Monday, March 18, 2013

Toy Review: Hasbro Transformers Omnibot Downshift

Here's another vintage piece that I remember fondly from my childhood. Back in the 80's, it was not uncommon for a toy company to offer up exclusive mail-away toys.  I can remember receiving Star Wars Boba Fett and Admiral Ackbar toys in the mail by sending in proofs of purchase from other Star Wars figures.  No slouch in the marketing department, Hasbro also offered up exclusive "Omnibot" Transformers toys in 1985.  "Robot points" cut from the boxes of purchased Transformers toys could be mailed in - along with a small shipping fee - and some months later, an expectant kid would receive a wondrous surprise in a nondescript box via an oblivious mail carrier.

A subgroup of the Autobots, the Omnibots were so called because of their third mode - that of an armored vehicle.  There were three different Omnibots, and each had weapons and/or wings that could be deployed in their additional form.  These were former Takara Diaclone toys that were - yet again - being reused as Transformers.  As with the other G1 Autobot car robots, the three Omnibot toys were fairly accurate representations of 80's automobiles.  Downshift's alternate mode was that of a Toyota Supra, and he was supposed to be a "Security Agent." The toys, however, came with no tech-specs, and so really no further info was supplied.

On a side note, I decided that a few outdoor photos were in order.  The weather was otherwise just too nice for an early March day.  

Downshift is a primarily white robot.  Like other old G1 toys, he stands at rigid attention.  He's also only about three quarters of the height of the rest of the first set of G1 Autobots, bringing him in at only around four inches high.

Even at this size, the face has some nice details. 

Articulation is nothing to write home about.  The arms can raise up and down, and due to the joints for transformation, can move out to the sides a bit.

A view from the side really doesn't look like a robot as much as a car in the midst of exploding vertically.

There's a lot of hollow space back here, but that's pretty normal for old Diaclone toys.  

Downshift comes complete with three chrome accessories:  two shoulder-mounted launchers, and a single laser pistol.  The peg size for the pistol isn't any standard that I am aware of, unlike many other Transformers figures that have five-millimeter pegs and holes.

There's also some chrome on the highly-detailed hubcaps.  The tires are real rubber as well.

Given that this is really a vintage 80's robot toy, there is some diecast metal construction involved.  The shoulder joint has some.

A sticker covers up some of the diecast in the forearm. 

Lastly, the front end under-body of the car - or in this mode, the feet - is metal as well.  These components help give the toy a bit more weight than you might expect.

To start the transformation, remove the chrome weaponry and set Downshift to a neutral pose. 

Rotate the arms upward at the shoulder.

Swing the rear of the car up so that it cover the face.

Turn Downshift around. 

Move the shoulder joints up and inwards like so.

Snap the arms in place so that the white side panels match up with the rest of the rear of the car body.

Now move on to the feet of the robot.

When separated, the feet provide support for the rest of the body, so when you s
queeze in from the sides where the wheels connect to the feet, the rest of the toy will wind up lying down as you see here.

Flip the hood down on its hinge and press down to lock the front of the car in place. 

Press the front and back of the car together and you get a cool little representation of an angular old 80's Toyota. 

Not a bad looking car, really, even though white is far from my favorite color on an automobile.  The blue-tinged windows help break up what might otherwise be a monotonous look.

Additional details are provided via stickers on front and rear. 

Next comes the further transformation into his armed car mode.  Note the hatch on top.  Unlike other old Diaclone toys, this is not a place to fit a small driver figure.

Instead, the hatch opens to reveal two prongs.  These will be used to attach the small laser pistol.

The doors should be swung downward to form wings.  There's a peg on the inside of each door to mount the chrome launchers.  Some stickers add mechanical details here as well.

Attach the weapons and this third mode is complete.  Can't you just see the terror on the faces of the Decepticons as the Flying Economy Car of Doom comes barreling down on them?

I was one of the lucky kids who sent away for this toy.  I received him and one of his Omnibot brethren, and was immediately taken by how cool he was.  The plastic feels solid in the hand, and the diecast makes it feel as if you really are holding a quality piece.  Chrome parts and real rubber tires add to the overall effect.  There's something really charming about the way old G1 toys worked, where the only real gimmick was that that toy changed from one thing to another.  Like I've noted elsewhere, I love that this toy can be transformed as part of actual play due to its simplistic nature.  It's a convincing robot (from the front at least), given that it has to be formed from the body panels of a small car.  Though this exact toy is not the one I had as a kid, it still gives me that wonderful nostalgic feel when I pull it down off the shelf.  Transform and roll out, Downshift!

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