11 of the Most Valuable Transformers Toys From the ‘80s

They might be robots in disguise, but there‘s no disguising how valuable these G1 Transformers are among collectors.
Transformers G1 Optimus Prime and Megatron Commercial
Transformers G1 Optimus Prime and Megatron Commercial / TFRaw!! Transformers Multimedia Archive

Long before Michael Bay’s wildly successful film series came stomping into theaters and changed the way audiences view movies about toys, Transformers were just action figures that ‘80s kids couldn‘t help but obsess over. Able to shape-shift into robots, cars, dinosaurs, and even miniature guns, the toys hit American markets in 1984 and quickly took pop culture by storm.

It was all thanks to a collaboration between Hasbro and Japanese toy manufacturer Takara. Between 1984 and 1990, the two companies released dozens of figures that have since been dubbed G1, or Generation One, Transformers. Distinctive for their cool designs and mostly metal construction (until 1986 or so), dealers say that part of their enduring appeal boils down to something pretty simple: the nostalgia factor. “Most of the people that collect the vintage [Transformers] are looking for what they had when they were 12, not when they were 50,” Chris Ingledue of Wheeljack‘s Lab, a vintage toy store, tells Mental Floss.

According to Ingledue, it can be difficult to quantify how much a G1 Transformer will be worth these days because the condition of the toy and whether it‘s loose or in a sealed box are big factors. “A lot of dealers only want to buy sealed, or they only want to buy the really rare stuff,” he says. But some stores, like his own, will purchase loose toys and even whole collections to “help people get rid of their stuff.” Figures graded by a professional organization like the Action Figure Authority (part of the Collectible Grading Authority) stand to earn even more, as those items have been evaluated based on several criteria, including how the toy looks and what shape the box and its window are in.

In honor of the 40th anniversary release of those G1 Transformers, check out 11 of the most valuable below, based on data from eBay and WorthPoint, a site that tracks sales on the secondary market. Whether you were all about Optimus Prime or preferred the Decepticons, what they could be worth today might change how you look at your old toy collection. 

Optimus Prime with Trailer (1984) // Up to $40,000

Most valuable Transformers: G1 Optimus Prime
King stays the king. / Wheeljacks Lab

Ingledue says that this G1 Optimus Prime is among the most valuable G1 Transformer figures because it was one of the “main core characters” of the series. It was released in 1984 as part of the first toy line and could transform into a red semi-trailer truck with an attached gray trailer. The trailer even opened up, revealing Prime’s Combat Deck, which could fit his matching laser rifle, fuel pump, and nozzle accessories. 

How much you can get for one of these depends on a number of factors, including whether it’s been graded. In 2023, a rare Canadian variant with an AFA 80 grade (out of a score of 100) sold for over $40,000 (USD). This wasn’t a fluke, either: A non-Canadian variant with an AFA 85 grade earned $30,000 in 2022, while another with an AFA 85 grade was listed in 2023 for just under $24,000.

If the thought of a 40-year-old Optimus Prime toy being valuable enough to cover all your remaining student loan debt makes you woozy, you should know that there is a significant price discrepancy between graded and non-graded versions. On eBay lately, you'd be lucky to get more than $500 for one if it hasn’t been graded.

Fortress Maximus (1987) // Up to $30,000

Fortress Maximus hit shelves in 1987. Standing 22 inches tall, it was by far the most enormous toy produced as part of the G1 line. It was even bigger than Scorponok, his arch-nemesis, who was the largest G1 Decepticon figure of the period. Ingledue says this toy’s size is part of why it’s still so valuable today: “Big boxes are hard to keep nice because you can’t really keep them in a nice little box. They just sat on floors, they get shoved around, not carried.”

At the time, Fortress Maximus retailed for a whopping $100 (worth about $268 today). The daunting price tag reflects just how cool his features were, as kids could reconfigure Fortress Maximus from its compact city design into a battle station. If you managed to keep yours safely in the box, you don’t have to get it graded to clear $1000 on eBay: This one without a grade sold for nearly $1300 in April 2024. Even without a box, many used versions go for over $500. That said, graded copies in like-new condition can also rake in big bucks: In 2018, a version with an AFA 85 grade scooped up about $30,000 on eBay.

Jetfire (1985) // Up to $25,000

Most valuable Transformers: Jetfire
Much of the toy is white, which makes it prone to yellowing. / Courtesy of jcer / eBay

Jetfire is valuable among collectors for a couple of reasons. Unlike many of the G1 Hasbro Transformers toys, this one didn’t initially come from Takara. Instead, it was from a rival company, Takatoku Toys, and was a redeco of their 1983 Macross VF-1S Super Valkyrie figure, meaning the same molds that were used for the Macross were also utilized for Jetfire (though they had different color schemes). Due to licensing terms around the molds, Jetfire was never released in Japan or Europe, so he has added caché among international aficionados.

