Light piping in action

And all done without batteries or photoshop.

Light-piping is a low-tech gimmick used on Transformers toys that allows lighting effects (usually for the eyes) without the need for electronics. Light-piping is achieved by using a translucent (often colored) piece of plastic that is inserted into the body part in question (usually the head), leading from one side of the body to the other side. When the other side (usually the rear, sometimes the top or the sides) is held against an external light source, the light will shine through the clear plastic and cause a lighting effect on the front side. The gimmick was originally introduced with the European-exclusive late-G1 Turbomasters and Predators toys released in 1992.

Some more advanced light-piping techniques allow for less conspicuous windows that don't always even have to be on the back of the head. For example, both Shockblast and Alternators Shockwave feature a triangular design facing forwards that manages to pipe light through to their singular eye, meaning they don't have to be held with their backs to a light source.

Toys that feature light-piping gimmicks

European-exclusive Generation One toys

  • Every new-mold toy from 1992 and 1993

Generation 2

  • Every new mold toy except for the Go-Bots, Power Masters and the large tank Megatron.

Beast Machines

  • Most toys featured light-piping in both modes.

Robots in Disguise






2007 Movie line

Toys with disabled light-piping gimmicks

Some toys are designed to feature a light-piping gimmick, but the gimmick is rendered useless by having the parts in question (often the eyes) painted over or replaced with opaque plastics.


  • Ransack
  • Brakedown GTS not only sports painted eyes, but also uses opaque black plastic for the light-piping parts from the original release of the mold.
  • Override


  • Bumblebee and Cliffjumper sports translucent plastic for eyes, but is rendered useless because of the opaque plastic piece used for the back of the head.


2007 Movie line

  • Ironhide (Voyager Class)
  • Dropkick
  • Stockade has a panel behind his head which obstructs the light-piping gimmick.
  • Payload has light piping, which is rendered useless by the black paint on his eye

Classics 2.0

  • Octane's Classic's toy has blue light-piping, which is rendered moot by the red paint.


  • Snarl has orange light-piping, but his eyes are painted blue, disabling it.
  • Soundwavehas dark gray light-piping, but his eyes are painted red, disabling it.

Revenge of the Fallen

  • Starscream has painted eyes, pity considering he has a light pipe
  • Breakaway has eyes that are painted over, despite that he has a lightpipe
  • Long Haul has his lightpipe eyes cast in opaque red plastic
  • Mixmaster has his eyes cast in deep purple.

Reveal the Shield

Classics Rodimus was redecoed in "Battle in Space" two pack from the Reveal the Shield line with Cyclonus, his light pipe, like his canopy and flame missile, were replaced with red plastic with blue paint on the eyes.

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