Cybertron Toy Reviews: Downshift

in 2006, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Cybertron, Galaxy Force

General Information:
Release Year: February 2006
Retailer: General US (Toys R Us, Target etc.)
Price: $10.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Planet Key, Missiles x 2, Missile launchers x 2

Downshift Packaging art

Tech Specs:
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.

Strength: 7 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 7.5 Endurance: 9 Rank: 7 Courage: 9 Fireblast: 7 Skill: 8

Each Cybertron Transformer comes with a Planet Key with a code printed on it. Downshift's code is dm8r . Unlocking this at gives you an image of design sketches and the following text:

Downshift has found some new peace on Earth. When the evacuation of Cybertron took place – he was separated from his fembot lifebond partner. They had just been joined together under the covenant of Primus and were looking forward to spending some time in the Crystal Cities. The evacuation occurred and tore the two of them apart. On Earth, Downshift spent every waking hour looking through every “Robot in Disguise” staging base to locate his lifebond partner. Soon enough, they found one another and were ordered by Optimus Prime to begin their Earth assimilation in a small town south of Providence, RI. There, Downshift found a peace he never had on Cybertron during the great wars. After the struggle ended, Downshift and his lifebond partner stayed on Earth as envoys of Cybertron.

Vehicle Mode:
When designing vehicle modes, Takara and Hasbro often try to use very sleek, futuristic vehicles for the main Transformers line. When it comes to cars, these often wind up being variants of some race car or truck with few exceptions. Downshift is a huge exception to this general rule. His vehicle form is perhaps one of the most unexpected in the Cybertron line in how purely Earth-based and retro the form is. Downshift's vehicle form is a hybrid between a 70's Monte Carlo and a Dodge Challenger, coming together to make one of the funkiest vehicle modes Transformersdom has seen in quite some time.

The front end of Downshift is based on a 1970 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This is easiest to see at the very front, which has a "W" shape, a very distinct form. As you look towards the back however, the car morphs into a 1970 Dodge Challenger, with its distinct straight top edge, the bottom angling upwards. The design is so wonderfully retro that the cabin cover has a canvas (or possibly leather) pattern sculpted into it harkening back to a popular material for tops in those days.

Additional details help make the car look a bit tougher than your typical vehicle. The hood has an engine mounted on it with eight cylinders and that rests on a hood piece with two large vents. This truly gives the vehicle a "muscle car" type appearance. Other welcome details include a rectangular grid on the front grille, headlights and a tech pattern where you would insert the Planet Key.

If you're going to do a retro vehicle, you may as well give him a retro color scheme. Downshift's primary colors are black and green. Not a modern, metallic green, but an old style light green color. Paint details are done primarily in black and silver, including silver and black design lines running down the sides of the vehicle. The windows and headlights are cast in translucent yellow. An Autobot symbol is tampographed on the front of the hood. While simple, this color scheme works really well because it fits the vehicle and the look one associates with it.

Unlike most Planet Key slots, Downshift's is fairly hidden. Located on the back window, you need to flip the panel up before inserting the key in. I like this because it allows the vehicle's form to go uninterupted (and not have a big hole sticking out somewhere). The designers were good to give the rear window a good tech pattern with silver paint to bring attention to the port. Flip it up and insert the Key and the front grille springs out to reveal a grabbing claw. When revealed, you find that the claw and thus the front grille section is cast in translucent yellow plastic, which looks very nice. It's bright enough that when you have light shining on it, it looks like energy is coursing through it. The claws are fairly intricate in sculpt, with serated "fingers" on each side and three "claw ends". The center looks like a small barrel for a cannon of some kind. Obviously not a vehicle to be trifled with!

For offensive weaponry, Downshift comes with two large missile launchers. Each is colored the same green and black as the vehicle so they blend in. Both plug into holes on the sides of the car. The weapons are nicely designed, looking large and threatening and a bit over the top (as the vehicle itself is anyhow). Each fires a missile using regular button launchers. However, there is a bit more to these weapons. Each has two pegs on it. Both pegs are Mini-Con ports! This allows you to connect it to the vehicle and have Mini-Cons attached at the same time. Also, this means the holes on the vehicle are the right size for Energon weapons. Overall a very nice package.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Remove the weapons and Planet Key if attached.
  2. Swing out each door.
  3. Flip the car over and swing down the black and silver panels on the lower portion of the vehicle.
  4. Flip the green pieces up where the trunk door would be.
  5. Flip out the black foot pieces and swing the black and silver panels back down.
  6. Rotate the doors so they face up.
  7. Swing the black portion under the doors forward and flip out the robot fists.
  8. Split the lower body section so both legs are separate.
  9. Swing the lower body portion up and snap it into place against the underside of the front of the car.
  10. Swing the cabin cover section back. The robot head should spring up.
  11. Place the weapons in Downshift's hands.

Robot Mode:
Downshift's vehicle mode was retro in that it referred to a classic car design. His robot mode is also retro in the sense that it references a classic G1 Autobot robot mode: the "car hood becoming the chest" form that has recently been emulated in the Binaltech line.

The front section of the car does become the robot chest, complete with the headlights pointing forward. In lieu of the "wings" many G1 cars have, the car doors become shoulder armor here instead. His mid section is purely robotic and though the lower legs are made up of the rear of the vehicle, their detailing makes them look purely robotic from the front save the wheels on the sides. In many ways this is more of a modern day take and improvement on a classic Transformers design.

While most of the vehicle mode was very even and plain (as it should be), the robot mode is full of detail. The robot head carries over Downshift's Energon head design, which itself was a homage to the G1 animation model for Wheeljack. The characteristic mouthplate with horizontal lines and wide "ears" are present along with the large central crest and two smaller protrusions on the sides. The mid section has a lot of different sections sculpted into it and the legs have lots of overlapping shapes and line details that look spectacular.

The color scheme from the vehicle mode carries over here, with green and black being the primary colors. The robot head is mostly black with silver details and translucent yellow eyes and "ears". Gunmetal grey is used for the waist to the upper legs, which works really nicely against the green. Silver and gold paint provide small details on parts like the shoulders and lower legs.

Downshift has eleven points of articulation in this form. I am cheating a bit by counting his head, which really has very limited movement from side to side. The Planet Key gimmick works in this form, which is pretty neat considering where the Key inserts is a separate piece than the chest where the claw comes out.

Downshift's weapons can be held in his hands or placed on his shoulders which also carries over the G1-esque theme of this figure. Many of the G1 Autobots whose car hoods became their chests had shoulder mounted missile launchers, and Downshift continues that tradition. You can also plug Energon weapons and Mini-Cons into the weapons, giving Downshift some devastating additional firepower.

Final Thoughts:
Downshift is a wonderfully quirky toy that is unexpected in a line so full of wacky alien and sleek vehicles. Highly recommended.