Deluxe-class Autobot Skids
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
While Skids may act like he’s smarter than his twin Mudflap, his attempts to smarten his brother don’t make him look any better, constantly degrading and criticizing him. On Cybertron, they acted as carrier pigeons- transferring messages between the battlefront and the commanders rather than having that classified information broadcast in the open where Decepticons could easily intercept them. And when the All Spark Cube was cast into space, they became part of a network of Autobots who kept their faction united across the galaxy. In the interim millenniums as all Cybertronians searched for the Cube, Skids was able to keep in contact with his twin via their telepathic connection. Which is why, when they learned that the great Optimus Prime was calling out to them all, they were anxious to prove themselves to their leader… maybe not in combat, but to prove to their leader and his officers that they were able to escape any detection, anywhere, anytime. In preparation for coming to Earth, they also downloaded the languages there, careful selecting the local native dialogue to further blend in. Initially combining together with Mudflap as a disguised ice cream truck that they trans-scanned near their landing spot, Skids later won the squabble over who would be the new green vehicle that N.E.S.T. had provided for them. Unfortunately, once on Earth, their talents were rather wasted, and the brothers were relegated to a back-up/reserve position. With so much time on their collective hands, Skids and Mudflap frequently found their idleness the perfect opportunity for some- uh… sibling ‘bonding’.
Skids, and his twin brother Mudflap, share similar body shapes and structural details, and are among the smaller of Autobots, not really made for front-line mainframe combat. So while he’s not as fast (or quiet) like a scout or spy, he can still get where he needs to more effectively by evasion. And standing only 11’ 4”-tall, Skids’ weapons aren’t much better- a single machine gun in his enlarged right arm. What makes Skids and Mudflap rare among Autobots, though, is their ability to privately communicate with each other telepathically, allowing them to coordinate light attacks instinctively… if they can stop from attacking each other first!
In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, the voice of Skids (and also Decepticon-turned-Autobot Wheelie) is performed by renowned voice actor Tom Kenny. He frequently appears in American cartoons, but is perhaps best known for playing the lead role in “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999-present), and several main & guest characters in “Transformers Animated” (2007-09).
Skids’ vehicle mode (back) is that of the 2009 Chevrolet Beat™ Concept sub-compact hatchback car, designed by General Motors Corporation™, who owns the Chevrolet™ brand. The two-door Beat is based on the four-door Daewoo Kalos™ currently produced in India. GM produced three similar-sized fuel-efficient concept vehicles in 2007- the Beat, the Trax™ (whom brother Mudflap disguises himself as), and the Groove™, and then asked the public to vote on which one they liked most. While the Groove received nearly the same percentage of the vote, the Beat was chosen as the winner, and will be put into full production, now being called the Spark. (You see, that’s the genius of Skids- he knew which way the people would swing when he chose the green car…!) The Beat was specifically designed to appeal to younger drivers with its smooth and attractive exterior & interior, small size, and reflect the then-future market in 2009 with a lightweight build & fuel-efficient engine performance. Its small front-wheel drive engine is housed inside a rounded nose with integrated bumper. The four black ABS wheels are unpainted, as are the side & back windows; the windshield is framed by neon-green paint. While the headlights are clear plastic, during transformation you realize that the taillights are also clear plastic that has been painted red. Smaller details include un-painted side-view mirrors, a spoiler above the back windshield, brake pads molded inside each hubcap, air inlet grids on the nose, a small painted Chevy trademark across the front & back, and the generic light-blue license plate says “SKIDS”.
The only thing Skids can do in vehicle mode is roll about on all four wheels. (While the side doors have separation lines in the right places, they cannot open properly unless you’re transforming him.)
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
Since this is a brand new toy which was not released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Deluxe-class Autobot Skids has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Skids’ robot mode (back) is a bit more disproportionate than we’re used to, even for a Deluxe-class figure, but in some ways it matches those of the character on-screen. Indeed, his head is very unusual, even by the movies’ design-style. He looks like Jedi Master Yoda (from Star Wars) crossed with a squirrel… as a mad scientist. Skids shares several traits with his twin, mostly in mirrored details: his right eye is larger than the left (while Mudflap’s left is bigger), and he has triangular ears pointing upwards like an elf (Mudflap’s point downward). They also both share pronounced eyebrows and small black ‘hairs’ on the top of their heads, as well as functional light-piping. What Skids does have that his brother doesn’t is two pronounced buck-teeth… and one of them is gold-painted! He has a relatively-round torso, with everything nicely compacted in, though surface details are a little lacking, and the hatchback door makes it look like he’s humpbacked. His vehicle mode kibble is rather pronounced on his back even if it is collapsed down quite a bit as it is. The limbs, when compared to his torso, are a bit on the small side… His arms are the same at the shoulders, with the sides of the car’s nose and front wheels sitting to the sides. While the left arm is- shall I say- normal-sized for a Deluxe-class figure, the right arm is honkin’ huge with a giant fist; it’s nearly Voyager-class-sized! His legs, though, are where he deviates the most from his movie counterpart. The most obvious change is that, while the wheels do end up on the outsides of his ankles, the doors and wheel wells do not end-up there, nor are his lower legs that bulked up! His dark gray feet are slimmed down a bit too much too, and his knees are- um… poorly defined, with multiple joints; none of which lock up after transforming him!
