Deluxe-class Autobot Sideswipe
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Sideswipe was among the first generation of Cybertronians to be created after the great civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons had begun. As such, he is a far-more refined fighter than older bots, with a keen knowledge of the battlefield despite his wisdom. While he detests the fighting, he is of the opinion that it takes violence to subdue violence. Thus he turned himself into one of the most prolific martial artists on his planet, carefully observing and practicing what he had seen of others. As such, he is quick to close any battle- getting in close with his near-unstoppable dual forearm swords, while maintaining his dignity and honor. Because of his battle prowess and agility, he acted as a troubleshooter for the Autobots across the galaxy after the All Spark was lost. But when he picked-up the message from Optimus Prime that he had found a new planet for them all, Sideswipe was quick to respond- knowing that not only could peace be found on this innocent world, but that the now-leaderless Decepticons would just as surely come to destroy it in their never-ending lust for power. After landing at the designated coordinates (in a junk yard), Sideswipe was among the first wave of refugee Autobots to be quickly and safely transported to N.E.S.T.’s headquarters on Diego Garcia, where they provided a human-designed vehicle for him to assume in public. Sideswipe is revered among all Cybertronians for his skill in combat. While he is a proficient shot with the quad carbines mounted behind his head and machine guns in his forearms, he prefers the use of the retractable invincible cybertanium alloy swords mounted to his forearms to extinguish Decepticons’ sparks faster. In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, the voice of Sideswipe is performed by voice actor André Sogliuzzo- who regularly works in American video games and cartoons. Sideswipe’s vehicle mode (back) is based on the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray™, also known as the Centennial Concept- a vehicle meant, upon release, to celebrate the 100th-anniversary of the foundation of General Motors Corporation™ in 1911, who owns the Chevrolet™ brand. While the original Stingray muscle car was produced in 1957, the future of the new Centennial Concept model is in question with the subsequent financial fall, bankruptcy, and reorganization of General Motors in early 2009… The all-silver outer shell flows in and out of itself, smoothly merging the nose with the forward wheel wells & hood, the low-profile roof with single-piece windshield & dual back windows, and the tail with quad exhaust tubes. Small details include the Corvette™ logo on the top of the nose, strangely-rectangular headlights above the forward wheels, non-functional painted PVC side-view mirrors, and the Stingray™ logo on the edge of the trunk (one is also on either side just behind the front wheels too), while the “L”-shaped taillights hide beneath the back wheel wells, and a non-painted license plate. (While the front lights are clear ABS plastic, the back lights were painted red over the transparent-red plastic.) The only thing Sideswipe can do in vehicle mode is roll about on all four ABS wheels.
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 Sideswipe has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Sideswipe’s robot mode (back) is striking in two ways. The first is that, even though he has legs, he skates about on two wheels instead of walking on feet. And the other is that- like Starscream and Jetfire- he has rather bird-like lower legs. His head features light-piping for his eyes, but it is rendered useless because of the screw in back holding that very transparent-blue plastic in place! He is also designed with his battle mask already in place, rather than featuring his mouth. Unlike almost all Autobots in the [fan-termed ‘Bayformers’] films, the front of Sideswipe’s torso is not made up of the front of his disguised form, but rather the taillights and bumper from the back of the Corvette Stingray. Instead, most of the nose, hood, roof, and all windows of the car end up on his back as a large backpack of kibble which is reduced to a pair of movable wing-like armored sections and the quad carbines behind his head in the movie. (The front-left and -right bumpers end up on the front of the toy’s feet, though in the movie they are on the outside of his forearms.) An Autobot logo is printed onto the top-right side of his chest in front of his head, while the small molded-in Corvette trademark logo appears [unpainted] on the front of his chest. His arms seem somehow small, but they are proportionate; with three-fingered hands that are open but cannot hold anything. His cybertanium blades are flipped around into a storage form, though in the film they collapse and disappear from sight into his forearms. But, two wheels remain on the outside of his hollow forearms like they do in the movie. His hips have one of the more unique designs I’ve ever seen in a Transformer- along the front, each has a pair of short dark-gray rubber cords coming out from his lower torso, attaching to the front of his thighs. These are actually hydraulic pistons, but to allow movement in the hips they were required to be more flexible. In addition to this, while Sideswipe still has standard plastic rods for his ball-and-socket hip joints, they are molded in transparent-opaque ABS, to imply that it is the pistons which hold him together rather than an internal structure. His thighs get even busier that that… They contain his Mech Alive gimmick, which is directly tied into his knee joints. Because the toy could not, obviously, stand alone on simply wheels-for-feet like he does in the movie, Hasbro cheated and gave us some small silver-painted bits to serve as his toes and heels, but maintained the detailing by covering the inner side of each wheel (and, thus, the hubcaps) with a rounded panel.
. . .
