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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Dead Man Wade's Review: Human Alliance Sideswipe

Human Alliance Sideswipe

Name: Sideswipe & Sergeant Epps
Allegiance: Autobot & Human

When Sideswipe arrived on Earth, he was a raw, untrained fighter, used to battling alone and outnumbered. He was teamed with Epps so the tech sergeant could whip him into shape as an effective member of the strike team led by Ironhide. The two have become good friends. In combat, Epps' combat-hardened instincts direct the speed and cunning of Sideswipe with devastating effectiveness.

I fell in love with Sideswipe’s design the moment the first pictures from Revenge of the Fallen were released, and spent the entire runtime waiting for any glimpse of him that I could find. In fact, the greatest disappointment I felt with that movie was not the plot holes, or its having been rendered utterly nonsensical by the third film, but the fact that Sideswipe was barely in it. I snapped up the deluxe toy when it came out (which remains one of my favorite movie toys to this day), and I was overjoyed when it was announced that he would be getting the Human Alliance treatment.

When the toy finally showed up on shelves and I looked at the robot mode pictures, I rationalized it every way possible.

“There’s always a difference between the photos and the finished product.”
“The photographer was new. And drunk.”
“It’s not transformed correctly.”
“It’ll be different when I can hold it in my hands. I know it will.”

I’ve owned it for several years now, and no. No, it wasn't.

Despite my best efforts, and years of counseling, I just can't bring myself to like this version of him. The car mode is great (it's just the license that leaves a lot to be desired), so I keep him in vehicle mode on the shelf, but the robot mode is utterly unforgivable and what keeps me from liking him without reservation.

Vehicle Mode:

Sideswipe transforms into a Corvette Stingray, as usual, which is a nice enough looking car as these things go. It’s fairly standard sports car fare, with four wheels, a low profile, and a whole lot of silver. Would I drive this car? Yes, but I drive a minivan these days, so anything without a car seat is the height of luxury; I’m probably not the best judge.

This version of Sideswipe doesn’t really have a lot that puts it ahead of its smaller, generally-superior twin. The size factor works in its favor, as it wouldn’t look entirely out of place on a shelf of model cars, though it’s not quite large enough to display with Alternators. Now normally, an increase in size usually results in an increase in detail; the larger the car, the more bits and bobs you can mould/paint in without it being overly cluttered. Unfortunately, this is a modern car, so the only detail that really gets any additional attention is the logo on the hood. The look of the car is virtually indistinguishable from the Deluxe model, though the Human Alliance version does have fewer join lines, resulting in a more cohesive look. If you’re that fussed about it, though, you can just buy a model. Really, the whole thing hinges on the –

Robot Mode:
And here’s where it all falls apart. Sideswipe's robot mode might have been considered excellent fifteen years ago, but given the toys coming out around the same time, he just doesn't measure up.

Yes, the level of detail compared to the Deluxe version is incredible. But that doesn’t change the glaring issues, most notably the swords. Sideswipe’s "thing" (in addition to, according to the wealth of characterization he received in the film, his worry that the Autobots have been at war for so long that both sides are locked in a cycle of violence that will never end because no one knows anything but killing and that they as a species have lost their soul) is that he’s got those massive, not-at-all-emasculating swords, capable of slicing a Decepticon in half. Long-ways, even! You wouldn’t know that from this toy, which has two thin rubber swords hanging limply at his sides, while the other Autobots on the shelf snicker and point. Unfortunately, they’re mounted on his wrists, meaning that (unlike the other, manlier versions of the character) you don’t even have the option of moving them out of the way. Clearly this floppiness was intended to keep children from poking out an eye, but that seems slightly unnecessary. I’m all for protecting children, but if your child’s in the habit of sticking toys in their eyes right out of the gate, maybe don’t buy them the stabbingest Transformer on the shelf. Bumblebee’s nice and non-threatening, and he isn’t aggressively pointy.

In addition to his neutered arms, his legs are endlessly frustrating. While his feet are certainly more well-balanced than his predecessor, they only really work to keep the figure up if you don’t extend the legs. If you extend them, the kibble (of which there is somehow more than on the other figures) causes him to fall over; he might have been able to lean forward slightly, were it not for the cable between his legs and torso, which are too thick to allow much movement (read as: any). If you don’t extend the legs, Sideswipe looks short and squat, in direct contrast to his lithe portrayal in the movies. Add this to the fact that his shoulders don’t extend far enough out, and the overall aesthetic of the figure is a mess. He doesn’t even have a flip-down thingummer like Jazz and Bumblebee.

On the plus side, he has a head tattoo. That’s pretty butch.

Tech Sergeant Epps:
Epps sure…exists, doesn’t he? He sure…um. Hm.

Truth time: I lost Epps. Pretty much immediately. But I remember enough about him to say this. The Epps toy is terrible. The only reason for the toy to exist is to have another warm body for fights. I honestly don’t even know why they made it Epps, other than for name recognition. Tyrese Gibson is a good-looking man, and his toy bears no resemblance to him whatsoever. They could tell me it was Fig or Lennox, and I wouldn’t be able to say for certain but for the color of his skin. He could at least be the bald one, but nope. He’s wearing a helmet.

Epps can sit on either of Sideswipe’s shoulders, though there’s no reason to ever choose the right, as all he’s able to do there is shout encouragement. On the left, he can control the rocket launcher, or at least pretend to whilst making pewing sounds and feeling the thrum of the rocket in his bottom.

Also, he can sit in either the driver’s or passenger’s seat, if that’s a feature you look for in a sentient car that can move and change direction under its own power.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 5 – Essentially the same as the Deluxe toy’s transformation. How they wound up making essentially the same toy, but crappier, I’ll never know.
Durability: 10 – He’s taken the odd tumble over the years, and isn’t the worse for wear for it. He’s sturdy as can be.
Fun: 2 – Limited range of movement combined with weak weapons and an inability to stand up unaided half the time mean you’re more likely to have fun staring at it appreciatively before going to spend time with other, better figures. Preferably while Sidswipe watches, knowing that while his obvious failings are not his fault but the work of a cold and unfeeling God, he is being punished nonetheless. He is forever fated to sit alone and ostracized, while others laugh and play and talk smack about him behind his back. Every time you come to the shelf to grab another figure, there is a brief moment of hope that exists only to be dashed on the rocks of your indifference. “Maybe we could play, buddy. I can move my arms somewhat, provided it’s not in any of the directions you’d actually care to move them,” he seems to say, “Oh, you’re here for Megatron. No, it’s cool; he’s pretty awesome.”
Aesthetics: 8 - Sideswipe is generally nice to look at in both modes. His vehicle mode is phenomonal, and his robot mode (while dire) is highly detailed. He looks great standing next to Leader-class Optimus, but I don't know that that's enough to recommend him.
Articulation: 1 - When it's all said and done he has next to no articulation when compared to other toys in this scale. His legs are basically immobile, and his arms are prevented from having full range of movement because they're set too far in.
Price: 6 – Sideswipe isn’t gaining in after-market cost like some of the other Human Alliance figures, and several repaints on the market mean plenty of opportunities to pick him up for only slightly more than he cost new.
Overall: 2 – I wanted to like Sideswipe so much, but this toy is a tremendous letdown. He probably would have had a better score if they’d just scaled up the Deluxe figure; sure, there’d have been accusations of laziness on HasTak’s part, but it still would have yielded a better toy. If you absolutely have to have all of the movie toys, then save Sideswipe for last. Otherwise, don’t bother.
 
 
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