Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Human Alliance Sideswipe

It's a very strange thing... First, you have the announcement that Sideswipe would be appearing in Revenge of the Fallen (good news), then that he would take the form of the Corvette Stingray (interesting news, since that car would be more appropriate for Tracks) and that it would be silver, rather than Sideswipe's trademark red (messing with the character)... Then the design appeared... and it looked pretty awesome, then the film happened, and many people wondered what the point had been - he had maybe two lines in the whole film and, while his assault upon poor Sideways was no doubt impressive, it served as evidence that the Autobots were little more than a bunch of vicious killers.

Toy-wise, Sideswipe has been a mixed bag. The original Deluxe - already repainted several times - was a bit of a let-down in terms of poseability and stability, then the Sidearm version was a huge improvement, but still not great... So how does the larger-format Human Alliance version stack up?

Vehicle Mode:
Well, the first thing to notice is that this model has even fewer visible seams... which, of course, means whopping great slabs of car will be hanging off in robot mode. It does, however, present a very flattering model of the new Corvette Stingray. Already quite a beautiful - if overly quasi-futuristic - vehicle, without all the seams of the Deluxe versions, it looks awesome. It also has that other Human Alliance staple, the opening doors... and, true to the real life car, the doors open out and up.

The interior is probably one of the neater HA constructions, albeit with a large block in between the seats, which essentially becomes the robot's backbone. The seats are both molded to look like car seats, and one is actually one of robot mode's weapons.

The exterior... can really only be described as 'drab'. Flat silver all over, with only a touch of colour at the very front (headlights, Corvette flags logo) and rear (tail lights). That's not to say it would have been significantly better if they'd gone with Sideswipe's traditional red... in fact, bare red plastic would probably have looked worse. Still... a bit more imagination with the paint job on a model this size would have been welcome.


Robot Mode:
I'm not quite sure where this thing falls on the scale of Sideswipe toys... All things considered, it's probably slightly below the original Deluxe... But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The proportions are pretty good and, from the front, Human Alliance Sideswipe seems decent enough... sure, his thighs are massive and his forearms seem rather too chunky, but it's not terrible.

Until you look at it from any other angle, or in any great detail, that is. The legs are terrible - the wheel-feet are better realised in this than in the original Deluxe, but the poseability is even more limited. The 'knee' seems to be in the wrong place, the hips are barely mobile thanks to the rubber 'pistons' at his groin, and there's absolutely no ankle movement. The struts protruding from the wheel guards are barely adequate to keep him upright but, with some fiddling, it is possible to get some decent poses out of him.

He's armed with the wrist-mounted blades (made of soft rubber), a double-barrelled cannon on his right shoulder (to be operated by a human partner) and a spring-loaded missile launcher on the left shoulder. None are particularly mobile, and the double-barrelled cannon is tricky to pose with any of the human figures.

The paint job is pretty much the same bland silver as vehicle mode, but at least there's now the red of the tail-lights, Autobot logo and Corvette flags logo breaking up his chest. The eyes are light-piped, but painted over in light cyan so they don't actually function, and the 'face change' gimmick seems a little lazy and poorly realised when compared to HA Jazz - the 'battle mask' just flips up and sticks out of the back of his head, leaving a large groove in his forehead.

The real shame is how little bulk there is in the robot's torso - it's almost two-dimensional. It doesn't look too bad from the front but, from the sides, he's almost not there... just a thin 'robot torso panel' stuck in front of the slim collection of structural pieces that form his 'spine', and the two tiny flaps that are meant to represent Sideswipe's 'waist horns' are almost insultingly small


Transformation, broadly speaking, is far simpler than the Deluxes. So much of the vehicle mode just becomes a backpack for the robot, that there's really not a great deal to do. It's basically the entire car body, from rear windscreen to bonnet, barely folded up, and hanging some distance off his back due to the length of structural pieces needed to get the right length of car. The majority of the robot just flips down from the underside of the car... and that's pretty much all there is to it.

As indicated above, this is easily one of the least poseable Human Alliance figures to date, and a huge disappointment considering the potential of the character. With better jointing on the legs, this could have been awesome... sadly, they left that for the redesigned Deluxe. The biggest problem, though, is his stability... or rather, the lack thereof. With so much of the car hanging off his back, he's very back heavy, and will tend to topple over because his footprint is so small.

For some reason, I don't have a photo of the 'Tech Sergeant Epps' figure that came along with Sideswipe, which I intend to fix at the earliest opportunity... it's crap, looking nothing like Tyrese Gibson, but it at least deserves the same attention as the rest of the HA Human figures...

I received a second HA Sideswipe as a Christmas present from a friend, and I'm debating how to repaint him... it's either going to be as Tracks or as Cheetor... though doing him up in his Generation 1 colours has also occurred to me...

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