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….



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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.





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.




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.


Transformers Armada: Thrust with Inferno by Hasbro

My well of Generations and Classics figures has run dry for now, so until something new turns up, I’ll be back to digging into the Unicron Trilogy toys for my Transformers Thursdays. Today I reached into the Armada bin and pulled up… Deluxe Class Thrust! When Armada first came out I was newly returned to the toy collecting scene. Everything was fresh and exciting and I was positively drunk with a desire to get the figures as soon as possible, and for some reason I was especially obsessed with finding Cyclonus and Thrust. I would make regular trips to all the Targets, Kmarts, and Walmarts in the area and kept coming up empty. Finally, I broke down and paid a premium for them on Ebay. A few days later I was picking up cold medicine in a CVS or Walgreens and there were both figures hanging on the pegs in their pathetic little toy aisle. What were the odds of that? I still bought them and so I do still have carded examples of both figures floating around somewhere, but I couldn’t find the carded Thrust in time for today’s review, so let’s jump straight to the alt mode.



As the name suggests, Thrust is a jet. In retrospect it’s odd that they went with a Deluxe jet so early in the line when they already had Starscream and later Skywarp and Thundercracker covered as larger toys. It’s even more odd when you consider how many repaints Hasbro got out of this mold. The mold itself has that rather toyish looking charm that characterized just about all of the Armada toys, and yet it still manages to pack a ridiculous amount of detail in the sculpt. This thing has sculpted panel lines, exposed engine parts, a VTOL fan, and even tiny rivets scattered across the body. And man, how I loved Armada’s sculpted faction emblems. The Decepticon emblem on his wing is gorgeous. If it weren’t for the giant goofy flick-fire missiles slung under the wings, this would have been a far more serious looking jet.


Thrust’s deco is also rather schizophrenic. The gray body has a wonderful wash over it, which evokes a slight camo motif, but then the neon green missiles and mint green paint apps on the wings throw any realism out the window. Still, extra little touches like the red and silver paint hits betray a time when Hasbro was willing to throw a lot more money into the coloring of their Deluxe figures.



Thrust’s Minicon buddy is Inferno and he’s one of my favorites. His alt mode is a missile truck and he has a very simple but effective transformation that gives him a simple four points of articulation. Still, what’s up with that face sculpt? He looks like a bird wearing a monocle. Why was Armada so obsessed with giving the Transformers crazy faces?




Inferno can ride on Thrust’s back when they are both in vehicle mode, and this feature is easily my favorite thing about Thrust. Inferno doesn’t just get plugged on top, but he’s actually got a little compartment between the tail fins made for him to sit. He works so perfectly in there that Thrust’s jet mode looks a bit odd to me without Inferno riding along. Of course, it also helps that Inferno adds a missile launcher to Thrust’s arsenal. This kind of interplay between their vehicle modes is great, especially considering Thrust’s Minicon gimmick when he’s in robot mode is so ridiculous that I’m not even going to showcase it.


And here we are in robot mode and man is Thrust a hot mess. Let me start out by saying I get a HUGE Beast Machines Vehicon vibe off of this guy and I don’t mean that in a good way. Yeah, Beast Machines Tankor is still one of my favorite Deluxe Transformers of all time, but he’s the exception to the rule. Most of Thrust’s design problems lie in his arms and legs. His arms have lots of tail fin kibble, which gets in the way of a lot of posing. He also doesn’t have hands, just thrusters to use as weapons. I don’t have a problem with Transformers having one gun hand. I actually kind of like it. But, c’mon guys, how does the dude get through life without at least one workable hand?


The legs, however, are the real mess here. The missile launchers that are mounted on his knees could not be more awkwardly placed. You can take the missiles out to help a bit, but that’s a cheat and the launcher stubs still look fugly there. Also, check out the hollowed out tail that hangs down between his legs. The pegs on it are what his legs peg into in vehicle mode. Having them so close to his legs in their natural position is just terrible design. You might as well just leave them pegged in. Bah!


