line called Car Robots. It was very successful.
In order to buy themselves some time to create something new (along with Takara), Hasbro imported that Japanese cartoon and toy line and called it Robots in Disguise.
RID is neat because it featured some new molds with the great articulation Beast Wars made standard, including Autobots who transformed into classic, licensed vehicle reminiscent of their 80s forbearers. The other cool thing about RID is that it featured repainted, re-released toys from every prior Transformers toy line as well. It included toys from G1, G2, Beast Wars, Machine Wars, and Beast Machines.
The Spychangers were repainted G2 Go-Bots, and were sold in affordable 2-packs, which meant kids from every income level had access to them. They were a bigger hit than their G2 counterparts had ever been. And while some did feature the names of classic G1 characters, the Spychangers were all-new characters that had fun adventures with Optimus Prime on the weekly RID cartoon series.
The original Spychangers were the six G2 molds done in drastically different color schemes.
The original six were Ironhide (pickup truck), Hot Shot (Porsche), Crosswise (supercar), Mirage (Indy car), WARS (stock car), and REV (Lamborghini).
These toys and characters would go on to be repainted approximately 2 billion times, both later in the RID line and in the Universe line.
RID “New Molds”
Robots in Disguise was imported as an easy placeholder line, but it was much more popular than Hasbro anticipated. They wanted to sell even more toys, so they had to scramble in order to expand the Takara toy line they imported.
One of the first things Hasbro did in that regard was turn back to the previously canceled, unreleased G2 Go-Bots. Hasbro released 4 out of 6 of the canceled molds (no one is quite sure what happened to the jeep and the Mercedes molds)– a police car, a souped-up Camaro, a Le Mans-style race car, and a Dodge Viper.
These toys became Side Swipe, Prowl 2, Daytonus, and Side Burn. We’ll discuss the strange intricacies of the names and characters later on.
These “new” figures also featured weapon storage in vehicle mode, which the original six molds lacked. Each figure’s gun became a “tail pipe” in car mode, and you can see them attached between each figure’s legs in the photo above.
To their credit, Hasbro also produced four entirely new RID Spychanger molds, as well.
Hasbro produced smaller versions of flagship characters Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Scourge, and X-Brawn in the smaller Spychanger scale. If you bought the small Prime, Magnus, and X-Brawn, you could team them up with the previously released Side Burn and Prowl 2 to have a very affordable approximation of the show’s main cast.
The toys released were a fire engine, a car carrier, a semi cab, and a Mercedes SUV. They all looked a good bit like their TV show counterparts, as well. They’re nicely done toys.
That’s a lot of Spychangers! But Hasbro wasn’t done with the molds just yet.
As mentioned previously, the core 6 Spychangers were repainted and redecoed many times in the RID line. They were released as both single-carded figures and in two packs (or 2Pacs, as I like to call them).
While the tail end of the RID line was still running in 2003, Hasbro released the Universe line that same year. Universe mostly consisted of repaints of older toys, which naturally meant a ton of Spychangers. Not all of the Spychanger repaints were released under the Universe banner, but they fit with the general time frame so I kind of lump them together.
The Universe line also released a team of G1-inspired repaints, which gave Hasbro one more chance to use the recently released Camaro, Le Mans, Police Car, and Viper molds. You can bet they reused their four new molds, as well.
The repaints were named Optimus Prime, Jazz, Wheeljack, Silverstreak, Hoist, and Prowl. Some of them were better homages than others, but at least the line gave kids and collectors another chance to grab both the new Spychanger molds and the previously-unreleased G2 Go-Bot molds.
Okay, now that we’ve made it through each era, it’s time to look at every single Go-Bot and Spychanger mold. The text in this section will be relatively brief.
1. Ford Truck
The Go-Bot/Spychanger pickup truck mold was first released in 1995 as Motormouth. It was repainted into Ironhide for the second wave of Go-Bots. In RID, this toy was also known as Ironhide and was released many times in many different color schemes.
This toy is a great Hot Wheels style approximation of a 90s Ford F-150. Pickup. Truck Transformers don’t usually turn out this well, mostly because they have to worry about what to do with the truck bed. At this scale, though, both the truck bed and the robot end up looking just fine.
The robot itself is quite handsome, as well. It looks mean and powerful.
The pickup truck mold’s designated weapon is a sort of assault rifle, which is unique among Transformers weapons. It looks fierce and powerful despite its small size.
The Porsche Go-Bot was originally released as Blowout in G2, and repainted into both Megatron and Frenzy in the next two waves of the toy line. In RID, it was released as Hot Shot and his many, many repaints.
In car mode, this toy looks great. It’s a fantastic representation of a Porsche 959. They even got the spoiler right. It’s a sleek, beautiful little car.
In robot mode, the toy is a bit less successful. It looks a bit too bulky and bulbous, even if the head design is pretty cool. In my opinion, this toy has the worst of the Go-Bot/Spychanger robot modes.
Its weapon is pretty cool, though. It sorts of looks like a laser submachine gun, complete with a magazine and iron sights.
3. Indy Car
The Indy car mold was first released as Double Clutch in 1995, then repainted into Mirage in a subsequent wave. It was also released as Mirage in RID, which makes sense because this is the type of race car we usually associate with G1 Mirage. All of its repaints were named Mirage, as well.
This is meant to specifically be a Lola T94 Indy Car. It looks fantastic, even if it’s not 100% accurate to the real world vehicle. But it’s close enough that a kid wouldn’t notice and it’s just a very fun design overall.
In robot mode, this mold is still a winner. Thanks to its vehicle mode design, it is the sleekest and slimmest of all of them in this mode. The head design is also very cool looking.
The weapon is another assault rifle or submachine gun type deal– I can never decide which one I think it is. I do like that it looks like it has both a magazine and a foregrip, and the rail on the top is a nice touch, as well.
This mold was originally released in TF G2 as Firecracker, and then with minimal changes as Optimus Prime. Yes, really. It was red, at least. It was repainted yellow as REV for Robots in Disguise, and received plenty of repaints both here and in Japan. I don’t have either G2 version of this mold and never found any repaints of REV, so the regular RID release is the only one we’re looking at today.
The Lamborghini Diablo is the exact car that every kid wants a poster of in their bedroom. It’s one of the coolest looking cars of all time and this little toy does it justice. It can proudly roll beside Sunstreaker and Sideswipe.
The robot mode is a little more Plain Jane, but it still looks pretty good. It looks like a generic Autobot, which is cool, but it’s the only one that has kibble behind its head, which is slightly odd.
Its weapon is also a little bit on the generic side. I do like the magazine and the big barrel, though– it looks like it really packs a punch!
This mold was first released as High Beam in 1995, and then repainted as Bumblebee shortly thereafter. In RID, it became Crosswise and his various repaints.
As far as I know, this isn’t based on any real world car. Instead, it is an exact ripoff of the Hot Wheels Speed Blaster, which you’ve probably seen a million times. It’s a really cool looking car, though, so we’ll cut Hasbro some slack on just outright fucking stealing from another huge corporation.
The robot mode looks excellent. It’s on the sleeker side for a Spychanger, but it also looks ready for some serious combat. This is my favorite Spychanger mold and I’m not even trying to hide it.
The weapon is also seriously cool. It’s a futuristic little submachine gun with a drum magazine that makes it look like some kind of Space Tommy Gun. I can’t think of anything more appealing than that. It rules!
6. Stock Car
This mold was first released as Gearhead in 1995, and then repainted into the Best Ever Toy of Soundwave that same year. In RID, the mold became WARS, which is a hilarious name. This toy was clearly blessed upon release.
The vehicle is a Ford Thunderbird stock car, which we’re all familiar with only because of the NASCAR posters still decorating the walls of our favorite dive bars. The toy looks pretty much spot-on to the real car and has some impressively molded details.
The robot mode looks like an absolute bruiser. The door panels hanging off the arms are pretty awkward, though. It has a nice stout and stocky aesthetic, but I think it has the messiest look out of all of the original Go-Bots and Spychangers.
The weapon is nothing to write home about, really. But it does look like it could punch a hole in some armor plating, which is good enough for me.
This mold was first released as Side Swipe in 2001, and then as Silverstreak in the Transformers Universe line. It’s one of the G2 Go-Bot molds that was canceled for that series but rescued for RID.
This is a modified Chevrolet Camaro with an exposed engine. It’s a sleek and fairly cool looking vehicle mode, but it is a little bit boring compared to most of the other Spychanger molds.
The robot mode is a bit more interesting, though– just look at those goggles! He’s some sort of a nerd. Or an owl. Perhaps an owl who spends $500 a month on Genshin Impact.
These four would-be G2 molds all have the ability to store the robot’s weapon on the underside of the vehicle.
The weapon itself is long and thin and has a vented barrel. It’s not super exciting, but it’s cool enough for what it is.
8. Le Mans
As with the Camaro mold, this is another toy that was designed for G2 but didn’t make it out until RID. The mold was released as Daytonus in 2001 and as Wheeljack in 2004.
The vehicle mode is a Dauer 962 Le Mans race car, which is based on a Porsche 962. It’s a very striking and unique looking vehicle, and I think this toy is a fantastic representation of it. Both versions of the mold probably need more crazy made up sponsor names painted on them, though.
The robot mode looks cool enough but is pretty basic, truth be told. I like the head design but the rest of the body is just sort of dumpy and uninspiring as far as Spychangers go. I still like it, but it’s not one of the best.
Hooray for weapon storage.
The gun looks like a straight-up 1980s laser rifle. Like the kind you’d see in any B-Movie or Laser Tag arena from your (not my, but your) favorite decade. I like it!
9. Police Car
This is our third previously unreleased G2 mold, and this time it’s a police car. It was first released in 2001 as Prowl 2 (we’ll get there eventually, I promise) and then was repainted as both G1 Prowl and a G1 Prowl with Red Alert’s color scheme. Fun stuff.
