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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
Alternate Mode:
Box Art:
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Numbat's review of: Topspin

Name: Topspin
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Land & Sea Assault
Sub-Group: Jumpstarters, Wreckers

Quote: “The thrill is in the journey.”

No mountain high enough, no river wide enough to stop this one robot wrecking crew. Has superior mobility due to his Cybertronic vehicular form. Views conquest of rough terrain as much a victory as beating Decepticons. Uses 2 rear jet engines to go 300mph... goes 80mph on water with 2 front pontoons... has 2 hi-voltage electric cannons and 2 hand lasers built in... carries a powerful twin ion impulse blaster.

Nowadays, that blurb is enough to make me like the character. Dreamwave and IDW have both worked Topsin and his brother, Twin Twist, into their G1 histories as members of the Wreckers faction and, later, as Autobot spies within the Decepticon ranks. All grand and rather intriguing from a story perspective. However, as a child, I still remember my initial disappointment when I received this toy from my grandparents in 1985. I still feel the guilt as well – as it turned out he is rather fun, and I regret not being as grateful as a three year old ought to be…

It’s just that, at that stage, I wanted Transformers to, well, transform, and the Jumpstarters do not match up well there. Still, once you give them a go, the gimmick gets the better of anyone, of any age!

The mold also exists as green and white, and pink and yellow recolours, released in 1994 as part of G2 in Argentina. This time, though, both figures, each named Robot-Man-X, were Decepticons.

But, we’ll have another tidbit of trivia later – for now, let’s concentrate on the review!


Alternate Mode:

Topspin has an interesting alternate mode, which may profess to be one of the first Transformers widely released with a Cybertronian vehicle form. It would appear to be some form of rocket powered hovercraft with a few guns mounted on the sides, and fits rather well with the Cybertronian Seekers we see in the G1 cartoon in style.

The vehicle measures 3 ½” (9cm), and consists of a central white portion with blue over the top and at the sides. Basically, the opposite colour scheme to his brother. There are two protrusions at the front, which have a chromed upper surface (and look very, erm, boaty). An Autobot insignia can be seen in the centre, while other stickers bring out further detail. Unfortunately, despite the very best intentions and design, this toy is built around a gimmick which leaves the robot head peering up between the rear boosters, while hands poke forwards in full view at either side. Still, a Cybertronian mode need not be a good disguise, so long as it is functional, and I would imagine Topspin to be an excellent all terrain vehicle – although he is apt to bump his head on uneven ground!

For interest (and our second dose of trivia), some versions of Topspin possess wing stickers displaying ‘D.A.R.’, while others are blank silver. This is a throw-back to the Diaclone toy line most of the original G1 toys were lifted from, and stood for ‘Diaclone Attack Robo’ (his original name back in the day…).


Robot Mode:

Here’s where the fun begins! And ends, really. Topspin does not transform in a traditional sense. Instead, pull him back, and let him go! After a good distance, he flips up, and stands up as a robot. A gimmick that takes a good few hours to get old. Really, to this day, I prefer Transformers to have no gimmicks, but a well thought out transformation (and, if recent, I do expect a degree of articulation, but I let G1 off there). Still, this gimmick is as well thought out as it could be.

At only 4” (10cm) tall, many people comment on Topspin’s big feet (necessary for the transformation to work). However, they aren’t actually proportionally larger than a lot of recent figures that require good balance with a weirdly distributed mass. It’s just the purpose is different. If you do find that he flops onto his back, though, there is an ingenious solution. On the back of Topspin’s head is a little switch. It took me years to work out what this is for. By moving it, you can redistribute the weight slightly, and resolve the grounded fish problem!

Anyway – onto detail. Topspin is short and stocky – with big feet. He bears a worryingly sharp resemblance to my own body shape…

The blue now finds itself confined to the legs, arms and head, while the torso is white. There us a lot of nice molded detail, and stickers add colour. The Autobot insignia sits on his stomach as if it were molded for it, and the rub sticker can be found on his left foot in just about equal comfort. Stickers for the Jumpstarters are reputed to be poor, and it is hard to find an example that still possesses many. Mine has lost quite a few, but seems to have stoop up to Time a little better than most. Silver paint picks out the lower half of the fellow’s face, which is angular, humanoid, with goggles and fairly typical of early Transformer figures who can trace their lineage back through Diaclone. In fact, I’d say that the legacy continues with recent designs, although is about to come to a crashing halt with the upcoming 2007 Movie.

Articulation is limited to the shoulders, although mine has become too loose to pose easily.

As with his brother, Topspin comes complete with a chromed gun two thirds the length of his body. It’s rather nifty, and certainly adds to his arm mounted arsenal (two weapons molded onto each!). A ‘bot to be reckoned with. (The only snag is, without a place to store in vehicle mode, many people have lost the gun over the years…)

Can he be recommended? I’d hope, from the tone of the review, most people will come away thinking ‘yes’, but other than his gimmick, there really is little more to mention as outstanding. Still, he will be remaining in my collection until the end of my days, mainly for sentimental reasons.


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 6 – There is not one to speak of, but the automated gimmick is very well thought out.
Durability: 4 – Although plastic, the very nature of this toy results in scratched, while the clasp and pull-back-and-go mechanism do not last forever on all examples. The stickers are another issue, and the joints on many seem to have become very loose over time.
Fun: 5 – He’s not bad, really, but hardly outstanding.
Price: 10 – You can pick him up loose (without gun) from around 99p ($1.92), or boxed and complete for £10 ($19.42). He’s well worth that for a collector interested in G1.
Overall: 5 – He is a pleasant addition to any Transformer collection, but not a must have, nor does he offer a mind-blowing experience.

 
 
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