Transformers Armada: Sideways with Rook and Crosswise by Hasbro

I honestly thought I’d have some more Generations Deluxes for today’s Transformers Thursday, but I’m waiting to ship my Pile of Loot, so it might be another week or so. In the meantime, I dug my salty mitts into the Armada bin again and this time I pulled out Sideways. And then I had to go back in after his two Minicons. Sideways is a convaluted figure, so let’s jump right in and get started with a look at his alt mode….

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Sidways is a purple and yellow sports cycle. Ah, it’s all coming back to me now… “back on Cybertron they called my Sideways. I guess I’m a bit of a drifter.” No, Sideways, you’re a bit of a douchebag! I don’t remember a lot about muscling my way through the Armada cartoon, but I do remember hating this guy with a white hot passion. Him and that damn butt-rock guitar riff that they trotted out every time he was on screen. Was he an Autobot? Was he a Decepticon? Who cares? In the end he was dick. Of course, I got the toy before I ever saw his character in the series, so I just figured his faction swap gimmick was something like Punch and Counterpunch. And I kept believing that even after I was shown different in the cartoon.

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Sideways’ motorcycle mode is a bit chunky, but designing transforming motorcycles can be tricky. I think the only figure that ever got it really right was Cy-kill and he was a f’cking Go-Bot! Ok, G1 Wreckgar wasn’t that bad either. My point is, if you try to make the alt mode too perfect, you’re going to come away with a monstrosity like Lugnutz from the Cybertron line. You can go see for yourself, but don’t worry… I’ll get to him eventually. Anyway, I do like Sideways’ alt mode well enough. The paint and deco are awesome and if you combine his Minicons, Rook and Crosswise, they can ride him. Ok, I might as well talk about his Minicons, because that’s where things get all sorts of crazy.

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So, there they are, Rook and Crosswise, and they are an odd pair in the world of Minicons. Don’t ask me which one is which, because I don’t know. And for godsakes, don’t tell me, because I don’t care. What do they turn into? Well each one on their own does serve a special function… they’re basically like headmasters, but before we get to that they can combine into one robot rider for Sideways.

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There’s his combined mode. All in all, not too shabby for what it is. Thanks to a generous helping of ball joints, the combined mode is actually kind of fun to play around with. Hasbro has done at least one Minicon combiner since, but the fact that this guy is just two robots makes him more impressive to me. Some paint hits on that head sculpt wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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He also sits on the bike rathe well, thanks to the assistance of a tab that comes out of his butticular region. He also has little notches in his hands so he can sort of grip the handle bars. All in all, this is some pretty good engineering for a 10 year old line of Transformers and I’d like to see Hasbro try something similar again. Ok, let’s lay these two crazy little bots aside for a moment and look at Sideways in his robot mode.

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Call me crazy, but I dig it. I always have. I get a major later-G1 toy vibe off of this guy. His transformation is quite simple, but all the more clever for it. The way the front of the bike becomes his chest works really well and I love the way his translucent neon exhaust pipes become arm mounted missiles. Cool! I also love the way his wheels fold up and pack on his back. I’m a big fan of symmetry in my Transformers and such a characteristic is sadly lacking from a lot of transforming motorcycles. The only thing that throws off Sideways’ symmetry are the wheels peaking up over his shoulders, and I can live with that. Did I mention how much I dig the paint and deco on this guy? I think I did, but it’s worth repeating because it serves him just as well in robot mode.

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And then there’s that head. It’s a cylindrical bucket reminiscent of a knights helmet with the handlebars becoming antlers. Did somebody say Ni? His Minicons should have transformed into shrubbery. They don’t. But they do transform into two different heads for Sideways and when you plug each one in it reveals a different faction symbol in his chest.

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As far as gimmicks, go this one isn’t terrible. Like I said earlier, it’s a very cool nod back to the Headmasters and the way they would reveal the figure’s stats in the chest. I’m pretty sure, my figure is messed up, though, because I would think the black (and more sinister looking) head is supposed to reveal the Decepticon emblem and the white head the Autobot emblem. Mine is the other way around. And if you aren’t a fan of the handlebar antlers on the stock head, I’ve got bad new for you: The faction heads have antlers made out of the Minicons legs. Although, if the bother you, you can fold them back a bit.

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In a lot of ways, this is a fun figure and I feel bad about not embracing the Headmaster gimmick here, just because Hasbro should get points for trying it. It’s a neat feature, I kind of like it, but I never display this guy with the faction heads. I just prefer to go with the stock figure and stand his combined Minicons in front of him. Unless he’s displayed in alt mode and in that case I always have the two combined and riding him. Of course, Hasbro repainted this mold and used it again in the Energon line for Rapid Run, but I’ll save that for another day. Maybe next week I’ll have some new Generations figures to look at. If not, it’ll be another nostalgic trip to the Armada tote.

 

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