Aside from his strange details and design, Skids poses just fine. All joints freely swivel, but his neck and ankles are ball-and-sockets. Both hands have movement- the left wrists can be turned, and the right can open and close, with the thumb moving independently of the fingers. The hatchback door, however, prevents him from looking up (or even perfectly straight ahead), and- as mentioned above- his knees have four free-turning joints where only two were needed; this due to how he transforms.
. . .
For weapons, Skids has one feature. On his large right arm, there is a dark gray structure that, when pressed, activates a spring-powered punching action! The trigger itself, when the fist is extended, forms his ‘retractable’ machine gun. The fist does not disconnect like a missile, extending not even an inch, but the fist (which has no wrist rotation) can open up the fingers a bit more.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figures body can be animated beyond simply posing it- panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
For the Deluxe-class Autobot Skids toy, it has one Mech Alive feature:
- When the black air grille on the front of his chest is pressed inwards, the plastic panels on the sides and top of his chest will expand outwards a little, and his head will bob downwards too.
(The punching fist does not count as Mech Alive because it is not specifically labeled as such.)
When I began the review for Skids, I set down one rule for myself to follow: I would not make comment anywhere in-review on the twins’ appearance & personalities in the film, which made national headlines for portraying [negative] black racial stereotypes. How the twins appear & act in the movie has nothing to do with the toy(s), and I am here now to review only the latter. The only thing I will say is this: why in thee hell should racism even come up in a Transformers movie?
A few small things bug me about this figure. One- the transforming joints in the knees should have ratcheted in some fashion so that when you posed him they wouldn’t distort. Two- for a Deluxe-class figure, the transformation process as a whole is a bit trickier to perform than average. A lot of this has to do with how the roof panels and the inner-torso levers/components all fit together and move about during transformation; it’s almost Voyager-class complex! Whatever you do, take your time, and remember that that ABS plastic is thin and won’t take much extra pressure to break. This is one of those Transformers that has tight tolerances in vehicle mode, and if one little thing is off, then everything else becomes un-streamlined. (I can spend minutes after changing him back to vehicle mode trying to get all those panels to line-up correctly and get nowhere quickly, tossing him aside in frustration.) Three- his feet, despite having ball-and-socket joints, aren’t as flexible as they seem. And posing can become more of a problem with the car doors always hanging off the back of his legs. And four- though the surface details in robot mode are clean and look authentic, in my opinion they don’t really measure up to the CGI character like most other Deluxe-class figures do to their own counterparts’. Otherwise, the figure is pretty sweet. Posing is excellent, and the punching action is a well-placed gimmick that was ingenious well-teamed deployable cannon on his arm. The Mech Alive feature was also well thought-out and executed. While you can’t see things moving about because your own hand is in the way, that so many small components are moving harmoniously together is impressive. And for as ugly a mug as he’s got (in my opinion, the twins stole the title of “Face Only A Mother Could Love” away from Bumblebee), they designed and painted his head pretty accurately to what you saw on-screen, even adding a little light-piping in to let his light blue eyes glow. If I could have changed anything, it would have been to allow more backward motion in his neck so that he could look up a little, maybe find a way to transfer those car doors on his legs to inside his backpack kibble, and to add that red paint to the inside of the taillights so that they still reflect light while remaining red. Overall, I recommend getting Deluxe-class Autobot Skids. He’s really not a bad offering, regardless of what you saw in the film.
There is a larger transformable version of this character as well, Human Alliance Autobot Skids. He features extra fold-out weapons, but no Mech Alive gimmick. Also included in that set is a unique poseable figure of the human Mikaela Banes- who can both ride inside of vehicle mode and operate his weapons in robot mode- and a new in-scale transformable version of Autobot Arcee!
|Posted 10 September, 2009 - 02:00 by EVA_Unit_4A|