The silver parts on his feet can tilt up and down a little, to allow for an ‘ankle joint’ when posing him, even though both wheels can still easily spin. However, only the front or back will touch at one time, and with his larger kibble in back, balancing him will be an issue. Moving upwards, he has swiveling knee joints, but there are two moving pieces of ABS plastic that are shaped & function like pistons- when the knee moves, the pistons shift in and out of this thighs. Interestingly, though it doesn’t seem like it, his knees will only bend as far backwards as 45-degrees! The hips also have a difficult time bending forward- less because of the flexible rubber cords getting in the way, and more because the plastic of the hips bumps into some solid extended tabs along the sides of his waist. But, he can still open his legs wide and backwards if need-be, the cords easily accommodating all positions of the hips. Articulation above the legs is just about normal for a Deluxe-class figure- ball-and-socket joints in the neck & shoulders, and dual swivel joints in both elbows. There is a very small tab which is placed directly beneath the back of his head (why it’s there, I have no idea!) which significantly interferes with turning it side-to-side, and the elbows cannot be turned outwards at all even though they are double-jointed. Some reviews across the net have noted that Sideswipe’s kibble can be extended to imitate his back-of-the-shoulder ‘wings’, and the various transformation joints there allow for a wide range of flexibility. With this, I agree- they are quite flexible, even though he is far from flight-capable!
For weapons, Sideswipe has his dual cybertanium swords. As mentioned above, they can be stored retracted backwards. To deploy them, they simply spread apart from each other, pivoting from beneath the wheels on his forearms 180-degrees. While not as well-defined or sharp as they are in the movie, obviously, they nonetheless provide a nice little gimmick- the two halves are tied together with gears at their bases, and so when one moves, the other automatically swings the opposite direction as well. Because of how they deploy and are stored in vehicle mode, neither sword can separate from his arms like they do in the film. While his carbines are represented behind his head, they cannot move except to transform them, but his forearm guns do not appear at all.
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 figure’s 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 Sideswipe toy, it has one Mech Alive feature [aside from the geared swords, which are not specifically listed as such]:
- There are a set of gears inside each knee which are attached to two blue knee guard panels. When his knee(s) shifts back or forward, the knee guards will also shift in-and-out accordingly.
A hot new concept car worthy of replacing the 2009 Camaro (which the whole world now knows as Autobot Bumblebee) has arisen. (When I see a bad-ass car like the Concept Stingray- I'm sorry, all I can think is “Batmobile”…) But for all his style, I just get this feeling that the writers of “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” had backed themselves into a corner, and were desperate to resurrect Autobot Jazz in some fashion after his short existence in the Bayformers film franchise was heavily criticized by self-named Transfans. Slick movement in robot mode, a cool and honorable customer in a fight, smaller size (well… Deluxe-class, at least), wheels on his feet, replaceable battle mask, and a smooth, streamlined silver-painted vehicle mode which never saw production because GM collapsed into bankruptcy… all traits of the hip-hop ‘bot from “Transformers”. I mean, Sideswipe has friggin’ wheels on his forearms so he can speed-skate and tight-turn horizontally on three wheels with more coolness that anything currently on Earth (or Cybertron?). He even says as much after taking out his Decepticon- um… rival?, Sideways with the greatest of ease at the beginning of the film: “Damn, I’m good!” Know what I say-? “Jazz Lives!” But I digress… This is one of those Transformers where everything has to fit just-so or else things get frustrating quickly. Tolerances are very tight on this toy, and things like pulling the torso apart or putting the arms back in vehicle mode can be tricky. While the vehicle mode is beautifully recreated here, it suffers quite a bit from a lot of visible separation lines (which is a frequent complaint elsewhere online). What I don’t get about it, though, is why they painted the taillights red after they were already molded in transparent-red ABS plastic!? His narrow headlights were even blue in the film, but were switched to clear plastic here. (Okay, I can live with the head- and taillights as they are now. But if they ever make a Premium Series-ver. of this guy…) With such big kibble, and such a small footprint, it does make posing him a challenge. (I will not comment on the designs seen in the film here; this toy merely represents what is seen on-screen…) However, the surface details are rather impressive and faithful to the design seen on-screen for a Deluxe-class figure. (Those rubber cords are a sweet addition, better that they don’t interfere with anything too! Same with the Mech Alive feature in his knees- simple, yet a nice touch.) Having the swords split in have was nice, but to have them geared together was better. Indeed, though it doesn’t look like it, the arms are capable of swinging all the way forward despite the silver fender armor above them! The tiny tab behind his neck is really annoying and prevents a lot of motion that would otherwise exist with a ball-and-socket joint. Overall, the figure looks and functions pretty well, but has some minor issues which can be easily pushed aside in the final review. So, I strongly recommend getting the Deluxe-class Autobot Sideswipe.
There is a larger transformable version of this character as well, Human Alliance Autobot Sideswipe. He features extra fold-out weapons, but no Mech Alive gimmick. Also included in that set is a unique poseable figure of the human Tech Sgt. Epps, who can both ride inside of vehicle mode, and operate his weapons in robot mode!
|Posted 24 September, 2009 - 02:01 by EVA_Unit_4A|