The car itself is a Chevrolet Caprice police car. You know, from back in the days of kindler, gentler cop cars– before everything was a Dodge Charger, a Dodge Viper (for the drug war propaganda cops), or a literal tank. This is the most basic sedan out of any Spychanger vehicle mode, but it’s still kind of fun. A Ford Taurus would have been more fun to use for a police car, but this works out pretty well, too.
I like the robot mode on this one. It has the sort of no-nonsense look that’s appropriate for a police robot. It looks practical and tough, which is exactly what it should be.
Like the others, this mold has weapon storage on the bottom.
The weapon is pretty boring. Just a standard laser rifle, really. I don’t have much else to say about it.
This mold was first released as Side Burn in 2001 and then later as Autobot Jazz in the Universe line. It’s the last of our missing G2 mold Spychangers.
The car is a 90s first generation Dodge Viper, which was a very popular car at the time (it even had its own toy commercial TV show). It’s easy to see why– the Viper is very fun to look at. Even my school’s DARE officer agreed. Anyway, the mold pulls off the look nicely. There’s no mistaking what kind of car it’s supposed to be.
The robot mode on this one is what I’d call “pudgy but fierce.” The hood/chest is gigantic and the arms seem stumpy, but its stocky build combined with that absolutely killer head sculpt make it actually look pretty cool in the end.
Look, it can store its weapon.
The gun itself isn’t super interesting, but it does look like some sort of precision weapon for sharpshooting to me. At least it looks different than all the others, right?
This mold was originally released in 2002 as X-Brawn and was repainted in 2003 to make Universe Hoist. As far as I know, those are the only two uses this mold has ever seen.
The vehicle is a Mercedes-Benz ML320 SUV, with slightly skewed proportions and some hinges sticking off of one side. It looks pretty decent for the most part, and both uses of the mold have some interesting details. It’s much different than all of the Spychangers we’ve previously looked at, and that’s because of the robot mode.
The robot mode itself is weird as hell, but that’s because it’s trying to replicate the larger, Deluxe X-Brawn toy’s look. It has one huge arm (with a car hood glued to it) and a tiny arm. Considering what they were going for, I think Hasbro did a pretty good job on this one.
Unlike the Spychangers based on G2 Go-Bot molds, this toy does not come with a weapon.
12. Semi Cab
This mold was first released in 2002 as Scourge and then was repainted in 2004 as Optimus Prime, and then in 2007 as a version of the live action movie Optimus Prime. I don’t have Scourge, so you’re just seeing Prime here.
The vehicle is supposed to resemble the 1995 Laser Optimus Prime toy (which the larger Scourge toy was a redeco of), so it’s something approaching a Western Star 4964EX semi cab. Other than the obvious feet sticking off the back (a quality it shares with many other Optimus Prime toys), it’s pretty convincing. It’s a neat little truck.
The robot mode does an excellent job emulating the 95 Laser Optimus Prime mold. Again, it’s quite different than all of the other Spychangers that use G2 Go-Bot molds, but it looks good and fits in well with the rest of these toys.
No version of this figure came with any weapons.
13. Fire Engine
This mold was originally released in 2002 in the RID line as a smaller version of that show’s Optimus Prime. It was recolored in 2004 in the Universe line, which is the version you’re seeing here. It’s much larger than other Spychangers, so it was originally sold by itself instead of in a 2 pack.
The vehicle is a Japanese Hino Brandlier fire truck, which is a real thing but also looks somewhat futuristic. This is a neat little toy with an articulated ladder and molded-in water nozzles. Despite its larger size and unorthodox construction, it still rolls nicely.
The robot mode represents RID Optimus’ “super mode” and does a decent job at it. Again, it’s much different than the small Spychangers, but it looks pretty good and features slightly boosted articulation.
No version of this toy came with any weapons.
14. Car Carrier
This toy was first released in 2002 as RID Ultra Magnus and then repainted in 2004, where it was still named Ultra Magnus. Like the Optimus Prime you just saw, this toy is large for a Spychanger and was initially sold on its own instead of in a 2 pack.
Since it replicates RID Ultra Magnus’ vehicle mode, this toy is not based on any real world vehicle. I’ve always loved this truck mode, though, and this toy pulls it off perfectly. It looks brilliant.
In robot mode, the toy also does a good job of looking like RID Ultra Magnus. Just like Prime, the toy has some boosted articulation.
This toy did not come with any weapons.
Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots
Okay, now it’s time to look at each individual toy. I’ll be rating each figure, describing the character, describing any history I have with the toy, and talking about the pros and cons of each.
I never had any G2 Go-Bots as a kid and I barely remember seeing them on shelves in 1995. A little later on, in the late 90s, I did see some of them at a downtown skate shop called Ronson’s. Ronson’s had an aisle or two dedicated to old toys, so you’d often see some pretty neat stuff there. Sadly, there was always something else that caught my attention there. I never ended up buying any Go-Bots.
A couple of years ago I was looking for a nice G2 Jetfire. I found a big mixed lot of G2 figures with a very nice price, so that netted me both Jetfire and the Go-Bots you see here. I ended up loving them even more than I thought I would, which started the gears turning for this article. It’s been a long time coming.
Again, this isn’t every single Go-Bot– it’s just the ones I have.
Let’s go in alphabetical order.
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Blowout
Blowout was the first release of the Porsche mode, and he’s kind of an odd one. The combination of smoky clear plastic, teal, blue, and black isn’t something you see very often. He certainly stands out!
The Character: Blowout is an Autobot Pursuit and Capture specialist. Unfortunately, his function means he’s always pursuing something– which usually means he’s pursuing thrills, racing down busy city streets. He’s an endless well of energy and is armed with a quasar rifle that somehow captures energy from distant stars. That’s a lot of power for one little guy to handle.
The Porsche isn’t my favorite of these molds, but I do like the look of 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Blowout. He kind of just looks like a shadowy goon, and lord knows the Autobots need a few more of those. The big chest hood and near-featureless head, combined with his colors, give him a menacing look.
Also note that the gun he’s holding comes from his mold-mate Hot Shot, as I do not own Blowout’s actual gun. If you’d like to see that exact weapon, visit TFU.info.
I love the way his sparkly windows and chrome rims look against the dark, smoky grey clear body of the car. This is a classic G2 color scheme– it’s totally weird but also completely compelling. Sure, it’s not as bright as some other toys in the line, but it still looks different from almost every Transformer that’s come before or after it. Except for Megatron, of course, who also used this mold in 1995.
I pretty much see this character exactly how he’s described on his tech spec card– he’s a hyperactive pursuit specialist who always needs to be mentally stimulated. So when he’s not chasing down Decepticons, he’s chasing the proverbial dragon. He has a need for speed and just cannot relax. The dude has got no chill.
I haven’t noticed any real problems with this toy. I’m a bit extra careful with it since clear plastic can be a bit frail and the toy is getting on in years, but my copy of G2 Blowout transforms perfectly, rolls nicely, and has no problems standing up or holding his weapon. He’s a pretty good toy with a cool look, but he doesn’t wow me or do anything special. But the Autobots need background characters, too.
Overall Rating: B
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Bumblebee
When you think of Bumblebee, this 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Bumblebee toy is probably the exact last one you think of. He’s not a VW Beetle, he’s not yellow, and he doesn’t look particularly friendly. Still, this is an official Bumblebee toy, even if it’s all gold, black, and neon.
The Character: Everyone knows Bumblebee. He’s the Autobots’ finest spy and their most lucrative kid-appeal character. The tech spec and bio for Go-Bots Bumblebee doesn’t mention anything about his new design or any different character attributes, so he is basically just the same jolly little fellow we know and love.
If Bumblebee always looked this cool I’d probably be way more into the character as a whole. The gold paint and/or plastic on this figure looks fantastic– it’s got a perfect metallic sheen to it, but it doesn’t feel brittle, thick, or goopy. This is some of the nicest gold Hasbro has ever done on a Transformers figure. Though the colors don’t really go together, I do like how the neon yellow looks against the black and gold of the rest of the figure. There’s a nice pop of red used for the face, too.
The car mode looks really good, though it could use some paint for the headlights or tail lights. It’s really just black and gold, which is a good combination, but it feels lighter on painted details than some of the other Go-Bots and Spychangers do. When the light catches the gold rims just right, this vehicle mode is extra beautiful.
I have a hard time seeing this as Bumblebee The Character, but I don’t have a hard time enjoying the figure. Bumblebee’s first G2 figure was also gold, so the colors here make a little bit of sense. I guess the toy’s featureless, masked face also calls back to Bumblebee’s original toy design, too. Still, I would use this figure as a separate character (or maybe even a G2 Goldbug) instead of Bumblebee. I just haven’t come up with anything yet.
Despite being gold, I’ve had no problems with this toy. Everything works as it should and it seems far less fragile than the G2 Go-Bots who use clear plastic. Still, it could use a little bit more paint in vehicle mode.
Overall Rating: B+
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Double Clutch
Double Clutch was released in 1995 and was the inaugural version of the Indy car mold. With his blue and white color scheme, he looks more like Mirage than G2 Mirage actually did. But he is his own man and we will treat him as such.
The Character: Double Clutch is a Defense Specialist who is very, very fast. That may not be the most ideal attribute for a guy who should be behind the scenes planning fortifications and defenses, but he makes the most of it. Double Clutch is almost supernaturally aerodynamic and his spoiler can absorb both enemy fire and solar energy, meaning he rarely runs out of fuel, even when he’s terrorizing the roads at top speed. Has a hard time staying back at Autobot HQ to actually plan defense strategies, so he may not actually be that well suited for his job– a time-honored Autobot tradition.
In robot mode, 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Double Clutch looks pretty nice. It’s a good color scheme for an Autobot and it makes him look fairly heroic. The dark blue paint on his face kind of obscures it though and robs him of a little bit of personality. Still, he looks like a capable Autobot warrior when armed with his rifle.