The deco in robot mode also takes a hit. Besides the bland grey plastic, he shows off a lot of that ugly neon green. At least he has those two lovely sculpted and painted Decepticon insignia in his shoulders. Mmm… pretty.




And that’s Thrust for ya. I don’t enjoy speaking ill of the Armada line, but even my ridiculous nostalgic love for Armada can’t blind me to the fact that this figure has not aged well. Then again, it was never one of my favorites back then either. That’s kind of ironic considering how much I went through to find him and that I wound up with two of them. Still, based solely on his pedigree as an Armada figure, I can’t totally hate on him. He’s got a strange charm to him and having Cyclonus and Demolisher on the shelf without him just wouldn’t seem right. The crazy thing is, I also have two of the subsequent repaints of this mold, but I’ll save them for another day.

Transformers Armada: Optimus Prime with Overrun by Hasbro

Last week on Transformers Thursday I looked at a Deluxe Prime toy that left me less than enthused. I hate ragging on Transformers, so I thought this week I’d dig out one of my favorite Deluxe treatments of the character. He hails from the Armada line and while he was a huge departure from the G1 Prime we knew, I fell in love with this toy the first time Hasbro leaked the official pictures. If you haven’t already heard me gas on about Armada, the line holds a lot of nostalgia for me. Sure, I got back into collecting Transformers with Robots in Disguise, but that line always felt like a cobbled together mess. When Armada rolled out it felt like a real cohesive toyline and I was all over it. While I do still have a bunch of Deluxe Armada figures Mint on Card, Prime isn’t one of them, so let’s jump right in and start with his alt mode.




As a red and blue semi-cab, Prime still honors his most iconic alt mode, but there’s enough of a futuristic bent to this new design that makes it totally distinctive. With the way the hood hunches up and the front fenders flare out, this truck looks like it would be at just as at home driving the metal freeways of Iacon City as it would the pavement of Earth. Back then we didn’t have an actual Cybertronian Prime, and this figure worked well as a stand in. The low and wide profile, chunky grill and ramming bar also makes it look like a powerful and rugged vehicle that’s ready for battle. The coloring here is firmly rooted in Prime’s past, using a very pleasing combination of red, blue, and grey plastic. With the exception of the silver painted windshield and some gold, the truck mode shows its paint apps rather sparingly, but it’s still a great looking deco. In terms of reinventions go, I just love this design.



Of course, like most Armada figures, Prime comes with a Minicon buddy and in this case, it’s Overrun, a little silver jet. The jet mode looks pretty good, and he even has a teeny tiny flip down front landing gear. He is, however, a little bland and I think some extra paint operations would have gone a long way to make him more striking. His robot mode is alright for a Minicon, but I can’t help but think it could have been a homerun if they had managed to fold the nose down flush with his chest instead of having it stick straight out. My last gripe with this guy is that his connection port is on top, which makes attaching him to Prime in vehicle mode a little awkward. How cool would have been if he could just sit on Prime’s hitch and launch off the back, especially since Prime isn’t using that hitch for anything else.



And then there’s the robot mode, and oh my, this is an interesting design. Like his alt mode, this looks like a Prime that is ready to charge into battle. Gone are the windshields on his chest and in their place is that beefy grill that he wears like a slab of armor. He’s got the shoulders of a linebacker, giant wheels studding his legs, and his exhaust pipes become dual arm-mounted guns. This is clearly a version of Prime that you don’t mess with. It’s a totally new look for the leader of the Autobots and it totally works for me. On the other hand, Prime purists should be very happy with the very familiar head sculpt, which is possibly one of my favorite portraits of the character in this size class. Whoever designed this guy gets my sincerest compliments.



