An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!

As dilineated elsewhere at considerable length, I've long been fascinated by Skids, and since getting into Transformers again what's scarily around a decade ago, things have got better for the guy. Firstly, I found out his role in the classic Marvel comics was a lot more substantial than I recalled, including getting soaped down by a cowgirl and trying to wreck a nuclear power plant. Since then he's gone from strength to strength; well, not exactly, but he's certainly become a bit better known thanks to three reissues of the original figure and the odd appearance in various comics while the name's gone into Hasbro's repertoie for new characters, getting attached to a racing-obsessed lunatic for Robots in Disguise and a prominent lunatic in the live-action films.

Skids was also picked up for the Binaltech/Alternators line, which used the Autobot car characters from the first two series of figures as its' main inspiration. A while ago I had the Alternators version, and wasn't massively impressed - the review of this version can be found here. Since then, Clay of the TFArchive, all-round Binaltech/Alternators expert, sold me the Binaltech version, which has some small but significant differences, and left me with quite a different experience. The stars at the top give it away a bit, but it's worth reading on to see how presentation and time can improve a figure, and to see me scoff a bit of humble pie along the way.

Skids still turns into a Scion xB, and it's still not a particularly endearing vehicle. It's not that it isn't a sports car - Skids' original alt mode of a Honda City is one of my favourites of the whole line - it's just a bit ugly. The half mini-car half-van aesthetics are strangely reminiscent of the way the character was depicted in cartoons and comics. The vehicle is remarkably solid, and features all the things you'd expect from the line - a high level of detail, working steering plus opening doors, bonnet and boot. The front doors tend to take the bar underneath with them, but I think this is just new stiffness.

The Takara version is a much lighter blue than the Hasbro version, and effectively the same tone as the original toy. This is good for two reasons - one, it looks closer to Skids; two, it looks closer to reality. I'm not sure whether Scions were produced in the same colour scheme as the Alternators version (I don't particularly care either), but the Binaltech one looks a lot more realistic. Gone are the tacky Pimp My Ride flames; stickers for a less obtrusive flame pattern and an original Skids-style red stripe are included, but I rather like the simple clarity of the blue. In short, it looks less like something the cast of One Tree Hill would take on a sanitised, soulless roadtrip. Being Binaltech, there's a satisfying weight to the car as well - I've owned a Binaltech before in the shape of Hound, but Skids was the first where I could really compare, and it does make a difference.

The transformation sequence is one of the best of the line, especially the way the roof and rear end of the van flatten into a compact backpack rather than dangling off him; the way the sun visors connect the chest and back solidly is a great little touch as well. The only blemish in terms of the transformation is the rear doors, which just sit on the back of the legs; it's a shame they couldn't fold down somehow. Previously I was unimpressed by Skids' proportions, but looking at him again recently they don't seem as bad. He's top-heavy, but not ludicrously so.

While Skids might have been improved by just a little more deformation on the front of the car, but what we have isn't too bad, especially when looked at from any angle beyond straight-on. And you can look at him from other angles without other faults being exposed - Alternators were among the first Transformers to be successfully designed to look good from most angles rather than concentrating on just the front. The arms and legs all have excellent articulation, though the lack of a waist joint is a shame. I'm still undecided on the head cast, which doesn't quite resemble the thoughtful Marvel design or the stern original toy version, and is maybe a bit generic, but the colour scheme is very nicely done - once again the clarity and mimimalism of the lovely blue with a little red, black and silver wins out over the busy, tacky Alternators version - though it's a shame the original's blue arms and red hands weren't carried over. The gun, however, is pathetic - a little bit of the engine that turns into a tiny pistol that only extends about half an inch over Skids' fist. Takara's stubborness with the engine guns is sad - thinking outside the box and storing something under the vehicle's seats would have provided space for a decent weapon. Even making the thing silver so it stood out from the robot's fists would have been something.

In short, though, the Binaltech has largely redeemed Skids in my eyes. It's amazing sometimes how a colour change and a better finish can change a figure, and in this case the more appealing 1985 colour scheme suits Skids so much more. While he's not without faults, there are more than enough positives to balance them out, and the result is one of the most satisfying figures from the range. Best of all, the Binaltech version can be found relatively cheaply on ebay at around £30 shipped, making him a great way to sample the line's aesthetics and quality.