The whole Energon line never really grabbed me. This was possibly because when Armada came out I did the whole 'buy everything in the shops', and thus ended up with a whole load of awful toys. Energon looked much the same so I largely passed - if memory serves, I picked up Starscream and a couple of the Aerialbots, which weren't bad but weren't anything special either.

I only got Downshift in the end when I got caught up in the Classics thing a year or so ago and I'm thankful to TF Archive toy editor and kitbash chappy Clay for getting me an example that late in the day. Because while Downshift looks nothing like the Omnibot of the same name, he is a dead ringer for the original Wheeljack. I've heard that the toy was called Downshift because there was already a turncoat Autobot named Wheeljack in Armada and giving a loyal Autobot the same thing would have confused everyone. Or something. Who knows? Who even cares?


Of course, being a Unicron Trilogy vehicl, the car mode doesn't particularly look like anything. It's like one of those Ford or Honda cars that try to convince you they're a sporty little number when they're basically a family car with two doors missed out and a spoiler on the back.

It's not bad per se, it's just not high on imagination. Still, the paint apps give a fair impression of Wheeljack without slavishly copying the deco. The thing is all-plastic and virtually indestructible. Detail's low and there are some horrible join lines along the top of the roof. The figure's two guns can be attached to any of the four points on the side, but this looks a bit daft so I tend not to. Downshift's car mode is solid, practical and about as appealing and exciting as an onion.


However, the vehicle mode hides a decent transformation. I particularly like the opening hatches for the feet - very neat and well done. The robot mode is rather good. It manages to carefully homage the original Wheeljack toy but update the layout at the same time - it very nearly is Classics a couple of years early. The head design is there, and there's even a dummy chest taken straight from the 1980s cartoon, but the design is a bit more imposing than the old toy. This is Wheeljack on steroids.

Articulation is generally excellent - the elbows move, there are ball-joints for the shoulders and neck, the hips swing outwards, the keens hinge and rotate and even the feet move a little. However, the latter don't move enough to make good use of all the joints. The robot is nevertheless a decent piece of work. Downshift is also armed to the teeth - the exhaust pipes from the car mode become twin shoulder cannon while he has a pair of guns - these can either be held in the figure's fists or mounted on the same hard-points as the vehicle mode - these are know on the shoulders or the knees. He can even hold his spoiler as a sort of blade but this looks a little daft.


Downshift manages to work on two levels - despite the dodgy alt mode and a couple of minor faults he's a decent enough Transformers figure in his own right, especially from the slim pickings between Robots in Disguise and Classics. He's firmly the best Unicron Trilogy figure I've yet seen, at any rate. But the toy is also a welcome update of Wheeljack and while he's not quite up to Classics/Universe standards, he'll certainly do the job in the meantime.