As the popularity of Transformers G1 grew in 1985, Hasbro and Takara decided to engage in a popular sales strategy of offering mail-away exclusive toys. “Robot Points” could be clipped from the packages of purchased toys to send in for these exclusives. Four Robot Points and $5 could be submitted to get the Omnibot Downshift, a 1983 Toyota Celica XX P-Type (sold in the US as the Celica Supra Mark II).
Downshift’s mold was designed by Koujin Ohno for Takara’s Diaclone toyline as the Double Changer No. 3 Celica XX. This version is virtually indistinguishable from the eventual G1 release, differing only in some Autobot symbols added to the sticker sheet. Downshift’s US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy vehicle (aka Transformers G1 Downshift) was filed on December 30, 1983 (U.S. Patent No. USD284491 S).
Downshift’s Celica XX alternate mode is relatively detailed, despite the smaller scale than the Autobot Cars. He features accurate chrome lace-spoke wheels shod in rubber tires, and stickered and painted windows. The plastic body is detailed with many trademarks of the real-life car. Downshift can be transformed into an additional “Armored Car” mode by folding down the doors, attaching the twin chrome guns, and lifting a roof hatch to reveal two more gun barrels. His transformation is fairly straightforward, following a similar pattern as Camshaft. His robot mode is short and stocky, and his head is shrouded by the back window and bumper of the car like a hood. The twin chrome guns can attach to the sides of the bracket supporting the window. His broad die-cast feet make him very stable, and he also features die-cast connectors for his arms. He can wield his tiny chrome pistol in his fists.
Like almost every former Diaclone design, Downshift has a common malady. His sliding/rotating rear window section attaches to two hair-thin pegs protruding from the sides of his head. Needless to say, the pins can easily sheer off, leaving the rear section unable to attach properly, or at all. Care should be taken when moving this section, and when attaching and detaching the chrome cannons.
Downshift had one minor variation during his short run. Early production had the word “CELICA” printed on the rear license plate sticker, and later versions were blank, likely due to trademark reasons.
Downshift was available in the USA and Japan in 1985 as a mail-away exclusive. He continued to be available in the US in 1986 through a different order form. He has never been reissued.