TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION
Cliffy's review: Clamp Down
Some sort of cop
"It's just Garth Brooks in a wig!"
"Clampdown" is a single and a song by The Clash, on the album London Calling. The song began as a instrumental track called "Working and Waiting". It is sometimes called "Working for the Clampdown" which is the main lyric of the song, and also the title provided on the album's lyric sheet. Its lyrics comment on people who forsake the idealism of youth and urges young people to fight the status quo.
The trend for retooling and/or recolouring moulds that marked the first couple of series' of Transformers was rooted in Takara's Diaclone line, notably the Car Robot series. Only three of the fourteen designs in the series came out without some sort of modified version being released either alongside or after the initial release (for the trivia fans out there, they're the J-59 Jeep, the Porsche 935 and the Corvette Stingray, all of which would be recoloured or retooled at some point during their later careers as Transformers). These ranged from large changes, such as the Fire Engine figure being modified as a Crane Truck or Battle Convoy's reuse receiving a completely new combining trailer, to straight recolours. One of their little quirks that sat somewhere in-between was converting figures to police types - basically adding a light bar and recolouring the thing in black and white. This was done with little regard for realism, and it meant the original Countach mould based on a one-off customised car with an enormous rear-mounted engine (later reused for Sunstreaker).
The later Lamborghini mould (the one reused as Sideswipe) also got the same treatment. When the Car Robot figures were exported to America for Transformers, Hasbro decided one police car was enough (the Datsun got the gig as Prowl, while the earlier Lambo police car was skipped altogether), and the figure was recoloured in fire department livery, becoming Red Alert. The police scheme remained exclusive to the Diaclone line (inspiring many fanboys to stop up several hundred pounds to buy one) until 2003. As a tie-in with the Transformers Collection of Lambor (the Japanese name for Sideswipe), the mould's three original variants were also reissued. Figure King Magazine sold the yellow version as Tigertracks, while eHobby released the black version (as Deep Cover) and the police version (as Clamp Down). Due to the Universe Sideswipe/Sunstreaker mould, those three are probably coming to a BotCon near you in a year or so.
Clamp Down's car mode is a bit of a weird one. Normally, a police Lamborghini Countach would be weird enough to score big points, but the truth is Hasbro trumped it with the fire Lamborghini Countach. Next to his recolour, Clamp Down looks a little bit bland and underwhelming. That's probably a little unfair - on its own merits, the car mode is rather pretty. The Countach is a lovely design (it pisses all over the flat-faced Diablo and the disappointing Gallardo), and it does look sharp in the two-tone police scheme.
One minor problem though - the black strip behind the doors is a sticker that has to be applied, and it's a pain, not fitting at all well. Thankfully, gloss model paint does the job just as well. Also, like Red Alert, several of the stickers are surrounded by gloss white areas, which stand out a bit against the plastic.
Obviously, the transformation is unchanged from Sideswipe/Red Alert - it's simple and straightforward with no real faults, but lacks the inventive nature of most, if not all, of the other Autobot cars. However, simple isn't necessarily a bad thing, and in this case the result is one of the better-proportioned early Autobot moulds. The arms are maybe a little thin and the head a little small, but aside from that it's decent enough. Articulation is basically non-existent - the shoulder joints are hamstrung by the weight of the arms, while the elbow joints can't be moved far without gaping holes appearing in the arms. The toes can fold up a little as well, but only if you're prepared for the figure to fall forward and shatter due to Takara's lousy durability factor (actually, that's harsh, as the Countach mould is one of the few Car Robot moulds that isn't designed to explode when you touch it).
His chest stickers are a slight mess - the white area around the 'Cybertron' police badge is ugly and requires a little work with an art knife, while the idea of sticking the faction insignia on top of this is a bit silly. Personally, I just omitted the star further down, and placed the insignia just below the police badge. Also, my example suffered from Takara's abysmal excuse for quality control, and had extremely loose legs. Maybe if they'd spent less time manufacturing lolita Hentai they wouldn't be Tomy's bitch right now (if Kiss Players was under Tomy's auspices - I can't be bothered to look it up - let's just pretend I'm leveling general accusations of producing child porn at Takara). These are minor niggles, though, and Clampdown's a solid figure, and looks especially great displayed alongside the other Countaches.
Marks out of ten for the following:
3 - Pretty simple
7 - It's aged quite well, and you'd have to be a ham-fisted moron to break this thing. The G2 Sideswipe fell off my desk and didn't break either.
5 - He has a single missile launcher! And that's it!
3 - The eHobby exclusives can be found cheaply on ebay (lawlzar evilbay) at around £40 a pop, usually boxed and complete. However, bear in mind that that's more than Red Alert generally goes for, and you're paying the extra for a (rather poor) sticker sheet and a stripe of black paint.
6 - There's nothing wrong with Clamp Down, it's just you have to ask yourself whether buying a police version of Red Alert is really that much of a priority when there are so many other toys out there. Of course, if you're some fanboy incapable of straying beyond Hasbro & Takara's Transformers wares, he'll do the job.