If you happen to have a Jetfire in pristine condition, you can command top dollar for it. His design is relatively complicated, and certain accessories—like his mounting pod—were easy for kids to lose. Also, because so much of the figure was white, it was very prone to yellowing. Having one with all the accessories and no discoloration can mean a big payday. On eBay, you can get anywhere from $300 to $800 for one that hasn’t been graded but is still in like-new condition. Those that have been graded, however, can sell for over $5000 on eBay, like this one with an AFA 85 grade did in 2017. Another one earned $24,806 in 2021 and had an AFA 90+ grade.

Megatron Walther P38 (1984) // Up to $18,000

Most valuable Transformers:  1984 Transformers G1 vintage MEGATRON Gun
Toys like this would never fly today. / Courtesy of the_dandy_lion/eBay

When folks say ’80s kids had the wildest childhoods, it’s because they got to play with toys like this. Modeled after a Walther P-38 pistol, this Megatron gun was a redeco of a mold from one of Takara’s ’70s-era toy lines, Microman, and closely resembles the company’s Gun Robo Walther P38 U.N.C.L.E., which was inspired by The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the 1960s TV show. Unlike the P38 U.N.C.L.E., which had a spring-loaded firing mechanism built into it so that it could actually shoot out little plastic bullets, Hasbro opted to completely remove this feature from the 1984 Megatron released in the U.S., so he didn’t shoot any bullets.

Over the years, multiple variations of the Megatron gun have appeared, but the 1984 original has earned a cult-like status among collectors. Reissues had a plastic orange cap in the barrel, in compliance with federal law enacted in 1988, but this Megatron doesn’t. However, it’s still legal for dealers to sell it because it was released in the U.S. years before the law went into effect.

In 2016, a seller earned about $18,000 for one that was in near-mint condition with an AFA 85+ grade, while other graded versions have sold for between $6000 to $12,000 on average. If you’ve got one stashed in your Mom’s attic, you might want to hold onto it just for nostalgic purposes. But if you do want to get some extra cash in your pocket, you can typically get between $500 to $800 for copies that are still in the box (although this one without a grade is listed for $4500). Even used ones sell for a few hundred bucks.

Galvatron (1986) // Up to $18,000

Most valuable Transformers: Galvatron
World domination sold separately. / Courtesy of biggs_collectibles / eBay

You can’t talk about Megatron without eventually bringing up Galvatron, seeing as they’re one and the same. (Unicron—an ancient, malevolent entity the size of a planet—famously rebuilds Megatron into Galvatron in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie.) As Decepticon leaders go, Galvatron is even more ruthless than Megatron, so it makes sense that a toy in his likeness could be worth roughly as much as that infamous gun.

One Galvatron figure with an AFA 85 grade sold for $18,000 in 2016, but for the most part, the toy tends to get listed for under $4000 on eBay. A figure with an AFA 80 grade earned $3600 in 2019, while another posted in 2023 was valued at just over $2600. Feel like skipping the whole grading process? You can probably pull in between $200 to $400 for the figure.

Soundwave (1984) // Up to $16,000

Most valuable Transformers: Soundwave and Condor Cassette: Buzzsaw
Gonna tell our grandkids this was a primitive type of iPod. / Courtesy of Culler Collectibles / eBay

Kids today might draw a blank when it comes to figuring out what a cassette recorder is, but back in 1984, a toy that transformed into one would have been considered pretty damn cool. In that sense, Soundwave doesn’t disappoint. When this Decepticon isn’t in robot form, he melds into a realistically sized cassette recorder, complete with a door that kids could open and use to fit in one of the matching mini-cassette figures also available for sale at that time, like Buzzsaw (who came in the packaging with Soundwave), Frenzy, and Laserbeak.

Because of how innovative his design was, Soundwave was one of the more popular G1 toys released back in the 1980s. The toy was a redeco and originally modeled after one from Takara’s Micro Change toy line, the MC-10 Cassette Man. Starting in 1985, Soundwave went through various changes in design, but if you have an original, you could be sitting on a small gold mine.

In 2023, a near-mint original from 1984 with an AFA 80 grade raked in nearly $16,000 on eBay. Other versions of the toy have earned sellers anywhere from $7500 to almost $12,000. Without any grade attached, it can still be worth between $150 to $500 on eBay if it’s in the box, while most loose versions sell for between $100 to $200 on average.

