Monday, March 4, 2013

Toy Review: Transformers Generation One Monsterbot Doublecross

At a certain point during my teen years, I had to finally, reluctantly, cease playing with toys.  Certainly, I did so much later than most other boys.  At the age of 17, 1987 may have marked the last time I bought a toy until around the mid 1990's.  The subject of this review could possibly have been the very last before my long, dark retreat from the joys of toy collecting.  I had sort of developed some idea that perhaps girls wouldn't think it so attractive.  Little would I know at the time that this was in its own way a small part of exactly what the right girl was looking for.

The Transformers are, of course, a hugely successful line of toys, comics, movies, cartoons, and whatnot.  The franchise was a joint project between Hasbro and Japanese toy-maker Takara.  Started in 1984, this line would initially reuse many of Takara's molds from their Diaclone and Microman lines.  The initial set of toys featured a lot of transforming vehicle toys, along with figures that changed from robot form into that of "household" objects such as handguns, microscopes, or cassette players.  Diecast metal and chrome were in abundance with these first toys.  Each toy additionally came with a "Tech Spec" printed on the back of the package which would briefly describe the disposition and statistical attributes of the character.  Even if your favorite Autobot (the good guys) or Decepticon (the baddies) never even appeared in the cartoon or comics, you knew what they were all about.  This era of Transformers toys is now known as Generation One (or G1), and the toys and characters from this time period have continued to influence every subsequent line of Transformers toys.

Hasbro and Takara did their best to reuse as many molds as possible, but eventually as the line prospered, it became necessary to create new ones to meet the demands of their ravenous Transformers fans.  Doublecross is a toy that comes from this period of new mold-making.  It was originally released in 1987, and like most of the other Transformers toys at the time, it was entirely made of plastic and featured no chrome accents at all.  As a kid, this always was a bit of a disappointment, even when you did still enjoy the toy immensely.

As noted, the Autobots were the good guys.  They pretty much were the archetypal heroes - bold, honorable, compassionate - complete with enough personality quirks to keep them interesting.  It was highly unusual then when Hasbro released three figures in a sub-group called the Monsterbots - Monsters not usually being known as heroes.  Doublecross was one of these, notable for his double-headed dragon-like alternate form.  Elements of this form are clearly visible in his robot mode.


Despite his monstrous beast mode, Doublecross has a pleasant, almost boyish face.  Paint application seems to have been somewhat sloppy on mine.


Multiple shades of gray, along with black and  a bright red comprise the color palette for Doublecross.


His shape is simplistically blocky as were the other Transformers toys of the time period.


His lone accessory, a light gray "rust ray" rifle, features the standard Takara five-millimeter peg.


In robot mode, Doublecross has very limited articulation.  The shoulders can rotate 360 degrees, arms can raise up and down, and elbows can bend.  The mouths on the dragon heads can open to simulate hands.


This is about as dynamic of a pose as you'll get out of Doublecross.  He still looks pretty sharp doing it, though.  His arms make nice clicky noises as you bend the various joints.  Two heads equals two sets of thoughts, and Doublecross can't manage to get the two of them to agree on anything.


To begin transformation to his dragon mode, start by flipping down the head.


Then rotate the shoulders up like so.


Lay the arms out horizontally.


Bring the two dragon heads together.


Rotate the heads as shown.


Next flip up the black wings so that they click into place firmly.


Rotate the dragon's arms as desired.


Turn Doublecross around to begin changing his lower half.


Start to rotate the entire lower leg section up towards the torso.


The legs should fit snugly into place.


Bring the two tail halves together.


They will snap into each other nicely.


Rotate the dragon's feet out from within the black upper leg sections.


Position the dragon legs to allow the toy to stand in this mode.


The necks and heads can be moved as you like to fully form the monster mode. The colors still look striking here.


The heads have a simple, but effective sculpt.  Note the five-millimeter holes where the rifle can be placed in robot mode.


Some odd details of Doublecross's monster mode show what looks like hair/scales and muscle.  Was he meant to be partially organic?


More of the same detail covers the lower legs as well.  Everything else on him seems to be technological.


On the dragon's back you can see a large cylindrical gray button.  This activates a gimmick that is shared among all the Monsterbots.


Press the button and this chest-mounted saw blade moves slightly.


More importantly, like his Monsterbot brethren, Doublecross will shoot out sparks when the button is activated!  Luckily, mine still works after all this time.

video

His rifle can be awkwardly stowed on his back.  This is not an "official" method, but useful to keep the weapon with the toy when sitting on a shelf.


Articulation is much better in dragon mode, where the necks and heads can be moved around a lot, the shoulders and hips have rotation, as do the knee joints.


As usual for a Transformers toy of this era, additional detail is provided by labels.


These are still in very nice shape on mine.  Overall, the condition of this specimen is quite good.


Here is proof positive that Doublecross is a hero, despite his semi-horrific visage.


Transformers at the time were also released with a "rub symbol" which would reveal the allegiance of the character when one rubbed the label.  Similar to a mood ring, heat or friction would cause a color change to occur in the sticker.  Yup, he's still a good guy.


Doublecross is ready to defend and terrify all of humanity!


This was a really fun toy to own at the time, and also today.  I always appreciate a simple transformation that actually allows a kid to really play with the toy, rather than spend all day changing its form.  I love the color choices and the unique design as well.  The spark gimmick just seals the deal.  If you get a chance to pick up Doublecross and you like G1 Transformers toys, I highly recommend you do so.

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