Judging by the buzz I've been reading about Hasbro's Alternators line and the number of
people who have read my review of the first one,
Smokescreen, I would say it's safe to Hasbro and Takara have a hit on their hands.
So naturally I wasted no time in picking up the second figure in the line, Side Swipe.
Packaging - 10/10This is the same packaging as Smokescreen and it works. The two panel window box is very similar to the style used for collectible cars. But the Transformers' logo and images of his robot mode help to tie it in to the packaging from other Transformer's lines. The ends and back of the box show Side Swipe in both modes while the bottom has the legal stuff and images of Smokescreen. The text for the box is tri-lingual which I usually dislike. But since the Alternators line doesn't have a back story to try to cram onto the packaging. The interior of the packaging has vague images of Side Swipe's vehicle mode to appear as if it were reflecting the toy's image. There is also a partial image of his robot mode on the back panel as well. And once again, the vehicle is held in place with a simple plastic bubble and some tape; no twist ties, no glue, and no need for your toolbox. (Playmates, please make note.)
Sculpting - 10/10A transformer getting a ten is quite amazing, but then again so is Side Swipe. The vehicle mode is flawless. This is a licensed version of a Dodge Viper so it was bound to look realistic inorder to get clearance from Dodge, but this is amazing. The only place where they could really improve would be to somehow create a realistic undercarriage, though I don't know how they could pull that off. Side Swipe gets a bump in the score since the entire interior is detailed unlike Smokescreen who lacked a true backseat. In robot mode he gets another bump for having better (more humanoid) proportions and clearly defined feet. I also prefer how his chest is formed by combining the windshield and convertible top cover as opposed to it being the entire hood of the car as was the case with Smokescreen. Basicly, while Smokescreen transforms into a robot that is obviously made from a car, Side Swipe has elements of a car present but looks like a robot first and foremost. There are a few bits of kibble on his back when transformed but they are not overly distracting.
Paint - 9/10The paint details on Side Swipe aren't terribly complex but look great. In car mode he is for all practical purposes perfect. You could always add more detail to the interior but it isn't very realistic to expect to be able to read the speedometer and check his gas gauge at this price point. His Robot mode fairs well also but does leave room for added details. I think many may also be put off by the black wash used on his chest area.
I should also note that unlike Smokescreen, the Japanese version of Side Swipe doesn't have a metallic finish from the reports I have heard. This isn't a cost issue but rather was done to reflect the actual finish of the real Dodge Viper.
Articulation - 7/10This is the one area where Side Swipe takes a hit compared to Smokescreen. His car mode does have the opening doors and hood like Smokescreen. But the trunk does not open. Also, the hood doesn't open as fully as I would like to see and takes some fiddling to line up properly to close it. Side Swipe's robot mode takes another hit. His legs look great but they really don't have great range of motion. The hip joints in particular give it a lot of lateral movement but don't allow them to move forward or back. The arms fair better but tend to be inhibited by the door panels that hang off the arms. The articulated fingers are still here. there is no articulation in the body but the head does have a nice ball joint.
Accessories - 6/10Like Smokescreen, Side Swipe comes with just one accessory, but it is a nice one. He has a gun which folds up to form his engine. It is very attractive since it has a chrome finish. And they even went so far as to put a red tint on the headers as well as the viper logo.
Special NotesThe transformation process for the Alternators line is quite a bit more complex than most of the current Transformers and leap years beyond any G1 figure, so this isn't a great toy for a child. The good news is that the transformation works better than Smokescreen. You may need to practice getting the arms into the right position but you shouldn't need to spend as much time fiddling with the parts to get them into exactly the right position like with Smokescreen's legs.
Value - 9/10Like Smokescreen, Side Swipe is selling for $19.99 which is an excellent price. For a Transformer fan, this is probably going to be a must have. There is also the option of spending the extra money for the Takara import version. Since the paint finish is the same on both versions, at $50+ you are going to be spending an extra $30 or more for the die cast content. That is rather steep for anyone but hardcore G1 fans.
Happy Hunting:Side Swipe came from Walmart in Portage, WI. I have also seen them at Target. He is shipping with Smokescreen so Toys R Us stores or any other location that is carring the Alternators line should have Side Swipe as they start to sell out of the initial cases that contained Smokescreen only. If you want the import version, you'll have to check local import stores or one of the many online sites. I would suggest Big Bad Toy Store. They do a great job, their prices are usually quite fair and at a flat shipping cost of $4.99, orders of multiple items can really be quite affordable. You can also try Hobby Link Japan. The price should be a little cheaper but the shipping can be a killer if you are not careful.