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Knightdramon's Review: Masterpiece MP-14 Lambor

Name: Lambor
Function: Cybertron Warrior
Sub Group: Autobot carbots
Size Class: N/A

Sideswipe is one of those characters in the Transformers mythos that are memorable without being particularly important or popular. Sideswipe has been present throughout S1-Movie in G1 and on the Marvel US/UK comics but almost never as a main player.

Despite that minor status [pretty much his two most identifiable traits were being Sunstreaker's brother and the iconic car hood chest] Sideswipe saw a resurgence in the 2000's, with a Binaltech release [as a Dodge Viper SRT] and later on a Universe/Henkei G1 inspired release, while also getting a more prominent role in the movies and comic books.

It is nonetheless a bit surprising that Sideswipe was the first G1 car character to be introduced and released in the [softly rebooted] MP line. According to lead designer at the time Shogo Hasui, Sideswipe was chosen on the strength of his alt mode, a lovely Lamborghini Countach LP500S. Apparently only 323 cars were built, and it only entered production in 1982.

There are additional reasons for his selection, toy-wise. Sideswipe is one of the most repaintable Autobot cars, taking the lead with 6 repaints/retools so far [Prowl/Streak are in the runner up with 5]. MP Sideswipe came out in October 2012, just one month after the re-issue of MP10 Prime, and was cross-advertising the interaction that it can have with Prime and his trailer [a trait shared with pretty much all the ensuing car bots]. Despite a few issues with this release, he sold extremely well, which paved the way for the rest of the MP cars as we know of them today.

Vehicle Mode

True to the G1 toy, Sideswipe's maiden entry in the MP line comes as a red Lamborghini Countach LP500S. As stated before, this is the first MP car released in the "real cars" subline and the first voyager-size entry to the fold.

Setting a trend that has been repeated by all his successors bar one [MP20 Wheeljack and MP23 Exhaust], Sideswipe's car mode is coated in paint. A rich, gloss, beautiful red tone is used throughout his body work, with black acting as a secondary colour and silver coming in for some finishing touches. Red is used extensively throughout but is sadly inconsistent--some parts are coated too thick, others are coated too thin, and the paint used on his clear parts [roof and side-window frames] does not fully match the rest of the bodywork. This is worse on some copies than others; mine has some spotty bits near his window frames on one side where there's some black coming through, and a little bit of black seeping onto a small part of his hood.

Black is used generously as paint details to highlight air and engine vents towards the back and some detailing on the pattern on his roof. His taillights also use black to frame the red and silver [painted on] lights, and "lamborghini" and "countach" are tampographed on the rear of the car. A tiny Lamborghini logo is painted on a moulded raised bump on his hood. His wheels and front bumper are cast in black plastic, with silver used to pick out the lovely hubcaps and the front fog lights on his bumper. His mirrors are also painted black [moulded on instead of being snap on bits!]. Clear plastic is used for his roof, side windows and windshield [which has a smoky tint, mostly concealing the folded up robot bits inside] and his front headlights, which feature lovely detailing on the inside with a tiny bit of red paint to highlight the actual lights. The standard MP12 release also has a tampographed Autobot symbol on his hood--the HK exclusive release omits this altogether.

All the detailing and the sharp lines you'd expect from this majestic sports car is here; exhaust pipes, engine vents, amazing hubcaps---Sideswipe has them all. Despite the paint being glossy and inconsistent it thankfully does not hinder any of the sculpt lines. The texture of panel lines throughout the car is rich---you are not presented with a red glob of paint with wheels. The underside of the car is also comparatively clean as there are no fists, feet or a face looking at you. The only detractor is that the sides of the car along the doors have got a lot of breaks on them, a necessary side-effect of this being a tranforming collectible. Some panels do not fit as well as others [my Red Alert, for instance, fits in much smoother] which draws the eye to them if looked at from the sides. I like how the back of the car relies on the aerodynamic spoiler, bulky wheel wells and heavy detailing on the vents, in stark contrast to the smoother front end.

Sideswipe's a large enough car, measuring at 14cm in length, 7-8 at his widest point [those lovely wheel wells at the back] and a tad shorter than 4 cm in height. As advertised, he can fit on Prime's and Magnus' trailers with no issue.