That’s not to say this figure doesn’t have a few problems. First and foremost, those exhaust pipes pop off at the drop of a hat. The fact that I still have them is just pure luck, as I’ve recovered them from rattling around in the bottom of a tote plenty of times. At least they aren’t clear like the ones on the bigger version of this figure. Next up, his forearms do not like to stay in the right position and tend to slide out over his fists when playing around with him. And speaking of playing around with him, the articulation on this guy is a little rough. It’s not that the points aren’t there, but rather a lot of the sculpt is at odds with good poseability. It’s like a guy in a suit of armor trying to do gymnastics.



There’s nothing I love more than Targetmaster-style Minicons, and Overrun can indeed transform into a gun for Prime to wield in either hand. As for as tertiary gun modes go this Overrun’s isn’t too bad. That’s a good thing because the Minicon gimmick on this figure sucks. You plug Overrun into the post on Prime’s back and it creates this horribly lame punching gimmick. It really is dreadful and best forgotten.


And yet I love this figure even with its blemishes, mainly because he just looks so bad ass on the shelf. When you have an iconic character like Optimus Prime, messing around with his look is a huge gamble, especially when you’re trying to re-launch the franchise. This new Prime was a bold move on Hasbro’s part and I think it paid off in spades. This is an Optimus Prime that looks like he’s built for combat and it’s a refreshing change. Of course, there was also a larger version of this figure that came with his trailer, but I still prefer this Deluxe version for reasons I’ll get into when I finally get around to covering the big guy.

Transformers Armada: Megatron with Leader-1 by Hasbro

Here we are at the final feature and I’m sure someone was wondering if I was going to get to Optimus Prime or Megatron in this week of Armada indulgences. Well, I purposely excluded Prime because one day I plan on doing a whole week dedicated to the Big Guy. I don’t have any such festivities planned for Megatron. It’s not that I have anything against the guy, I just don’t think he has the same cohesive line running through his various toys that would make for an interesting themed week. Nonetheless, Armada saw Megatron return as his most logical possible form: A tank. And unlike his G2 mode, this time, it’s a Cybertronian tank. And unlike his more recent Bayformer tank mode, this one actually looks like something other than a pile of razorblades.



Yes, Armada Megatron is a tank, and while he’s without a doubt a sci-fi inspired Cyberton war machine, he still conforms to all the characteristics I come to expect from a tank. In other words, he’s a tracked vehicle with a big ass cannon. Works for me. So what if he has beetle pincers on the front as well? Why not? The turret spins around and fires off a missile and he has an additional dual missile launcher on top of that as well. Megatron features electronic lights and sounds and a terribly annoying and decidedly un-Megatrony voice chip that proclaims, “Decepticons, Attack!” Mmm’kay. Other gimmicks include a fold out launching ramp, which works well for little jet Minicons, and a hatch or prison to capture other Minicons. The green and neon orange color scheme doesn’t really scream Megsy to me, but it works really well for this toy.



Transforming Megatron is laughably easy. You basically just straighten out his legs, fold out his arms, reveal the head and do a couple other tweaks. There’s no great secret as to how his conversion process works, and yet this is one of those figures where the lack of complexity in the transformation doesn’t bother me, because I like both forms so very much. In robot form, Megatron is really well proportioned and beautifully sculpted. Some may take issue with the way the pincer claw become what are essentially robo-antlers, but I think he looks majestically bad ass and I really dig his face sculpt. My only real gripe here is that I would have rather the cannon detach and re-attach to his arm, rather than peek out between his arm and torso like it does. Do what you will to Megatron, Hasbro, but you should always keep the arm cannon. Megsy also has this odd little gimmick where attaching a Minicon to his left arm and sliding it forward pushes a hidden dagger into his hand.


Megatron also has a horribly shitty “Attack Mode” which consists of bringing the tank turret to his front. It serves no purpose other than to look ridiculous and give you an excuse to misfire the sound effects a couple hundred times. He will also combine with parts of Tidal Wave, but this gimmick looks even worse and I really don’t want to take the time to humiliate my Tidal Wave figure for no good reason.



