"Timelines" Sideburn Toy Review


General Information
Release Date: July/August 2011
Price Point: $40.00 (cost of Transformers Collector's Club membership, figure is included as part of the membership if you joined by March 16, 2011)
Retailer: Official Transformers Collector's Club Exclusive
Accessories: Missile launcher, Missile

In the late 1990's to the early 2000's, the Transformers line was largely dominated by beast mode-based Transformers via the "Beast Wars" and "Beast Machines" series. By 2001 however, Takara had decided to take the Transformers back to its roots with a line of Transformers called "Car Robots" which focused on Transformers that primarily had vehicle modes. This line would later be brought into the United States as "Robots in Disguise". Among these Transformers were Generation One styled cars that transformed into robots. The young, hot headed character among the Autobots was Sideburn, who transformed into a Dodge Viper.

One of the things that the Transformers Collector's Club tries to do is bring together elements form different parts of Transformers history into one narrative. In the current "Wings of Honor" storyline, characters from many eras of Transformers history have been brought together into one "Generation One" styled storyline, and now Sideburn has joined the fray as a redeco of the Classics Rodimus figure. This figure was reviewed previously as part of the Classics toy line as well as a Botcon 2008 exclusive. Check out those reviews for a detailed look at the design of the figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
The choice of the Hot Rod/Rodimus sculpt for Sideburn is an inspired one in that no one has really thought of it until now, yet it was a brilliant idea that was just waiting to happen. Hot Rod was, after all the template that Sideburn was modeled after, the young, hot headed Transformer who became a sleek vehicle. The sleek and powerful looking vehicle form of Rodimus fits the Sideburn character perfectly. While those not familar with Sideburn's roots may just see this as a "blue Hot Rod", those who are can definitely key in on the parallels between the vehicle modes of both character.

Sideburn has a very different deco than other iterations of this sculpt. His primary plastic colors are metallic blue, white, translucent yellow and white. All of these colors are inspired by those found on the original Sideburn. Note however that the metallic blue color is noticably lighter in tone than that of the original Sideburn. Most of the body is cast in metallic blue. The spoiler is white, which is just as bold set against the blue as Hot Rod's yellow spoiler is against his red colors. The windows are cast in translucent yellow, very similar in tone to the translucent color found on Sideburn. This same yellow is used for his "flame/missile" that sticks out the back in this mode. As you would expect, the wheels are all cast in black, but black is also used for the interior of the vehicle, where you'll find two seats and a steering wheel. I don't recall these details being as obvious on previous iterations of this design, so they definitely add an awesome touch.

The paint deco on this vehicle is where a lot of inspiration truly comes into play. Like Generation One Hot Rod, "Robots in Disguise" Sideburn had flame patterns on his vehicle and robot modes, so it would have been very easy to just repeat the flame patterns from the previous Rodimus figures. However, the flame pattern on the front of this figure and the sides are patterns that are not only different than the Rodimus pattern, but also inspired by the original Sideburn as well. These flame patterns are also metallic blue in color, but a lighter tone with white borders. Yellow paint is used to color the headlights in the front. The canopy in the middle is painted metallic blue to match the plastic on the rest of the figure. A bit of metallic blue also shows up on the back, right near the spoiler. Silver paint is used to paint the engine that sticks out of the hood in the front. That detail alone isn't particularly surprising, but what does deserve some praise is the touch of metallic red used on the raised sections of the engines, which calls back to a very similar deco scheme on the original Sideburn's engines. Red is also found on the back, near the spoiler in a row of five rectangles. A touch more of silver is used on the sides of the wheels. Finally, there is a big, bold Autobot symbol tampographed on the top of the vehicle, in the spot analagous to where Sideburn had his own large Autobot symbol.

The fact that I just went on and on for the last paragraph about Sideburn's deco speaks to how detailed and intricate it is. These are a lot of individual deco points for this figure, and they're not there just to make the vehicle look good but also to pay proper homage to similar details/elements on the original Sideburn. On both counts this figure succeeds incredibly well.