Gimmick-wise, he's consistent with most of his contemporaries and successors; he rolls and he has a spring-loaded panel on his roof that his rocket launcher/gun combo can plug into for an attack mode. Integrated weapons storage [a staple since MP20 Wheeljack] is not implemented here.

All in all this is a gorgeous car mode and arguably the mode that suffers the most from the inconsistent paint apps. As a step down from most of the previous MP vehicles, he does not feature die-cast metal construction or rubber tires, but despite that, he does not feel lightweight or cheap.

Robot Mode

Sideswipe came out at a time where the line was trying to finds its footing between comic, cartoon and G1 toy accuracy and it shows on his robot mode. The engineering is [was] mostly new, with no parts recycled or refined from previous releases of the character [excluding the G1 figure]. Sideswipe ditches toy accuracy on his upper half and goes full-on cartoon on us [the arms are clean, the face sculpt is unmistakably toon] but goes a bit more comic/toy on us on the legs, which are bulkier and more "car blocky shape" than his stylized animation model.

Transformation is relatively simple but interesting; the car mode pretty much explodes outwards and all bits then compress and interlock to form his robot mode. The legs in particular are impressive, being comprised of two panels which fold over themselves and the side of the car rotating and folding around them. There are neat touches here, with the side vents folding down to bulk up his upper thigh and complete the sculpt, and the taillights folding around to become footguards. There is a panel on the inside of his calf that folds around to fill up his lower leg from the side. His upper body is relatively simpler, with his spine folding down to bring the car hood closer to his torso. In a clever bit of engineering, his wheels fold in on his body instead of sitting on his arms [which may or may not work against his retool, Red Alert] and the car doors wrap around cleanly on his forearms. The roof of the car compresses and folds around the side windows so as not to bulk out the sculpt when viewed at all angles.

Sideswipe's no slouch at 17 cm in height, putting him at the same height or taller than most current voyager figures.

The colour layout changes considerably for robot mode; there is more black, silver and newly introduced white to pair up with his glossy red. Painted silver is used for his feet, shin and waist detaling, his face and the panels on the side of his head. His shins, waist, heel spurs, fists and helmet are cast in black, also black is also used for the majority of his joints. His abs, upper legs, lower and parts of his upper arms are cast in white. His iconic chest is still coated in red paint, and his shoulders also carry over that trait [shoulders do not form any part of his vehicle mode]. In this mode you can see the unpainted red plastic colour on the top of his chest and on parts of his inner shoulder structure and back of his calves.

Despite striving for a mixture of cartoon and toy accuracy, Sideswipe is detailed enough to make him interesting. His shins have got very nice panel lining and introduce two large silver panels that break up the black monotony and his limbs have got panel lines moulded on to them to take the eye away from the dominance of white on those parts. His helmet takes cues from the cartoon but also draws heavily on the G1 toy art, giving it some much needed angles and depth, with his face being a very anime-stylized rendition of the cartoon sketch. The panels on each side of his head are painted silver to also evoke the G1 toy art, ignoring the simplified cartoon and unpainted G1 toy cues, which breaks up the monotony in an interesting way.

Articulation is a bit basic but enough to do the trick. His feet have got a limited tilt and can pivot downwards due to the transformation joints and his knees can bend 90 degrees without breaking the sculpt. His thighs swivel at the top of the white parts and his hips have got unrestricted outwards motion. Backwards motion is blocked by his backpack and the sculpt, while forward motion fares a lot better due to a moving waist flap. His waist can rotate freely if you lift the backpack of its hinges, otherwise it suffers a little bit. The shoulders have got unrestricted 360 degrees motion around their axis and can swivel 90 degrees out. The arm rotates freely over the elbow and the elbow offers 90 degrees of a bend. His fists rotate on their axis freely and the fingers open and close on a pin joint. He can tilt his fist down ever so slightly due to there being some space from his transformation opening. The head has limited upwards motion but uninterrupted side to side rotation. As I said, it's not the best in the world, but gets the job done for most basic action poses.

