Cliffjumper's review: Crosscut
Due to their close ties to Takara, Japanese online store eHobby has long received exclusive variants of many Japanese Transformers
figures, then marketed as 'Premiums'. Most of the company's own ideas have been bloody shocking, ranging from neon eyesores such as Hauler, Sunstorm and a redeco of the original Ratchet figure in '07 movie colours to bizarre fanboy-placating dross like Kup masquerading as Orion Pax (packed with, lest we forget, a Wheelie recolour claiming to be Dion), with plenty of black recolours along the way to keep overgrown emos quiet. In fact, the company's only produced a handful of worthwhile variants, and these all tend to be when they just take Diaclone
schemes and slap Transformers
faction decals on them.
Crosscut, the Premium variant of Skids
, is one such case. However, he's not a redeco of Skids - the mould was originally used as the sixth figure in Diaclone
's Car Robot
series, modelled on a Honda City E car and released in 1982. This was initially available in red and black variants. Later that year, a silver version (now claiming to be a Honda City S - the mould hadn't been modified, Takara simply took advantage of the fact the latest model of City was outwardly identical to its' predecessor) was available in the Car Robot Doubleset with another figure, a blue Toyota Hilux Wrecker (later recoloured by Hasbro as the Autobot Hoist). Then in 1983, the mould was retooled as the Honda City Turbo (though only the robot head was changed). This came in black and blue versions, with the latter eventually becoming Skids.
As well as getting an Autobot symbol, Crosscut also saw the toy blessed with a biography from the pen of Japan's leading fanboy, Hirofumi Ichikawa. While it's one of his better efforts, with the unusual, fresh role of ambassador bestowed, it does go a bit fanwank, having to reference the movie (because all the genuine 1980s Transformers had tech specs that referenced bits of the original cartoon, oh yes they did). Crosscut was only sold (by eHobby, anyway) as part of a two-pack with Road Rage (who, apparently, is Crosscut's sexy female bodyguard or something).
Like all the Transformers Collection
Premiums, Crosscut is packed in a plastic bubble which is surrounded by a generic 1980s-styled card box. The package also includes the instructions, stickers, weapons (the same as Skids), a character card (using the artwork from the Diaclone
Car Robot Doubleset box) and a little scooter. The latter was packed in with all the Diaclone Honda City figures, all with matching colours, but was omitted for the original Transformers
releases. Now it's back, and according to Ichikawa it's called Clutch. This little baby can act as a back-up system, storing Crosscut's brain patterns should he get killed. Because, obviously, a little tiny non-transforming scooter is going to survive a situation that took out the heavily-armed duo of Crosscut and Road Rage.
Anyway, Crosscut himself does have an incredibly sharp alternate mode. As stated in my review of Skids, I love the Honda City, and would kill three or four people to own one - even if they were hot Asian chicks. That's how much I love this thing. The City is a nice, down to Earth car - okay, so they were never common in the West, but it stands out nicely among the high-performance Datsuns, Lamborghinis and Porsches. It's just this cute little blocky thing, even if the Diaclone scale issues mean it looks like a mini-van of some sort. Aside from this, Takara's rendering is rather good. The wheels stick out a little too far, but this can be hard to notice unless you're looking at the toy from either directly above or in front. The glimpse of the red head part just in front of the windscreen is also unfortunate, but the toy is incredibly solid and sturdy compared to most of its' contemporaries.
The 'new' colour scheme is fantastic as well. Not only is the steel-effect silver sharp and bright (with an atypically good job done of matching the metal and plastic tones by Takara's standards, which my photography is rather harsh on - though the large glossy sticker inexplicably placed on the bonnet does look pretty tacky). The transparent blue windows compliment the silver beautifully, and while the whole thing isn't quite as nice as Skids, it's certainly a good-looking alternative of a great car mode.
In this mode, the scooter (I'm not calling it Clutch) can fold neatly and be held in the boot of Crosscut (or any of the other Honda City variants). It's a nice little feature, and gives some sort of reason for the opening boot. The doors do open, incidentally, but this does rob the car mode of some of its' rigidity.
Turning the toy to robot mode is a clean, intuitive process with no nasty surprises. There's nothing too fiddly, and yet there's enough going on the justify the size of the figure (as opposed to insert name of any post-1985 Transformers figure
). The closest thing to a wear area is where the car roof clips into the rear part (on the car, parallel with the back of the doors) - apparently this is hugely fragile (I've never totalled one, and I was transforming Skids about a dozen times a day for a few months) and causes the car mode to totally collapse (and having owned a loose, second-hand Skids with this problem, I can safely say that it doesn't). So basically there are no problems unless you're a knuckle-dragging ape.
The robot mode itself is a great piece of design work - it's probably worth noting at this point that the Honda City mould was the first Diaclone
to feature the bonnet-as-chest layout, and it's pulled off well. The robot is taller than you'd think coming from such a compact vehicle, with pretty solid proportions - the hips are perhaps a little narrow, but overall the result is very good. At this stage Takara are still thinking of the robot modes as three-dimensional (later Car Robots such as the Lancia [Wheeljack] and the Stingray [Road Rage/Tracks], and most of the company's later 1980s designed would effectively make the robot modes flatter, only generally displaying well from head on), so Crosscut has a decent bulk around the torso and legs, with the carefully-mounted car windshield/roof part masking the hollow chest effectively.
The differences to Skids are initially the colours and the head cast. The latter does project a markedly different personality, though the piece is flatter and lacks the precise sculpting - it's easy to see why Takara decided to update it. The other problem is that it doesn't sit right - I'm not sure if Takara mashed up the mould Soundwave-style when modifying the head back in '83, but either he looks straight ahead with a notch missing out of his neck, or you arrange the head flush and he looks down roughly parallel with the slope of his chest. The colour scheme at least continues to work well. I've made other tiny 'alterations' to my Crosscut to make him look a little different - nothing permanent, just a couple of tiny tweaks. As noted in my Skids review, the arms can be laid out differently to the instructions thanks to the rotating fists - whereas with Skids I set them out differently, with Crosscut I actually follow the instructions' configuration. This means his hands do hang a little lower than is ideal, but it's a fair trade-off for the change to the layout. The other simple change is that the figure comes with all three weapons - and I simply use the one I don't put on Skids on Crosscut. They're all little differences, but they add up, and Crosscut manages to look like a figure in his own right.
Crosscut is a difficult figure to evaluate... It's a fantastic toy with two neat, well-crafted moulds, superb construction, good displayability and passable articulation for the range. However, despite the changes just about managing to carve him some individuality (there's arguably more of a difference than between, say, Sideswipe and Red Alert), he's not actually an improvement on Skids, more of a competent diversion. However, it is a worthy figure for those who like the Autobot cars, and has helped make one of the rarer Diaclone variants a little more widespread.
8. Not hugely challenging, but moderately complex without being irritating.
7. Well-made, but not for kids. Lacks the fragile areas of most Autobot cars.
6. More for display than play, but small enough to work as a desktop figure.
?. I genuinely have no idea what these are worth on the secondary market... He cost, what £30 at the time, and I'd guess it's still around there... It's not a 'real' Transformer, which limits the appeal compared to, say, the contemporary retail Skids reissue. However, not many seem to be kicking around, and Diaclone fans might force the price up.
8. He looks good in either mode, and has no significant issues. Only for the more fanatical ones if Skids is an option, however.