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 painted windows all-around. The plastic body is detailed with many hallmarks 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, having the front of the car for feet, with the hood halves extending up the fronts of his legs, and the rear wheels and fenders rotate down to form the arms. His robot mode is short and stocky, and his head is shrouded by the back window and bumper of the car like a hooded shirt. 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 fist.
Date stamp location: Bottom center of car chassis
Rubsign location (Japan only): Right half of hood
Like almost every former Diaclone design, Downshift has a common malady. His sliding/rotating rear window section attaches to two hair-thin posts protruding from the sides of his head. Needless to say, the pins can easily shear 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. As a white plastic figure, he is also particularly prone to yellowing and discoloration.
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.
Type 1: "創作・著作物 ©Takara Co. Ltd. 1980-1984 Japan" stamp, “CELICA” on rear license plate
Type 2: "©Hasbro 1980, 1984 創作・著作物 ©Takara Co. Ltd. 1980-1984 Japan" stamp, rear license plate blank
Type 2JP: "©Hasbro 1980, 1984 創作・著作物 ©Takara Co. Ltd. 1980-1984 Japan" stamp, rear license plate blank, rubsign on hood
Downshift was available in the USA and Japan (as Camshaft) in late 1984 and 1985 as a mail-away exclusive, through “Reinforcements from Cybertron!”, “The Battle is Far from Over!”, and “Look Inside for a Special Offer!”. He continued to be available in the US in 1986 through “Have the Decepticons defeated us once and for all?”. He has never been reissued.
MSRP: $5.00 and 4 Robot Points (1984-5), $5 and 2 Robot Points (1986)
Packaging: Taped-shut polybag in plain brown cardboard mailer box
Paperwork included: Instructions, sticker sheet