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Blackjack's Review: Sideswipe (Deluxe Class)

Name: Sideswipe
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: MechTech Gun

“Damn, I’m good.”

I’ve always liked the movie incarnation of Sideswipe, ever since he was first introduced to us early on in second movie, Revenge of the Fallen, where he made his spectacular entrance by swooping in and transforming and cutting the Decepticon Sideways into two in one of the best-choreographed fights I’ve ever seen in the movie. Of course, for the rest of the movie Sideswipe continued to appear alongside the other Autobots, either rolling out alongside the other Autobots, or brandishing his trademark swords against soldiers pointing their guns at the Autobots, or joining the others in opening fire at Decepticons. He showed up in a slightly larger role in the third movie, Dark of the Moon, and was part of the exquisite road battle scene against the Dreads. He’s basically in the background a lot, and whenever the scene called for Autobot forces you can bet Sideswipe’s among them, shooting the Decepticons or stabbing them. He also seems to take over Ironhide’s role as the on-field commander after the latter’s death.

He’s also got a sweet design, with an agile build, retractable arm-blades and, most strikingly, wheels on foot, and zips around the movie like a mad rollerblader. Despite not being much of a character, I really, really liked Sideswipe. However, during the Revenge of the Fallen line, I did not pick up Sideswipe for reasons only known to past me, instead settling for his red repaint, Swerve. The deluxe class mould for Sideswipe is a truly gorgeous toy and I am happy to own Swerve, but I wanted to have a screen-accurate version of the blade-wielding Autobot. I could not find ‘Sidearm Sideswipe’, and the Human Alliance class figure did not impress me, neither did the slew of repaints that followed.

Regardless, Dark of the Moon released Sideswipe as part of the early waves, and I had decided to pick him up. After all, between the second and third movies returning Autobot bar Ironhide seems to have changed their alternate modes… a new paintjob for Ratchet, a tidier robot mode layout for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee… and both Bumblebee and Sideswipe were upgraded into the actual cars you can buy on the market as opposed to the ‘concept’ sportscars used in ROTF. Bumblebee’s basically his ROTF body with a spoiler for the uninitiated, but Sideswipe has been turned into a roofless convertible.

DOTM-era deluxes have significantly less mass than their previous counterpart, in part due to the fact that the unifying gimmick, ‘MechTech’, involved allotting a good amount of plastic to make ridiculously disproportionate weapons that can transform. Sideswipe looked quite good, however, and despite my initial aversion to the smaller DOTM deluxes I think Sideswipe was among the first batch I broke, alongside Starscream, Crankcase and Barricade.

Sideswipe is one of those names that get reused over and over again. The original Sideswipe, in G1, was part of the original set of Autobots released in 1984, and he transformed into a Lamborghini Countach. Despite never really doing anything substantial, he was continuously in the background as one of the recurring characters in both cartoon and comic, and was popular enough to obtain an Action Master toy, and another toy in Generation 2. Hasbro then lost the trademark to Sideswipe and began parsing it as ‘Side Swipe’ when they reused the name for a random Spychanger in the Robots in Disguise line, and again as another Autobot sports car in the Armada cartoon. Afterwards, though, Hasbro regained ‘Sideswipe’ back in time for a Classics toy of the G1 character, as well as the Movieverse version of the character who appeared in Revenge of the Fallen. Transformers Animated also had their own version of Sideswipe, released as part of the BotCon set.

Alternate Mode:
Sideswipe transforms into a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, similar to his Revenge of the Fallen counterpart. There are slight minor tweaks to his design, but the main would be that he is a convertible now to match the updated look. In the movie Sideswipe literally drives around without a driver even in the streets, which can’t be good for the whole ‘Robots in Disguise’ shtick… but then a Stingray would attract attention nevertheless, yes?

