Sunday, 28 September 2014

Transformers Generations Skids Review

skids and swerve lost light

For the last two years, Hasbro has doing some excellent work with its Generations line. Moving a side step away from simply homaging or updating G1 characters, they have been using IDW's work as a template, and giving us spins on the characters more in tune with the comic series.

Springer was the first, if memory serves, and laid down a marker that would be tough to compete with. Since then we have had a growing list of additions to the line which each seem to do a decent job in their own way - yes, even the Bumblebee figure.

There was a growing desire for a new Skids figure, as he made his debut in the fantastic More Than Meets The Eye comic series. Skids have been a character who prior to this had done extremely little in Transformers Generation One fiction, only making brief cameos in the cartoon, and not appearing much in the Marvel comics series.

Even his original toy caused much confusion over his alt mode, with many thinking (including the cartoon shows animators) Skids was a mini van, when he was in fact a tiny sub compact (as the Americans call it) car.

IDW worked their magic, just as they did with Swerve, and took a forgettable character and transformed them into an A list star of the comics, much to the delight of its readers.

Hasbro took this as an opportunity to knock out a toy of Skids which came out at the very end of last year or start of this year but was only available briefly in small quantities. But now he seems to have gotten a re-release in a later wave so I managed to get Amazon to send me one over (by giving them more money than I would usually spend on a Deluxe).

So is he any good? Hit the button below to read on and find out.
I have also decided to try out a new layout, all feedback appreciated!

brum brum
Alt Mode

Hasbro forged their own path with this alt mode, ignoring all fictional entities.

In IDW, which the robot mode is based off, we have only seen Skids alt mode in Cybertronian form, and in Generation One it was portrayed as a mini van.

A compact Earth car, befitting his original toy, is what Hasbro decided to give us. It is very much a "what if IDW Skids came to Earth and was given a new alt mode"

It totally works, and I love it.

Here you get a modern look hatchback, that looks a little like something a boy racer might drive, if the boy racer was super awesome (note:boy racers are usually not super awesome).

You get an extremely chunky little car, that feels absolutely great to hold in your hand.

The blue looks nice, though a lot brighter than it is depicted in the comic books. I would imagine this is Hasbro attempting to make it more appealing to kids as eye candy in a toy store.

Whilst it does not resemble Skids alt mode from the comics, there are quite a few details here that carry over.

On the front, you have the grill, which forms Skids chest and has that familiar two C shape (I have no idea how else to describe it) and the large headlamps that are something of a trademark of his character model in the comics.

a side shot of the alt mode
Skids would have benefited from a bit more paint as you can see in the pictures, the bonnet is almost completely unpainted, and aside from a a couple of ridges there is no detail there at all. If you look close enough, you can actually see an odd stress mark just to left of his Autobot badge which is how it came out of the package. It is not a large issue, but it is enough to make me consider investing in the Reprolabels set. You can also see, that one side does not clip together as flush as the other, leaving a gap which runs the length of the bonnet.

An Autobot badge is present, which is curiously small.

The sides of the vehicle fair better, with much more paint and some solid detailing. Most noticeable is the G1 style stripe on the side, which looks really nice, and the White and Red mix wonderfully with the bright blue

the rear of the car
The wheels are painted red, and you can see another QC issue (they are coming literally thick and fast here) on one of the back wheels, with whoever applied the paint going a little bit too liberal with the paint, and getting it on the wheels.
Thankfully, that is easy enough to fix by just scraping it off.

Moving to the rear of the vehicle, and here Skids is desperately malnourished when it comes to paint.
Aside from the lights, there is no paint whatsoever to pick out any of the details.

There is not much there to pick out, but something to break it up is desperately needed as it looks really flat and bland otherwise. This is very relevant in Skids case, as the character model they have based it on is covered in those light lines that have become the norm since the War for Cybertron video games made them cool.

all blinged up
Skids comes with a large rifle weapon, that can be split down into two smaller weapons. In terms of weapons storage, it is a bit disappointing that they cannot stow away anywhere underneath or inside the vehicle, instead they can attach to the peg holes on the sides.

It is not ideal, but Skids robot mode is full of pop out weapons, so you can stretch and imagine these hand cannons of theoretical doom have slipped out of side panels or something.

Considering this toys whole gimmick is that in robot mode he has lots of weapons that hide away and then can be exposed to destroy any Decepticons (or if you are me, a Lex Luthor figure) - it is a shame they could not find a better way to hide the weapons.

teaming up to drive somewhere
What you get with Skids, is a cracking alt mode that despite a few missing paint apps aside is really fun.

It may just be me, but I love solid, compact alt modes. There are no bits that hang off, or want to come to pieces, it is is very strong and well held together.

A great form factor, and nice style make it a winner for me.
The gull wing doors for transformation give it about a billion bonus points too. It may not be the Cybertronian alt mode that Skids has in the comics, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative, in the shape of an Earth style car that you could see Skids taking on if the Lost Light ever graced our atmosphere

Robot Mode

Getting from one mode to other is not painful either. It is a complex transformation, when compared to a lot of what Hasbro has put out lately, but nothing too taxing on the old noggin.

There are some interesting things going on with how the feet swivel of the sides, and have the roof folds up to form the back pack, but nothing that is not really straightforward.

Skids robot mode is undeniably based on Alex Milnes design from the IDW comics.

Almost every detail is recreated here, which is quite a feat when you consider the alt mode is completely different not only in design but tone.

You have gone from Cybertronian to Earthen, and it still looks right. Maybe it is due to the car modes front and back not having a huge amount of detail or paint, but on first glance you would not be able to tell this did not turn into his Cybertronian vehicle form.

