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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Cliffjumper's review of: Downshift

Name: Downshift
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Security Agent
Sub-Group: Omnibots

Downshift was only released in the Transformers line as part of the S.T.A.R.S. mail-away programme in 1984-85. The figure was shipped in a sealed plastic bag, and came with instructions only. The figure was actually a reuse of a Diaclone Doublechanger figure. Like his fellow Omnibots, Downshift managed to avoid media appearances for the best part of two decades, until getting a cameo in Dreamwave's second G1 mini-series. But then, who didn't? The character also got a none-too-exhaustive profile in the second issue of Dreamwave's More Than Meets the Eye series.

Vehicle Mode:
Downshift is a white Toyota Celica XX, with dark blue opaque windows and some black trim. It's not the most beautiful of Transformers alt modes, with some seriously square edges, but having something that's a realistic car without being a high-performance sports car is nice. Sizewise, Downshift is, at a guess, about 75% of the size of one of the regular Autobot cars, and at about the same scale ratio. The car mode has rubber tyres, with diecast limited to a couple of places on the underside. The detail isn't exhaustive, not on the level of the conventional car releases, but this is nevertheless a good take on the Celica XX. One niggle, though, is that the front bumper is represented by a white sticker on the black moulded fender, which has a tendancy to peel off. Like all white plastic Transformers, especially of this age, Downshift is prone to yellowing.

One of the gimmicks of the Omnibots is that they were the first Transformers released with a stab at a third mode. For Downshift's the doors fold down to reveal wings, on which weapons can be mounted, and what seems to be the sunroof can flick up to reveal two tiny little guns. It's not the best third mode in the world, and few who own Downshift will bother with it, truth be told.

The transformation sequence is quite straight-forward, though the rear of the car can be a little tricky if you don't keep everything in sequence.

Robot Mode:
Downshift's robot mode has a little more black on it that his alt form. He's a thumbs-width shorter than most of the Autobot cars, apart from the runts like Hound and Ratchet, and lanky goons like Inferno and Sunstreaker, where there's best part of three thumbs in it. Articulation is limited to the shoukers, which can rotate and allow his arms to point sideways as well. The robot does actually look rather good, though the big hood part on the head looks a little clumsy. The face mould is very nice, and for once here's a 1984 toy where no-one went overboard on the "printed circuit" stickers. The figure does have a few balance problems, though. He can tip backwards quite easily, and the bonnet halves that form the front of his legs can be quite loose, which can make them a pain to arrange for display. Overall, though, it's a very competent figure, and comes off well displayed with toys from the same period.

Transformation: 5 - nice and moderately complex, though nothing approaching a challenge.
Durability: 6 - main problem areas are the front stickers, and the rear/hat piece, which can pop off and get lost. Break anything else, and you're clearly some sort of primitive ape.
Fun: 7 - he's a nice figure with two more than passable modes. Admittedly, neither do too much...
Price: 8 - like his fellow Omnis, Downshift is far from scarce on eBay, and can be found for somewhere between US$15-25 complete. Word from the wise, though - don't be a fanboy and get a sealed one. Paying extra for a clear plastic bag is stupid.
Summary: 7 - a nice display piece, and by far the best of the Omnibots. Worth investing in if you're a fan of early Transformers.

 
 
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