In this review I will cover the good and bad points of the Armada figure Sideways and the differences between the two variant versions of this character.
First let's look at what's included: 1 figure and 2 mini-cons. The Sideways figure changes into a "futuristic" purple motorcycle, while each of the mini-cons change into "half a rider" and alternate heads for Sideways (some call them helmets, but they replace the head).
The idea ultimately was to create a "double spy" character with a "headmaster" style gimmick; essentially trying for a new "double-dealer" where the mini-figures determine his faction.
Sadly, as with most Armada figures to date, Sideways’ mini-cons are the best part of the toy. Each had small stubby arms; Rook’s are ball jointed and Crosswise’s are riveted in. Ball joints and other joints are used liberally on each of their legs, giving Rook 4 points of articulation in his legs, and Crosswise’s 3 points.
These mini-cons each form half of a rider figure for Sideways, Rook the top half, and Sideways the bottom. To this effect Rook is the more complex of the two, but also looks worse in his other forms, with longer legs in his robot mode, as well as a stumpy body.
Hasbro managed to give these figures very poor head-modes, that is they were content to leave the mini-cons’ legs flailing once connected to Sideways. Crosswise's legs can fold up easily so they are mostly concealed, where as Rook's legs are conscious whether in Hasbro's "flaming horns" mode, or neatly wrapped around the side or top of his head mode.
Sideways' three main gimmicks are his 2 "cyber-jet" missiles and his head-exchanging ability, but as we have all come to expect from Armada, these gimmicks are not as simple and as cost effective as they could have been.
First, let's look at his missile situation: Possessing stress-launchers like the cyber-jets and most recently RiD Megatron/Galvatron, Sideways has what should be the cheapest projectile launching gimmick around. Instead, however, like many an Armada missile, Sideway's missiles are "locked" by powerlinx pegs. Placing any mini-con on the peg allows you to fire the missile, but without a mini-con, you can't. Note:
The only justifiable purpose of this kind of lock, as it requires more springs and actually makes the toy harder to use, is with spring-launching missiles and the like, as they tend to have a problem of firing without pressing the button! Thus this kind of lock should prevent these projectiles from firing; however cyber-jet missiles are such that they never fire or come loose unless you want them to; thus these locks only make the toy more difficult to use and make it more complex and expensive than it could/should be.
Second, Sideways has a complex headmaster-like gimmick, which consists of a retracting robot head and two spring-loaded panels. When you place one of his mini-con transformed correctly, (with his arms pointing down) the mini-con becomes a new head and reveals a faction symbol; one mini-con makes him an autobot, and the other one a decepticon (this will be further examined when I talk about his variants).
The problem with this gimmick, though inspired, is that Hasbro had an easier and thus more cost effective way of achieving this Headmaster-style gimmick: Namely to use the same gimmick as the original headmasters. Without much effort, Hasbro could have designed Sideways to use the same connection gimmick as the original headmasters and having a faction symbol appear rather than the 3 stats that appeared on the headmaster's chest. Furthermore, this gimmick would have allowed Sideways' mini-cons to be interchangeable with the original headmasters, a small nod to fans as well as a cheaper solution.
Sideways has 6 distinct "gimmicks", two (2) missiles, two (2) locked powerlinx pegs, and 2 springs inside his chest to reveal his faction. Sadly this figure would be a better figure with only the missiles and the headmaster style combination of old, and would have cost less-thus allowing Hasbro to give him more.
Powerlinx + Hands:
The main goal of Armada is to let each figure use mini-cons. There are 3 ways of doing this: Powerlinx, hands/peg holes, and particular figure interaction. Sideways’ headmaster gimmick is of the third type.
Sideways has four (4) powerlinx, 2 "active" ones on his arms, and two inactive ones on his legs (active powerlinx do something).
The most limiting feature of Sideways is his hands. Armada has several "hand weapon" mini-con combiners, like Star Saber and Sky Boom, as well as figures like Surge and Leader-1 who become guns. Sideways doesn't have the holes in his hand to allow him to use these fires as they are intended. Furthermore, Sideways' hands can't even hold his missiles like the cyber-jets of old. All in all, his hands are a missed opportunity.
When transforming this figure I realized what was missing from Armada: Ball Joints. Each of Sideway's main limb joints is an overly complex and very breakable (due to plastic and design) ratcheting joint. These prevent Sideways from making the most basic of poses and will likely lead to the breakage. He has a total of 8 articulation points; Both his arms and legs can swing forward and back, as well as outwards, though with more plastic and molded parts than a ball joint. Also Sideways Forearms can turn, but not bend, due to how he transforms. Sideways’ feet can move backward, but this serves no effect and doesn't look good. Like most Armada figures, Sideways leaves a lot to be desired regarding articulation. Considering his R.i.D partner easily beats him, as well as his own mini-cons, there is nothing positive that can be said for his articulation.
Notes on Vehicle mode:
Sideways’ vehicle mode is ugly, but beyond that it's actually quite useful. Pegs in each of his mini-con's rears allow them to sit on his back separately, or combined into the rider.
Notes on Robot mode: Sideways’ missiles are poorly designed/colored. Rather than the soft plastic used for cyber-jet missiles, Sideways has had, brittle plastic that may lead to breakage. Furthermore they are clear with orange ends, apparently trying to resemble Beast Machines style "laser" missiles, but considering they become tailpipes in his motorcycle mode, they shouldn't be colored this way. Spinning Sideways’ wheels downward and positioning his legs so he's sitting gives him a kind of "wheelchair" mode which is both insulting AND a lost opportunity for creating a third mode. If Tigerhawk's third mode is placing his mask over his face, then Sideways can be handi-capable.
There are 2 variants of Sideways thus far (as of super-con wave 2). The first is the tech spec accurate one, where Crosswise changes him into an Autobot and Rook a Decepticon. This is most easily identified by two red stripes on Crosswise's legs and Crosswise's head-mode's red eyes.
The second variant is one where the faction symbols have been switched, so Crosswise makes Sideways a Decepticon, and Rook makes him an Autobot. This variant seems to be more available than the first, and is easily identified by the purple lines on Sideways, replacing his red ones. Crosswise's head mode now had purple eyes as well, making it look better than the first. Note:
On Sideways’ package, Rook is shown with purple paint and Crosswise with Red. Where as Crosswise was initially red, both variants include red highlighted Rooks. Thus we might see a third VARIANT in super-con wave 3, where Crosswise again makes Sideways an Autobot, but where Rook has purple highlights. Only time will tell.
It's obvious Hasbro's taking a break on quality with this figure; articulation is absurdly bad, plastic and design allows for easy breakage, more so than has been seen in years, and to top it off, his variant - which is the most easy to find - doesn't match his tech spec. IF there's one thing I like about Sideways, it's his mini-cons. Though small, they are a step above Headmasters in design and articulation, but could use some more paint. Still, one might wonder why Hasbro didn't remold RoadRocket/Sideways by giving him a few powerlinx pegs, then make two mini-cons that are suited to form a rider or change into guns that could be mounted on the figures side. Like everything Armada, Sideways could have been done better. I give him a 1 for trying, for his mini-cons, and for being purple. He gets the other 4 when he can bend at the knees, switch heads with Headmasters, and has a gimmick worthy of a deluxe. Even Beast Machines’ Thrust had chroming!
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