Cliffbee.com: Sideways Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Sideways
Series: Armada
Allegiance: Unicron Minion (posing as both Decepticon & Autobot)
Alternate Mode: Motorcycle



MOTORCYCLE MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 14cm Width: 6.5cm

   A purple bike with yellow paint highlights, grey handlebars, black plastic tyres and a black saddle, Sideways has some light grey mechanical aspects (wheels, struts etc) and a colourless windshield. The colour scheme is a good one - the purple and yellow work well together while the other colours are all minor players. The twin headlights are metallic blue and look remarkably like eyes. There are colourless tailpipes underneath which end in orange clusters - these are missiles and while they're visibly missiles they look fine. There are no allegiance symbols on this bike, since his loyalty is questionable at best.

   This is a pretty good bike mode, with few non-bike parts. The tailpipes are questionable, but they're basically out of the way. The robot thighs are visible on either side of the seat - but they're just grey blocks, so they don't hurt at all. The handlebars and brake discs are well sculpted, and there are low detail indicator dials on the back of the windshield. OK, he's no Laser Cycle, but Sideways has more realism than most Armada toys got.

   There's not really much play value here. The wheels roll and he stands quite well, since the middle of the bike rides really low - but the gimmicks are pretty much non-existant. I don't mind really - he stands better than either Laser Cycle, and does so effortlessly. There are two hardpoints on either side (on the low riding section), which allow you to attach Minicons - although his pair don't do much good there. They are live, but there's not much point firing the missiles out the back in this mode. Two dead hardpoints sit on the sides of the saddlebags, and while they're a much better place for attaching Minicons, I'd recommend using some other than his mass-of-limbs Minicons. Rook and Crosswise combine to form a black and grey rider for this bike, and while this works ok while it's riding the bike, the combined figure has feet instead of hands (I keep thinking of Dr Nick Riviera). In short, as a rider it's passable but it blows as a standalone figure it's a waste of time.

   A good bike mode that's unusually realistic for an Armada vehicle, Sideways has some good detailing, respectable colours and little kibble or gimmick compromises. The underside doesn't hold together as well as I'd like and his Minicons don't do so well plugged into the hardpoints, but the rider is innovative and works well, as long as you don't try to stand it on its own.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fairly straightforward but with some unusual aspects. The saddlebags become the boots with the set folding down to become the feet. The windshield rotates to become his chest, the head pulls out from the dashboard - complete with handlebar antlers. That low riding block becomes the arms, the wheelbase folds up to become a backpack, with the wheels visible behind the head.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 15cm Width: 10cm

   Again mainly purple with yellow on the chest and boots, Sideways has grey thighs, black forearms with light grey fists and grey antlers. His face is largely yellow with a blue eyestrip and the missiles hang off the outside of his forearms. Again the colours combine well with everything but the purple and yellow there to support. There are no allegiance symbols visible - for now.

   The bodyshape is a little iffy, but Sideways still works. The torso comes together awkwardly, with gaps behind the chest. There's no waist or groin and his shoulders are above the level of his neck - the torso is short and lower than it should be. I guess the antlers come in handy, since they detract your attention from the torso's shortcomings. The legs are very straight, with unusually narrow boots for a Transformer (by no means awkward, just unusual).

   Sideways isn't terribly poseable. The head turns (as do the antlers, curiously) while his hips can swing but the knee are fixed since his legs extend when he transforms and the ankles have some wiggle, but not enough to make up for the knees. The shoulders swing and can lift out to the sides with some effort while his elbows rotate but do not bend. Some of the limitations in articulation I can accept - the ankles need to lock into place to some degree - but I would have liked to see knee and elbow joints. He can aim the missiles, at least.

   The Minicon-activated missile launchers are awfully hard to fire - they're the ball type, where you have to overcome the socket's grip on the ball. With a Minicon attached to the outside of his forearm, you're forced to slide the Minicon in a different direction to that where the force is needed. Neither Rook or Crosswise look any good hanging his arm anyway. The other Minicon gimmick is far more novel, and more effective. Both Minicons have head modes - attaching the black Rook will cause an Autobot symbol to appear inside his chest while attaching the light grey Crosswise will uncover a Decepticon symbol. Rook makes for a better head, although both end up with legs hanging out the back. In truth I prefer Sideways's standard head - but I'm quite happy with this gimmick since it's both innovative and a great Headmaster tribute.

   The robot mode is fair, with good colours and a very interesting Headmaster-style gimmick. The missile launchers are a waste of time really while the torso isn't so well designed. My main gripe relates to a lack of poseability more than anything else. The ambition of his main gimmick here is largely what makes this unspectacular robot mode worthwhile.


Name: Rook
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: None

   Coming it at 6.5cm tall, Rook is the taller of two the Minicons. He's black with grey arms and a light grey head. The tiny eyes are yellow - but you have to struggle to see this. Rook's feet have to double as hands for the combined rider figure and fail badly as hands - the compromise isn't really worth it since he now has frog's feet. The legs are longer than I'd like, making for a gimpy form. This isn't so much a Minicon as a Nebulon with a powerlinx port on its skidplate.


Name: Crosswise
Allegiance: Minicon
Alternate Mode: None

   6cm tall with much better proportions. Crosswise is mainly light grey with darker grey arms and yellow eyes - which are again easy to miss. His thighs are black and his feet actually look like feet. He has swinging shoulders and ball jointed knees, which give him meaningful poseability, which is identical to Rook's by the way. This is easily the stronger of the two Minicons, but then Crosswise doesn't have as much to do when the fair combine. His powerlinx port is on the top of his back, and while he's not much of a Minicon either, the robot is more convincing than that of Rook.


VARIATIONS

   None that I know of, although the Japanese name for this toy is double face.

OVERALL

   Conceptually interesting, Sideways works in some ways and fails in others. The bike mode is quite good, the rider formed by two Minicons is quite novel and the colours work. The robot mode isn't as successful, although it's not awful. The Headmaster-style gimmick of the robot mode is nifty, even if the resulting heads aren't all that strong. The two Minicons either transform into half a rider or a head - they're not really much on their own, although Crosswise has a much stronger robot form. If you liked Headmasters I'd grab this guy - the concept represents a good update of that older idea, and the bike & rider are fun - 6.5/10

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