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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: Generation 2 Sideswipe

Sideswipe is nearly the equal of his twin brother Sunstreaker in the combat arts, but he's less cold-blooded despite enjoying a fight to the finish with any opponent. His arms act as powerful pile drivers and he can fly for up to 2 minutes with a rocket backpack while firing flares that are visible for 18 miles! He uses underhanded tactics when necessary and his rash actions often lead to self-inflicted injuries... but he just takes them in stride.

In 1993, Transformers: Generation 2 debuted. An attempt to breathe life back into a toy line that had sunk into irrelevance after five years with no cartoon and toys that focused more and more on snazzy gimmicks in the face of declining production values, it kicked off by aping what worked before. The first wave was almost entirely recycled early G1 figures, recoloured to make them distinctive and match the more...vibrant palate of the 90s toy section. A few of these, like Inferno and the early run of the Dinobots, saw few or no changes. Others were downright bizarre, like music-symbol Jazz or teal and purple Ramjet. But amongst all that there were more than a few gems, and Sideswipe was one of them.

I've had this Sideswipe for ages now, having purchased him in 1995 or 1996 when stores were clearing out G2 figures, but before Beast Wars debuted. The Transformers section of most of my local stores was denuded of everything but Gobots and Cyberjets (all of them Skyjack, if memory serves), and the eleven year old me could see the writing on the wall. I'd lived through the first death of the line with the Actionmasters, and in spite of how enthusiastic my friends and I had been for Generation 2 it was pretty clear to me by then that it had died too. I was certain in the way that only children could be that Transformers was done, and that I'd never have a chance to enjoy any others than the ones I already owned. So when I stumbled on Sideswipe in a clearance bin at Zellers I found some solace -- here was a toy I'd wanted for a while and had never been able to afford, and now I could get my hands on him for $7! Of course Beast Wars showed up almost immediately thereafter and eventually stole my heart in spite of my initial indifference, but I had no idea then. I genuinely thought at the time that G2 Sideswipe was going to be the last Transformer I ever bought, and even though that turned out to be hilariously far from the truth he's always had a special place in my heart.

Alternate Mode: I said before that Sideswipe was a gem, and his vehicle mode is the biggest reason why. You'll notice from my pictures that my Sideswipe's stickers are missing. In fact, they've been gone so long that I barely remember what he looked like with them on. If you're a fan of the campy 90s look that pervaded a lot of the G2 line you'll want to find a Sideswipe whose stickers are still intact, but I think it's safe to say that the majority of fans will prefer him with them gone, as I do.

A repaint of the original Sideswipe, the G2 toy is a Lamborghini Countach, an utterly gorgeous supercar and in my opinion the coolest of the original Autobot car molds by a mile. The original was red but the G2 toy is black all over save for his red bumper (and the thankfully long-gone green stickers). The new colour scheme takes Sideswipe from a rich yuppie's toy and turns him into something that Batman would drive. And just like the original, the production values on the toy are really nice. The black plastic parts match perfectly with the black-painted die-cast rear, giving the figure a cohesive look that most modern toys that try to match paint to plastic colours rarely manage to pull off. The rubber tires and chromed rims complete the look, and if it wasn't for the robot bits visible on his underside and through is windows you could easily confuse Sideswipe for a model car. He even has working scissor-doors, thanks to his transformation scheme.

The figure's one new feature is a 3mm hole drilled in the car's roof, just large enough to accommodate either his rifle or his new rocket launcher. Though it seems silly to me as an adult, you can be sure that I drove him around with his rifle attached a lot when I was a kid, so it definitely served a purpose back then.

All in all, Sideswipe is a great car. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to name more than a couple other Diaclone-based Transformers who are in the same league as him in alt-mode.

Robot Mode: Sideswipe's robot mode can accurately be described as "classic". Unlike some of the early Transformers, he has a very well-proportioned, humanoid look in robot mode. He's approximately half black now, with a lot of red, white and chromed silver being revealed as well. The colour scheme is starkly different from the original, but it's interesting to note that he actually uses the exact same colours as G1 Sideswipe. The only difference is that the black and red have switched places. The robot mode isn't quite as fetching as the car, I don't think, but he's still in the top rank of the Autobot cars and easily one of the coolest-looking G1/G2 toys full stop.

Sideswipe doesn't really have articulation in the modern sense, since poseable Transformers figures wouldn't debut until the later G2 molds were released a year or two later. He can look up and down and his shoulders and elbows have swivels, which was state of the art back when the toy was designed in the early 80s but makes him all but a statue now. Considering the vintage, though, it's really hard to hold that against him. And when I was a kid those five points of articulation must have been enough for me, because I played with the guy so thoroughly that he's a floppy mess now.

Sideswipe came with two accessories: the white rifle that accompanied the original, and a new, brightly-coloured, comically-oversized missile launcher. It seems that in the intervening years toy laws changed enough that the original Sideswipe's launcher was no longer legal (as you may remember, the later Hasbro reissues included the launcher but disabled the launch mechanism) so the designers replaced it with a launcher that did meet the current standards. Unfortunately those standards called for something that was way too big for Sideswipe to reasonably hold, and the end result is a tad absurd.

(The laws had nothing to do with the decision to make the launcher lime green and the missile bright blue. That one was all Hasbro.)

Sideswipe is obviously dated, but as a product of his time he's a really cool figure. With the stickers and crazy launcher he makes for a lovely representative of the 90s Transformers lines, and without them he fits in perfectly with a lineup of G1 cars.

Transformation Design: It's simple, but sometimes simple is best. The Sideswipe transformation serves as a prototype for probably 1/3 of the car Transformers that followed, from Hot Rod to Rage to the Spychangers to Armada Wheeljack to Alternators Prowl and finally his own Masterpiece toy. When something is copied so often, it must be doing something right. 10/10

Durability: As a Diaclone mold, fragility is a definite concern. He's not a disaster waiting to happen like Prowl or Jazz though. The most common problem is for the side windows to fall off, and from personal experience that's easy to fix. 6/10

Fun: He's a G1 toy, so he doesn't really do anything. He's fun for me because he's an old favourite, but he's not going to do much for you but sit on a shelf. 4/10

Aesthetics: Absolutely gorgeous. 10/10

Articulation: ...G1, yeah? 2/10

Price: He's surprisingly affordable on the secondary market right now, with $40 seemingly the going rate for a complete figure. Loose Autobot cars in general have really come down in price over the last while due to reissues and Masterpiece figures stealing a chunk of the nostalgia market, and the end result is that Sideswipe is very affordable. 9/10

Overall: Obviously G1 toys and their redecos aren't for everyone. But if you appreciate the old pre-articulation figures, you'll definitely appreciate Sideswipe. In spite of hailing from the 1990s, he's among the best figures from the early generations. Vintage collectors really should find a place for him on their shelves. 8.5/10
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