"Transformers Universe" Downshift Toy Review

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Deluxe
Retailers: Kay Bee Exclusive
Release Date: August 2005
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Purchased at: Kay Bee (Newport Center Mall, NJ)
Accessories: Spoiler, Guns x 2

Tech Specs:
One of the few Autobots left behind on Cybertron after the evacuation, Downshift has been assigned by Optimus Prime to guard the entrances to the shafts leading to the Energon core of the planet in the city of Iacon. A loner by nature, and a veteran of many tough, secret missions throughout the galaxy, Downshift is perfectly at home on the desolate and damaged planet.

Strength: 9  Intelligence:Speed:Endurance: 9
Rank: 5  Courage: 7  Firepower: 7  Skill: 7

Universe Downshift is a redeco of the Energon Autobot of the same name. Indeed, it seems that in the context of the current Transformers fan club comic book, they are the same character as well (the tech specs below indicate that as well). This is interesting as it shows Universe relating more to the "mainline" toys than in previous years. Check out Energon Downshift's review for a thorough review of the toy, this will cover the changes made for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
Downshift's vehicle mode has a much bolder deco than his previous incarnation. While Energon Downshift was a design homage to G1 Wheeljack in both forms, this vehicle mode is basically a very individual deco pattern. Instead of line and curve patterns, he essentially has large blue blocks of deco. On the hood is a huge Autobot symbol. While the blue deco looks nice, the big honking Autobot symbol is a bit much for my tastes. It may be just me, but it just fels like "too much".

Other than those parts, the deco matches Energon Downshift. The base color of the vehicle is still white, and the translucent plastic is still a light red color. I really do like the blue pattern as it is different in both design and color than Energon Downshift, however I would have preferred a tech pattern or flames ... something other than a huge Autobot symbol. It just looks so much like a big target screaming "Shoot here!" it's a bit silly.

Robot Mode:
Downshift's robot mode is interesting - not because it differs dramatically from the Energon Downshift's robot mode, but because it is so incredibly similar. It has the exact same deco pattern and colors, save one. All the parts that are the dull metallic color on Energon Downshift (such as the feet, lower arms etc.) are flat yellow here. That's it, no other change made. Considering how dramatic of a change was made to the vehicle mode, this was a surprise. With the head sculpt, this mode still looks very much like a G1 Wheeljack homage.

At first I thought the yellow was rather garish, almost "knock off" in color. But because the other colors are oriented towards a lighter group of colors (the green and white in particular) the yellow actually works out very well with them.

While the included instructions do not mention it, Downshift still retains all his transformation/combination abilities. And as the pictures included with this review show, you can heavily arm him with Energon weapons as well!

Final Thoughts:
This was obviously done as a very quick exclusive, most likely requested by the retailer. While Energon Downshift is still available at some retailers, this offers an easier to obtain alternative (assuming you have a Kay Bee near you). The only thing that nags me about this toy is the big Autobot symbol, other than that it's a cool toy!

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