The vehicle mode looks just how you expect an Indy car to look, complete with the number ‘3’ emblazoned all over it. The paint transitions are very well done and it’s a visually interesting car mode. I have very little to complain about here.
I see this character just as how he’s described on the box. He’s a good defensive strategist, but has trouble focusing on his work because he’d rather be zipping around in the thick of the action. Optimus Prime probably should have assigned Double Clutch to a different station, but I guess Prime never did have time for things like “practicality” or “logistics.”
This toy doesn’t have any structural problems at all, but if we’re judging by my example, then the white plastic is very prone to discoloration. It still looks fine in off-white, but it’s a bit of a bummer anyway. It’s a fine toy, but I think it’s the most boring color scheme this toy has ever received.
Overall Rating: B-
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Gearhead
G2 Gearhead was the first release of the stock car mold, which would be used again as Soundwave in Generation 2 and many, many times as WARS in Car Robots, RID, and Universe. This was a popular toy for both Takara and Hasbro. The photos in this section do not use the original Gearhead’s gun, which is black plastic. You can see it here.
The Character: Despite being a tiny car, Gearhead is a professional stock care racer. I’m not sure how that works, but Transformers has never been a brand concerned with the concept of “scale.” Gearhead is a simple warrior– one of the frontline grunts who has no function other than fighting Decepticons, a task which he races into head-on. He’s always ready for combat or ready to take home the checkered flag. He’s a pretty simple guy, but he titanium-reinforced hood and chest armor means he excels at his job and his hobby.
When you take a look at 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Gearhead in robot mode, you can understand why the creative team at Hasbro assigned him the function of “warrior.” The dude looks extremely powerful and durable. The red and yellow look great with the smoky clear plastic. The colors aren’t outrageous, but he is very eye-catching. I always enjoy a yellow Autobot.
The car mode also looks great. The stripes, hood decoration (which is as close to “Thunderbird” as Hasbro could get, probably), and the number “1” are all very cleanly applied. Sure, it’s just red on yellow, but does it need to be anything else? Couple the great deco with the shiny rims and reinforced windows and you’ve got a winner.
This is another character I see just as described. The Autobots have surprisingly few “warriors”– everyone seems to have some strange or redundant function. We always need more Autobot grunts, even if they’re just cute little guys like Gearhead.
This toy does use some clear plastic, so I’m a bit careful when transforming him. The yellow also seems to pick up dirt and smudges fairly easily– mine does not clean up well. That can happen pretty easily with yellow paint and/or plastic, though.
Overall Rating: B
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots High Beam
High Beam was the first release of the “Supercar” mold and he might just wear it the best out of any of them. He became X-Car in Car Robots and Crosswise in RID, who we will see later on.
The Character: High Beam functions as a tracker for the Autobots. He’s a thoughtful, intellectual individual who does more work with his processing unit than his guns or his fists. Beneath his brainy exterior he’s brave and capable, though, and he would never back down from a fight or fail to protect the defenseless. He is always serious and focused on the task at hand. Has no special abilities beyond his brains, skill, and sheer tenacity.
High Beam might be my favorite toy among all of the Go-Bots and Spychangers. His metallic green paint is nothing short of gorgeous, and it looks great against the toy’s yellow-orange and black accent colors. The black paint on his face is evocative of the character’s serious nature– you can tell this guy is here to do his job and do it well. He looks heroic, but he also looks a bit mysterious.
In vehicle mode, 1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots High Beam also looks fantastic. The silver engine block and gold rims give him an extra bit of “pop” that some of the earlier Go-Bots are lacking. In this mode, you can appreciate that beautiful green paint even more.
High Beam is a pretty compelling character for me. His small size would make him an ideal tracker, and he never gives up despite his physical limitations. I think both the character and the toy are a valuable addition to the G2 Autobot ranks.
As far as I can tell, this toy doesn’t have any problems. He’s not fragile and everything works as intended. His green metallic paint is a little bit prone to scuffing and scratching, but he should be fine as long as you’re even moderately careful. This is one of my favorites among all these toys, if not my absolute favorite. If you get one Go-Bot or Spychanger, make it High Beam.
Overall Rating: A+
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Ironhide
Ironhide was the second release of the Go-Bots pickup truck mold. The mold was originally used as Motormouth, as you’ll see below. It was repainted into Ox for Car Robots and a million versions of Ironhide for RID. It was even sometimes named Hoist, believe it not.
The Character: This is just G1 Ironhide in a new body with some added quickness. He’s still the Autobots’ ruff and tumble veteran security officer who functions as Optimus Prime’s bodyguard. It’s funny to imagine him try to take a laser bullet for Prime when he only comes up to Prime’s knee. His reformatting granted him a ton of extra speed and lightweight armor, so now he’s both fast and tough.
This is one of my favorite Go-Bot/Spychanger molds and I absolutely adore this color scheme. Silver, pink, and dark teal look excellent together. The yellow-green used for his face maybe isn’t ideal, but it still works pretty well. He looks as sturdy, tough, and powerful as Ironhide should look. It was a fitting re-brand.
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Ironhide’s truck mode looks pretty simple, but that also makes it fairly realistic as far as Go-Bots go. It’s not unusual to see a silver F-150, so I’d say it gets the job done. This was also the first time we’d ever see Ironhide as a pickup truck, which paved the way for the Michael Bay movie version of the character. It’s okay, G2 Ironhide. It’s not your fault.
I see this character as G2 Ironhide. Reimagining the gruff Autobot security specialist as a truck with a weird color scheme fits very well with Generation 2’s overall mission statement. So, to me, this is Ironhide after he got tired of being a minivan and wanted an upgrade. He’s still tough as nails, despite his small size.
I’ve had no problems with this toy. The silver might be prone to some scuffing and scraping but it’s otherwise sturdy and functional. It also looks great and is a fun interpretation of a classic character.
Overall Rating: A
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Motormouth
For the first time during this article, tragedy strikes! You’ll note that the image above features Motormouth in vehicle mode, where the rest of these images feature the toy’s robot mode. My G2 Motormouth has always been tough to transform, and I never tried to force it until taking photos for this article. Well, I got the arms and legs transformed with some amount of effort, but the hood piece just snapped clean off when I tried to force it into robot mode position. The combination of clear plastic and a possibly rusty pin made its doom inevitable. But it’s not a total loss– you get to see what’s “under the hood” in robot mode (with some surprisingly nice details) and the toy can still maintain its truck mode perfectly well. But take note that these toys are not invincible.
The Character: Motormouth is extremely vain and extremely dumb. He’s constantly looking at his own reflection, which distracts him from his job as a Backup Specialist. He’s supposed to support the other Autobots by transporting materials and performing other menial tasks, but usually disregards orders because he’s worried he will scratch his paint. Though he’s a stupid, lazy narcissist, he is actually very fast, which is the only thing that’s prevented him from being melted down into a pool of robotic gore by the Decepticons.
Yep, there is he is– our broken boy. The metallic blue of his truck mode parts honestly looks excellent with the clear red and clear smoky grey robot parts. It’s neat to see the chest detailing that’s usually obscured by the truck mode hood, too. But still, he’s suffered some damage and a blue and red color scheme isn’t exactly novel for an Autobot.
1995 Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots Motormouth looks pretty good in truck mode. The metallic blue is still nice here, and the extra detailing for the grill and headlights is appreciated. I also enjoy that ‘Transformers TM’ is written across his windshield. Still, it doesn’t really stand out or do anything special here.
I see Motormouth exactly how he’s described in his bio, which makes him a borderline useless addition to the Autobot cause. But that’s something I enjoy– they can’t all be winners, especially in a volunteer rebel army.
As you can see, this toy broke. I tried to be careful with it, but it’s clear that any transformation was going to break it at this point. This toy is nearly 30 years old and made of fragile clear plastic. If you have this one, take care not to force it like I did. At least it can still stay in truck mode without any issues. You’ll also note that his rifle is broken, too, which seems appropriate.
Overall Rating: C-
Transformers Robots in Disguise Spychangers
The RID Spychangers were the reason most of us fell in love with these toys in the first place. They were originally sold in 2 packs for about $5, which was a good deal for the time and sounds like an outrageously amazing price today.
In 2001, I was 16 or so. I had a part time job so I bought quite a few Transformers. I got three of the Spychanger 2 packs over the course of about a month, and I was delighted by each new one I took home. For some reason I never picked up REV and Hot Shot back then, and I also passed on Side Burn and Daytonus, just because I wasn’t sure what to do with a smaller version of Side Burn.
About 15 years ago I sold my RID collection, but I’ve been steadily re-collecting the line over the last 4-5 years. The Spychangers were, naturally, some of the first toys I tracked down. I’ve always been charmed by them. Back in the early 00s, they were a cheap and easy way to add some more muscle to your Autobot army.
In RID, the Spychangers are an elite team of small, ninja-like warriors. They are extremely stealthy and can drive across any surface, even vertical ones! It’s a pretty cool way to make sense of having a team of such tiny warriors.
In this section, we’ll look at the original 6 Spychangers.
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Crosswise
Crosswise is a repaint of the High Beam and Bumblebee mold, and was originally released in 2001 along with the first wave of RID toys. In Japan, he was known as X-Car and had a heat-sensitive Autobot symbol (like the old rub signs) instead of the tampographed Autobot logo this toy features.
The Character: Crosswise is the tech expert of the Spychangers. He upgrades his teammates’ bodies and weapons, as well as his own. He’s the smartest one of the group, but he’s not a common nerd. He uses his stealth abilities and gravity-manipulation powers, including his gravity beam gun, to confuse and devastate his Decepticon enemies. Has access to a powered-up “super mode” that allows him to disregard gravity entirely and float through the air.