Megatron’s Minicon with the Go-Bot name is Leader-1 and he ranks up there with my favorites because he’s very simple and yet works wonderfully in both his attack vehicle and robot modes. Hell, in robot mode, this little guy has better articulation than most Armada toys. But the best thing about him his the way he can easily convert to a gun. Afterall, the idea of the Minicons is the bigger Transformers get more powerful by attaching Minicons to themselves. But I’m not all that convinced that sticking a bunch of cars and jets on their bodies is all that useful, unless their just using them as batteries. Leader-1, however, actually adds firepower by becoming a set of guns, and you can play around with all sorts of different permutations.


As expected, Megatron was repainted and re-released, only not as Powerlinx Megatron, but as… yep, you guessed it… Galvatron. While I really like both toys, I do like Galvatron’s color scheme better and tend to refer to him as Megatron, mainly because I usually can’t remember which is which anyway.

[And that’s a wrap for Armada Week Extended. This weekend I’m going to hit a couple of Lego sets I built over the past couple of weeks. Not sure yet what to do with next week. I’ve got a few more themed weeks I’d like to try, but I suspect next week I’ll just be playing it by ear. So, until tomorrow… I’ve got a Tron Legacy Blu-Ray that needs watching. -FF]

Transformers Armada: Blurr with Incinerator by Hasbro

Time to get back to one of my favorites of Armada lineup and it’s Blurr. Is he another G1 homage? Meh, sort of. but not really. He is a futuristic grey-blue sportscar, but apart from that there isn’t a lot of similarities here in robot or vehicle mode to that fast-talking speedster of yesteryear. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, because this guy has a lot of cool things going for him all on his own.



I loooove Blurr’s auto mode. It’s a super sleek futuristic car with a ton of character and a lot of sculpted detail. And hey look! Clear windows. As if the car design wasn’t cool enough, Blurr has a rather unique and extremely awesome Minicon gimmick. Instead of just pegging Incinerator onto a Port, you plug him into the slot in the back of Blurr’s car mode and the side panels spring out to reveal not only missile launchers, but a very cool flying car mode. It’s not a crappy flying car mode either where little white wings fold out (sorry, Tracks) and that’s it. No sir, the back wheels actually fold down to look like VTOL engines. The whole thing works really well.



Transforming Blurr is a bit of a fidgity affair, especially for Armada where none of the toys were overly complex. There’s a couple of crucial shifts you need to do to make everything work, and a couple of spring-loaded movements, which I’m generally not fond of. But when you’re done Blurr looks really cool, even if he does have some severe backpack kibble and as a result is rather backheavy. The upswept shoulders look really nice and he can hold his missile launchers in both hands as weapons, which is a nice little plus. His head isn’t really a traditional Transformers design, but overall I like it, and a lot better than his animated counterpart that actually looked like there was a human head under all that. Blah, I hated that cartoon.



As already noted, Blurr’s Minicon is Incinerator, which is rather an odd name for an Autobot orientated Minicon. It’s even stranger when you consider that he’s not some evil looking war machine, but rather just a little racecar. I’m tempted to hate him because in robot mode he has the whole front of his car mode hanging off of his right arm, but the rest of him looks so darn good, it’s easy to excuse the unsightly kibble. Especially in a Minicon. Besides, I suppose that can count as a weapon if he punches you in the face with it.


Oddly enough, Blurr never got the Powerlinx makeover, but that didn’t stop Hasbro from getting their money’s worth out of the mold. He was repainted as Swerve in the Universe line, and later released in the Cybertron line, this time named Blurr again, but with a new and more G1-inspired head sculpt and tooled to take a Cyberkey. Of these my favorite is Swerve, just because the snazzy red paintjob really suits him. The mold had yet another outing as part of the 2008 Botcon Exclusive Shattered Glass set, and the only version of him that’s not in my collection.

