Transformers Overdrive
Transformers Overdrive
Transformers Overdrive
Transformers Overdrive

Considering that Ferrari is one of the biggest brand names in the world it's something of a surprise that their cars have been so rarely used for Transformers. Then at the same time it's not; Ferrari were one of the first manufacturers to realise the potency of licensing and their high-end status has meant their image and intellectual property has long been vociferously defended. Witness Dino from the 2011 Dark of the Moon film - due to an existing Ferrari merchandising deal with Mattel, the Autobot has received only two rubbish toys - a non-transforming genericised Speedstars car and a Cyberverse figure that turns into an Audi.

Examples of transforming Ferraris from the days before Hasbro and Takara bothered finding out if manufacturers minded them stealing their designs for use on robot toys were still thin on the ground. There was Wildrider in 1986, based on a Ferrari 308 GTB; the super-deformed Chase in 1987, modelled on the Testarossa (also the basis for the Machine Robo Testarossa Winner figure) and Overdrive. The latter was one of three mail-in Omnibots offered to American and Japanese Transformers buyers from 1985, all taken from Diaclone's Double Changer range of figures. Overdrive was something of an obscurity but still got used (in Japan, anyway) for the Binaltech/Alternators range, albeit now turning into a Honda S-2000.


The Omnibots are smaller than their main Autobot Car stablemates - indeed, even smaller than Hound. But their lineage is clear, with many of the usual touches added. Unlike the regular Cars (and fellow Omnibot Downshift) Overdrive is all-plastic, though the overall quality remains very good - there are still chromed wheel hubs, rubber tyres and a transparent windscreen, while the stunning shape of the 512BB is reproduced with a great deal of accuracy.

There are some niggles. Some of the join lines are very obvious, notably the rotating cannon on the front - this is a black plastic part partly hidden (as in "not really hidden") by a red sticker (which - to be fair - doesn't show up as badly as pictures make it seem; for some unfathomable reason it's a foil sticker and thus reflects light). The lack of any side windows means robot innards are easily spotted even from a distance while the roof just rests on the rear end and can slip easily. It's still probably the best Transformers Ferrari alt mode we're ever likely to get, however. All of the Omnibots have a third battle/flight mode - the reason for the seemingly prosaic Doublechangers tag in the Diaclone line (which refers to two changes rather than two modes, unlike the Triple-Changer Transformers figures). Overdrive's simply involves flipping around the black plastic part mentioned above to reveal a pair of chromed guns and unfolding a stubby pair of wings from underneath the car. It's probably the best of the flight modes from the subset but even that's not saying much and I'd personally prefer the figure was unblemished by these additions considering they add so little value.


While not as complicated as the retail figures Overdrive still possesses a decent little transformation, though forcing the front wheels into the chest always feels a bit touch and go. The robot mode is taller than you'd think too - bigger than runty Hound anyway. While the figures obviously weren't conceived as mailaways it's baffling the decision was made to sell these for a few Robot Points when the Jumpstarters (I love them, but they're terrible) got released in stores, especially as the line was less assortment-size driven at the time and that by 1985 Hasbro were licensing Takatoku moulds just to get stuff on shelves.

Overdrive's not outright terrific, though. A combination of a tiny head peering over a big block of an upper torso, thin dangling arms and long thin thighs atop great big blocky lower legs gives him an awkward look, albeit not one that particularly stands out as odd compared to near-contemporaries such as Ironhide/Ratchet and Sunstreaker. At least the fine finish continues in this mode, with more chrome, just the right amount of circuit pattern stickers, a good head cast and some surprisingly flexible arms. He's well-armed too - originally Overdrive came with three handguns (mine's missing one, not much of a bother when he's only got two hands) and the twin cannon from the flight mode can also be deployed from his chest. Spicy. The wings from the flight mode do get in the way, however - you have a choice between pushing them close to the arm and hindering shoulder movement or having them extended and flopping all over the place. Once again I'd have preferred they hadn't bothered.


Overdrive is probably the weakest of the Omnibots but that's more a sign of the quality of engineering on the trio of underrated figures than a black mark for him. Of course there are the usual caveats included when praising a figure of this age - he's fragile, appreciation will depend heavily on his condition and the layout is somewhat archaic and outdated. But for those who love the high quality veneer and precision engineering of the early Autobots he's a recommended purchase.