In robot mode, 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Crosswise is breathtaking. The clear plastic on this toy, both blue and colorless, makes for a stunning appearance. I also love the ‘X’ on his chest (left over from his ‘X-Car’ days in Japan) and the stripes on his arms. He looks cool and futuristic, and he’s my favorite of the original 6 RID Spychangers.
Crosswise looks just as good in vehicle mode. I tried to capture him in both my normal lighting and in enhanced lighting, just so you can see how he looks to the naked eye and how he looks when the light really just “catches” him. This toy looks nothing short of splendid in vehicle mode, with the exposed rear engine looking especially ghostly and cool.
I pretty much see the character as how he appeared in the 2001 RID cartoon. He’s the team’s hacker and tech expert. I’m not sure how much I care about his gravity powers or super mode, but those concepts are there if I want them.
This toy is over 20 years old and I’ve experienced no problems with it. Crosswise is made from mostly clear plastic, though, some some amount of care is warranted when you’re handling the toy.
Overall Rating: A+
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Hot Shot
The Porsche mold saw plenty of action before Hot Shot was ever released. In the G2 line, the mold was used for Blowout (as seen above), Megatron, and Frenzy. But the toy got a huge makeover in 2001 when Hot Shot hit the shelves. It also introduced a name that would be used for a popular Legacy Character in the coming years. In Car Robots, Hot Shot was named Artfire.
The Character: Hot Shot is the heroic leader of the Autobot Spychangers. He’s gruff, plain-spoken, and a rule follower. Though he doesn’t often express his feelings, it’s his deep care and concern for his troops and his fellow Autobots that makes him into an effective leader and such a dedicated follower of the cause. He also has pyrokinetic powers, which allow him to start fires at will. Couple this with his energy weapon and you have one fearsome Autobot in a tiny package.
The Porsche isn’t one of my favorite Spychanger molds, but at least 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Hot Shot makes it look good. His black and silver look great against his orange and yellow flame patterns, and you definitely know you’re dealing with either a serious warrior or a guy who listens to too much Brian Setzer the second you look at him. The toy uses some neat clear plastic for its body and legs, as well, but it’s kind of hard to see under his humongous hood chest.
I think the vehicle mode looks good overall, and the sparkly blue windshield and gold chrome rims look very nice with the toy’s black plastic. The flames on the door do look a little odd and disjointed, but it’s still an appealing look. I’m sure kids thought this was one of the coolest Spychangers in the line back in 2001.
To me, Hot Shot is the leader of the Spychangers (and the Go-Bots). He’s a capable leader, but he’s a bit emotionally stunted so he’s not quite as capable as he could be. Every hero’s journey includes self-improvement, though, so I’m always rooting for my favorite rockabilly battalion leader.
Despite featuring some clear plastic, I haven’t seen any problems with Hot Shot. He’s a nice, solid toy in every regard.
Overall Rating: B
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide
As you’ve seen in this article, Ironhide’s mold was used for both Motormouth and another Ironhide in G2. This toy was known as Ox in Japan and was released as RID Ironhide in America many, many times. One of the repaints was also used as Hoist, which we’ll talk more about later.
The Character: Ironhide has a hair-trigger temper and he runs hot. He’s the strongest and toughest of the Spychangers, so when he gets mad, things get broken. He’s somewhat young and inexperienced, so hopefully more time on the front lines will even him out. He is the Spychangers’ transportation specialist, and his sheer vehicle mode power makes him able to carry much more weight than his small body size would imply. If you stay on Ironhide’s good side and don’t provoke his temper, he is a calm, reasonable, and kindhearted Autobot. Luckily, it’s usually the Decepticons who tend to draw his ire. Is best friends with Mirage.
RID Ironhide looks nothing short of iconic. This is an instantly-captivating design and color scheme. The black cow pattern and red bull skull over his white base color looks excellent, and yellow is the perfect accent color. His red optics also look downright menacing. His tough look combined with a whimsical color scheme make him the clear visual standout of all of the first generation Spychangers.
You expected Ironhide’s truck mode to look great based on his robot mode, right? Because it surely does. We’ve seen this mold many times before in this article (and we’ll see it two more times), but the cow pattern looks amazing here. I also love the red truck bed, which adds a ton of visual interest to 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide’s truck mode.
In Japan, Car Robots takes place within the regular G1 continuity. Optimus Prime is a separate character named Fire Convoy. I like the idea of RID and G1 being integrated, so I don’t see this as G1 Ironhide or even another character named Ironhide. Instead, I see this as Ox, who is a completely unique character. He has all of Ironhide’s traditional toughness and bravery, but he does not have Ironhide’s wisdom or experience, which means things often go wrong when he flies off the handle.
There are no real problems with this toy, but it can be prone to slight discoloration. Also if the leg slider mechanism becomes loose, the toy’s top-heaviness can cause it to faceplant when you try to stand it up. Still, there’s not much to worry about here.
Overall Rating: A
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage
This mold was originally released as Double Clutch and Mirage in 1995, and in 2001 it was Mirage again. This toy looks much more like its G1 namesake, though. In Japan, the character was known as Counter Arrow.
The Character: Mirage is a loner. Though he isn’t friendless and has adequate social skills, he still prefers to work alone. Luckily, his abilities complement his personality. He is the Spychangers’ designated sniper and marksman, which is a job perfectly suited to someone working solo. He also possesses the ability to cloak himself and turn invisible for a short amount of time, which makes him an ideal sharpshooter and assassin. Is best friends with Ironhide.
This mold and color scheme really fit the name ‘Mirage’ perfectly. The pearlescent white and dark blue look great together, and the pops of red and black make the toy more attractive and interesting. 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage’s lithe build is befitting of a stealthy sniper, too. I also really like the head sculpt, as it looks both aloof and mysterious. The design and character personality gel very nicely with this toy.
The paint scheme on this vehicle mode is very, very cool. It’s a credible looking Indy Car and a great homage to G1 Mirage. I think the rims would look better in silver than in gold, but it still looks very nice. The designers did an excellent job with this one.
The Mirage and Ironhide 2 pack was the first one I ever got back in 2001, both because the toys looked cool and because I wanted versions of Ironhide and Mirage to go with my Transformers collection. I used this toy as G1 Mirage at that time. These days, though, I have plenty of other Mirage toys so I see this guy as Counter Arrow instead of any version of G1 Mirage. Whereas Mirage is a mercurial, foppish aristocrat, Counter Arrow is a stone cold killer. I picture his weapon as high intensity laser beam, similar to what’s described on Sci-Fi from GI Joe’s file card. Counter Arrow will patiently sit in one place, totally undetected, and before you notice him you have a white-hot hole bored completely through your head.
As with Ironhide, this toy is a bit prone to discoloration. Other than that, there’s not much to watch out for. If you only get one Spychanger 2 pack, get Ironhide and Mirage. They’re both great.
Overall Rating: A
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers REV
The mold that became REV was originally released as Firecracker, Optimus Prime, and Sideswipe back in G2. REV was repainted quite a few times within the RID toy line. REV’s name is an acronym that stands for “Race Exertion Vehicle.” Okay, sure, whatever. Rev is a good name for a Lamborghini Transformer, so I’m not sure why the acronym was necessary. In Japan, REV was known as Eagle Killer– just keep him away from our Beautiful National Parks!
The Character: REV is the Spychangers’ tactical officer. He’s Hot Shot’s right hand man and is involved in all strategic planning for the team. He’s also a capable warrior who possesses great agility. In robot mode, he can hop from building to building with ease. In his charged-up “super mode,” he becomes capable of actual flight.
As I’ve said before, I love a yellow Autobot and 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers REV is just that. He probably has the most intricate paint applications of any RID Spychanger, with actual honest-to-god panel lining featured on his chest, arms, and legs. The eagle logo on his hood chest also looks really good. The color combination is really good here, and it almost makes him resemble a color-inverted G1 Hot Rod. I’m still not thrilled about the weird kibble behind his head, but I like him overall.
I love a good Lamborghini, especially if it’s yellow. 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers REV’s color and paint detail make for a brilliant car mode. I usually prefer to keep my Transformers in robot mode most of the time, but I think REV is the rare case where the vehicle mode is better all around. The paint detail here, especially on the rear section of the car, is jaw-droppingly cool.
As a character, I pretty much see REV as exactly how he’s portrayed in the RID cartoon. He doesn’t have much personality, but he is a stalwart and reliable tactical mastermind. He doesn’t do anything too fancy, but he’s one of those supporting background characters you need at least a few of.
As far as I can tell, there’s nothing to watch out for with REV. He isn’t one of the best Spychangers or Go-Bots, but he is still pretty dang cool and does everything he needs to.
Overall Rating: B+
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS
Back in G2, this mold was released as both Gearhead and Soundwave. In Car Robots, the mold was released as Wars and then it was rebranded as WARS (an acronym for Wicked Attack Recon Sportscar, ugh) in America for RID. The mold was reused for many repaints of both Wars and WARS, and was even once released as Camshaft, which we’ll get to eventually.
The Character: Though he is protective of his squad and values the power of teamwork, WARS is unusually violent and belligerent for an Autobod. His heart is in the right place, but he’s essentially a heavily-armored psychopath who loves nothing more than to slam into his enemies with the entire force of his body– either in robot mode or in car mode. Although he greatly enjoys holding his own sadistic demolition derbies, he’s also handy with his machine gun. Honestly, Hot Shot prefers it when WARS gets up close and personal, as the lack of weapons fire makes collateral damage less of a concern. In his charged-up “super mode,” his armor goes from resilient to impenetrable. Luckily, this added protection puts WARS into a more Zen-like state where he is much less likely to commit a war crime. His fellow Spychangers wish he could always remain in super mode, but energon cubes do not grow on trees.
