"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Activator Combiner Sideswipe & Great Byte

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Activator Combiner, Autobot, Combiner Force, Prime, Robots in Disguise (2015)

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Sideswipe General Information:
Release Date: March 2017
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Great Byte Mini-Con

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Sideswipe pursues the Decepticons. But the Decepticons take off into the sky! But wait, it’s ferocious shark-bot, Great Byte, propelling Sideswipe into action! Sideswipe surges into turbojet-mode! Kids can combine forces and activate awesome pop-out battle modes with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Activator Combiner figures. This Activator Combiner 2-pack features one Sideswipe figure and one Great Byte figure. Attach Great Byte to Sideswipe to activate turbojet mode. Combine and activate! The Sideswipe figure converts from robot to sports car in 6 steps; Great Byte figure converts in 1. Activator figures work with other Activator Combiner figures (each sold separately). Scan the shields on these figures to unlock Sideswipe and Great Byte characters in the mobile app (see below for app details). Combine forces and join the battle with these figures based on the Transformers: Robots in Disguise animated series. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The theme for "Robots in Disguise" in 2017 is "Combiner Force" where combination in various ways informs the gimmicks built into the toys. One segment features "Activator Combiners". Riffing off of the "Armada" series these two packs feature a larger figure with a Mini-Con. The Mini-Con can be attached to the larger figure to activate a feature. Each larger figure measures larger than the Warrior Class figures, but not as large as the larger 3-Step Changers. They are in a size class all their own. The second wave of these figures featured repacks of wave one but added in Sideswipe with his Mini-Con partner, Great Byte.

Packaging:
The Activator Combiner figures are packaged in a window box. The border primarily uses white and red colors with the "Transformers" logo set vertically on the right side (if you are facing the box). Above that is the "Robots in Disguise" logo along with an Autobot symbol inside a circle. Towards the bottom of the packaging is the "Combiner Force" logo. Above that are the names "Sideswipe" and "Great Byte" inside arrows that come together in the middle, symbolizing their ability to "combine" (yeah, we're using the term pretty loosely here). The artwork on the packaging features Trickout running in robot mode and transforming to connect to Strongarm in vehicle mode. Both figures are in robot mode in a plastic tray inside the box. The back of the packaging shows CG renders of the figure in all its various modes. This includes Sideswipe both connected and not connected to Greaty Byte. It also mentions that the Mini-Con feature can work across figures including Strongarm and Trickout (pictured in vehicle mode off to one side). Below all that is legal information in various languages.

Great Byte

Great Byte is a Mini-Con unique to this set. This figure is a retool/redeco of another Mini-Con: Sawtooth (who actually appeared in the animated series). He has a very unique design with part of his robot mode looking like a robotic shark with claws and standing on small legs. He even has a little fin sticking up on the top of his head. Perhaps his most amusing detail are large, triangular teeth showing. What makes Great Byte unusual is that most of his body appears to be made up of an old style airplane from the World War II era. His "tail" is made up of the cockpit and nosecone. His arms are mounted onto the underside of the plane's wings. The back of the arms look like turbines mounted under the wings. I absolutely love how weird and goofy this robot mode looks. It's cute, aggressive and funky and I think it's great. That said, not everyone will like it.

This figure is cast in green, silver and black plastic. The green makes up most of the plane parts. His feet and "tail" are silver and the peg that other figures can hold is black. Yellow paint is used on the cockpit of the plane and white is used for his teeth. The right side wing has a scannable Autobot symbol on it that unlocks the character in the official "Robots in Disguise" app. The deco looks good. I could nitpick spots that could have used more deco but that would be nitpicking for the sake of it not because I feel strongly about it.

Great Byte's feet can move forward and back but that's about it. You can swing the "tail/handle" forward and the legs swing up and the face is partially hidden by the tail section. The plane can also double as an axe like weapon by having larger figures hold his "tail/handle" using the 5mm peg at the back. If you want to use the plane as a cannon you swing down the black peg under the tail to allow larger figures to hold him as a blaster.