Depending on which version you get, Sideswipe comes with 4 to 6 accessories. He comes with a toy-accurate shoulder launcher done up in carton accurate white colour [unpainted] with intricate sculpted details and a scope at the top. The launcher can be mounted on either shoulder or even on his back [roof spring loaded panel]. He also comes with a stylized version his his toy rifle done in silver [evoking the silvery-gun he used in the cartoon] which tabs into either fist via a slot and tab system. The gun is coated in silver paint and even features the "strength intensity" meter that was featured on Spotlight Galvatron in the IDW series. The gun can also be slotted into the shoulder launcher for storing or extra firepower. The retail release came with two pile-drivers cast in black. He used them in a scene with Pipes in the cartoon and they fit over some groves when his hands are folded in. This is a superfluous accessory that I had never taken out of the box in the nearly 4 years that I own the figure! If bought through Amazon you also got the exclusive chrome-coated "other" pile-drivers /pistons he used in S1. These are included as a default option on his exclusive Tigertrack yellow repaint. Only thing to mind is that the gun fits somewhat loosely on his fist and you can't close his fingers all the way as it will dislodge it.

Overall this is a very nice release of a very iconic [if a bit...unimportant] player in the TF mythos. If you are interested in alternative options for this mould, he has also come out as...

MP14-Red Alert, which is a retool based on the S2 character, with additional tooling to make him more toy-accurate
MP12T Tigertrack, a yellow Diaclone repaint which comes with all the above plus the silver pile drivers by default. Includes Autobot symbol stickers.
A limited Hasbro Asia/HK release, identical to my review sample, but without the tampographed Autobot symbol on his hood.
MP12G--G2 Sideswipe, a gorgeous black repaint retooled to resemble his '90s edgy comic book release with new weaponry [omits all weapons of this release]
MP14C Clampdown, a repaint of MP14 Red Alert in Diaclone colours
MP14+ Red Alert [not yet released], which is a more cartoon accurate repaint of Red Alert

As you can see, you have a lot of options if you like the mould but might not be a Sideswipe fan. I'd rate this release high due to both his importance in the line and because he also feels more substantial of a release compared to, say Streak purely on the number of accessories.

Whichever version of the mould you go with, you will get a fantastic alt mode [paint blemishes aside],a good wealth of accessories [ergo display options] and he will fit in your collection, be it as a one-off or as part of the larger MP display. Prices vary for each of these editions, with the most expensive thus far being this release and the original MP14 Red Alert. You might also want to wait for a potential Diaclone Deep Cover release [Diaclone black with blue robot mode bits] or a MP12+ cartoon accurate release, if this is more to your liking. Whichever colour you go with, you can't go wrong. There is no reported mould degradation yet.

Transformation Design: 8. Well thought out, especially the legs. Loses a few points because untabbing the clear plastic roof bit from the rear of the car is a bit scary and due to minor fitting issues with his arms in car mode. I would have preferred his shoulders locking to something instead of just rotating upwards, but there has been no issues yet.
Durability: 9. Nothing seems prone to breaking despite repeated handling throughout the years and no joints feel loser [looking at you, MP Streak!].
Fun: 8. Enough display options to make this interesting. Mine spends an equal amount of time in either mode both as a display piece and a toy to fiddle with.
Aesthetics: 9. He looks amazing in either mode. His robot mode is an interesting match of not too busy looking nor too plain looking. Misses a point due to the paint shenanigans in car mode and mismatched door panels.
Articulation: 7. Nothing fancy, nothing far too basic. His accessories add to this. Good stability and stiffness on all joints.
Price/value: 8, with fluctuations depending on which version you get. Toy doesn't skimp on paint or clear plastic [although his taillights could have been clear plastic] and has enough accessories. Some die-cast, even if just on the feet or spine, would help bring his up. He is the cheapest MP car [going by retail] tied with Streak, except for the Bumblebee mould.
Overall: 8. This is a good release, both in historic value to the line and as an actual offering. There are various tidbits on designer interviews throughout the year [ie at one point he was close to having no accessories at all due to the budget restraints] that add to his history, and is good fun as a figure in general, whether you like Sideswipe or one of his numerous repaints. Recommended if you can get him for close to his original retail.
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