Transformers Sideswipe
Transformers Sideswipe
Transformers Sideswipe
Transformers Sideswipe

Sideswipe is one of the more enduringly popular members of the original Autobot line-up despite never really doing anything. Sure, in the cartoon he was one of the less whiny characters, but his list of achievement in the show were limited to wiping out most of humanity when being thrown by a simple Yes/No question. In the comic he barely featured in any memorable scenes until Generation 2.

However, the character's often returned to the line - from Generation 2 (with an updated version joined later by a Go-Bot form with an utterly mental colour scheme) to Robots in Disguise (bit of a name-slap), Armada (ditto, with the name adorning one of the worst Transformers figures ever made) and, more recently, the live-action films. The original figure's got almost as many miles on the clock - firstly the patrol variant of the Diaclone was recoloured (well, re-stickered) as Red Alert. Then the figure was retooled slightly and given a very fetching colour scheme (with the red and black switched) for Generation 2. Then, when the original was reissued, e-Hobby released two of the old Diaclone schemes as Deepcover (black with blue robot mode parts) and Clamp Down (police car), while a third, Tigertracks (yellow) was made available as a competition prize. The mould's been given a rest since, though an Encore release - with a movie-style silver recolour as an eHobby companion piece - wouldn't surprise (and would also be most welcome).


While Sideswipe was reissued in both Japan and the West (as part of the Transformers Collection and Commemorative Series respectively), but annoying came at about the point where both were beginning to be made in smaller quantities - hence getting a reissued Sideswipe is about £50-60. Not really wanting to fork out so much when I've got Red Alert, I went for the cheapy Chinese copy. Not so smart - the minor problems with Sunstreaker are nothing compared to this, and the Raging Bull's finest piece of work simply does not line up properly. The doors don't sit flush with the roof and the rear end doesn't go right together - in truth, this looks like a Takara figure the quality control's so bad. It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder whether you should stop buying figures from thieves and crooks, until you stop and think about the official and equally dire reissues of Bruticus and Piranacon.

It's a shame, as Sideswipe's an unmodified Countach, and thus a stunning car. The all-red is neat (weirdly, the Chinese version includes some black stickers for the spoiler - accurate to some Countach variants, but as far as I can see not actually released with any versions of the toy), while detail is high. However, the problem is that while this version is nice, others are nicer - aside from Sunstreaker's big mad tricked-out chromed engine, there are also the various more exotic recolours, who all conspire to make the original look somewhat vanilla.


Thankfully, the robot mode is an improvement in both respects. Firstly, the problems with the bootleg involve it not being tight enough in vehicle mode and - helped by Sideswipe having one of the simpler Autobot car transformations - don't affect the robot mode beyond a too-thin handle for his rifle (easily solved by a thin band of tape). Plus the addition of white and black add nicely to the colour scheme, making Sideswipe look a little more exciting. Of course, all those other versions of the mould pull the same trick and move the goalposts, but the original is still nice enough on its' own merits.

Positives include a stable and, by Autobot car standards, sturdy robot mode. The figure is really nicely proportioned, with only the forearms being quite thin by comparison to the rest of him. But it's clear Takara were getting better at turning unlicensed model cars into robots that looked like they might actually work. Sideswipe even features a stab at three-dimensional design - even from the back, there's hardly any hollows or holes, only what can be seem through the transparent windscreen. However, the figure's conventional nature counts against it. Sideswipe's possibly the best toy from the Autobot car range - if you gave him to a fairly well behaved kid right now, he'd probably come back in one piece, which you can't say for many others. However, cars that turn into decent-looking robots are easy to come by now, and the main interest in these old moulds is how different they are - insane pieces of retro design like Wheeljack or Hound, or something with a dazzling colour scheme like Smokescreen or Mirage. This one, on the other hand, is just a bit ordinary.


Sideswipe is competent all around - nice car mode, nice transformation, nice robot mode. However, there's very little about him that reaches out and charms you. Unless you have a particular attachment to the original character, both Red Alert and the Generation 2 version are much more striking uses of the design.