It just so happens that many of my favourite toys from the olden days are Transformers. I played with little else as a larvae.
Few toys have aged so gracefully, I think. Most action figures from the 80s and 90s are pretty clunky and ridiculous by today’s standards, modern design and manufacturing techniques have made sure of that. Even modern plastics capture more detail, allowing toys to be more intricate than ever before. And how many toys from the period are left that haven’t had a modern update, anyway? He-Man got a revamp, twice. Even Jem and the Holograms are glam-rocking their way into peoples’ toy collections again.
But Transformers remain ageless, their statuesque forms an enduring reminder of a time when people tilled the fields by hand, and returned home to enact a robotic civil war on the bedroom floor.
Doubledealer, then. In the later years, most Transformers had a gimmick of some sort, and most were pretty snappy! Doubledealer’s gimmick is especially fun:
He has three forms, his vehicular mode (a Soviet ICBM truck) displays no faction symbols, and thus betrays no allegiance. A system of springs and levers mean that the toy is ‘locked’ in this mode.
He comes with two partner figures, a man and a robotic bat, each able to fold into the shape of an engine. Plugging the first engine into the special socket allows Doubledealer to transform into a humanoid robot. This robot wears the Autobot symbol on his shoulders.
However, plugging the second engine into the bay unlocks a different transformation, allowing him to take the shape of a raven, adorned with the evil Decepticon insignia!
Which shape he will assume, and his fictional allegiance, depends entirely on which engine is plugged in. The character is described as a mercenary, mingling with both Heroic Autobots and Evil Decepticons for financial gain. Pretty sweet!
The toy itself is marvellous, it’s heavy and solid with some nice detailing and he stands about eight or nine inches tall. Each joint, like his knees for example, is sprung with a ratchet mechanism. You don’t see those anymore; most toys these days are held together with ball joints or just rely on friction and pressure to keep limbs attached.
He suffers slightly from Big Head Syndrome, as was common at the time, but I think it lends him a certain charm; his giant, wide eyes and puckered mouth give him a remarkable expression. He looks permanently on the edge of epiphany, like he’s just realised where his life is going. Or maybe he just realised he’s carrying a ballistic missile warhead on his shoulder.
Awesomeness Rating: 4/5 – One of these days, I’ll stop extolling the virtues of vintage Transformers… But today is not that day. I love this toy, I love the character, and he stands proudly among the most cherished toys on the shelf, secretly scheming to betray them all.