Take one look at this toy and you’ll see where his TV show characterization came from– he really does look heavily armored. The nice silver and black designs on his chest and arms break up all of the red on his huge chest, and his head sculpt also reinforces his fearsome personality. I like the colors here, but I’ve always found the big door panels hanging off the arms to be a bit distracting. I guess you can imagine them as additional reinforcement for pummeling his enemies, though. Regardless of any faults, 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS looks like a powerhouse, which is exactly as it should be.
I don’t really have any fondness for NASCAR-like stock cars, but WARS looks incredible in vehicle mode. The Kanji on his hood and ‘WARS’ written on his doors look spectacular, but it’s the sparkly blue windows and the silver netting and reinforcements that really make him special. The gold rims look great with the car mode’s yellow details, as well.
I see WARS as basically an unhinged bruiser, which makes for a compelling Autobot character. He’s also on a team of ninja-like spies and assassins, so that makes the whole concept extra fun to me. Plus, it makes sense for a raging brawler to transform into a NASCAR. WARS, minus the acronym, is also the perfect name for a character like this. He named himself after his favorite thing.
WARS is mostly a solid and sturdy toy, but there is one thing to watch out for. His gun is made of clear plastic and the tiny handle peg can easily break off, which I know from experience. Take extra care with his gun. Though WARS isn’t one of my favorite toys in this collection, he’s still a charming little oddball.
Overall Rating: B
Transformers RID “New Molds”
The year was 2001, Transformers RID was more popular than anticipated, and Hasbro needed to release more toys. There were 8 total “new mold” Spychangers released between 2001 and 2002. Four of them were previously unreleased G2 Go-Bot molds and the other four were completely new molds based on existing RID characters.
I don’t have the original versions of all of these molds, but you’ll see them all eventually in the following sections.
As a kid I did have the Side Swipe and Prowl 2 pack, which I liked. I never got Side Burn and Daytonus back then, though, as I wasn’t sure what to do with a smaller version of Side Burn. I also got the Scourge and X-Brawn 2 pack in 2002– my high school girlfriend made Scourge into a boutonnière for me for senior prom, and then gave me the leftover X-Brawn. Sadly I do not have a Scourge these days. That boutonnière has been lost to time.
I first experienced about half of these toys as an adult, but I still appreciate all of them. Again, we’re going in alphabetical order.
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Daytonus
The Daytonus mold was originally meant to come out during Transformers Generation 2 (where it had a rather fetching color scheme), but didn’t end up seeing use until 2001. In 2004, it was repainted into Universe Wheeljack. Those are the only two uses of this mold.
The Character: Daytonus always follows the rules. It’s not so much that he’s a boy scout or a goody-goody, he’s just terrified of the punishment he might have to endure if he steps out of line. His comrades have repeatedly tried to convince him that the Autobots do not believe in corporal punishment and that making mistakes will help him grow as an individual, but he does not believe them. Can reach speeds of over 300mph in vehicle mode, but seldom allows him to do so for fear of breaking Earth laws. Luckily, he excels at his job as the Spychangers’ communications officer due to his thoughtful and observant nature, combined with his above-average interpersonal relation skills. Is a good shot with his electro-frost rifle when he can actually be convinced to pull the trigger.
Daytonus is a cool looking robot. The soft orange and black color scheme sets him apart from every other Spychanger, and his unique head design won’t let you confuse him with anyone else, either. But just because he stands out among the other Spychangers doesn’t mean he is a standout– he looks good, but he also isn’t anything special. And that’s okay. He’s just another solid supporting character.
Car mode is where Daytonus really shines. The Le Mans style race car has a very sleek design, and it has a cool retro-futuristic look about it. You just know this car is extremely fast and probably prone to breaking down in about 800 different ways. I particularly like the little grey stripes and the sparkly blue windshield. His weapon also stores on the underside of the car mode, which sets him ahead of the six original Go-Bot/Spychanger molds, as well.
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Daytonus is pretty much a blank slate character, since he had no real appearances in any Transformers media and never came with a bio and tech spec card. So, to me, he’s just a super-fast Autobot warrior who backs up the other Spychangers in a fight. I wrote my own little bio for him above, which I based on absolutely nothing.
I have no problems to report with this toy. With this one, what you see is what you get.
Overall Rating: B
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Prowl 2
Prowl 2 was another unused G2 mold who saw his first release in 2001. He was later repainted into a couple of different versions of Prowl, so the mold didn’t have much of a lifespan. And yes, we are finally going to dig into the name “Prowl 2” here in a second. I had this toy as a kid but sold it at some point. I found this particular figure in a dollar bin at a local toy store. It was missing its gun, but I’ll buy any Spychanger for a dollar. The weapon you’re seeing in these photos comes from universe Prowl, which is fine since the guns are identical.
The Character: Someone has to crunch the numbers for all the mods, overclocks, and hacks favored by the Spychangers, and that someone is Prowl 2. He treats his budget like a battlefield, and numbers are the weapons of his choice. Understandably, he’s not exactly well-liked by his teammates, since he’s the one they have to persuade when they’re requesting experimental tech from command. It’s even how he got his name – by being compared to the famously up-tight Autobot strategist Prowl. “Here comes Prowl 2,” WARS says when he knows he’s about to be told “no” to his eleventh armor upgrade request in a row. But Prowl 2 is so uncaring about decorum that he let the name stick. No one even remembers his original designation – maybe not even him! In car mode, he has excellent handling. In robot mode, he uses a semi-automatic acid pellet rifle – a weapon he also shares with Prowl. Prowl 2 claims to be ignorant of this. He just likes how cost-efficient the ammunition is.
- Bio by Video Dracula
In robot mode, 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Prowl 2 looks both competent and boring. I normally love blue and yellow together and I think the white supports those colors nicely, but I think the toy just ends up looking painfully average. It needs a bit more yellow somehow and the gigantic Autobot symbol on the chest just screams “we didn’t know what else to do here.” I do like his head design, but I think the way it’s painted actually just washes it out.
The car mode looks a bit nicer than the robot mode, but it’s still not amazing. The lightbar and the front ramming bumper are cool, and I also appreciate the little gold stripes on the sides. Little kids are supposed to get excited about police car toys, but I don’t know if any of them ever got too excited about this one. It’s just too plain for its own good.
Prowl 2, unlike the other “new mold” Spychangers, did appear in some fiction. Unfortunately, it’s mind numbing and convoluted. He is basically a clone of Prowl who did some time travel or something? Not interested. The toy was named Prowl 2 since there was already a main character named Prowl in RID (he was called Mach Alert in Japan and was not G1 Prowl). I like to think that ‘Prowl’ is a very common Cybertronian name, sort of like ‘Mike’ or ‘Dave.’ There were two different Prowls in Beast Wars, after all. So, to me, this guy is just another beat cop named Prowl. He’s not the Prowl, which frustrates him, but he still works as a security officer and investigator for Hot Shot’s team of Spychangers. Everyone refers to him as ‘Prowl 2’ behind his back. Let’s just hope he never catches on.
You could also go with the excellent bio my friend Drac wrote above, which casts Prowl 2 as the Spychangers’ unloved accountant. It’s up to you– just make sure you avoid the Binaltech origin if you value your sanity.
This toy may not be anything special, but it also doesn’t have any real problems or shortcomings. The vehicle mode weapon storage even makes it easy to keep track of his gun.
Overall Rating: C
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Burn
Side Burn is the third of our four previously-unreleased G2 Go-Bot molds. He was released in 2001 as Side Burn and was repainted in 2004 as Autobot Jazz in the Universe line. That is the mold’s entire life span accounted for. His canceled G2 color scheme is nothing to write home about, in my opinion. The RID toy is a definite upgrade.
The Character: Side Burn is young, inexperienced, and unbelievably randy for red cars. Although one of his brothers is a cop, he still has not been sent to horny jail. That’s because he’s too valuable to the Autobot cause. He’s fast, skillful, and does not even understand the concept of fear. In robot mode, carries powerful ranged weaponry. In vehicle mode he is one of the fastest land-based Autobots. Is prone to boredom and wandering thoughts, which cause him to act even more recklessly. Despite all of this, Side Burn is a capable warrior and a steadfast ally to his Autobot comrades. Fears the inevitable trial for his red car-related crimes once the war is over.
In robot mode, 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Burn looks very chunky. But, fortunately, he also looks very cool. The blue flame tampo on his chest looks fantastic– the various shades of white and blue are stunning together. Yellow and white also make great accent colors. When I look at him, though, I kind of just see Autobot Guy Fieri. Or maybe a Shattered Glass Autobot Guy Fieri. It’s the flame pattern and the brightly-colored head. Still, I love his head design, which looks like a mixture between Cyclops from the X-Men and Robocop. He is not sleek and nimble like his Deluxe Class counterpart, but he cuts a dashing figure regardless.
Side Burn’s car mode is just as beautiful as his robot mode. The Dodge Viper is an unquestionably cool looking car, and this is a perfect color scheme for a sporty powerhouse. The windows, rims, and headlights are all colored gold, which makes the color scheme more cohesive. He also has paint details on his grill and tail lights. Hasbro went all-out with this one. Unfortunately, the flame tampo on the car’s hood is crooked. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is an issue. Most copies of this toy I’ve seen have this problem, so it’s not an isolated incident.
This toy was meant to just be a smaller version of Side Burn, one of RID’s main characters. But I just can’t see it filling that role. I associated the character Side Burn with the lean, athletic form of his Deluxe figure. This chunky little weirdo just looks too different. Maybe he can be Side Burn’s protégé, like how Lio Jr. (Beast Wars lion Prowl) was Lio Convoy’s understudy in Beast Wars II. I think that concept works for me. The larger toy can use his Japanese name, Speedbreaker, and this guy can be Side Burn– the Ahsoka Tano to Speedbreaker’s Anakin Skywalker.
Other than the misaligned tampo, this toy doesn’t have any problems. The weapon storage in vehicle mode is also a nice touch. The colors and deco are beautiful and it’s a cool looking, if pudgy, little robot.
