Skids has always been one of my favourite Transformers - for some reason I just latched onto him from one of the Transformers A to Z profiles they used to run in the UK comic, and his cameos in the strip itself added fuel. I could never find the toy, though - originally Skids was shortpacked, and thus very few were released in the UK. However, once introduced first to ebay and then to importing figures, I tracked one down for around £20 in 2001. About a year or so later I upgraded to the Takara reissue figure.

The toy has a rather convoluted history, and was originally designed as Car Robot #6 for Takara's Diaclone line. The original version had a more robotic face, and came packed with a folding scooter and Diaclone pilot; modelled on a Honda City R, this was released in black and red versions in August 1982. This was reissued as the silver Honda City S in the Car Robo Doubleset in October the same year - Takara cheekily taking advantage of the fact that the then-current 'S' model looked exactly the same from the outside as the 'R' version. In February the following year, the mould was reused as Car Robot #9, now promoted as the Honda City Turbo. This time, though, a more humanoid head mould was included. This version was released in black and blue variants. The latter was picked up for the second year of Transformers in 1985 and designated as Skids.

After that low-volume release, Skids languished in obscurity for over 15 years. The character had a moderate role in the American Marvel comic for a few issues before swiftly being overtaken by new arrivals (though he would later make a small comeback in the pages of the British series), but the character made only a brace of minor appearances in the cartoon series, while in Japan Skids was only released as part of the VSZ Giftset (packed with Sunstreaker and Buzzsaw). However, in September 2002 Skids was a shock choice for the third release in Takara's Transformers Collection reissue series. Skids began to gather something of a cult following, notching up a few cameos in Dreamwave's comics, and even garnering a Western reissue in Series VIII of Hasbro's Commemorative Series (renamed 'Autobot Skids' for trademark reasons).

As with all the Transformers Collection releases, Skids comes in a book-style box adorned with beautiful artwork. Behind the flap are a few pages of specially done fact files which could be removed and placed in the binder packed with the Collection release of Convoy if you were sad. Behind these is a window displaying Skids and his accessories, while inside the box also are instructions and a character card (which uses the original 1980s box art). It's an excellent package into which a lot of effort clearly went into - something other than a plastic bubble would have been nice for the insert, however. Skids' car mode is cute, there's simply no other way to describe it. It measures around 3.5" long, and is the nearly smallest of the "Autobot Cars" range in this form (only Hound, who's longer but lower, comes close).

It's beautifully detailed, with opening doors and boot (the bonnet opens as well, but there's actually a giant robot head on the inside...), diecast front wings & rear end, and rubber tyres. On Crosscut, or the Diaclone versions, the scooter would fold up and be placed in the boot. The stickers are nice, but it's a bit of a shame the red/white streak on either flank isn't painted on - the same goes for all the details, to be honest, but then we've got to be realistic I suppose. At least the headlights are moulded. A minor complaint as that the wheels protrude too far - the front ones are especially noticeable, but this fails to overwhelm a top quality car mode.

The transformation's pretty damn good - simple compared to a more modern figure, but fairly complex for something of this age. The robot mode is very nice once you've settled on a pose, but does have its' faults. For a start, his rear wheels don't fold into a flush position, meaning he wobbles slightly. The poseability's poor even for an Autobot car, and his arms work best in a slightly different configuration than shown in the instructions, with the wheels behind his shoulders. This does mean his accessories have to go on the sides of his arms, but personally I think it's worth it.

The robot mode does look surprisingly hardcore, aided by some nice face detail and more weapons than he can easily carry - two guns and a missile launcher. Considering the size of his car mode, he's quite tall, at a shade under 5". Again though once looseness sets in he loses a lot of appeal - the joints at his shoulders seem to wear down quite quickly, and this can leave him with arms hanging by his sides. However, the layout is solid, with the car bonnet making a nice, solid chest unit, while the doors behind the shoulders is a classic look. Even the roof on the back adds some weight to the torso. The proportions are pretty solid to boot - it's a shame the elbows don't bend to give him a more natural range of poses, but overall it's an excellent robot mode.

Overall, I really, really like this guy. I've always liked the character, and I wasn't disappointed when I got hold of the toy. Skids is towards the top end of the Autobot Car scale, probably only behind the Datsun mould and maybe Mirage. Just take good care of him to avoid the wear issues.