Man, I have a crap-ton of third-party not-transformers on pre-order, most of which at this point are very, very late. I was sure I’d see the next Uranos figure from TFC before the end of June, or maybe one of Fansproject’s Headmasters, but nope, all of that shit has rolled over to July. Thankfully, I did get the next release in Fansproject’s (“Don’t call them Stunticons!”) series of Super-Evil-Deception-Robots- That-Transform-Into-Cars-And-Do-Stunts! Call me, Fansproject, I’m available to write your box copy! I’ll tap dance my way through all those legal loopholes! Anyway, this one bears a purely coincidental resemblance to a certain yellow Formula-1 racer named Dragstrip. Let’s check him out!
I’m a big fan of the Causality packaging. The grid pattern is delightfully reminiscent of the package deco used for a line of transforming robots that I vaguely remember collecting in the 80’s. Was it ChangeFormers? No, that’s not right… but it was something like that. This package has a yellow tint to it, which gives the box a unique look while still being uniform enough with the others so that they all look great lined up on the shelf. You get a window that shows off the figure, which is boxed in his robot mode, along with some bitchin’ character art, and lots of actual photos that let the toy speak for itself.
Inside, the figure rests in a plastic tray with his pistol beside him. Behind the tray you get a baggie with the folded color instruction sheet and his color profile card. There are no twisties or anything holding the figure in and the box is totally collector friendly.
As usual, we’ll start with Down Force’s vehicle mode. While obviously inspired by G1 Dragstrip, this car is more at odds with the original G1 toy than either Car Crash or T-Bone. There are still some Formula-1 characteristics, to be sure, but the car is beefier and rather more futuristic looking. I’m not a big fan of Formula-1 cars in my Transformers, particularly not Dragstrip’s’ six-wheeled model, so this was a good trade-off for me, but for others it may be too much of a deviation from the intended source material. The back of the car holds together really well, but the front assembly can unpeg rather easily when handled.
The car is cast almost entirely in yellow plastic. There are a few red paint apps to spice things up, most notably the stripe on the spoiler, and there is some silver paintwork up front over the front axle. The headlamp covers and canopy are blue clear plastic and there’s some black paint around the canopy. All told, it’s an attractive car, although possibly a little bland. Maybe some actual racing numbers would have helped it out. The design also makes it rather challenging to find somewhere to place his Decepticon faction sticker.
Transforming Down Force seemed like a nightmare the first time I did it. It’s not because he’s overly complex, but because the instructions aren’t at all helpful. Going from car to robot is somewhat logical, but going from robot to car didn’t feel intuitive until I did it a couple of times. Once I saw what was going on, I realized that this guy is by far the easiest of the three to work with.
So, let’s talk robot mode. Aesthetically, Down Force fits in quite well with his chums, T-Bone and Car Crash. The torso and legs are pretty simple looking and straightforward. The spoiler makes for good knees, although I’m not terribly keen on the tiny feet, but they aren’t a dealbreaker for me. They just seem vestigial and almost pointless. I like the design of the chest, which is probably the biggest nod back to the original G1 concept. Alas, like his car mode, Down Force’s chest doesn’t offer a prime place to slap a Decepticon logo on him.
The head sculpt is solid and fits the same style used for his brothers. I like the way the canopy on his back peeks up behind the head, and is actually connected to a nifty head reveal mechanic. I wasn’t sure at first about the purple and blue deco for the head, but it has grown on me a lot. It’s certainly distinctive!
Down Force’s shoulders are splendidly complex for such a little figure and definitely one of the stand out elements of the design. The way his fenders make up his shoulder armor looks great, but they aren’t without their issues. The parts that form the shoulders all fold together rather well, including those pieces that are attached by an arm with a ball joint at either end. The forward facing prongs even look cool, although I wish FP had found a way to sculpt them to look like guns. The problem with the shoulders, however, is that nothing really pegs into anything. If you manipulate Down Force’s arms by grabbing the lower arm, everything is fine. If you try to move them around from the upper arm, the shoulder assembly’s tend to shift apart. It’s a little annoying, but not nearly the fatal flaw that plagued Hasbro’s recent Blitzwing design.
I’ve been very happy with this line so far, and Down Force doesn’t disappoint. From initial pictures, I was a little worried that this guy wouldn’t fit in with the others, but now that he’s in hand, I can set those worries aside. Sure, he does feel a little removed from the first two figures, but I think that’s mostly because Car Crash and T-Bone shared a lot of the same mold. Nonetheless, the three can definitely hang together as a team. At around $59.99, he’s definitely pricey for what is essentially a big Scout or a small Deluxe, but such it’s about right for a third-party Transformer these days. That’s three down and two to go… Next up is Last Chance, hopefully arriving sometime this month!