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Human Alliance Skids

Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Can good entertainment overcome unpleasant connotations? It's a fine line to walk. How much of Cerebus can you read before Dave Sim's naked misogyny becomes too much? Does Orson Scott Card's homophobia prevent you from enjoying his work? And can you like Revenge of the Fallen despite the tasteless twins?

Autobot Skids likes to think of himself as pretty capable, but the fact is Mikaela is a better driver than he is. With her behind the wheel, and him concentrating on squeezing every bit of power out of his engine, even the fastest, most powerful Decepticons have trouble keeping up.

Wow, this is the first Human Alliance set to actually use the human as a driver - Sam was a friend and Epps was a trainer, but Mikaela actually gets to drive? I guess all that experience she had from the first movie really paid off! Or maybe it's the other way around: both the guys get something special to do, and all she does is steer? Lame! Still, no matter which way you look at it, they're subverting the whole "woman driver" thing.

The Human Alliance figures carry on the traditions begun by the sadly-departed Alternators, those of fully-licensed vehicle designs, 1:24-scale toys, and complex engineering aimed at creating the truest re-creations possible. Well, maybe the scale gets cheated somewhat, but they try. These aren't just repaints of the existing toys, they're bigger and better designs.

As you know, the movie continuity is all about real designs licensed from real manufacturers, re-creating specific vehicles in the utmost detail. As such, Skids is a concept Chevy Beat - which will be known as the Chevy Spark when it goes into production in 2011. Assuming it goes into production, following GM's Chapter 11 restructuring. Who can tell? The Beat/Spark was first introduced in 2007, and would be Chevy's first entry in the "city car" market for North America.

While the Alternators (and even the other two Human Alliance cars) had fairly detailed interiors, Skids has a steering wheel and not much else. Sure, the seats are real, and the doors open, but it's still noticeably plainer than many of the others. The car itself is green, though not quite the hideous "Vertigo Green" seen on the concept car and in the film.

Skids has the appropriate black "Cyberglyphic" symbols on his doors - apparently Cybertronian or the Language of the Primes or somesuch malarkey. The same symbols Skids said he couldn't read. Apparently some fans were confused by the fact that characters had symbols they themselves couldn't read painted on their bodies. Those fans are idiots - have they never seen some douchebag with a Chinese tattoo they couldn't read?

Turning Skids into a robot isn't as tough as it is on the other figures (though we can't say the same about going from robot to car), and while he still has some misplaced kibble, he's not as much of a shellformer as Sideswipe. If he's not movie-accurate enough for you, there are guides online on how to fix that. He's well-articulated, with neck, shoulder, bicep, elbow, left wrist, right fingers and thumb, waist, hip, knee, shin and foot joints. His eyes are lightpiped, but he has a play feature beyond that: press one of the "hair" bumps on top of his head, and his jaw moves; how appropriate that you can make the little loudmouth appear to talk.

Aside from making the right arm look bigger than the left, the cannon mounted on that side can actually fire. But as is always the case with the Human Alliance toys, the only accessory that counts is the little meaty sidekick. As mentioned before, Skids comes with Mikaela Banes. Why her? Uh... we'll have to get back to you on that. Because the only human who's actually associated with Tweedle Derp, here, is Leo, and nobody really cares about a toy of him? Because Mikaela hangs out with Bumblebee, and he was already taken? Whatever the reason, she stands 2⅜" tall.

There have actually been two Mikaela figures before - one full-body, the other tits-up. Not "dead" tits-up, "lacking anything below the ribcage" tits-up. The likeness isn't very good, and since looks are pretty much all Megan Fox has, that's not so good for the toy. You know she'd gotten way too skinny between movies? In order to make her not look disgusting, Michael Bay told her to eat more cake. Eating cake? God, he's such a monster! No wonder she called him Hitler!

As usual, there are multiple ways to have Skids carry his little human pal. She can either ride behind his shoulders (and man the Gatling gun, apparently), or sit on either of the car's seats, which end up on the robot's forearms. Oh, and just for giggles, the launcher on his right arm flips over, so she's straddling a big cannon. Ha ha ha! Suggestive.

Since Skids is so small - the car is 5½" long, 2¾" wide, 2½" tall, and the robot just clears 6" thanks to the doors on his shoulders - paying the same amount to get him that you paid for Bumblebee or Sideswipe would be kind of a ripoff. To compensate for that, this set includes a second vehicle, but it's hard to say who.

See, what we've got here is a red motorcycle: in theory, that would make her Arcee; however, the body-type, with the straight spine and the huge gun on one arm, would suggest she's really Chromia. This is the same mix-up the Robot Heroes versions made, so maybe there's somthing to the theory that all three 'bots are still Arcee no matter what names they use. Maybe they can switch chassis at will, with the attendant color the only remaining identifer of which peronality is in which body?

At 4" long and 2" high, the bike is perhaps too big - she should be about 25% smaller. The wheels roll, and thanks to their texture, they actually sound a little bit like a motor if you roll her on a hard surface. Like putting baseball cards in the spokes of a bike. Mikaela can straddle Arcee, which Rule 34 says has already happened, or Rule 35 says will happen soon. Supposedly the reason they made this bike red was to make it match the one Mikaela actually rides in the film, but that's just about the crappiest excuse ever.

Surprisingly, despite being small and simplified, Chromarcia works really well. The 4½" tall robot mode isn't as poseable, of course, but converting her is way easier and she even has her own built-in stand: no halfassed gun rack thing to keep her upright, no sir!

Skids was annoying in the movie, and Arcee... Chromia... whatever was pretty much a non-entity. Mikaela's role was to look not-quite-as-hot as she did in the first movie. Still, this is a yet another good Human Alliance offering. These really are my favorite things to come out of Transformers 2 - yes, even more so than my much-beloved Devastator. Really, I'm just glad we finally have a spiritual successor to the Alternators, because that was pretty much the Transformers line I'd been waiting for since 1984.

-- 01/05/10

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