Transformers Armada: Hot Shot with Jolt by Hasbro

Time is rapidly running out on Extended Armada Week, with only three entries left. I hadn’t originally planned on bringing Hot Shot to the table, but I reconsidered. Hot Shot was, afterall, intended as a major character in the toyline, and he’s one that I would have probably resisted buying if I hadn’t been so mad with the Armada Fever at the time and buying everything in sight. He’s one of those figures that really makes me sit back and ponder that these are toys designed for kids, not aging alcoholics geeks pushing 40 looking at them as collectibles. Hot Shot is a fantastic toy, but as a collectible, he really sucks. Let’s see why.




Hot Shot’s auto mode is not that bad. Yes, it looks very toyish, maybe a little super deformed. The painted windows don’t help much and the blinding bright yellow plastic is a bit much on the eyes. I do kinda dig the removable engine that sits exposed on top of the hood. The car holds together really well and rolls great, and it has a chunky, sturdy build to it that seems like it would stand up really well to kids crashing it and roughhousing with it. You can’t say that for a lot of Transformers that have come since. Pressing down on the engine springs open Hot Shot’s front bumper into what I assume is supposed to be a capture claw or something. He has three Minicon Ports on his spoiler, but none of them are live.



Transforming Hot Shot is pretty easy, and what you get is one really goofy looking robot. His blinding canary yellow is now accompanied by a bright red, which doesn’t help things along much, but is probably helpful if you’re trying to get a little kid with ADD to play with it. The engine block plugs into his chest for a little added detail and while he has ball jointed hips and decent articulation in the legs, his arms are totally worthless. His head features a flip down visor, which is nice because it covers that, dopey “hey guys, come steal my milk money” look he’s got on his puss. Jamm, indeed.

In robot form, Hot Shot’s Minicon gimmick is actually pretty cool. His rear axel springs out and turns into a missile launcher. It’s a really clever design and concealed really well. In a toy that doesn’t show off a lot of good design, that gimmick is pretty impressive.



Hot Shot’s little Minicon buddy is the red helicopter Jolt. He’s definitely one of my favorite Minicons, because his helicopter and robot modes are both pretty solid. He’s also really sturdy for a Minicon. I’ve yet to have tiny bits fall off of him while transforming him.



As expected, Hot Shot was repainted and re-released (with a little bit of remolding) as Powerlinx Hot Shot. I know I originally said I wasn’t going to include any of the Powerlinx figures this week, but I really had to because Powerlinx Hot Shot is a fine example of how a great paint job can take a lacklustre toy and make it much, much better. As for regular flavor Hot Shot. He’s definitely not a figure I would produce if I was looking to show someone why I collect these things. On the other hand, the next time my 5-year old nephew comes over and demands to play with one of my toys, chances are pretty good he’s going to get Hot Shot here.

Transformers Armada: Overload with Rollout by Hasbro

Back in the waning days of Generation One, you had the Micromasters. These little transforming fellers could be regarded as the forerunners to Armada’s Minicons. But besides just having a bunch of little Transformers running around, the Micromasters also introduced bases and mini-playsets that some of the Micromasters could tow around like trailers. It’s that concept that was put to good use once again for Overload and Rollout. The only difference is that Rollout’s trailer doesn’t convert into a base, it converts into a giant body that makes him into Overload. A very cool idea, let’s see how it played out.



While technically regarded as a Minicon, Rollout is a heck of a lot bigger and chunkier than any of the other Minicons in Armada. He’s actually closer to the size of a Basic or Scout toy. On his own, he’s a little red truck that transforms into a pretty simple robot.



He also looks kind of awesome and/or ridiculous hooking up to the huge Overload trailer and dragging it along. On it’s own, it’s kind of hard to figure out what the hell the trailer is supposed to be, but Hasbro sure went apeshit with the detail. Every tiny part of this toy is sculpted with something. As for function, well if you happen to have Armada Jetfire, it sure makes a handy little carrier for Jetfire in his shuttle mode.



