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

Name: Downshift
Group: Autobot

A few years of experience in the Energon Wars have gone a long way in DOWNSHIFT. Once an impulsive speedster, he has learned patience and consideration from his mentor, HOT SHOT. Where he once would have raced straight into battle against even overwhelming odds, relying on his speed to get him out of tight spots, he has now learned to observe and enter a fight cautiously. His keen eye and quick reflexes allow him to exploit even the smallest opportunity to bring down DECEPTICONS much bigger and stronger than him.

And they said the Plymouth was dead.

Downshift’s vehicle mode was the main reason I bought the figure. It’s a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda (or as close as they can get without having to pay for copyright usage). At least, I think he’s supposed to be a Hemi Barracuda. Definitely a ‘Cuda, and definitely a ’71 (the body design places it at either 1970 or 1971, and the tail light position places it at 1971… yes, I’m a car nut). They even gave him what looks like a vinyl top, for reasons known only to Hasbro. The texturing is a plus.

All right, all right. Time to settle down and start reviewing the figure.

Downshift isn’t going to win any awards for his color scheme: I think they used to call it "zombie flesh green," but the black looks great. He also went through a couple of modifications between the finished prototype (which I’m guessing is the picture on the back of the package) and the actual release of the toy. The prototype seems to have had an additional gray trim stripe running along with the black, and they added supercharger/turbocharger molding to the piece of his backpack that folds into his hood. My personal opinion is that they should have just painted it black to match the rest of his hood. It’s already got RAM air intakes built into it.

And, in my admittedly limited opinion (as I own a grand total of 5 Cybertron figures), Downshift is the best out of the whole line. Strangely enough, he also has what is the worst Planet Key gimmick I’ve seen this side of Vector Prime…. though his might work if I put batteries in him…

Vehicle Mode:
As stated before, Downshift is a 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda. He is largely green in vehicle mode, with a black trim stripe running down his sides. His hood is black with an Autobot emblem at the front near the grille, and has a turbocharger/supercharger assembly set up near the base of the windshield. He has a landau top done in a rough textured black. Rims are silver, and you can see what is probably supposed to be part of his braking assembly behind the rim spokes. Windows are done in a yellow tint, and if it weren’t for a flip panel with a planet key pattern on it in the middle of the rear window, nobody would ever notice the key dock. It’s a very well done vehicle mode, although even without the Autobot emblem, you can tell that it’s going to turn into something. The seams cutting across the trunk lid kind of give it away.

The transformation, according to the card, is skill level three. According to practical experience (as was shown by my friend who's an engineer), the transformation is not intuitive. In fact, he almost broke it. He got the doors, and the feet... and beyond that, nothing. Flip the doors out, rotate them so the outer door panels are facing up, separate the legs, flip his front end down and lock the waist into the underside of his front end, flip the roof down (causing the head to pop up), fold the arms down out of the doors and flip the hands out, open panels in his shins and flip up two small panels on the trunk, fold the feet out, flip the shin panels back down, put the blasters on his shoulders, and voilá, you have a robot.

Robot Mode:
Well, aside from the fact that his field of vision is limited to what’s in front of him (as the shoulder cannons are slightly higher than his head), he looks pretty good. Colors seem to be split more evenly between green and black now, with dark gray thrown in for hands, waist, and upper legs. Carrying over from the fact that I gather he’s supposed to be the same character as the Energon Downshift, his head looks a lot like the previous. However, his eyes are now yellow, and there’s no translucent yellow plastic panel in the back of his head. The “Wheeljack lights” on the sides of his head, however, are translucent yellow, and are spring loaded, flipping up into the sides of his head when you transform him. He’s got nine points of articulation, technically. His head doesn’t turn much. Not counting that, he’s got eight. And yet, for such a small Autobot, or at least Deluxe Class (there might be basics that are taller than he is), he looks massive, due mainly to the fact that his chest is made up of the front end of an early ‘70s muscle car.

To put Downshift into attack mode, place his “Magnum Force” blasters in the holes on his rear fenders. I’d advise putting them with the triggers facing upwards, because the launchers have surprisingly strong springs in them. I managed to lose one of the missiles shortly after I got the figure. The missiles themselves are a dark gray, while the blasters share Downshift’s color scheme. To activate his Planet Key mode as well (because there are times when the sight of a couple of big, honking cannons aren’t going to scare off your enemies), simply place the Planet Key into the flip panel in his rear window, and the grille extends and pops open, giving him a “capture claw”. Don’t know what he’s going to capture with it, unless the Decepticons have a bunch of skinny warriors…. I wisely “misplaced” his Planet Key not long after the missile vanished.

Overall, as I stated earlier, the main reason I purchased the figure was the vehicle mode. But I have to admit that the robot mode is a lot more fun than I expected. I'm not sure, but the more I look at him, the more I'm convinced he's a holdover concept from the homage-aimed Energon line. In this case, though, the homage is more towards the overall figure design and look than to any one specific character. It’s a very solidly built, not to mention solid looking, figure. Highly recommended.

Transformation: 6. Read the directions first, if only to figure out how to get the legs loose.
Durability: 8. Strong materials, though the right wrist is loose...
Fun: 10. More fun than a barrel of monkeys!
Price: 8. $9.87 at the local Wal-Mart.
Overall: Averages out at 7, but I'd give it a 9. It's the green...
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