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Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Monday, 28 May 2018

Hasbro G1 Sixchanger Quickswitch



In 1988, Hasbro gave the Autobots their very own ultimate gimmickformer, the six-moded Sixchanger "Quickswitch". The Decepticons, of course, had the magnificent Sixshot from 1987, and now the Autobots too had a multi-form warrior. Quickswitch, over the years, has been roundly criticised as a Transformer based on his suspiciously non-descript modes and odd proportions. Sixshot is superior to most collectors. On my mission to collect mint examples of all 1987 and 1988 G1 Transformers, in order to experience them as they should have been, straight out of the box in the 80s, I knew I could find something to appreciate in this bizarre toy if I found him in the right condition.





The toy commercial above for Quickswitch is quite the thing. Pitched as "Sixshot's son" who was "determined to make good where his Decepticon father went bad", Quickswitch had a lot to live up to as a toy. Ultimately, over the course of three decades, he has not managed to do that, Sixshot by far the more celebrated use of the six-changing gimmick. However, I think there's so much more to Quickswitch than just a failed attempt at a second sixchanger.



The packaging for Quickswitch is beautiful, a box that would have sung out to many a child in 1988. Interestingly, having posted photographs of my own Quickswitch online recently, a number of collectors have come forward and said they had this toy as a kid. They also said they adored him, and certainly from my short experience with him, I can see how a child's imagination would have been fired by this toy. 

The box artwork is superb, the front of the package proudly selling his Laser Pistol, Flying Puma, Drill Tank, Hovercraft, Jet and Robot modes. Interestingly, the stock photography on the front of the box differs from that used on the side flaps and on the box top/back where Quickswitch is shown changing between modes. The latter are clearly from earlier versions where he is missing stickers and - in some instances - has completely different, probably hand-cut and coloured stickers that didn't make it to the final design. Even so, the front-of-box imagery also lacks some of the final stickers. There's not much consistency there just from the photography of the prototype/mock-up.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

One of the tasks I have set myself is the use of 100% authentic parts and paperwork for my collection, so that means finding vintage G1 with perfect, properly-placed and aligned stickers. This is a bloody difficult task and greatly contributes to the long periods between new G1 purchases these days. On occasion, I have applied a vintage stickersheet to a mint unused toy myself in order to achieve that effect. Quickswitch is no exception. Just as with Apeface, Slapdash, Punch-Counterpunch, Fangry and a number of reissues, I ran into a few snags along the way when stickering up Quickswitch.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

I have found G1 source material notoriously inconsistent. There are occasions when the instructions, box artwork and stock photography all disagree on the location and orientation of particular stickers. I had this precise issue with Quickswitch's Autobot logo sticker in robot mode, labelled as #5 above on the application map. Some of the very early stock photography and even the boxart show it placed on the grey midriff. The instruction excerpt above shows it on his white crotch/diaper section. Some of the other stock photos on the box just don't even have Quickswitch wearing it at all! 

After much deliberation, I decided that the instructions were the most up-to-date piece of literature provided with the Quickswitch package (the box shows proto stickers that didn't make the final stickersheet design), and so I went with the crotch/diaper placement for the Autobot logo. Stuff like this completely explains why so many G1 toys turn up with misplaced stickers.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

Courtesy of Brr-Icy

Courtesy of Brr-Icy

Interestingly, the 1988 Takara exclusive repaint from Masterforce, "Sixknight", shows the Autobot sticker on the midriff section on the artwork, but it is missing completely from the front-of-box stock photography. This, of course, is because it is just recoloured Hasbro stock imagery, and since Quickswitch's front-of-box stock images had no Autobot logo, neither do Sixknight's. Similarly, the side flap stock images show the Autobot logo on the midriff, just like Quickswitch's side flap stock pics.

Courtesy of Mike Kingcaid
But, there you have it, plain as day. Takara altered the paperwork for Sixknight to show his Autobot logo (now sticker #10) on the midriff area, not the front pontoon/crotch/diaper. I agree it looks better, and it marries up with the box artwork - and what little evidence there is of the corresponding sticker on stock photography. Quickswitch's instructions may well have been produced in error to have #5 on the pontoon diaper, but I followed them to the letter anyway.



And so Quickswitch was stickered up with authentic G1 stickers from his original 1988 package - well, two stickersheets actually. The one that came with him was damaged in transit, so I had to use an old partial stickersheet I had obtained for him around three years back. Extremely fortuitous, and  it contributed greatly to just how spectacular he looks with vibrant fresh labels placed absolutely carefully where they were originally intended to go...I think. 