The tailer transforms into Overload’s body and you basically just plug Rollout into it and he becomes the head. Plugging him in also activates a cool little G1-inspired transformation sound. The sound has been added to a number of Transformers since (Silverbolt and Powerglide to name a couple), but I’m pretty sure Overload here was the first figure to use it. I love just about everything about this sculpt. it’s big and powerful, the colors are perfect, and I particularly love the flip up hatches that reveal banks of missiles. Alas, the only downside to Overload is that he is what we used to call in the days of Generation One… a brick. You can move his arms up and down at the shoulder, but that’s pretty much it. But hey, you don’t need good articulation when you look this cool just standing there.


Like Tidal Wave, Overload was an Armada figure that got repainted for the Energon line. In this case, however, he wasn’t just called EnergonOverload. Instead he was repainted into Ultra Magnus with a G1-style paint scheme. The homage works pretty well with the mold in both vehicle and robot mode. Not to mention the fact that G1 Ultra Magnus was just a white Prime cab that plugged into armor made out of the trailer. Kind of makes me think Hasbro had this planned out all along. Oh yeah, Energon Ultra Magnus tends to sell for an assload of money these days.


Something else you should know about Overload is that like Armada Jetfire, he can combine with Optimus Prime (or Prime and Jetfire) and he can also combine with Prime’s trailer to form a beefier base. You could also daisy chain Prime’s cab with his trailer and the Overload trailer, and heck why not throw Jetfire on top to boot. By the time you’re done you can get one pretty big ass toy going. Unfortunately, I will be showing you none of these combinations in today’s entry or any entry in the near future because I fear the amount of liquor it would take to motivate me to attempt these combinations would also rob me of the motor functions I would need to actually execute them.

Transformers Armada: Red Alert with Long Arm by Hasbro

Rolling along with Armada Week, time to shift gears back to the Autobots and check out Red Alert. As Autobot scientist and medic, he seemed like he would be a natural mix between G1 Ratchet and Perceptor, but in the cartoon he seemed more like a security officer than anything else. God, I hated that cartoon. As for the figure, even after owning this thing for almost a decade, I still can’t make my mind up on him. He’s got some good points going for him, one really outdated gimmick, and a few sticking points that really bug me.


Red Alert’s alt mode is an Ambulance and it’s a bit of a mess. I like the styling on the hood and the front grill, and the red, white and gray color scheme is appropriate, but the bits of brown here and there are really out of place and ugly. You may recall me saying how much I like clear plastic windows on my Transformers cars. You know what I don’t like? When Hasbro mixes that with painted windows. Red Alert’s windshield is translucent red, but the side windows are painted. It looks bad.



Red Alert has two live Minicon Ports on his alt mode. One is on the light bar, which flips out a huge, firing cannon and also activates his electronics. His lightbar flashes red and he says “Red Alert” which is followed by a siren. The siren doesn’t sound so much like a siren as it does a guy going “Wooooo Wooooo Wooooo.” The other live Minicon Port is on his hood, which springs the grill open to reveal a giant disc shooter. Hasbro, disc shooters went out with the 80’s and early 90’s, please stop putting them on my Transformers.


Transforming Red Alert into robot mode is fairly easy and what you get is a design that in theory is pretty much classic Autobot, but in execution has some problems. His chest is made up from the front of the Ambulance, and compared to his little head and arms, it looks way too big. Red Alert also has no abdomin, just the big boxy chest that terminates into his legs. A little redesign could have made this figure amazing, but as he is, he just looks badly misproportioned. And then there’s the head. I find it hard to believe that Hasbro wasn’t intentionally going for a Robocop look, because it looks so obvious that it’s just weird to see it on a Transformer. I could be the only one that sees that, but it really bugs me for some reason. I do like his colors in robot mode, though. The added blue on his arms and legs look good against the red and white of his ambulance parts.



