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
- Every new-mold toy from 1992 and 1993
- Every new mold toy except for the Go-Bots, Power Masters and the large tank Megatron.
- Most toys featured light-piping in both modes.
- Downshift's head and ear lamps
- Storm Jet, including the Superion Maximus head
- Steamhammer, including the Constructicon Maximus head
- Barricade, including the Bruticus Maximus head
- Scrapmetal (all color variants)
- Thundercracker (Deluxe Class)
- Red Alert (Well, supposedly. It doesn't really work, though)
- Unicron (Deluxe Class)
- Dark Crumplezone (Hindered somewhat by a large piece of opaque plastic blocking most of the light behind his head)
- Jetfire (Blocked by his backpack and partly by his helmet)
- Mirage (Blocked by his back/sholders)
- Voyager Optimus Prime
- Megatron's head has light-piping, and somewhat incidentally, his robot-mode wings do as well.
- Ultra Magnus
- Protoform Starscream
- Protoform Optimus Prime
- Autobot Jazz (Deluxe Class), including Final Battle Jazz retool
- Decepticon Brawl (Deluxe Class)
- Wreckage sports very thin eyes, rendering the light-piping gimmick nearly useless.
- Swindle uses a very dark tint for the clear plastic, rendering the light-piping gimmick pretty useless.
- Dreadwing features possibly the least impressive light-piping gimmick, considering the top of his head is made up of the jet mode cockpit's canopy.
- Arcee (Deluxe Class)
- Bumblebee (Deluxe Class Concept Camaro)
- Autobot Ratchet (Voyager Class) sports very thin eyes, rendering the light-piping gimmick nearly useless.
- Starscream (Voyager Class), including Target exclusive retool and Thundercracker redeco
- Blackout (Voyager Class)
- Megatron (Voyager Class)
- Optimus Prime (Voyager Class)
- Megatron (Leader Class)
- Decepticon Brawl (Leader Class) combines a light-piping gimmick with electronics, thus allowing for two different methods of lighting.
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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
- 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.