As I mentioned in my Downshift review 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 it just shows you how easily Transformers fans can deceive themselves into thinking they've spent money on a decent toy.

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, even 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.


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. Even the silver Autobot logo looks classy.

It's a quantum improvement on Cybertron Downshift and even better than Big Daddy's original figure. The car 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 and ignore accordingly as either feature just ruins the stripped-down simplicity of the vehicle.


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 journey 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.


On his own terms Big Daddy's a resounding success. While the gimmicks are useless (think of it as a normal Transformers figure with some extras you'll never use, like the way no-one ever bothers to transform Laser Rod Optimus Prime's trailer) both modes are rough and ready. The toy isn't as refined as other recent Deluxes, but this counts in its' favour. The only problem is the uncomfortably familiar head cast.