Red Alert still has access to both of his Minicon powered weapons. You can flip his missile launcher onto his shoulder, which looks pretty good, and you can still activate the disc launcher.
Red Alert does have pretty good articulation for an Armada toy. He has universal movement in his shoulders and hips, double-hinged elbows and hinges in his knees and ankles, and his head swivels 360 degrees. He also has a number of different attachments that can be socketed into his left arm. Cleverly, these can be stored in a compartment in his leg, but that didn’t stop me from losing most of them.



Long Arm is a pretty cool little Minicon, although he really doesn’t look like he belongs with Red Alert. Besides being a crane, the black and brown color scheme doesn’t match his big bot buddy at all. Nonetheless, Long Arm’s robot mode is solid enough and his crane is actually articulated.


For a figure that I’m so ambivalent over, it’s kind of odd to think that I own three different versions of this same toy, but I do. In fairness, one of these was a Sam’s Club exclusive that came bundled with a real bitchin’ repaint of Armada Starscream. As for why I bought the Powerlinx version, well it just goes to show you how tightly the irrational grip of Armada completist fever had me back in the day. In my defense, there was a fourth version released that I did not buy, which was, ridiculously enough, released as Inferno in the 2008 movie line. Yeah, this mold looks right at home among the Bayformers, doesn’t it? My God, what were they thinking?

Transformers Armada: Tidal Wave with Ramjet by Hasbro

Time to rinse the bad taste of Sideswipe out of my mouth by looking at another of my favorites in the Armada line. The big and bad Decepticon Tidal Wave. There are so many interesting things going on with this figure that I can’t help but love the ingenuity at work, but I think it’s ultimately his awesome robot and battle cruiser modes that make him one of my favorites of the Armada years. He was featured pretty prominantly in the cartoon, where he was even bigger than his toy suggests. He also talked like an idiot, because in the Transformers universe every giant Transformer has to talk like he has a brain injury. Remember Computron? Five of the smartest and most sophisticated robots the Autobots could muster and when they combined their power the resulting robot sounded like he was retarded. Wow, that was quite a digression, let’s get back to Tidal Wave.



To start with, Tidal Wave actually has three separate alt modes, all of which are ocean going vessels and that right there puts him in the TF minority. Sure we’ve seen a Transformer boat from time to time, but they sure haven’t been plentiful and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Transformer made up of three separate alt modes. Reflector? No, he was one alt mode and three robots. Anyway, Tidal Wave consists of an Aircraft Carrier, a Hovercraft and a Battleship.


None of these individual ships are all that great, but I’m willing to forgive that because of what they become. All three of these craft merge together to form Tidal Wave’s giant battle cruiser mode, which not only looks right at home in the ocean, but works well as a Battleship-Yamato-style spaceship. I seem to recall him being depicted flying in this mode quite a bit in the cartoon, but then I spent a lot of time watching the cartoon while burning my arms with a cigarette lighter to help improve the experience, so I could be remembering that wrong.



In his alt modes, Tidal Wave has a few worthwhile and well thought out gimmicks. The hovercraft portion has seats that fold down so that some Minicons can sit there and these also work while he’s in his larger battleship mode. Placing Ramjet in the active Minicon port and pressing down makes all of Tidal Wave’s turrets shift back and forth. But best of all, his Minicon, Ramjet, fits nicely into a little elevator in the Aircraft Carrier section and can be stored in there until ready to launch.



Transforming Tidal Wave is pretty easy, and what you end up with is one really big and really cool looking bot. The head sculpt is pretty classical and foreboding looking, his hands are powerful claws, and he has gun turrets for nipples. Not too shabby. Since his arms are made out of his Aircraft Carrier mode, he can actually launch Ramjet while he’s in robot mode, which is a pretty cool design element. His color scheme is somewhat of a hodgepodge, but there’s a ton of great sculpted detail all over the figure. His articulation is surprisingly good for anArmada figure, as he has universal movement in the shoulders and hips, and hinges in his elbows. Alas, his head does not turn.