Sideswipe’s cast in a dark grey. They really can’t replicate the smooth sheen seen in the actual silver car within the budget of a deluxe toy, because that would involve painting the entire toy in silver paint, which, considering Hasbro’s budget cuts, would be close to impossible. Sideswipe at least still got paint, although considerably less than his wavemates Topspin and Barricade… but then Sideswipe is a plain car, and short of covering every inch of him with silver paint… the angular rear lights are cast in bright red plastic, the wheels are black with silver rims, the front lights, vents and grille are detailed with grey and silver, and the small licensed Chevrolet insignia is painted in red and white. The darhboard and steering wheel (I’ll come to that later) are cast in dark grey. The windows are cast in a translucent dark grey, and the chairs are cast in black. Shame that the four exhaust engine ports are left unpainted, surely it won’t cost much for a dollop of black paint? There’s also a vanity plate, but mercifully it’s left blank instead of subjecting us to another 733T-speech vanity plate.

Sideswipe, however, is not as good a Stingray as his larger ROTF counterpart. The join lines are unavoidable, I suppose, but his doors, which make up his robot mode ‘wings’ and swords, are very liable to pop off if you don’t force them to click together properly, and even then they are still quite loose. There are bits of the robot mode legs visible from behind, and the fact that these are cast in dark grey does not help either. They don’t look like anything, but it does break the disguise.

The biggest glaring problem is that, well, despite having chairs, a relatively detailed dashboard and a steering wheel, Sideswipe has no floor. Of course, he does not have passengers, but still, he has no floor, and this means that the robot mode thighs that the chairs are attached to are very visible from the top, as is the grey bar of plastic that connects the rear of the vehicle to the robot mode crotch. Seen from behind you can make out the black plastic that forms Sideswipe’s shoulders. This is a big, glaring flaw, which unfortunately I see no way of solving, at least not without compromising the robot mode. I see now why so few Transformers toys turn into convertibles… Regardless of the difficulty in execution, though, Sideswipe’s alternate mode does not look convincing because of this.

He’s got MechTech ports near the spoiler, and on the sides of his doors. These are the buttons that can be pushed down when the MechTech weapon is attached, unlike Crankcase who is dotted with 5mm pockmarks all over his body. Obviously, though, there is no way a sleek vehicle like Sideswipe would look plausible with a giant rectangular block nearly half its length sticking out of its rear.

All in all, Sideswipe is a pretty disappointing vehicle. The sculpt is okay, but the flaws are too glaring to overlook.

Robot Mode:
Sideswipe’s transformation is the reverse of the one seen in the ROTF toy. Instead of the rear becoming the chest (like the movie design, even the updated one in DOTM) it’s the front of the Stingray that becomes the chest instead. The rest of the vehicle transforms more or less the same, though, with the legs unfolding out with wheels as feet, swords made up of the length of the doors, and any excess bits end up on the back.

Sideswipe is still mainly light grey, but his shoulders, hands and parts of his legs are black. His neck, lower arms, parts of his abdomen and parts of his legs are dark grey. Some details in his abdomen and thighs are picked out in dark grey. The roof and rear of the vehicle make up the backpack (the exhaust point upwards) and the doors form the small ‘wings’ seen in the movie. All in all a rather plausible representation of the CG model.

Other than the backpack he replicates the CG model as best as it could, with those skinny legs, muscular arms… the front of the car does substitute well for the rear of the car due to the angular lights looking the same, and the faux center of the chest does help as well. Sideswipe’s headsculpt is pretty convincing of his movie design, although the fact that it’s lazily painted makes it look like Sideswipe has a Prime-style faceplate.

One of his blades has the writing #29707 tampographed on it, no doubt some factory sign. It’s annoying and distracts me.

Articulation wise, Sideswipe, being a skinny robot, has got his own share of articulation. His head is on a ball joint, his shoulder is on a ball joint, his elbow is hinged, and the space between the elbow and shoulder has a rotating joint. His arms can fold inwards, and his blades can swing out in a deployed position or swing back… not retract, though, because that’s impossible to do on a toy. He doesn’t have waist articulation, but he has thigh joints, and along his long avian legs he’s got two hinges which pass for two knees. His knee guards can also flip up and down.

His blades are quite long since they’re made out of doors, but they doesn’t look as good as the two-pronged door blades in the ROTF toy. The CG model do have two-pronged blades, and the blades here look more like, well, car doors than actual swords.