Ultra Magnus (1986) // Up to $15,000

Most valuable Transformers: G1 Ultra Magnus
A dupe for everybody's favorite good guy. / Courtesy of destokely / eBay

Take a close look at Ultra Magnus here and ask yourself, “Does this look familiar?” If you answered yes, you’re right on the money. That’s because, much like Jetfire, Soundwave, and Megatron, Ultra Magnus is a redeco of an earlier design. In the case of Ultra Magnus, his mold was from Diaclone, which was one of the Takara toy lines that formed the basis for the initial G1 Transformer toys. And he doesn’t share a mold with just anybody; the Ultra Magnus figure is a redeco of a redeco (yes, you read that right) of the Battle Convoy mold that was used for that legendary Optimus Prime toy we mentioned earlier.

Shaded in red, white, and blue, Ultra Magnus warrants a hero’s welcome in any collector’s home, and if you have a AFA-graded version of the toy (as this seller did back in 2010), you could get upwards of $15,000 for the 1986 version. Most graded copies, like this one with an AFA 85 grade, tend to go for between $2700 to $6000. On eBay, you can get a few hundred bucks for an Ultra Magnus without a grade, even if he’s been pre-loved (and already fully assembled).

Dinobot Swoop (1985) // Up to $15,000

Most valuable Transformers: Dinobot Swoop
Those wings were pretty delicate—as were the feet and beak. / Courtesy of 1985 Toys / eBay

The Dinobots were a scrappy clique within the Autobots. Led by Grimlock, these robot-dinosaur hybrids could appeal to kids who loved Transformers as much as they dug a Pteranodon, and figures like Swoop definitely amped up the fun factor.

While some features with Swoop are very nifty, he was one of the more delicate G1 toys. “Swoop was popular at the time for kids because he could fly and he was [a] really cool design,” Ingledue says. “Very fragile though, so he broke a lot.” As a result, if you have an original Swoop that is fully intact, you could be on the receiving end of a nice chunk of change.

On eBay, dealers regularly sell him for over $100, even if he isn’t in a box. You could pump those earnings up by a lot if you have one in near-mint condition, as this boxed version of Swoop collected $15,000 in 2021. Another with an AFA 90 grade netted significantly less but still earned $6000 on the secondary market.

Pepsi Optimus Prime (1985) // Up to $9500

Most valuable Transformers: Pepsi Optimus Prime
A better kind of Pepsi challenge. / Courtesy of Doc$tock / eBay

That O.G. Optimus Prime isn’t the only valuable G1 incarnation of the intrepid Autobots leader. The Pepsi Prime is equally coveted because it was part of a limited-run promotional exclusive with PepsiCo back in 1985. “The Pepsi Prime is the same as Optimus Prime, he just has a sticker offer on the top,” Ingledue says.

If you have a sealed Pepsi Prime with its original box in good condition, you could earn anywhere from $1500 to upwards of $5000 on eBay, even without having it officially graded. However, you stand to gain a lot more by having the toy graded. Back in 2021, a single Pepsi Prime with an AFA 85 grade was listed on eBay for $9500. Another one with an AFA 85 grade went for well over $6000 in 2019.

Devastator Gift Set (1985) // Up to $4500

Most valuable Transformers: Devastator Gift Set
Bulldozing over a lot of the competition. / Courtesy of mysteries_from_beyond / eBay

The brutal and treacherous Devastator was the original combiner Transformer toy, meaning kids could assemble a massive robot out of much smaller figures. Unlike combiners that would follow (like Menasor and Superion), this Decepticon was actually comprised of six smaller toys rather than five. These nasty little ’bots were known as the Constructicons because they could individually transform into construction vehicles. Scrapper, Bonecrusher, Hook, Long Haul, Mixmaster, and Scavenger were all part of the crew.

Devastator’s impact on the wallets of collectors can be just as fearsome. A 1985 gift set containing all six figures sold for $4500 back in 2014, and had an AFA 80 grade. If you want to sell one that hasn’t been graded yet, you could still rake in lots of extra cash: One was listed in March 2024 on eBay for a little over $2000, while another earned more than $2300 back in 2023. On average, most go for under $1000 on the site.

Menasor Stunticon Gift Set (1986) // $3550

Most valuable Transformers: Menasor
A scrapyard in robot form. / Courtesy of angels_holiday / eBay

This Decepticon means business, and so will you if you have a sealed version of this G1 combiner, which was released in 1986. Back in the day, folks could purchase all five Stunticon figures—including Motormaster, Dead End, Wildrider, Drag Strip, and Breakdown—separately or opt for this gift box. Once assembled, you could use all of them to create an even bigger ’bot: the menacing Menasor.

Along with fellow combiners like Superion and Bruticus, Menasor was part of the Scramble City sub-line of Takara Transformers toys that followed Devastator. They were notable for their modular construction and the fact that the smaller toys could all fit together to form an even bigger one.

Graded versions of this toy can go for big bucks over on eBay. In March 2024, one with an AFA 75 grade was listed for $3550. Otherwise, it can be tough to find the set, and many of those recently featured on the site are either reissues or part of the Legacy Evolution line, so you’re not getting that solid G1 build quality.

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