This is about the fourth time this particular sculpt has been released, and I tend to worry once you hit that number as tooling sometimes begins to show wear and tear. I am happy to report however that everything in this mode feels tight and together. The missile launcher mounted on the underside of the vehicle holds tightly and the missile stays in the launcher without a problem.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the car over and push each of the rear tires out to the sides by using the orange tabs.
  2. Swing down the panels with the middle of the exhaust pipes on the sides.
  3. Swing each half of the rear of the vehicle down to form the robot legs.
  4. Flip out the black sections at the rear of the vehicle to form the robot feet.
  5. Swing out the heel pieces on the underside of the feet.
  6. Rotate each half of the rear spoiler back so the points are pointing forward.
  7. Swing the panel that both spoiler halves are on forward.
  8. Pull out the sides at the front of the vehicle to form the robot arms.
  9. Rotate the arms up.
  10. Swing the front of the car down to form the chest and reveal the robot head.
  11. Swing out each hand on the inner portions of the lower arms.
  12. Rotate the section with the spoiler around so the spoiler halves point up.
  13. Attach the weapon to one of the hands and insert the missile into the launcher.

Robot Mode:
Sideburn's robot mode reveals more black and white plastic parts. His thighs and hip joints are cast in white while his feet and fists are black. Many of the other newly revealed robot mode part sincluding his arms, legs and head are all cast in metallic blue, matching the primary color of the vehicle mode. None of this comes as a surprise, what is wonderfully awesome is the deco on this figure, which is every bit as strong and inspired as the deco from the vehicle mode.

Let's start with an area I usually don't focus on so much when it comes to a deco: the robot head. The "Robots in Disguise" version of Sideburn had a very distinct, asymmetrical head design. While his face was a regular Transformers robot face, the "helmet" portion looked like part of it was designed as a device to help him target enemies, complete with a clear panel that came over one eye. Since the Rodimus head sculpt is not designed that way, Fun Publications created a deco that would do the job instead. The head is cast in metallic blue, with the face painted silver. His eyes translucent yellow, with a light piping piece on the back of the head. The vent pieces on either side of the face are white, bringing in more of the other colors from the vehicle mode. Now, to simulate the original Sideburn's head sculpt, the right side and crest of the helmet section have yellow paint details, but on the left side, the same area is not painted yellow. Instead, the horizontal edge near the eye is painted yellow, with the deco continuing around the left eye, simulating the "eye piece" mentioned earlier. This is a really intricate bit of paint work and the designers deserve a lot of praise for not only wanting to pay proper homage but also doing it in such a creative way without a whole new head sculpt.

The rest of the deco on this figure is no less impressive. The front of the arms and lower legs both have white sections painted on. This is intended to reflect similar sections on the original Sideburn that were cast in white plastic. On his left forearm you'll find a small Autobot symbol. This symbol is a callback to the original Sideburn's left arm, which had a sculpted Autobot symbol on its forearm. In a wonderful bit of design alignment, the engine from the vehicle mode winds up on the chest here in a very similar position to the original Sideburn (part of the inspiration for choosing this sculpt of course) so the red on the engine piece stands out boldly against the blue colors on the rest of the figure. On top of all this, you'll find additional blue decos on the hip area and shoulders and a bit more white and red in the area between the legs. This is a very intricately designed paint deco that pays perfect homage to the source character.

All the joints on this figure are tight, and in fact the arm joints are actually a bit tighter than the ones on my "Reveal the Shield" Rodimus figure (pictured above with Sideburn). The missile launcher still works without a problem as well.

Final Thoughts:
I'm actually a bit surprised just how much I'm digging this figure given that it's a straight up redeco with no retooling. However, the deco is so wonderfully thought out and executed that I can't do anything but highly recommend this figure!

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