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Toxitron and Sideswipe

Transformers Animated
by yo go re

They say you can't unring a bell. And similarly, once an idea's been had, eventually it will come to fruition in some form or another. Take, for instance, Toxitron: he began as a proposed redeco of the same mold that brought us Scourge, but that was shot down; several weeks before the figure was shown at BotCon 2007, I asked for advice on a custom unknowingly using an almost identical color scheme; in 2010 Derrick Wyatt confirmed that there was an (as-yet-unseen) Toxitron in the Transformers: Animated universe; and finally, at BotCon 2011, the character became a reality.

Toxitron was the first attempt by Doctor Scalpel and Oil Slick to protoform a warrior in an Autobot shell. The failed experiment produced a bizarre duplicate of Optimus Prime with immense strength, corrosive toxic sludge cannons, a hopelessly stunted intellect, and a penchant for driving backwards in vehicle mode. Fortunately for the Decepticons, the data from this mishap lead to the greater success with Projects Stunticon and Nemesis Prime.

Wow, Scalpel? Neat! Derrick drew an Animated version of the movie character, but this is the first time he's been referenced in an official capacity. He even has a cameo in The Stunti-Con Job comic!

Toxitron is a repaint of the Voyager Class Optimus Prime, done, of course, in purple and neon green. Kind of like a Constructicon, but the Animated Constructicons never got any toys. And I never had this mold before, so it's interesting to see how different it is from the Deluxe Class version. There's the size, obviously - the truck is 5½" long, 3⅛" tall and 3" wide - but more than that. The shapes are similar, but entirely different. The cab is shorter and closer to the bumper, the back end isn't as long, there are no smokestacks, stuff like that. It is distinctly a different toy, not just the same figure in a different size.

Changing Toxitron is exactly the same as changing Optimus - same mold, same instructions. There's a great automorph feature about halfway through, where you push a lever in the small of his back and his legs go spinning wildly down into place. Very cool. Just note that when you want to go back to his altmode, you have to manually twist the waist to get the legs to raise back up. It's a tradeoff.

As you read above, Toxitron was the first failed experiment in putting a Decepticon mind in an Autobot body. Now, when you're playing, you can deal with that however you like, but in the comic, they basically treated him like Bizarro, right down to the idiosyncratic speech patterns. They even typed his transformation sound in reverse! Heck, the motto on his retro-styled Tech Spec is "subjugation am not right of all insentient beings."

Green is the prevalent color in this mode, while the purple really takes a back seat. There is a lot more grey, though, and some more black comes in, as well. In the comic he's constantly dripping with orange goo, but that didn't carry over to the toy - the only orange here is on his shoulder behind his Decepticon logo, and on the accessories.

His face is a vibrant green, rather than matching the rest of the body. His helmet and faceplate are purple, and his lightpiped eyes are red. There's a play feature in the face, too: flick a switch on the back of his head, and the faceplate drops, showing the mouth beneath. It's a nifty feature - just a shame they couldn't remold the head to give him a dumber look.

Toxitron has decent articulation. He moves at the knees, hips, waist, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. His accessories include a giant axe and a blaster he can hold in his hand. It shoots water, by the way: there's a plug on the bottom, and you can press in the barrel. (But then wouldn't you be covering the nozzle?) If you want him to hold his weapons without holding his weapons, they can store on his back.

Toxitron is half of BotCon Souvenier [sic] Set #1, along with a character identified on the bag as "Sideswiper," but known everywhere else as just Sideswipe. Since he shares his mold with a figure we've already reviewed, we're just going to review what's new: namely, the paint apps and the head sculpt. And of course, the personality.

A hard boiled, hard-hitting, hard-fighting bot who's been around the block and seen it all. Underneath all his bluster, though, is the same idealistic Autobot who has been serving in one capacity or another for millions of stellar cycles. Incredibly observant; he misses nothing and forgets even less. He has little patience with those who act before they think, perhaps because they remind him of his own lost youth.

Sideswipe is a typical 1930s style cop, a noir flatfoot ready to dust some knuckles and bust some heads. He was voiced by Neil Ross in the BotCon script reading, who you'll best know as Dusty and Shipwreck on GI Joe. The figure shares his mold with Rodimus Minor, which means it still hasn't received a mass release - Rodimus was a TRU exclusive, and one a lot of people had trouble finding. The arms pull off their balljoints easily (too easily), but they go back on just as easily, and they still manage to hold a pose.

The figure's colors are based on Generation 2 Sideswipe, but don't worry: unlike a lot of G2 figures, Sideswipe wasn't a god-awful eyesore. Basically, they switched the toy's colors - instead of red with a little black, he was black with a little red, and that's what this figure does, too. Like Prowl, his colors end up looking rather like a police uniform in robot mode, so that's a nice bonus. The neon green isn't even very obtrusive.

There was one thing they couldn't copy from the G2 figure, and that was the big "SS" design on the car door - he's on Cybertron, so he can't have Earth letters on him, and they can't just leave him blank or the fanboys would have pitched a fit. Their solution? Put "SS" on his doors in Cybertronian! It makes for a nice pattern, and fills in what would otherwise have been a conspicuous blank spot.

Sideswipe's head is not the same as Rodimus' - instead, he gets the same new head that Breakdown sported. The head is red and the face is silver, and his eyes are light blue. Since the chin is painted to match the face rather than the helmet, the overall appearance of the face is distinct from Breakdown's. It's a good "angry cop" face. Just make sure you remember to turn it around when you convert him: the car's glass is colorless clear plastic, so if you don't, you'll see a robot face in the front seat.

Toxitron works as an Animated character in a way he wouldn't work in other franchises, because TFA is just a little more wacky and accommodating than other lines are - a weirdly colored clone seems like an acceptable part of that world. Meanwhile, Sideswipe makes even a G2 reference look good. Between them, BotCon Souvenir Set #1 is a piece of memorabilia that turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I expected.

-- 06/14/11


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