In 1987, Hasbro began desperately began adding whatever gimmicks they could think of to Transformers - Headmasters, Targetmasters, Clones, Duocons, a Double Spy... No idea was too ludicrous for the hapless execs charged with recovering from the commercial suicide of killing off Optimus Prime and replacing him with a boring, moping version of Hot Rod. One of the ideas they came up with was for a Six Changer. Never mind that the Triple Changers had been a mixed bunch, and that most of the figures with just one alternate mode were pretty poor, we were getting Sixshot anyway.

Hasbro were never ones to let a bad idea die, so as well as getting a 1988 line full of smaller versions of Headmasters and Targetmasters, we also got a second - similarly smaller - Six Changer, the Autobot Quickswitch. The character got his own animated commercial, but made little impact elsewhere, his appearances limited to being the straight man to Darkwing and Dreadwind in a single five-page UK strip, and being in a Ladybird storybook. A version with a different colour scheme was released in Japan as Sixknight, appearing in a bit of alleged Transformers anime series Super-God Happy Teenage Awesomeo Power Bukkake Gaijin Masterforce. He stands out a bit through being a Transformer. Surprisingly, TakaraTomy haven't selected him for Encore yet.

So, Quickswitch has five alternate modes. Something that complex obviously requires some sort of compromise so the engineering and flexibility can actually work. Some figures concentrate on a single alternate mode, and then have a second one added largely as a bonus. Some result in two slightly flawed alternate modes. The compromise the designers of Quickswitch opted for is all five modes are utter shit.

There's not really a huge amount of point going through the modes in particular detail - look at the pictures, you can see exactly what's gone wrong here... My example is missing one of the photon blaster rifles, but I seriously doubt this is taking much away. The puma looks like a road accident; the jet is a flying brick; the gun is the hovercraft mode with the lasers stuck on the front and a weak excuse for a handle on the bottom... The closest to success are the drill tank and hovercraft modes. The former is let down by a main body that looks like what it is - a pile of surplus parts. The latter achieves the relatively lofty status of just being poor - there aren't any massive design faults, it's just ugly. Hasbro also overcame the problem of finding a colour scheme that would work for six diverse modes by picking one that looks equally awful on them all - a horrid turquoise/red/pale grey collision.

It's not like they even got the robot mode right either. Considering most Transformers suffer to some extent in robot form due to the nature of their alternate modes, it's no real surprise that Quickswitch reflects his five weak disguises - it's a compromise form that fails to succeed. There is a certain amount of charming blockiness to him if you look at him from the right angle and distance (i.e. side-on from about three hundred yards). But it's all wrong...

The head has a giant hinge underneath it, the legs come out of his hips (giving him a comically large groin, while the giant, blocky shoulders just make the arms look silly. He doesn't even have real hands - the puma's paws are just flattened onto his wrists. There is a fair amount of articulation due to the multiple moving parts - hips, knees, shoulders and elbows - and the all-plastic toy has good enough balance to make use of it. The only problem is that posing him only serves to highlight the bad design of the robot mode.

Quickswitch is rubbish. Less is more, and the designers really shouldn't have even tried to do this. I have no idea how you'd incorporate six different modes on a figure without it turning out to be a piece of shit like this. The thing is, I wouldn't have done it, instead aiming for getting a couple of modes right. After the first few minutes of initial curiosity, Quickswitch has nothing going for him whatsoever.