Ramjet is tiny, even for a Minicon he’s really, really small. He looks nice in jet mode, but he’s not the best in robot mode. This may be partially because of his smaller size, and also because he needs to fold up a bit in jet mode in order to fit through the elevator. Ramjet’s legs are just one solid piece and they aren’t really broad enough to look like separate legs, so he winds up looking like he might have to hop everywhere.

As with most of the molds in Armada, Tidal Wave was repainted and re-released, but in his case it wasn’t until the subsequent Energon line. Instead of becoming Powerlinx Tidal Wave, he became Energon Tidal Wave. I owned that one for a long while, but ultimately wound up pawning it on Ebay, probably for booze money because I needed the space. Either one are great toys, but the Energon version was a little more out there in that he had lighting bolts all over him, making the original release my preferred keeper. If you don’t have this guy in your collection, he’s definitely worth checking out even if you aren’t a huge collector of the Armada figures.

Transformers Armada: Sideswipe with Nightbeat by Hasbro

We’ve looked at a couple of the Armada figures on my A-List, but just to show that they aren’t all sunshine and biscuits, I thought it was time to throw a turd into the punchbowl. Our next entry is not only a real crappy blight on the Armada series, but he still ranks up there as among what would be my worst Transformers of all time. Prepare to behold the stink of Sideswipe and look away in horror.


The sad thing about Sideswipe is that his vehicle mode ain’t bad. He’s a blue luxury sedan and he actually has clear windows, which is often a plus in my book. I like the simplicity of this form and I love the bold Autobot emblem that’s molded right into the plastic. Despite the fact that Sideswipe’s motorcycle Minicon is also pure crap, it’s kind of cool the way he hides away in Sideswipe’s trunk and springs out with the push of a button. What’s not so cool about Sideswipe’s car mode is the way the other shitty gimmick designed for his robot mode keeps popping the front of the car out whenever you handle it. Nonetheless, starting from this mode there’s nothing all that terrible to see, so how bad could his robot mode possibly be, eh?



Yeah. Wow. What the hell were they thinking? Here’s a figure that should have been packaged in robot form just so there was no mistake what people were buying. Oh, I realize that the back of the card showed what it looked like, but in my foolish dedication to buying every Armada toy released I can remember seeing it and saying, “it can’t be that bad. Must just be mistransformed.” Ha. There’s virtually nothing redeeming at all about Sideswipe’s robot mode. From his awkwardly hanging Popeye arms to his useless legs and the huge pieces of car shell that hang off of him. And that shit-eating, “thanks for buying me” look on his face really pisses me off. He looks like crap and he’s got the worthless articulation to back that up.


His Minicon gimmick involves his forearms springing forward, presumeably to punch, but the springs don’t hold together well at all, and they only get worse as time goes on. Fortunately, he doesn’t sustain a lot of playwear because I hate him so much, so the springs haven’t completely blown out yet.


Nightbeat is just as downright shitty, even for a Minicon. But I’m going to cut him a lot more slack. It’s tough enough to design decent motorcycle Transformers, but to do them in Minicon scale, well that was just a recipe with disaster baked right in. I actually like his head a lot, with the one big eye and the little handlebar horns, but let’s face it, his torso and arms are just the motorcycle turned sideways. What the hell is he supposed to do with two giant wheels for hands?


In the end, Sideswipe is one of those figures that made me ashamed to be an Armada completist. He’s an ill-conceived mess, and to this day I can’t imagine how the design was ever given the green light for production. What’s really sad is that I later bought this same mold when he was repainted as Oilslick, just because I have an irrational love of all Decepticon cars and Hasbro at least bothered to resculpt a Decepticon insignia for his hood. Oilslick is every bit as bad a figure, but at least he’s another Decepticon car for my shelf. Sideswipe, doesn’t even have that going for him. He just plain sucks.