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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
Alternate Mode:
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Cliffjumper's review: Big Daddy

Name: Big Daddy
Function: He's your daddy.
Sub-Group: Not Universe Honest To Gosh
"I'm your daddy"

Tech specs are SO 1980s.

After regrettably buying most of Armada, I largely ignored the Unicron Trilogy figures. I got even less of Cybertron - just Lugnutz I recall, and he was bloody awful. I remember a lot of fuss being made about the new Downshift figure, but seeing as this was half snot green, this just shows you how easily Transformers fans can deceive themselves into thinking they've spent money on a decent toy.
[Clay's note: it's not just Transformers fans :-o].

Anyway, recently Downshift was chosen for recolouring as part of the Universe line. The character chosen was Big Daddy, originally released as a Micromaster in 1990. He's since grown into something of a cult character, taking in the lead on Dreamwave's Micromasters comic mini-series (which I personally rather liked, despite Rob Ruffolo's inept artwork). Thus he was selected to receive a new toy. However, the figures were Wal-Mart exclusives, and the retail line decided it would rather have more Movie figures than Universe. Along with Fracture, Crankcase and Breakaway, Big Daddy was packaged for that line instead.

Notabot is a legend, by the way.

Alternate Mode:

First up, I love Big Daddy's alt mode. Like most Unicron Trilogy cars, the design is generic in nature, but for once it isn't a lazy toothpaste-squirt of a car. This is a car, a beefy, boxy thing with 1960s styling. This should be a gang car on Vice City.
The colour scheme works perfectly, almost all black with silver details, orange flames and transparent brown windows. It's a quantum improvement on Cybertron Downshift, and even better than Big Daddy's original figure. Even the silver Autobot logo looks classy.

Big Daddy is also a reassuringly solid block, everything fitting firmly together to make a very strong vehicle. There's also a lovely touch with the textured roof, which adds authenticity - such a simple touch, but it's very effective. There are some features for the car mode - the twin launchers can attach to mounts behind the rear wheels, while an included Cyber Key can be inserted in the opening rear windscreen, causing a claw to pop out of the front. I think of these more as hangovers from Cybertron, as either feature just ruins the stripped-down simplicity of the vehicle.

Robot Mode:

Transforming Big Daddy is a very simple process, especially by comparison to most other Movie or Universe Deluxe figures. But then simple isn't always bad, and it's a nice straightforward sequence. I'm sure they could have jazzed it up by somehow making the legs rotate four times or the arms fly off halfway through, but I'm glad they didn't.

The robot layout is nice and boxy, somehow looking well proportioned despite the big wedge of a chest. It's not particularly graceful, but it says this guy's a bruiser. The colours continue to work well, while the articulation is good - Big Daddy might not be as dynamic as other recent figures (the only two ball joints are on his hips), but he can still manage a few impressive poses.

The biggest problem, sadly, is the head cast. Cybertron Downshift was based on Energon Downshift (were they the same character in the cartoons? No idea...), who was based on the original Wheeljack. The only thing that made the full transfer from Wheeljack to Cybertron Downshift (aside from being an Autobot who turned into a car, obviously) was... Wheeljack's distinctive head design. This isn't such a problem if your character is basically an alternate universe Wheeljack; it is if it's meant to be a totally different Transformer. It's a shame that they didn't at least remove the pop-out 'ears' even if a full head retool was out of the question, really. The purple face is a valiant effort, but it doesn't quite hide the head cast's origins.

Again, the robot can be pretty heavily armed, but the guns are ludicrously out of proportion with the rest of the figure, and the less said about the Cyber Key thing the better.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 5 - straightforward and simple, but at least it's not mindlessly frustrating. The feet can be a little fiddly, but then I think that's just the usual Transformers quality control at work. That bit of being at work where you think 'Sod it' and slope off for a smoke.
Durability: 8 - surprisingly hefty; while you couldn't beat a fully-grown man to death with it, you could probably take out someone of 10 years old or under.
Fun: 8 - the 'special features' are cartoon Grimlock special, rather than the good kind of special. However, throw them in a box and you're left with Steve McQueen's Vice City gang Transformer. Fun on toast. No jam, though.
Price: 9 - still widely available in America for around $10. Not too pricey for the rest of us to import either.
Overall: 7 - despite the slightly unsuccessful head cast and the waste of plastic used for the weaponry and Cyber Key rubbish, this is a good, solid mould finally given a less rank colour scheme. Well worth a nose.
 
 
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