Articulation: 15 total points - Ball joint neck; 5 points each arm: Ball joint shoulder, shoulder hinge, upper arm swivel, hinge elbow, ball joint wrist; 2 points each leg: ball joint hip, hinge knee.
Colors: Molded red, dark grey; Painted silver, white, black, red, dark grey.
Accessories: Pathblaster cannon
Release Data: Released in the United States in December 2012 at a retail price of US$14.99
Sideswipe could have been a legend. Before the war, he was an up-and-comer, sought after in half the racing circuits on Cybertron. But his reckless nature and win-at-all-costs attitude washed him out of every league he joined. He's in with the Autobots for a chance at redemption, and a chance to bring back the Cybertron he remembers.
"Pre-mold" replacement parts as part of a figure's initial tooling has been a thing since 2008 when it was developed to make Universe Sunstreaker and Sideswipe possible. Though since then its use has seen expansion beyond simply getting more heads to use, FOC Sideswipe may be the craziest example of the practice yet.
Sideswipe is based on the Jazz body. Except pretty much all the vehicle shell panels - easily a third of the toy's plastic mass - is exchanged for a new set to create a figure that is significantly different looking in robot mode. To a limited extent the result seems like what might happen if one took the movie Sideswipe design and applied the broad strokes to a more G1-friendly application. The overall body shape is similar, and the protruding hood chest instead of flat really gives a sense of that style. Even the false wheels in the ankles that were pre-existing kind of call back to movie Sideswipe's ridiculously impractical wheel feet.
I felt Jazz was the weak end of the initial Fall of Cybertron wave, and while Sideswipe doesn't change any of the engineering, some flaws have been smoothed over with the new body shell. The torso as the major example feels more solid and filled in than was the case with Jazz because the new hood piece is bulkier and leaves fewer gaps obviously visible. It serves to mitigate the appearance of the head floating on a platform within the torso cavity in much the same way. That alone is a major step forward from the design problems observed with Jazz. The flip side of that is the chest seems overly bulky compared to the proportions of the robot mode otherwise. But I think I can live with that easier than a torso that visibly is more theoretical than material. Sideswipe's new head is definitely Sideswipe, although as goes with a lot of the game-based face sculpts, it has unpleasant lines and contours that may have served to increase surface detail in the game models, but translate poorly to plastic. Worsening the situation are the unpainted eyes, cast in dark grey plastic. At best Sideswipe might be asleep. At worst he appears to have vast empty chasms within his skull which he seeks to fill by consuming the souls of the innocent. The head is glued together, so while the eye surfaces appear to be separate from the surrounding face, getting them out to fix this cleanly is gonna be a chore.
"Is... is he going to eat me...?"
Upper body poseability for this body type is pretty good. The shoulders can be made to raise out greater than 90 degrees, and forward and backward movement is very free. The elbows are just average single hinge type joints, but they do what's required of them at least. The thing that always hurt the mold in my eyes was the leg articulation. It starts with the legs seeming to be set too close together - another factor making the upper body look oversized. The legs also appear like straight, rigid blocks. There's no sense of freedom of movement in the styling like seems to be natural in most every other modern Transformer. There's a thigh swivel, but the square build of the leg renders it utterly useless. Likewise, a swivel exists at the top of the knee joint, but it can't do anything because of the leg shape. The knees themselves are nothing special, but at least perform their job correctly, so that's at least one thing that went right here. The ankle joints might as well not be except for serving transformation, since they contribute almost nothing to the figure's ability to pose. If any case existed for the necessity of tilting ankles, this is definitely it.
Uncharacteristically complicated compared to most of the other FOC figures. It's mainly because of the odd way the car panels all fold up in the torso and needing to return from that state in a particular way. It's not really a frustration, but there's a lot more going on with it than might be expected. Once everything's unfolded, it's pretty smooth to just fold all the limbs back and securely tab the vehicle mode down. Of particular note, Sideswipe's transformation proceeds a lot more smoothly and easily than did Jazz's.
Much as I loathed the WFC Bumblebee mold, I did kind of like the design cues of its vehicle mode. Sideswipe is much on the same page but expanded out to the sportscar version versus Bumblebee's subcompact. But aside from the red coloring, there's not much about it that is characteristically Sideswipe. Depending how you look at it, maybe that's not entirely a bad thing. It could at minimum open the door with another very generic Autobot body to use as the starting point for other characters. Questionable Sideswipetitude aside, the new body shell is very nice, and really makes a far more attractive vehicle form than Jazz.
Paint work especially for the white racing stripes turned out very nice. They're most surprising too, since they're very clean and bright with no hint of plastic color bleed-through. The combination of those and the silver details on the hood make what is a very simple pattern look really nice and extra eye-catching. The "glow" lines on the wheels also came out surprisingly well given how delicate and narrow they are. For a vehicle without any moving parts, the strength of the appearance is really important, and Sideswipe has that one nailed.
Carrying on the big new accessories roll, Sideswipe includes a Pathblaster cannon from Fall of Cybertron. I'm told the toy's version is kinda bigger than how it appears in the game. Sounds good to me!
Even without knowing what it was supposed to be, I was really digging this design. In certain ways it puts me in mind of the ridiculously 90's weapons being carried around in the G2 comics, though in this case with a sci-fi edge more than the try-and-fail-to-draw-realistic-guns thing the comic had going on. This is like a huge drum-fed cannon, except the drum is styled to also look like a jet engine, a combination that just blows my mind for being so obviously brilliant and yet I've never heard of it before.
The drum (or engine, whatever) turns and has a click mechanism certainly to emulate the sound of rapid gunfire. But it doesn't turn smoothly enough to make that work, and plus, I don't think especially a child would be able to rotate the drum while the figure is carrying the weapon, the movement is just too stiff. The barrel is also made to retract in to the body, giving the option of a big gun, or a big gun with a really long barrel. The barrel locks at either end of its track, and I'm finding it does so a little too well. It was tough just to get it to slide in the first time, and pulling it back out was even worse because there's so little to get hold of. With its resistance to slide, I even had thought it might be a geared function linked to the rotating ammo drum, which would have been pretty cool.
There's a secondary peg on the cannon for mounting in vehicle mode; the handle is basically inaccessible to everything but the hands. The package depicts the weapon mounted to the roof, but I think it looks better connected to the left side panel. You have to put it upside down, but if you try to fit it right side up on the other side you don't have enough ground clearance. This is likely why the ammo drum also looks like a jet engine. Sadly no matter how you try to do it, that part is always off the center line of the vehicle, making it not super useful as a booster. ...unless it's just a counter to the recoil of the rifle... I can just see it now, "Dude, my gun is so powerful it needs a jet engine just to keep it from throwing me back the other way!"
I'm less down on Sideswipe in general than I felt about Jazz. The new car parts fix a lot of the visual problems, which has more than a little value to me. There are still design problems, but at least transformation to vehicle mode works better now. I don't know if it's the remold of Jazz I would have exactly asked for, but it definitely turned out better than I expected it to.
Sideswipe ranks Good on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale. Which may not seem like a lot, but "good" was never a word I would have used in relation to Jazz, so it's all relative. Plus coming with a huge awesome gun doesn't hurt anything either!
"The difference between you and me? I make this look good."
|Date||December 18th 2012|
|Score||(6 out of 10)|
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