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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Sidestreaker's review of: Binaltech Skids

Name: Skids
Allegiance: Cybertron/Autobot
Function: Theoretician
"Deep down, we are more like than unlike humans."

A daydreamer... often bumps into things at 60 mph while pondering Earth life instead of a Decepticon attack. Considers Earth one vast lab for his research. His findings are often invaluable to fellow Autobots. Enormous memory storage capacity. Carries a liquid nitrogen rifle with 600 foot range. Twin electron blaster of 20,000 volts can short-circuit almost anything. At 60 mph can stop within 25 feet. Not very fast... often in danger due to daydreaming. (Original tech spec.)

Perhaps one of the least popular characters of G1, Skids is a refreshing addition to the Binaltech line for several reasons.

First of all, this is not one of the ‘muscle’ cars within the Binaltech line, but rather a minivan/mini-wagon Toyota bB. This is rather appropriate for the character of Skids, as it captures the spirit of the Diaclone counterpart, the Honda Civic Turbo minivan (again, another family-type car).

Secondly, it’s a new auto label: the first Binaltech Toyota (hopefully, there will be more, and I wish they’ll do a Toyota Supra one day). We are not going to see another new auto label anytime soon, being that the next releases expected are Prime and Mirage as a Dodge and Ford, repsectively (Prime in March, Mirage later still).

And thirdly, it’s an entirely new mold (a repaint in the BT Asterisk line, Broadblast, was also released on the same day). I’m really looking forward to a retool of this mould (as a Decepticon, perhaps) with sportier looks, new hubcabs, bumpers, and perhaps a spoiler (just like the Mazda RX8 remold Laserwave).

Packaging:
Skids comes in the same new-styled Binaltech box that debuted with Prowl. Included inside are an instruction booklet in Japanese, a data card, an extremely well detailed engine/weapon with VVTi and Toyota logo, and a set of G1 commemorative decals, plus a new, optional flame design with it. Also included are two Autobot logos, pretty much like the flame decals included with the blue BT Tracks. It kind of gives a nostalgic feel of the G1 package…

Skids is priced at 5000 yen, similar to previous binaltechs, which is lower than the 5500 yen price tag for Broadblast, the Binaltech Asterisk recolored version (minus the human plastic figure, Lumina). The quality of this boxy vehicle is really one of the best so far in terms of reproduction of details from the actual vehicle, transformation sequence, and robot posability.

Vehicle Mode:
The Toyota bB is a mini-wagon, which is actually based on the Toyota Vitz. This boxy vehicle is sold in the US as a Scion xB (which is also the Hasbro version of this mould). This 1.3 or 1.5 litre 4-cylinder urban vehicle priced at $14,000, and is targeted towards younger users and a perhaps as a second family car. VVTi stands for Variable Valve Timing intake, a proven technology for fuel efficiency. Skids is based on the 2005 version. Toyota has just released the 2006 version, which has a similar silhouette line but a different grill and chassis design.

Skids comes in solid metallic-blue paint. Skids is one of the best reproductions of an actual vehicle I’ve seen so far in the whole Binaltech line. The smallest vehicle in the Binaltech line (again, reliving his G1 spirit), he has a crome bB insignia located on the front blue grill (the package photos indicate a black grill, which I fell would have been better). Indicator lights on the sides and front are all modeled and done properly with orange color resin.

The design of this mold does not separate the front wheels during the transformation, so the wheels will always be in their proper position and always turn properly. Taken out from the box, all the doors align almost perfectly. The hood easily opens all the way up to reveal the engine/weapon (I can’t say the same for the rest of the BTs). The front doors are a bit tight compared to the rear, but are manageable. The back door opens up the cargo space, and this is to accommodate Skids feet. All the seats (yes, all) are adjustable; the last mold to do this was Hound, I think). The dashboard and detached speedometer details are just great with fine details and the word ‘bB’ imprinted on what would seem to be a satellite traffic info monitor. It’s also nice to see more than two colors on the interior.

Die-cast parts are used for the doors, the front hood and the bumpers, giving the toy more weight. The clear and large front and side windows indicate a vehicle with an excellent command of view for the driver of his surroundings. Combined with its small size, this makes it a very agile vehicle, especially for the tight corners and narrow roads of the most densely populated cities in Asia (hence its popularity here).

The Toyota bB may not be a very impressive vehicle when placed next to the Mustang or the Viper, but if this exemplary quality of model reproduction were to be maintained throughout the line, it would make the already solid quality product even better.

Robot Mode:
One of the easiest molds to transform, one could almost transform Skids without the manual at all. The top of the minivan folds neatly to become his ‘backpack’, and the doors becomes the wings, similar to his G1 counterpart. This is one Binaltech that you can transform without poping out the arms or doors off.

The skinny-looking arms are black and red with an Autobot insignia on the blue shoulders. They have great articulation thanks to multiple ball joints, and fold perfectly back in place when transformed into vehicle mode. The thighs are something from the G1 era: a slide and snap (I thought I’d never see that again). The legs' and thighs' transformations are pretty similar to Hound’s, only simpler and much more flexible (especially at the ankles, thanks to the ball joints and flip out heels). The head is a ball joint, free to move about. The torso, formed by the front of the vehicle, should be dipped about twenty degrees to achieve the balanced effect for the robot to stand properly, as shown on the package. Again, the engine transforms into his weapon, with a fine VVTi and Toyota insignia.

Overall, the robot looks heavy on the top, and reminds me of G1 Hoist's proportions. However, G1 Hoist is one of the steadier robots to pose, and in this case is also true for Skids as well. His posability is excellent compared to the rigid-knee legs of the Prowl, Sideswipe, and Overdrive molds. It's almost as good as the Mustang molds, and in some cases is better than the Mazdas. However, having much of the die-cast in the upper half of the body may create some balance problems for certain poses. This is where the tight joints help. I guess it should be easier to pose the plastic Alternator Scion xB version.

Skids, in robot mode, is probably the least intimidating, compared to the other Binaltechs. I guess it suits the character, a theoretician, though. He would spend most of his time in front of Teletran-1 doing research, or outside doing exploration and field work instead of tearing Decepticons into pieces anyway. Unlike other binaltech/alternator models, where robot modes proportion depicts warrior-like image and, Skids has this 'tin-man' like robot instead. Form follows function...

Transformation: 8. Relatively easy compared to more complicated Binaltechs. Refer to the manual only when you need to. The arms and doors doesn’t pop off easily, either.
Durability: 8. One of the more solid ones around. It transforms and snaps into perfect form in vehicle mode. The joints are tight and do not loosen easily. The die-cast paint may chip off easily, so exercise care when transforming it (which is a common issue for Binaltechs, anyway).
Fun: 9. It's easy to transform and pose the robot. It looks great and details are excellent. Don’t let the barrel-chested humanoid proportions fool you…
Price: 7. Same as other Binaltechs. Nevertheless great deal for what it is. However, you can get the Hasbro Scion version for less, and it's just as much fun.
Summary: 8.5. If I were to get only one Binaltech during this last holiday season, it would be Skids. This is one high-quality product which may be easily overlooked just because it's not as attractive as the other sport model Binaltechs. Fully recommended.
 
 
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