Robot Transforming Vehicle (Dollar Tree)

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One of the great shocks of my childhood was going to see Transformers: The Movie in theaters in the summer of 1986. Like many kids from the era, I’d grown up watching Transformers on television, which means I’d also grown up acquiring a lot of them, Autobots and Decepticons alike, and I was excited to see how my favorite characters played out on the big screen.

That excitement soon gave way to confusion and not a little bit of childhood trauma. Transformers: The Movie shook up Transformers universe, with rock music, death, and cursing — three things foreign to the franchise. I’ll never forget the first scene, watching Unicron consume that innocent planet, and I’ll certainly never forget watching Optimus Prime die.

Optimus would later return to life on TV, and Transformers have remained on shelves as popular kids’ toys, if not quite the cultural sensation that they were in the heyday of the 80s. Transformers aren’t necessarily expensive, especially if you get one of the small ones, but the big ones certainly can be.

Still, I never thought there was a market for any kind of budget imitation of a Transformer. Clearly, Dollar Tree thought differently, because the extreme discounter sells its own brand of knockoff robots in disguise.

There’s no way these can be any good, right?

Shape Shifting Robot - Dollar Tree Transformer 1

I found these in the Dollar Tree toy section. The package calls each a Robot with the words Transforming Vehicle nearby; the receipt calls them Shape-Shifting Robots. I’ve taken to calling them Dollar Tree Transformers, but, hey, you can call them whatever you want.

Like everything in Dollar Tree, I paid $1.25 for each of them. They are a Dollar Tree exclusive, as the back of the package says they are imported by Dollar Tree company Greenbrier International. I saw four versions — a car, a plane, and two tanks — and I went for the car and the plane. Unlike the more detailed Final Faction toy line, these don’t give any indication who is “good” or “bad,” so I just used Transformers sensibilities in picking up what looked like a cheap Autobot (car) and Decepticon (plane).

My first impression pulling them out of the package was that they were light and felt a little flimsy. No surprise given the cost, but if you expect Transformers-grade quality here, you won’t find it. Each measures about 4 inches tall and will more or less stand up when you put them on a flat surface.

Dollar Tree Robots next to actual Transformers.

These didn’t come with any instructions, although they’re both simple enough that I was able to figure out how to Transform them. Both of them had their hassles: the car was finicky to get everything in place and staying there, while the plane required me to separate the legs from the body and clip them to another part of the robot. As an adult familiar with these kinds of toys, I thought they were a hassle. I can see where a younger kid might find them pretty frustrating. I worried about breaking them both, although that didn’t happen.

The Verdict:

On the positive side, Dollar Tree Robots do transform, so if you’re looking for a dirt-cheap knockoff of Transformers, maybe these are worth getting. But they’re inferior to Transformers in every way, from the cheap build quality, to the finicky work it takes to get parts to fit. I would personally opt for paying for the real thing, which you can sometimes get for a decent price … but if money is really tight, these might be worth a look.


About Joshua

Joshua is the Co-founder of Dollar Store Reviewer. He is also a writer and novelist. You can learn more about him at joshuaajohnston.com.

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