"Transformers Universe" Side Burn Toy Review

General Information:
Release Year: February 2004
Retailer: Wal-Mart Exclusive
Price: $9.99
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Missile x 1, Missile Launcher, Blade/Gun weapon

As part of a special promotion at Wal-Mart stores, several Transformers Universe toys were released as exclusives in early 2004. One of these was a redeco of the Robots in Disguise Super Side Burn, the Hot Rod themed redeco of Side Burn. Check out the Car Robots Speedbreaker review for a detailed look at this toy. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy for this release.

The packaging gets mention here because it is different than the typical Universe packaging. The card is actually slightly smaller in width. We're not talking a negligible amount either. Side Burn's card is 1.5 inches/3.8 centimeters smaller than the typical Universe card. Also, in this case an official "Dodge Viper" sticker has been stuck onto the packaging, most likely a requirement by Dodge, who also made Hasbro imprint the Viper logo onto the toy during its Robots in Disguise release. The toy also comes with the Universe CD-ROM.

Vehicle Mode:
With most redecos, the general mold is used and new colors are applied to virtually ever part of the toy. Recent releases such as Skywarp and Spychanger Optimus Prime are examples of this. Side Burn defies this convention - and it's not a good thing.

Basically, the designers took the Super Side Burn toy, and slapped some paint and tampograph graphics on it and re-released it. This in itself is not the bad part (well, not most of the bad anyway), what is bad is just how sloppy that redeco job was. But first, let's start with what's good.

The front hood of Side Burn has been imprinted (either through paint or a tampograph sticker, it's hard to tell) with a unique pattern. The hood pieces are gray with light grap rectangles in a rather intricate pattern. In its own way, this pattern (from a distance at least) looks almost like a mechanical version of snake scales, an allusion to the vehicle mode being a Viper. The vents on the hood have been painted silver, which brings them out and looks great. The side mirrors are painted silver, which looks great against the black on the vehicle.

Here's where the problem comes in. They obviously wanted to make the toy black - so why not make it black? Instead, you can tell the red parts from Super Side Burn were just recast and black was slapped on them - badly. When the black was put on the rear pieces (which form his thighs in robot mode), they did not paint the pieces fully, so from the back, you see really ugly paint lines just trailing off at random on the red, and from the front you see red lines sticking out like a sore thumb. Indeed, they didn't even bother making the front of the car gray or black, they kept it red (but the Viper symbol is black now instead of white). The same was done with the rear piece (where the license plate is). It's just ... red, with ugly black paint on the ajoining parts. And the final Bad Detail(tm) here: the huge honkin' Autobot symbol on the top of the car. He already has an Autobot symbol sticking out his rear window, does he need a huge symbol on the top too? Perhaps this was a Wal-Mart request - but I doubt it.

The vehicle mode looks half done, like a mock up you'd see lying on a Hasbro designer's desk before the final product is done. The front of the car shows a lot of neat detail and promise, but the middle to the back is just badly done.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, it looks like the designers just totally gave up. Basically, the robot mode is the exact same set of colors as the Super Speedbreaker/Super Side Burn toy. A combination of red, white, orange and dark red. The only recolored part is the small blade/gun weapon, which is no longer vacuum metallized. Rather, it's painted plain silver now (despite the engine and hubcaps still being vacuum metallized). The only part which really shows as recolored is the top of the car which turns into Side Burn's shield in this form. Of course, that means the huge honkin' Autobot symbol is prominant in both modes. Primus help us.

Part of my frustration is that I know Hasbro can produce a good redeco, either for a main line like Universe or exclusives such as Spychanger Optimus Prime. This just feels so half baked it's not even funny. Not recommended unless you can't find any of the other versions of this toy at all.


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