Sideswipe

Robot Mode:
Due to the "Activator Combiner" gimmick on this figure Sideswipe winds up looking bulkier than fans may be used to seeing him. This is largely due to the car parts that wind up on the back of his shoulders and the back of the figure. His shoulder armor winds up rising up higher than his head. Believe it or not, it actually looks kind of cool, like he has powered up and bulked up but those looking for show accuracy are better served focusing on the rest of the robot mode sculpt. The chest, arms and legs all look a lot like the animation model, complete with a faux-car front forming the chest and spikes on the sides of the forearms. His head sculpt also has his unique "hair points" on top of the helmet section. This mode winds up with some extra details thanks to the Activator Combiner gimmick. These include engine details on his forearms and turbines on his legs. Like the shoulder armor I think these actually enhance the look of the character but your mileage may vary.

Sideswipe is cast in metallic red and black plastic. The red makes up most of the figure with black used on smaller parts like his shoulders and feet. Light blue details are found on the shoulder armor (carried over from the car mode), the chest, eyes and legs. Silver is used on his face and mid-body area. You'll also see silver and blue on the sides of his forearms, a carry over from the vehicle form. The finishing touch is an Autobot symbol that can be scanned using the official "Robots in Disguise" app. Doing so unlocks the character so you can use him in the game.

There are seven points of articulation on this figure. This includes the elbows, the feet, the knees and head. Sadly his legs cannot move at the hip joint (even though it looks like there is a hinge there, I wouldn't force it). His fists have 5mm ports in them, allowing him to hold weapons with 5mm pegs and of course, Mini-Cons in weapon form. Great Byte can be held in two ways. You can have him held as a blaster (with the nosecone pointed forward) or as a melee weapon with the nosecond facing up.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Push the feet down and back.
  3. Push the lower legs together.
  4. Swing the front of the vehicle forward from the back (it winds up over the back of the robot head).
  5. Swing the robot arms up and push them together.
  6. Swing the lower legs forward.
  7. Push the doors down.

Vehicle Mode:
Sideswipe's vehicle mode is a modified version of the car he transforms into in the cartoon. He features the elements you would expect including a very angular design from the front to the back. The sides feature sleek looking doors but once you get to the back the design is really different than the cartoon. There you'll find two huge turbines that look like they were grafted onto the vehicle after the fact. It gives him a very "Cyberpunk" type appearance and I really dig it.

You can reveal the rest of Sideswipe's details in one of two ways. You can either attach a 5mm peg (in this case, Great Byte) into the port on top of the car or you can press the black button on top of the car. Kudos to the designers for including the button option. When you do this, a few things happen at the same time:

  • The doors move up and out.
  • The robot arms slide out to the sides, revealing engine details.
  • The front halves of the car wind up swinging back, so they reveal an engine, front nose and wings.

When I look at this transition I feel like Sideswipe is a great middle ground between Activator Combiner Bumblebee (who was not so great) and Soundwave (who is pretty fantastic). This mode looks dramatically different from the regular vehicle mode, looking almost like a scifi car inspired by an F-1 Race Car. I love the idea of a sports car "switching" to this type of car. I also love how the engines on the sides, the turbines on the back and engine sections in the front all work together to convey an incredible sense of power.

The nose in the front has light blue on the sides. The engines revealed on the sides are painted silver with blue along the sides. Both parts add a much needed splash of color to the vehicle, which would otherwise just be red and black. Sadly, Sideswipe lacks the Japanese character details seen on the animation model and other versions of this character.

Final Thoughts:
Activator Combiner Sideswipe is a good example of how this gimmick can work on both a functional and visual level. He is fun and also looks cool in both modes. I love Great Byte. He's a very unusual Mini-Con for sure. Recommended!

Pros:

  • Good sculpt on Sideswipe.
  • Good deco in "activated" vehicle mode.
  • The two vehicle forms look significantly different.
  • Greaty Byte is a wonderfully unique and goofy design.
  • Fun to play with.

Cons:

  • Needs more deco in robot and "regular" vehicle modes.
  • Hip articulation would vastly improve the figure.