Alternate Mode: Dodge Viper
Height: 5cm Length: 18.5cm Width: 8.5cm
A very realistic red Dodge Viper convertible, Sideswipe is no longer a Lamborghini of any description. Binaltech (and Alternators, it's American name) is basically all about scale model vehicle modes, so Sideswipe is a 1:24 scale Viper. The majority of the car is die cast metal, save for the rear section. His mag wheels are chromed, and the tyres rubber.
Being a droptop, Sideswipe's interior is there for all to see. If you look inside, you'll see that it's all there, in black plastic. He has bucket seats, a steering wheel that actually turns, a dashboard, a handbrake and even a little gearstick that's been painted silver. The front windshield is clear plastic with a black plastic wiper on the front. He's got plastic red rear vision mirrors sticking out of the doors, with the mirror side actually painted with a silver reflective paint. His headlights are clear plastic with silver painted globes inside them, the taillights are red with smokey white reverse lights below them. His bonnet has air intake holes on it, he has various "DODGE" and "VIPER" markings on the side and rear - clearly DaimlerChrysler have authorised the use of their trademarks (it says so on the box, actually).
There's not too much here to give away that Sideswipe's actually an Autobot. He does have an Autobot symbol stamped onto the plastic cover that covers the fold-down roof cloth, and his rear license plate reads "SIDE*SWP", the * being an Autobot symbol.
The play value here is great. The bonnet opens to reveal a chrome silver engine, the doors open and the steering wheel turns, as mentioned already. The wheels all roll, the front wheels turn, and turning one will turn the other as if on a rack & pinion - although the steering wheel is not connected to this. The boot (trunk if you're in North America) doesn't open, and he doesn't have a pull back motor, but I don't hold this against Swiper. The point of this mode is realism, so the opening doors and bonnet are more important than a pull back motor.
Overall, this is a great car mode. Binaltech is a level above anything else Transformers has ever attempted before, so the standards are pretty high. Sideswipe is a believable scale Dodge Viper. While there are small hints that he's a Transformer, he's a scale model in his own right. As a Transformer, this car mode looks great, both from an aesthetic and detail point of view. It's not quite the traditional vehicle mode of Sideswipe, but it's still a red sports car so it still works.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
I'm not going to bother trying to explain everything involved in what is a very complex transformation. His front third forms the legs, in a similar fashion to Tracks, the central section and parts of the rear become his torso in a complex series of folds and clipping together that results in a surprisingly solid torso. The windscreen and roof's cover become the chest, the head and arms fold out from within the rear section, while the doors end up hanging off his shoulders, an obvious design element copied from the original Sideswipe. The engine becomes the handgun, with a barrel folding out and the handle being underneath the engine block itself.
Height: 18cm Width: 14cm
The red is nowhere near as dominating in Sideswipe's robot mode as it was in car mode. The lower legs and hands are black, thighs, arms, feet are grey. Most of the torso is black, the top part of the chest is red, as are the door panels hanging off his shoulders. The rear wheels are on his shoulders and the front wheels on the outsides of his shins. You might notice that the G1 Sideswipe has wheels in the same positions, although front and rear reversed.
The head is black and the face painted silver, and it's clearly the traditional face of Sideswipe. He's got blue eyes an a great facial sculpt, with nose, mouth and chin as well as slightly recessed eyes. Aside from the face, there's a lot of other features that are reminiscent of the traditional Sideswipe. The doors on the arms, but also the grey arms with black hands, as well as the grey feet, which even have blue arrowheads on them (the original has blue arrowheads on stickers on the feet). Probably the only major departure is the black torso, in fact. The Autobot symbol stamped on the roof cover is now central on his chest, explaining why they put it there rather than the hood.
Not only does Binaltech incorporate scale model vehicle modes, it also features poseable robot modes. Sideswipe's head is on a ball joint, his shoulders and elbows are double hinges, effectively forming ball joints. Actually the shoulders have three joints giving him full arm poseability. The wrists are ball joints and the hands are jointed. The fingers are curled to allow him to hold the gun, the index finger has a hinged knuckle, and the other three digits have a shared hinge at the knuckle. The thumbs do not move, but oppose the other digits allowing him to grip the gun. The reason for the separately jointed index finger is so it can wrap around the trigger.
The hips are double swivels, the knees have only one hinge, but there's swivels halfway down the thigh essentially giving the knees full motion. The ankles are ball joints and he has heelspurs. There are metal car panels sitting on the back of the heel, which stick out on the insides of his feet - effectively these are the only car mode kibble Sideswipe has. They do prevent him from standing at attention, but he's engineered so he stands at the more natural "at ease" pose, anyway. The bonnet hangs off the back of his waist, but it gives his legs enough clearance that it doesn't get in the way, so I'm not going to call it kibble. The waist doest twist, but it's more for the transformation that poseability, when the torso is fully formed the waist only wiggles.
It's difficult to find much fault with this robot mode. I'm reluctant to count the differences between his chest and the original's chest against this toy, since it's not a flaw perse, and there's enough similarities that this mode is clearly Sideswipe anyway. The colours work, the poseability is fantastic and the detailing is great. The only aspect that bothers me is the kibble on his heels I mentioned earlier, but it's not enough to really hurt this mode.
The Binaltech version, which I have, makes heave use of Die Cast metal for the car mode's red parts. The Alternators version is plastic, and therefore a lot lighter than the BT version, which is quite heavy (but has no troubles with robot mode stability).
Retooled as Dead End, the retool was subsequently repainted in BT Asterisk as Sunstreaker (the retool's face matches the latter).
The realism of the car mode and poseability of the robot mode are both excellent. Despite the change of car model and different chest, this is clearly Sideswipe in a new form. While this line is pricey, you get what you pay for in Sideswipe, even at the import price of the Binaltech version. The attention to detail in this toy is great, the transformation is quite complex, but not difficult once you get the hang of it. Probably the only real flaw is the kibble on his ankles, but it's a minor thing, not enough to really bother worrying about - 10/10