I am officially declaring February “Unicron Trilogy Month” because I don’t forsee myself picking up any new Transformers for a little while and I really need to start clearing out some of these totes of change-o-bots that I’m not keen on keeping anymore. I decided I might as well feature these figures on Transformers Thursdays before I banish them to Ebay or just dump them wherever. Those of you who have been hanging around FFZ’s Transformers Thursdays for a while have been through this phase before. So grab a couple of shots of Energon or whatever helps you cope. Today we’re winding our chronometers back about ten years to 2005 and 2006 to check out Cybertron Crosswise and Smokescreen. I’ve got no packaged shots to show you, so let’s just jump right in with Crosswise’s auto mode.
I’ve gone on record saying how much I liked Cybertron for it’s alt modes. What little I’ve seen of the show suggested that it wasn’t rooted entirely on Earth so we got a lot of cool futuristic cars and Hasbro didn’t have to worry about paying license fees to real car companies. Win-Win! Crosswise is a pretty bitchin’ black sportscar with a rounded snub-nosed front, a cool looking front intake and a spoiler that looks conspicuously like it could double as a gun. There’s even a flame-shamed missile that will plug into it. My only other observation here is that I think he would have worked better as a Decepticon. He just looks evil.
Because evil is the new black. Or something like that. The nearly all black deco here is as simple as it gets, with a little gray and gold, a little red and white, and some translucent green windows. To me, this is an example of fewer paint apps as a style choice and not because Hasbro’s being cheap. There’s also a sharp Autobot emblem tampo’d on the hood. Nope, not bad at all!
As a Cybertron figure, Crosswise features a CyberKey activated gimmick. Plug the key into his rear bumper and it deploys two hidden rocket packs. As far as CyberKey gimmicks go, this is about as good as it gets. Now that I’ve gushed a lot, let’s take a look at the robot mode…
Oh, boy. Unfortunately, Crosswise’s robot mode looks really half baked. On the one hand, he features that familiar old Autobot configuration that uses the front of the car as the upper chest. It’s the purest and most noble of all Autobot designs, dating all the way back to the Datsuns of 1984. It’s also this figure’s best attribute. Once you look past that, you’ve got to deal with a couple of sticks protruding awkwardly up from behind his shoulders, big door kibble jutting awkwardly off his shoulders, and the end all and be all of my Transformers pet-peeves… the dreaded permanent roof shield. Yikes! Roof sheilds were one of the worst things from Robots in Disguise back in 2000 and it’s here to haunt me again.
I do dig the headsculpt here quite a bit. The extra gold paint on the “helmet” looks great and the translucent green visor over the eyes is nice too. The Cybertron line certainly knew how to produce some lovely robo-noggins.
For armaments, Crosswise can wield his spoiler as a handgun and his CyberKey gimmick still works in his robot mode, only now you are literally sticking the Key right up his butt. This deploys the rocket packs from his shoulders, which is easily my favorite thing about this figure. That having been said, I was never all that fond of this mold back in the day, so naturally when Hasbro repainted it a year later, I bought it again. Wait, what? WHY DID I DO THAT? Oh yeah, because I was a completest idiot. Seriously. I can remember finding this figure on the pegs. Did I think, “Hey, there’s a repaint of that figure I didn’t like all that much from last year?” No, I screamed, “SWEET! I found a new Transformer!” And I bought him.
Smokescreen is a straight repaint of Crosswise, with no tweaks to the mold at all. The auto mode looks pretty cool with the traditional Smokescreen deco right down to the 38’s on the doors. You still get the spoiler-gun and the CyberKey gimmick is still available.
When I said no tweaks to the mold, I really meant it. Hasbro didn’t even give this guy a new head. The more dynamic color scheme makes for a nice change, but even the best of new paint jobs inspired by GeeWun fan-wankery isn’t enough to save this mold.
Crosswise and Smokescreen were pretty iffy to me back in 2005-2006 and the ten years that follows has not been any kinder to them. Yeah, there are certainly worse Transformers out there, probably several from these years too, but these guys really feel like they could have been saved by a few minor tweaks. Yes, you can mis-transform those sticks so they point down instead of up, but they’re still terrible kibble. A little more thought from the design team and I could have met these guys halfway. As they are, though, I’m not going to be sad to see them go.