Getting those long, thin stickers onto his crotch was an absolute trick, surpassed only by the headache of aligning the red stripe stickers on the hovercraft nose. Seriously, how were kids ever supposed to nail all the sticker placement and alignment on these toys?! No wonder so many different versions of sticker application exist on vintage G1.


Stood next to Sixshot (in this case, Greatshot), Quickswitch's diminutive stature is clear, as well as his oddly proportioned torso and limbs. He's stumpy, inelegant and odd. I do understand why so many collectors speak negatively of him, but there's something to be said about handling and appreciating the toy for the first time in this excellent condition. I truly believe it makes a difference.

I'm reminded of what I adored about virtually *every* TF I got as a kid, no matter how much we dislike them as discerning adult collectors. Most of G1, in immaculate condition, experienced for the first time is a special feeling...and I think it leads to a better appreciation of what the designers and the concepts behind each toy were trying to achieve. With Quickswitch, I get it. He has lovely ratcheting joints, striking and unique colours with a boatload (hovercraftload?) of play value in all his modes. 

Before we get to those modes, a word about that headsculpt.


First off, it's utterly gorgeous. Classic Generation 1 sculpt, handsome and evocative, drives my imagination even as an adult. Considering the era in which Quickswitch was designed and released, it is a commonly held, but unproven belief that he was planned to have a Headmaster head. This would explain the shape and proportions of the head, as well as the little flap that covers the face, but not the attached wings behind it. As for a missing cockpit, I'm wondering if the opening flaps on the alt modes were meant to house a Nebulan.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab
Another weak drop of evidence to support the Headmaster claim can be found in Quickswitch's - and Sixknight's - instruction booklet. If you look at the picture of him facing forwards in robot mode (and throughout the booklet), he appears to be sporting none other than G1 Brainstorm's headsculpt! This is such a bizarre mix-up that it really makes me wonder if it was a placeholder Nebulan head. Maybe if someone shares or uncovers Quickswitch's design sketches, all will be revealed or disproved.






There's a lot to love about Quickswitch's alternate modes. I find the hovercraft mode quite iconic to him and unique too. I love how the front pontoon really leads the look of that mode, and as predicted, with perfect stickers it really makes each mode a spectacle. This is one toy that benefits enormously from the presence of its accessories, namely the red blasters. Drill tank is also a favourite of mine, even if it is slightly less impressive than Takara's Sixknight with its chrome drill. Sure, the fold-down tank treads/flaps are a little thin and unconvincing, but getting six distinct modes out of a toy that's almost half the size of Sixshot qualifies as impressive!






The jet, flying puma and laser pistol modes really do require a certain suspension of disbelief, but you have to adore the laser sight (upside down landing gear) for the pistol mode. It's almost at the same level of the "modes" seen on the back of Kronoform Watch Robo packaging. You can see that his blasters have two advertised locations in puma mode; they can be used to augment his tail or to arm him at the shoulders. Again, the modes would be considerably weaker without the red blasters to add some width, length and shape.

Transforming Quickswitch is a world of ratchets, flaps, clicks and limb clearance encounters. Delightful, in other words. None of the surfaces rub to the point where stickers will experience wear, so he should be good to rock his pristine look well into the future, assuming he keeps his colour. 


In fact, Quickswitch's particular mix of colours is so distinct that simply recolouring Titans Return Sixshot did the job for Hasbro recently. He's immediately recognisable, despite the obvious juxtaposition. A return of the family connection between Sixshot and Quickswitch there.

This toy for me epitomises my current collecting mission; the convergence of adult appreciation for certain moulds and aesthetics, experiencing figures that are new to me as a child would for the first time; in perfect condition as the designers intended. Straight out of the box. Fresh and untainted stickers, tight joints and an immaculate appearance with all the trimmings of box art, instructions etc. I knew experiencing the much-maligned Quickswitch in this fashion would be enjoyable, and it has predictably led to me appreciating him deeply. I love this figure.

Especially with a set of extra blasters!


Many kind thanks to Bryce Rutledge, Mike Kingcaid and Botch The Crab for essential and gracious contributions!

All the best
Maz











4 comments:

  1. I actually prefer Quickswitch over Sixshot! Better scale and better modes, IMHO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A minority opinion for sure, but one that I can certainly understand much better now I own it!

      All the best
      Maz

      Delete
  2. Fantastic stuff! Really interesting about the Brainstorm head too - I'm not sure I ever would have noticed that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. G1 paperwork must be littered with stuff like this, like the Diaclone head on Skids in his paperwork!

      All the best
      Maz

      Delete