It does help that we have not seen it much either.

Very clever.

It is a very nice robot to look at just from the front, but quite quickly you do start to notice problems.

Just starting with the deco, most of the colour is generated by the plastic. There are not many paint apps to be found here to pick out details.

The arms could really have done with some, and comic fans may have noticed that the sides of his hands are not red, as they are in IDW's universe.

Yes, these things do matter.

The lower legs, being formed from the back of the car, are really lacking for paint or details, and I say this as someone who complains often about hyper detailing or too many paint apps. When your toys are being based off designs that are covered in detail and colour, then they should really be recreated in plastic. Otherwise it does an injustice to the figure.

Physically, Skids suffers from a bucket full of problems. He has 99 problems and it is only the weapons count that isn't one.

From the side you can see a large gap in his chest. At first, I thought I had mistransformed it, but playing about with it- I don't think I have.

It is blocked from moving in any further up, and to do so would sit the chest quite high which would lose that sloping chest look.

Working our way down, you can see the giant pieces of car jutting out to the back. It is not pretty, but is far from the worst problem with the legs, unfortunately.

When Skids was first released, his hips were switched, which meant he could not move his legs forward correctly. This caught out many people, and ball joints were snapped whilst fists were hoisted at the sky and expletives shouted. Thankfully, with mine that issue was not present, so it looks like Hasbro has corrected it in their manufacturing process. It should have been easy as the hip pieces have L and R on them.

Another problem the legs have is stability, which frankly is terrible.

The giant feet are on ball joints which in theory (and his a theoretician) should give him excellent poseability, but in practise fail badly.

As the feet are so big, it is hard to get the poses in any position with the legs bent much. However, even just standing him still, with a bit of manipulating you can do it, but most of the time he wants to fall backwards.

You have to adjust the knees, hips,and feet in just the right way to get him to stand, due him being quite back heavy I would wager.
The knee pads need to go behind the lower legs, a click or so, when you are transforming him, which is not immediately obvious.

Why is he so back heavy you ask?

Because he is a walking armoury of death.

Just like in the comics, Skids has an insane amount of weaponry smoothly integrated into his robot mode.

The wheels on his shoulders rotate round to reveal lots of missiles, and the guns on his arms split, and go to the sides of his arms, but the most important weapons on the ones that flip over his back.

These are held on a spring, and to release them you have to fold the roof all the way down on the hinge and it will activate this spring loaded gimmick.

Fully weaponised Skids looks great, and like he really wants to hurt someone.

Just on the off chance that Skids did not have enough weapons to blow the planet in half, he comes with two hand held weapons.

The first is a large rifle, which is a really nice update to the one that came with his original toy. All of the design cues and details are there, but they have just been updated a little.

His second weapon is the headline act here though, as it is his infamous Nudge Gun (or as Brainstorm called it, the Binary Gun) that he carries around in the comics. It is used to mess with peoples thoughts, including erasing his own memory.

Dark stuff.

It is really great that Hasbro went to the trouble of including both weapons, as lately they have had a habit of completely ignoring relevant weaponry altogether.

The two weapons can also combine, but the smaller one plugging into the back of the rifle. Maybe it makes it a thought laser rifle? That changes your mind just before blowing you to pieces?

All of this weaponry is great, and just stood up it makes Skids look cool, but what is all this weaponry for - of not to make Skids look dynamic?

Well you are out of luck as Skids has really bad articulation.

Maybe I should rephrase that, as he has a lot of articulation, it is just done very badly.
So maybe problematic articulation is more apt?

We have already discussed the problems with the legs, but the arms are the worst offender.

mtmte skids
The shoulders are on ball joints, but not other hinges whatsoever. So whilst you can move the shoulders, they do not offer very much movement.
They cannot move outwards hardly at all, and they struggle to move upwards very far due to them being so large, they are blocked by the roof on Skids back.

It robs the toy of the dynamism that Skids has in the comic.
The shoulders are not even the only offender, as the upper arms are on a pint joint to move in sideways as part of the transformation, so they don't swivel move either.
The forearms are on a single ball joint, but that does not give you much movement other than up and down.

Skids head sculpt is a very good recreation of Alex Milnes design, though it would have been more fitting had they replaced his grimace with a smile.

It is also on a ball joint, but due to the sides of the head, you will struggle to get much movement beyond up and down, and side to side.

It tilts as you rotate it though, so it does end up being quite expressive.

But I do wish they had given him a better expression. Oh, and the pointy robot chin/beard that seems to now be the standard is in full effect here. Does anyone know where that started and why every design now has it?

When Skids was first revealed, I was very excited. I love the comics, and thought the toy looked excellent. Whilst many of the early reviews pointed out his problems, I did not pay much heed and have been caught out.

On the one had we have a great looking representation of the comic book design, that just placed on a shelf looks really cool (particularly next to Swerve) and has a fun transformation

But on the other, he feels like a massive backwards step when articulation comes into the mix, and suffers from some poor design choices, and a few odd QC problems.

This is a really hard one, as I do like the figure, and a lot of my negativity comes from my disappointment with it. Which I appreciate is completely contradictory.

I suppose the best way I can put it is that it is worth getting if you are big fan of the character and are happy to just display him. You should also invest in the Reprolabels set as it does do a huge job of improving the figure.

 But if you want a toy to play with, I would say spend the money elsewhere as there are much better figures that are calling out for your hard earned pennies. The awkwardness of the articulation just takes away so much from Skids character that it will only disappoint you.

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mtmte skids and swerve

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