Overall Rating: A
2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Swipe
We’ve now reached the last of the unreleased G2 molds. Side Swipe was released in 2001 and then repainted as Silverstreak in 2004. There were no other uses of this mold.
The Character: Side Swipe calls himself The Grand Archivist. He’s even referred to himself as such in real conversations a few times, much to the chagrin of his Spychanger comrades. In truth, Side Swipe is just the Spychangers’ surveillance specialist. It’s his job to track enemy plans and movements. Instead, he observes and catalogs almost everything happening around him, including trash pick up schedules, bird songs, and fast food menu changes. He’s so keen on “archiving” everything that he seldom steps into combat. In robot mode, has goggle-enhanced optic sensors that can see and record on every possible spectrum and an ion-discharge rifle. In vehicle mode Side Swipe has amazing acceleration and can reach cruising speeds of 210 mph.
The first thing you’ll notice about 2001 Transformers RID Spychangers Side Swipe is his head sculpt. He has some crazy goggles and pointy horns, which makes him sort of look like an owl. It’s awesome. The rest of his body design is also pretty good, with the exposed engine on his chest providing some extra detail. He’s not perfect, though. I like all of the colors here individually– he features black (always reliable), a nice shade of green, a pretty attractive yellow-orange, and a little bit of dark blue. The color blocking itself is nice, but the colors just don’t work together. Despite some nice color choices, everything just looks muddled and dull. I’m not sure what I’d do differently, but it just doesn’t quite come together for me.
Car mode looks great overall, although I think I’d still want a richer shade of green. The window details are very nice and the black stripes are painted sharply. I also like that the headlights, tail lights, and front bumper are all picked out in paint. This isn’t the flashiest or coolest of the Spychanger car modes, but it’s still pretty nice. It looks fast and aggressive, but still maintains a little bit of subtlety.
Like most of his other “new Spychanger” brothers, Side Swipe is a blank slate. You can do whatever you want with him. His goggles make him seem like a bit of a quirky fellow, so I imagine that he is either a scientist or a surveillance specialist, which is something that the other Spychangers don’t really do.
This toy features a couple of small issues. The figure’s copyright information is stamped under the hood with large letters, which prevents the robot chest from sitting all the way flush in robot mode. Also, if you transform this toy more than a couple of times, you’ll get some paint transfer between the blue base body and the yellow under the hood. This toy is pretty good, but he’d be better with a slightly different color scheme. The weapon storage is also nice.
Overall Rating: B
2002 Transformers RID Spychangers X-Brawn
X-Brawn was one of the four new Spychanger molds made exclusively for the RID line. He was released in 2002 and was only repainted one time, as Universe Hoist in 2003. This toy tries very hard to replicate its larger Deluxe Class counterpart, which had an unorthodox design. Translating that design to a smaller scale was definitely a Herculean task.
The Character: A rugged and adventurous Autobot soldier, X-Brawn is the eldest of three siblings. Though he is friendly and laid back, he has little time or patience for modern comforts or fancy weaponry. X-Brawn enjoys the great outdoors and driving on all of its surfaces– even underwater. This does not please environmental conservation groups. Tough, courageous, kind, and compassionate, X-Brawn sees himself as an Old West Cowboy without all of the problematic baggage. The power in his enlarged left arm is legendary.
In robot mode, 2002 Transformers RID Spychangers X-Brawn does a respectable job of looking like his larger counterpart. He has the right colors, the head and chest sculpts are spot on, and he has the entire front of his SUV mode attached to his right arm. Hasbro did a very good job with this one, even if it’s a very unconventional design for a Spychanger. His articulation is a lot different than the standard Go-Bot or Spychanger– his right arm only moves outward at the shoulder and bends at the elbow. His huge left arm has full range of motion at the shoulder (even outward) and his left elbow bends inward. I like that his giant fist is actually molded on the inside of the vehicle hood. The door kibble is awkward, but I’m not sure what else Hasbro could do at this size.
Though it’s not nearly as beautiful as the Deluxe version of X-Brawn, this Spychanger still does a good job of looking like a Mercedes SUV. The most distracting thing about it is the giant hinge on the right side of the vehicle, but the colors are pretty much spot-on. The chrome rims help elevate the look, too. Though he doesn’t feature standard Spychanger design, he still has through-axle construction and rolls very nicely on smooth surfaces.
I can’t see this toy as anyone but X-Brawn (or Wildride if we’re going by Car Robots naming conventions). It just looks too much like the larger toy. And since this little guy can’t compete with the Deluxe X-Brawn, I don’t really have a practical use for him. He’s pretty much just relegated to being a desk toy, being a Legends Scale (or Core Class scale) version of the character. He does look pretty nice, though.
The only real problem with this toy, other than the strange design, is that the huge left arm makes the figure want to lean to the side or tip over when you’re standing him up in robot mode. He does stand just fine, which is impressive, but he takes a little more care to balance and pose than any other Spychanger does.
Overall Rating: B-
Transformers Universe Spychangers and RID Repaints
Long after the RID cartoon went off the air, the toy line was still going strong. This included many, many Spychanger repaints. Some were released in RID packaging, some were released in generic Transformers packaging, and some were released in Universe packaging. Some of them were even released in all three types of packaging! Many of them were store exclusives, as well.
If you want a run down of all of the packaging variants, then I suggest you check TFWiki. I’m not very interested in cataloging those sorts of things. I’m here for the toys, not for the cardboard.
In this section, you’ll see the three new RID Spychanger molds I didn’t cover in the section above. You’ll also see some fun repaints and a Japanese exclusive.
Here we go again in alphabetical order.
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide
This toy is a repaint of the original Motormouth mold, which was used many times between 1995 and 2006. This particular toy was released in 2003 as part of the RID line, but it was also reissued in 2006, without any changes, as Hoist in the Transformers Universe line. The 03 Ironhide version of this toy was a KB Toys exclusive.
The Character: See RID section above.
We’ve already gone over this mold pretty extensively, so we’ll just focus on the colors. They’re beautiful. The colorless clear, clear blue, and clear orange plastic give the toy an ethereal look, especially when combined with the clear green gun. This toy is just very fun to look at. Just look at it!
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Ironhide’s vehicle mode isn’t quite as stunning, but it’s still a beauty. The silver paint Hasbro used for the grill, bumper, and windows looks great with the clear blue plastic, as does the black truck bed. You don’t get the same great color variety in this mode, but I’m still in love with it.
As a character, this could be a powered-up RID Ironhide or G2 Ironhide. It could also just be G2 Motormouth or a powered-up G2 Motormouth, since they look so similar in vehicle mode. You could probably make this toy into a unique character as well, but I haven’t come up with anything yet. But since my Motormouth broke while putting this article together, that’s the direction I’m leaning.
This toy is mostly made of clear plastic, so I’d handle it with some care. Other than that, there’s not much to worry about. It’s a beautiful little toy even if it’s not a good replacement for either RID Ironhide or G2 Ironhide. It’s mostly just there to look pretty– which is enough for me.
Overall Rating: A-
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ironhide
This version of Ironhide was released as a Walmart exclusive in 2004, and was sold in a 2 pack with Universe Ultra Magnus, who you’ll see below.
The Character: Ironhide hails from a reality that is so terrible and so war-torn that he never learned how to spell.
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ironhide is yet another repaint of the Motormouth mold, released again as Ironhide. I have more versions of this mold than I do any other Go-Bot/Spychanger mold, so I’m running out of things to say about it. Black, yellow, and red do look nice together, though.
‘ESCORT VEHICAL.’ I assume there wasn’t a single copy editor, or even anyone with a third grade education, working at Hasbro in 2004. Because that’s just embarrassing. The vehicle mode looks cool other than that, though. It’s obviously an homage to G1 Trailbreaker and it works very nicely in that regard. I like it.
I’m not sure what to see this toy as other than a novelty item. The spelling mistake is very funny. I guess it could work as a Spychanger version of Trailbreaker, or even maybe a G2 version of Trailbreaker, if you were so inclined.
Other than the spelling error (which is more of a delightful feature than a bug) this toy has no real problems. It isn’t especially exciting, though, either.
Overall Rating: B-
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage
This toy is a clear redeco of the original Spychangers Mirage, and uses many of the same paint masks from that release. This toy was released as a KB Toys exclusive in 2003, and was re-released with no changes as Universe Mirage in 2006.
The Character: See RID section above.
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers Mirage’s robot mode is interesting because it has all the same paint details as the 2001 Mirage, albeit done in some different colors. It looks great. I love the clear green plastic these chose for this figure. He looks like some kind of magical space emerald. Although it’s a very attractive toy, the paint deco on the head leaves his face looking completely featureless. He also has less plastic color variation than Ironhide, but it’s still a good look.
It will come as no surprise to you that the vehicle mode looks fantastic, too. I really love the yellow paint hits, especially where the design fades into the green. The black stripes are a bit hard to make out, so they’re less successful. Still, this is a delicious looking car mode so it’s hard to complain too much.
As with Ironhide above, this toy probably works best as a powered up version of RID Mirage. It could also be a unique character of your own creation, so let me know if you come up with anything.
The only thing to watch out for with this toy is the clear plastic. Other than that, it’s pretty as a picture.
Overall Rating: B+
2003 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime
This version of Spychangers Optimus Prime was released as a Walmart exclusive in 2003, sold in a two pack with a Prowl who looked suspiciously like Red Alert. It’s an homage to a Sam’s Club exclusive repaint of the larger RID Optimus Prime toy. Because it’s a strange yellow Optimus Prime, this is the version of the mold I decided to buy. This toy is also the basis for the character ‘Yellow Splendid Convoy,’ sometimes also just known as Optimus Prime. Notably, Yellow Splendid Convoy is one of the only few female versions of Optimus Prime. That’s fun, so let’s do a bio for her.