And, well, of course, his feet are wheels. He’s got even less car kibble to stabilize himself compared to the ROTF toy, which leads to a more show-accurate model but a less stable robot. The most lateral parts of the Stingray’s rear jut backwards from Sideswipe’s leg assembly, and they are a serviceable balancing agent. He’s got dark grey flip-out toes to the front, which causes Sideswipe to look like he’s only got wheels touching the ground from the front. However, this also means that he’s quite unbalanced as the foot wheels do actually work, and he’s got these spindly legs that are top heavy. If you do not adjust the legs and toes properly, Sideswipe will topple down from your shelf within a matter of minutes… My Sideswipe certainly has suffered several falls, and, not content of falling by himself, usually drags Roadbuster or Jolt with him as he plummets down towards the floor… but those are mostly caused by me not properly transforming his legs before setting him up. Remember to unfold his toes, kids!

You would think that his instability would hinder his posability, but no. So long as you don’t rush it, Sideswipe’s long, kibble free limbs can strike many, many action poses. Not sure whether you’ll be able to make all of them stand, especially since he’s top-heavy, but he is a great action figure at the very least, if you really can’t display him in any extreme poses for a length of time.

The blades are good fun, but in the movie Sideswipe isn’t a stranger to using guns, either mounted on his shoulders or held in his hands. DOTM Sideswipe comes with a gigantic rectangular block as long as Sideswipe’s arm blades with gun barrels molded at one end and a sighting barrel on its top, which actually passes for a rather large and chunky futuristic shotgun-like weapon. Sideswipe can hold his gun or any other 5mm post weapon in his hands, although I do like his swords better. If you push the lever on its back, you cause a sword (adorned with Cyberglyphs with the tip jagged for some reason) to flip out. Sideswipe uses swords and carries a gun that flips out a sword. Sounds pretty redundant, eh? Frankly, I’d rather Sideswipe come with two show-accurate handguns instead of this block. You can store it by pegging it into Sideswipe’s ‘wings’ but this makes him look kibbly, so usually I lend the gun to the Wreckers or something.

All of the work clearly went to Sideswipe’s robot mode. Due to the lack of mass on his legs, Sideswipe is relatively tall among the DOTM deluxe class figures, standing as tall as Jazz from the first movie, which means that he is a good bit shorter than my Battle Blades Bumblebee, making him rather to scale with him. The robot mode is great, but competing against the ROTF toy, it’s really not better.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4/10 The resulting robot mode is relatively kibble-free and transformation is fun, but that’s only because so many cuts were made while designing the vehicle mode.

Durability: 9/10 The aforementioned falls haven’t broken or even scratched Sideswipe one bit, and despite being thin his plastic feels very sturdy and the joints are very tight. I don’t think I’ll break him any time soon.

Aesthetics: 6/10 Robot mode’s great, but could use a wee bit more paint. Vehicle mode looks great… until you see the lack of floor, and the whole impression of a Chevy Stingray goes out the window.

Articulation: 8/10 Sideswipe’s got a great range of articulation, and is actually quite balanced to take advantage of it. Shame that he can’t hold those poses, but we must remember that these are designed as toys first and display pieces second.

Fun: 7/10 Mmm, I like Sideswipe as he appeared in the movies, so I like him. It was pretty fun pretending that he’s zipping around my table like some sort of possessed blade-wielding rollerblader.

Price/Value: 6/10 At what I’m paying, Sideswipe is actually a pretty decent figure. However, he is shorter, and I don’t think a non-show-accurate clunk of rectangle plastic with a flip-out blade compensates me.

Overall: 7/10 The main problem is that Sideswipe goes off against his larger, superior ROTF toy. The ROTF toy feels like it’s made out of better plastic, has more show-accurate swords, a vehicle mode that’s not ruined by the lack of a floor, and a similarly show-accurate robot mode. The only thing DOTM Sideswipe has going on for him is his skinnier legs, which really don’t tilt the tables in his favour. The MechTech gimmick is also silly. The definitive Sideswipe is certainly still the ROTF mould. DOTM Sideswipe isn’t a bad toy per se, and other than the floorless car there isn't really anything wrong with him... but he simply looks bland compared to a better version of the design released two years ago. However, if you don't have ROTF Sideswipe, this toy is a great replacement and despite its flaws it's a great Transformer nonetheless.
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