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Transformers: War for Cybertron
by yo go re

Sideswipe infiltrates the Kaon Prison to rescue Zeta Prime.

Don't you mean "Sentinel Zeta Prime"?

There was a gamerverse Sideswipe released when Fall of Cybertron was originally a thing, in 2012, but I somehow never got it. It came out at the same time as Starscream, Ultra Magnus, and Kickback, so it's not like it was one of those functionally-unreleased figures (looking at you, Studio Series Barricade), and I definitely have a soft spot for pre-Earth modes, but somehow I skipped the first release. But hey, that means this one is new to me in every way! I call that a win.

It's frankly shocking how much better this Sideswipe looks than the 2012 version. Yes, that was 12 years ago, so you'd expect there to be some improvement, but the sheer gulf between what was and what is is nearly unbelievable. A major part of it is that the old toy was a re-shell of Jazz designed to get more use out of existing tools, despite the fact that the two characters didn't really look very much alike at all.

Like the vintage Sideswipe, WfC Sideswipe has a chest that's flat and vertical, rather than sticking out like so many of the early Transformers who had a car's hood for their chest. The spikes on the back are not really anything previous Sideswipes had, but it's a feature in the game model and does look pretty cool and sporty. The way the little clips fold down over the tires on the shoulders is clever, but the feet being big flat planks is a disappointing choice; was there really no better way to do them?

As with all these Studio Series Gamer Edition figures, Sideswipe includes one of the guns from the game, the "photon burst rifle." The designers have said they're specifically trying to get as many of the game weapons as possible out to the public, which is why each character comes with a different one, and also why they're all interchangeable - all the figures can have their right arm removed, and all the guns can plug in its place. But Sideswipe is the first in the entire line where the arm doesn't fall off at the slightest nudge; in fact, it's attached so well, I thought they'd perhaps abandonned the feature. Nope, just gotta pull extra hard!

Sideswipe was engineered by TakaraTomy's Umezu Shuhei, who came up with several really nifty features in there, like the afore-mentioned clamps on the wheels, or the way the shoulders come together behind the chest plate to hold the head in place. There are things happening inside this Transformer we haven't seen before, and they're creative fun. The panels on the outside of the legs don't seem to want to sit in place prooperly, however, and I can't determine what, exactly, I'm doing wrong with them to prevent the tabs by the knees from fitting into the slots they're meant to.

Sideswipe is, as is traditional, some sort of sleek sports car. It's red, with silver stripes over the top and black windows on the side. So we can accept that a sentient automobile wouldn't need to have a windshield, but at that point, why would it need any windows at all? Either go all the way or don't. The silver pattern on the top of the car doesn't match the silver pattern that was on the robot's chest in any way, so it's unclear what part of him that's supposed to be made from. The gun can plug into a slot on the roof, which also means it can be stored on the robot's back. Same piece after all.

So far summing up the "Gamer Edition" Studio Series figures could be accomplished by saying "better than the old ones, but not really great in their own right." But clever design works helps Sideswipe rise above that level, though there are still a few shortcomings that keep him from being his absolute best.

-- 07/09/24

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