The Character: Many years ago, Yellow Splendid Convoy willingly shrunk her body both to conserve energy and to fight more closely alongside her troops, who were mostly Spychangers. She is brave, noble, and capable– all trademarks of the Convoy lineage. Though she and her teammates fight a brutal multiversal war with the devil known as Unicron, Yellow Splendid Convoy is still more focused on rescuing sentient beings and preserving life than she is on combat. She honed her skills and her wits as the leader of the Yellow Order of The Primus Vanguard, where she became an expert with her multifunction Convoy Cannon, which can shoot both huge energy blasts and fire retardant foam.
The Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus pictured above were two of the other new Spychanger molds made for Transformers RID. We’ll get to Magnus and the other new mold soon enough. As you can see, both 2003 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus are quite a bit taller than a normal Spychanger.
Optimus Prime aka Yellow Splendid Convoy is very different than other Spychangers when it comes to articulation. Her head can actually turn and she has the pivoting shoulders that almost all Spychangers are known for. In addition, her legs can splay out for wider stances. The ladder/cannon apparatus on her back can’t swing up over her shoulder like the larger toy’s can, but she can kind of position it under her left arm if you use the swiveling turret base and hinge in conjunction with one another. The mold itself is a pretty dang good representation of RID Optimus Prime’s super robot mode. There’s a good amount of paint on this figure and overall the deco looks great, but I wish the colors were more shiny and saturated.
Though it’s maybe a bit iffy from a few angles, this is a cool vehicle mode. The ladder moves up and down, and also swivels at the turret base, which adds a ton of extra play value. It’s also quite large, meaning it looks appropriately sized when compared to other Spychangers. Again, the only thing I want here is a more saturated yellow and perhaps a more interesting shade of grey or silver for the ladder.
Since I already have the larger RID Optimus Prime, I see this figure as a dimension-hopping Yellow Splendid Convoy. I’ve always wanted the large yellow Sam’s Club exclusive version of RID OP, but I’ll never be able to afford it. So buying this toy was a way to get something close into my collection. The fact that she can be an entirely different character, and a very weird one at that, is just icing on the cake.
This toy has no issues whatsoever. It’s sturdy, solid, and fun. If you’ve always wanted a yellow RID Optimus, this is an affordable way to get one.
Overall Rating: B+
2003 Transformers Car Robots Spychangers Super Wars
This is the only Japanese exclusive Spychanger I own, but luckily he’s a cool one. He was released in 2003 in an individually packaged “blind box.” You knew which mold you were getting, but you didn’t know if it was the standard release or the clear “chase variant” until you opened it. This is the standard version.
The Character: See RID section above.
Grey, blue, and white always look nice together. With its little pops of red for the kanji on the chest and for the robot eyes, this is a very cool looking toy. It has the same paint masks and deco as the original WARS toy, but the colors have been changed. There’s not much to say about it at this point other than it’s pretty neat.
This is one handsome car mode! If only all NASCARs looked this classy. I would trade the gold rims for silver, but that is the only thing I’d change about this deco. I LOVE how the bright green windows look against the otherwise subdued blues and grey on this toy. It’s just a sight to behold.
To me, 2003 Transformers Car Robots Spychangers Super Wars is just a powered-up version of WARS. He’d be pretty tough to use as another character, mostly because he has his name written on his doors. Your mileage may vary on that, though.
I’d be careful with the clear plastic gun, but this toy is otherwise quite sturdy and solid. It’s also very fetching, even if it’s not an essential Spychangers release.
Overall Rating: A-
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ultra Magnus
The Spychanger version of Ultra Magnus was originally released in 2002 as one of the “new mold” Spychangers. This version was released as a Walmart exclusive in 2004, sold in a 2 pack with the Ironhide you saw earlier in this section. This is a darker color scheme for the mold and I decided it looked more interesting than the original, so it’s the one I decided to get. This character was known as God Magnus in Japan and, since I see RID taking place in the same continuity as G1 (which already has an Ultra Magnus), that’s who I’ll be writing a bio for.
The Character: God Magnus is the angry, scorned brother of Fire Convoy. He’s childish, petty, and self absorbed. Feels he’s been wronged by his brother and the Autobots as a whole. A grim, brooding figure, God Magnus typically shuns the friendship of others and prefers to be alone. But when no one else can stop the Evil Decepticons but him, he rises to the occasion.
Like Spychanger Optimus Prime, this Ultra Magnus also has enhanced articulation for a toy in this range. His shoulders swivel up and down, but he also featured head rotation and can splay his legs out. This is a sharp looking robot mode, and the back ‘wings’ and head articulation make him look extra dynamic and expressive. Though he could stand to have a bit more deco in this mode, the blue, black, and grey look quite good together.
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Ultra Magnus transforms into a futureistic car carrier, and he can actually carry one (Spychanger-sized) car in his vehicle mode. The car you choose to put there usually stays pretty securely, too, so it’s a nice design all around.
I adore this vehicle mode. I love it on the larger toy, I love it on this toy, and I even love it on the Siege Ultra Magnus. It’s a car carrier, but it also looks heavily armored and built for combat. The dark colors make it even more ready for battle. The colors are mostly the same in this mode, but it also has some pops of red for Autobot symbols and ‘wide load’ stickers on the rear that make it feel even nicer.
I’m not really sure how to use this toy as a character. To me, the RID Ultra Magnus design is so singular that I can’t see this toy as anyone but him. It could be an alternate dimension version of Magnus from the same reality as Yellow Splendid Convoy, I guess, but it hasn’t really inspired me to think in that direction. This is pretty much just a fun little toy that I haven’t come up with anything for in terms of character.
Like with Optimus Prime, there’s not much to watch out for with this figure. It’s cool and everything works how it should.
Overall Rating: B+
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS
This version of WARS was a KB Toys exclusive, released in 2003. It was also released with no changes in 2006 as Universe Camshaft. Since I’ve already written a bio for WARS in the RID section, let’s have some fun and write a bio for Camshaft.
The Character: Camshaft is an expert covert operative– a grim Shadow Warrior who specializes in espionage, scouting, tracking, and infiltration. Though he possesses super tough armor, his small size and light-absorbing plating make him extra stealthy. A lifetime of performing morally questionable special operations has left him paranoid. Camshaft thinks others are always spying on him, even when he’s doing the spying. His paranoia makes him unreliable on the battlefield, but it also enhances his backstabbing abilities. He sees himself as the dark, ghostly fist of Optimus Prime himself, so his loyalty to his Spychanger team is questionable. He fights for the glory of the Autobot supreme commander, not for the rest of the Spychanger team.
2003 Transformers RID Spychangers WARS looks like tasty grape and orange candy. There’s no real other way to describe him. He uses the same clear orange plastic as the KB exclusive Ironhide featured above, but it looks extra cool combined with his clear purple and colorless clear plastic. He does have a bit of a Halloween vibe to him, which makes him look stealthy despite being purple and orange. The face could use some paint detail, but this is an otherwise fantastic looking robot mode.
This is another beautiful car mode, especially when the light catches it just the right way. It might be nice if he had more deco than just the yellow stripe on the bottom of each door and the sparkly blue windows, but it still works for him. You don’t see all that many clear purple Transformers cars, either, so this vehicle form really stands out.
As a character, I guess I see this as Camshaft (or at least a Spychanger version of him). I already have WARS and a powered-up WARS, so being another character entirely is about the only purpose this toy can serve.
Again, watch out for the clear plastic on this one. As long as you’re careful, though, this is a gorgeous toy you’ll be happy to own.
Overall Rating: A-
Transformers Universe “G1” Spychangers
In 2004, a group of 6 G1-themed Spychanger repaints were released as KB Toys exclusives in generic Transformers packaging. In 2005, the toys were released with Universe packaging at discount stores like Family Dollar.
I remember seeing these toys at KB, but I didn’t buy any of them back then. Instead, I’ve just cobbled the collection together over the past few years. In general, they are not as good as any of the Spychangers who came before them. They lack paint details and have shoddy stickers.
They’re still kind of fun, though. Here they are in alphabetical order.
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Autobot Jazz
Autobot Jazz (his on-package name for trademark reasons) was released in 2004 as a KB exclusive, and then again at discount stores in different packaging. He’s a repaint of Side Burn, who was the first release of the initially-canceled G2 Dodge Viper Go-Bot mold.
The Character: Jazz has always been on the cutting edge of trends, culture, and technology. When he saw the opportunity to shrink down to a faster, more fuel-efficient Spychanger body, he didn’t think twice about it. His smaller size allows him to mingle among humans and attend their cultural functions, such as political fundraisers, quinceañeras, cybergoth raves, keggers, and bachelorette parties. As a Spychanger, is the Autobots’ ultimate ambassador to humankind. Though he is a beloved celebrity who stars in at least 14 Bravo Network reality TV shows, Jazz never hesitates to use his uncanny sound system, dazzling light display, photon rifle, and maximum vehicle mode speed of 230mph to protect humanity and the Autobot cause.
Jazz is tied with Ratchet as my favorite of the original 1984 Autobots. So it’s kind of a bummer to see him like this. Don’t get me wrong– the toy has its charms, but it’s also a low-effort cash in. There’s a startling lack of paint on this figure and the sub-par stickers only do so much to help. Other than his wheels, headlights, and optic visor, Jazz is basically all white. It doesn’t do him any favors. The monochrome white color scheme also makes the Viper body type seem even more chunky and bulbous, which doesn’t help things. I feel like Jazz deserved better.
In vehicle mode, 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Autobot Jazz does look a bit better. It’s interesting to see a Dodge Viper with the character’s trademark racing livery. The stripes and such are all made from stickers, though, and they aren’t especially well applied in all cases. The blue windows and gold rims do look pretty good, and I feel like this car mode is mostly acceptable. Sadly, my figure’s vehicle mode weapon storage doesn’t work at all– the rifle just falls right out of its designated slot.
For this section, I’m not really going to go into how I see the characters. These are just small novelty versions of beloved G1 characters.
Other than its generally lazy design and the ineffective weapon storage, there’s nothing to watch out for with this toy.
Overall Rating: D+
2003 Transformers Universe Spychangers Hoist
This Hoist, released as a KB exclusive in 2003, is a repaint of 2002’s Spychanger X-Brawn. Like the others in this series, he was released on a Universe card back at discount stores later on.
The Character: Hoist is a jolly proper gentleman. He is also the Autobots’ maintenance specialist, so he is the one they count on to keep them in tip-top shape and make all manner of repairs when Ratchet is otherwise occupied. Hoist was thrilled to switch to a smaller, more efficient body, which allows him greater precision when performing surgery or making modifications. Has great towing capacity in vehicle mode, where he can transport other Autobots up to seven times his own size. In robot mode, his enlarged left arm allows him to lift larger Autobots, and his smaller right arm contains a variety of precision tools.
In robot mode, Hoist features more paint and detail than any of the other G1-styled Spychangers. He also doesn’t look much like Hoist. Hoist is known for being green (other than in his rebellious Machine Wars days), where as Spychanger Hoist is mostly black. He also looks like a Player 2 version of X-Brawn, which hardly helps matters. Granted, it was more important for his vehicle mode to be green than his robot mode, and the black is there to make the figure look interesting. Which it does. In this mode, it’s a good looking toy. It just doesn’t scream “Hoist” to me.
In vehicle mode, Hoist has some terribly-applied stickers and, even more unfortunately, the stickers themselves are very low quality. Otherwise the deco is nice, though, especially the headlights, tail lights, and orange spare tire at the rear. The hazard stripes, one of Hoist’s trademarks, just look so bad that an otherwise good deco can’t save this mode. Also, he should be a brighter green. There’s not a lot to love here.
As with Jazz, I just see this as a silly, small version of Hoist. It doesn’t give me any grand ideas or inspire me in any way.
Other than the crappy stickers, which you have no control over, there’s nothing to watch out for with this toy. The quality is fine.
Overall Rating: C
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime
You know the drill by now. This toy was first released as a KB exclusive in 2003 and then brought to discount stores under the Transformers Universe branding. It’s a repaint of 2002 Spychanger Scourge. It was also repainted in 2007 as a Japanese-exclusive version of live action movie Optimus Prime.
The Character: When Ratchet says “You’re using too much damn fuel, Prime,” the Autobot leader at least pretends to listen. Though he misses his massive, powerful, and fuel inefficient body, Optimus Prime is trying his best to adapt to his new Spychanger form. He does find it difficult to give inspiring speeches to his troops when Cliffjumper can shove him into a storage locker and Hubcap can shake him down for extra Nucleon money, however. But Optimus Prime persists. In robot mode, is equipped with rapid fire shoulder cannons that can do remarkable damage to much larger robots. In truck mode, is finally fuel efficient. Possesses tiny Matrix of Leadership powered by 1.5V button cell batteries.
This is a good looking figure, but that’s always going to be the case when something uses the G2 Laser Optimus Prime design. The deco on this figure is pretty good, and there’s lots of paint to go around. It’s also fun to see the Laser Prime design in more traditional G1 colors. I particularly like the light blue shoulder cannons and knee pads. 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Optimus Prime doesn’t move as well as other Spychangers– he is only articulated at the elbows. Still, it’s a good looking toy.
Again, this is a pretty good looking traditional Optimus Prime truck mode. It’s red, blue, and mean. But also friendly. One set of back wheels is fake, but the toy still rolls nicely. The only complaint I really have here is that the Autobot symbol on the hood is tampographed over two separate pieces and doesn’t quite line up. It probably would have looked better on top of the truck cab.
This is just a tiny, fun Optimus Prime toy. And it’s pretty well done– I feel like more effort went into this one than any of the other G1-themed Spychangers. It’s cool to have a pocket-sized G2 Laser Prime. I can’t really imagine incorporating this toy into any grand stories, but it’s neat to have around.
This toy is sturdy and solid and there’s nothing to watch out for. The reduced articulation is a bummer, but that’s about it.
Overall Rating: B+
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Prowl
This toy was first released as Prowl 2 in 2001, but was initially planned for release late in the G2 toy line. Unlike the other previously canceled G2 Go-Bots, this mold received three actual, separate releases instead of just two.
The Character: Prowl is a grumpy, uptight sourpuss. He is a master strategist and an effective warrior, but he’s also a crybaby who will flip a table or complain about Star Wars on the internet when things don’t go his way. Prowl is so absorbed in his own world of policies, enforcement, and tactics that he didn’t even notice when he woke up one day as a Spychanger. That particular feat of engineering was Ratchet’s greatest gift to the Autobot cause.
Though his overall appearance isn’t anything amazing, I think 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Prowl looks much more confident and cohesive than RID’s Prowl 2. The deco for the head alone is a huge improvement over the previous release of the mold. The badge on his chest is also fairly tasteful and adds some nice pops of color to the toy. I’m not completely enthralled with this figure, but it is pretty nice.
Prowl’s car mode paint-scheme is competent but unremarkable. The Autobot sticker on the hood is crooked on mine, which could be a pretty common thing. Otherwise, this is a decent little cop car. But it’s still a cop car so I have a hard time caring too much about it.
It made sense to release this toy as a G1-inspired Prowl in this series, but it makes me think of another missed opportunity. RID Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Side Burn, and X-Brawn were all recreated as Spychangers in that toy line, but Prowl was not. This toy’s deco makes him the closest match for the larger RID Prowl, and he’s your best bet at completing the core RID cast at this smaller scale. But I also wonder why Hasbro didn’t repaint the Firecracker/REV Lamborghini mold into RID Prowl’s color scheme at least once. That was a puzzling misstep, as kids back then never had a complete Spychanger team of the show’s main characters.
Also, this toy is just fine. I have no problems to report.
Overall Rating: B
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Silverstreak
Silverstreak was released as a KB exclusive in 2004 and then re-released in 2005. You know the drill by now. He’s a repaint of RID Side Swipe, who was an unused G2 Go-Bot mold. Silverstreak and Side Swipe were the only two uses of this toy, and thank god it got a second chance.
The Character: Silverstreak was eager to be reformatted into a smaller, more fuel efficient Spychangwer body because now he has much more energy for talking. In fact, he can now talk for 3 months straight without the need to refuel or recharge. He’s also faster now, which increases his vehicle speed to 250mph and allows him to cram in 15 more words per minute. Silverstreak hates war, but he hates Decepticons even more. He’s a capable gunner, and even at his reduced size his lightning beam rifle is a devastating weapon.
Bluestreak is Silver and Silverstreak is Blue, even though they’re the same guy. Those are the rules. This toy’s gorgeous dark blue-grey, silver, and white color scheme greatly over shadows the original Side Swipe version of this toy. In fact, I think 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Silverstreak is one of the best looking Spychangers, period. The mold was slightly retooled for this release, which allws his hood to sit fully flush against his chest. The strange design of the robot head really shines with this color scheme, as well. I love him.
Just look at this beautiful car mode! I’m not sure I even have to say anything else here. I think Silverstreak makes the Camaro mold look much nicer than Side Swipe does.
I guess I mostly see this as a small, novelty version of Bluestreak. But it looks different enough from a traditional Bluestreak design to be used as a completely unique character. I just haven’t come up with anything yet.
Overall Rating: A
2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Wheeljack
This Wheeljack was released as a KB exclusive in 2004 and then saw a wider release at discount stores in 2005. The mold was originally used to make RID Daytonus and was originally designed in the G2 era.
The Character: Wheeljack is the Autobots’ happy-go-lucky, wacky mechanical engineer. His teammates call him a ‘mad scientist’ behind his back, but that doesn’t phase Wheeljack. Wheeljack is confident in his own abilities and he values innovation above all else, which is why he was willing to reformat himself into a smaller Spychanger body. Now his inventions and experiments are even larger, as he can use the extra energy and resources his own body doesn’t need to make bigger explosions and more horrifying lab disasters
I get what Hasbro was going for here, and this toy does end up looking something like Wheeljack. Wheeljack is another one of my favorite classic G1 Autobots, and I own more toys of him than I do most other characters in the franchise, so I’m happy to have this one. Like Jazz and Hoist, though, his deco mostly comes from some really janky stickers and he lacks many painted details. I think this one could have turned out a lot better.
While I really like the design of this vehicle mode, 2004 Transformers Universe Spychangers Wheeljack’s shoddy stickers means it looks much worse than it should. The black is overpowering and the stickers look like an afterthought. It’s a cool car design, but this particular toy just ends up looking lazy and half-baked. Like Jazz, Wheeljack deserves better.
Basically, this toy is just another one to throw on the Wheeljack pile. I’m not mad that I own it, but it’s pretty lackluster.
Overall Rating: C
Closing Thoughts on Transformers Generation 2 Go-Bots and RID Spychangers
Phew! This is probably my most ambitious post ever. I took over 400 photos. Thanks for joining me! I hope you enjoyed it. We’ll be back to regular-length toy reviews pretty soon here, starting with another strange GI Joe figure.
What’s your favorite Go-Bot or Spychanger toy? Were you into Hot Wheels as a kid? Let me know in the comments!
2 thoughts on “Robot Hot Wheels: Transformers Go-Bots, Spychangers, and Beyond”
While I’m not a big fan of this line overall, I absolutely ADORE this tiny version of Ultra Magnus. It is one of my favorite Transformers of all time, despite having no knowledge or familiarity with the RiD source material. I have the blue and gray version but would pick up this blue and black version in a heartbeat (and any other colors if they ever wanted to release the toy again). Thank you for the excellent and very thorough review. You’ve given me a new appreciation for some of the other figures in the line.
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I like to pretend Crosswise is a Ferrari 458. He is definitely my fave, but love Ultra Magnus as well. Nice write-up and pics!
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