"Alternators" Autobot Skids Toy Review


General Information:
Release Year: December 2005
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Engine/Gun
Motto: "Speed is immaterial when you've got intelligence. And killer rims."

Skids was always a bit of an ignored character in the Transformers universe. In the original cartoon, he made only one real appearance of any significance. He faired a bit better in the Marvel comic books where he had several prominant appearances. However, while other characters have received new incarnations and homages over the years, Skids only recently made a reappearance in the Transformers toy universe via his G1 reissue and his Energon homage figure,
Tow-Line. Now Skids gets the equivalent of the royal treatment among Autobots as he joins the ranks of the Alternators.

Skids I managed to obtain Skids before his Binaltech counterpart, I will do a thorough review as opposed to the usual "compare to Binaltech version" reviews I usually do for Alternators.

Skids is one of the first wave of Alternators in new packaging. In a bubble resting on a cardboard bottom, the idea is to allow an all around view of the vehicle, the primary selling point of the figure. Character art is found on the sides, utilizing a Cybertron style art, you only get a portion of the character's art instead of their entire body. Look from the back and you get a circle around a window, something borrowed from the Binaltech packaging. Overall I do appreciate how the vehicle is emphasized in this packaging though I would have liked full character art to be present somewhere. On the bottom are photos of the toy noting the various details and the weapon/engine. It also includes something previous Alternators did not have, a character motto.

Vehicle Mode:
Autobot Skids has been given the vehicle mode of a Scion xB, one of the new, trendy vehicles introduced by Toyota. The Scion is marketed towards the customizer, with its manufacturer wanting to give owners the ability to select individual parts to customize at the point of purchase. This made Skids the ideal choice to make into a vehicle with a custom paint job rather than a standard, manufacturer based paint scheme.

The form of the Scion is rather unusual. Not a regular four door sedan or car, not really a van of an SUV, it has a rather unique form all its own. The distinct shape of the vehicle was replicated here, giving it a boxy appearance from the back to the front windshield section. Curved parts come in on the front, where there are three front grilles, the top one having a striped pattern, the lower two having honeycomb patterns. The Scion logo is sculpted into the front of the car, and its distinct headlights are replicated in translucent clear and orange plastic.

The front windshield is curved and has two windshield wipers sculpted on it. The sides are rather flat, but small details such as the door handles and the gas tank door on the left side are all present. Lines on the top of the vehicle indicate roughly the area where racks can be placed to mount equipment on top on the real life vehicle. On the rear window is a single windshield wiper, a feature of the Scion.

Like his G1 counterpart, Skids is mostly dark blue. The word "Scion" runs along the top of the windshield in gold letters. The windows all have a light, gold frost on them, which really adds a nice touch to the vehicle's custom look. In place of the red and white stripes that G1 Skids had, the sides of the vehicle have a star within a circle, basically the Scion logo (this is one of the customizable items Toyota offers with the vehicle in real life). Trailing that symbol are flames. The color gradiant goes from an orange to a gold color, with the tail end having light orange pixelated looking spots. This is a really nice deco detail and gives much visual life to the vehicle it would not have otherwise. In true Binaltech/Alternators fashion, the rear license plate has an Autobot symbol with the name "Skids" on it.

The side mirrors have a reflective coating on them to better resemble real life mirrors. The dashboard replicates the distinctive look of the Scion's real life design and it has all four seats on the inside. All four doors open as well as the rear hatch. The hood of course opens as well, revealing the unique Scion engine underneath. The two front tires move in tandem with each other, but they do not utilize a magnetic mechanism like most Binaltechs do. Rather there is a bar between the two that is pulled back and forth.

I personally find the Scion a bit too boxy to be elegant as a vehicle. However, there is no mistaking the fantastic level of detail achieved by Takara and Hasbro when designing this mode.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Lift the hood and remove the car engine. Flip the gun barrel up and set it aside for now.
  2. Swing the rear bumper down.
  3. Lift the rear section of the vehicle up on the hinge at the midpoint.
  4. Fold that section forward on the hinge, then swing the back section (with the rear hatch door) down.
  5. At the rear of the vehicle, fold down the robot feet and flip out the heel pieces.
  6. Fold down the rear seats.
  7. Open the two front doors.
  8. Slide the two front seats back and then fold them down.
  9. Pull the section with the dashboard and the top of the vehicle back a bit.
  10. Unfold the front section and extend it upwards.
  11. Rotate the dashboard section around.
  12. Roate the front doors so they are horizontal.
  13. Pull out each robot arm from under the hood to the sides.
  14. Swing the robot head up.
  15. Rotate the doors back to their original position.
  16. Push the hood section back down, the black platform the robot head rests on has a notch that the tab at the center of the hood section connects to.
  17. Swing the two grey pieces from the back section down, connecting them to the chest piece in the two holes on either side of the head.
  18. Split the legs and extend each out.
  19. Place the gun in Skids' hand.

Robot Mode:
The Scion is a fairly bulky vehicle, its box like shape makes it difficult to imagine a sleek robot inside. However, the designers managed to pull this off effectively. Like his G1 counterpart, Skids winds up with a design where the front of the car is his chest and he has doors on his back as wing-like structures. The underside of the car's rear (for the most part) becomes his legs as well. The head sculpt is based on G1 Skids, but more on his cartoon and comic book appearances than the design of the G1 toy's head. Originally I believed this to be more of a G1 Ironhide-type head, but several fans have pointed out to me that G1 Skids' cartoon/comic book head was quite different than the head on the original toy. My apologies for any confusion. It will be interesting to see what upcoming redecos will be done of this character. Indeed, in Japan he is being released as "Broadblast", a character based on the G1 character of Blaster.

Some nice robotic detailing is revealed in this mode via the arms and legs. Each arm segment has nice, deep cut lines going across them. The legs have layers of details including vents, angled lines and rectangles. The feet look like they have hydraulics in them at the center, a really nice touch. Granted, Skids' weapon does not look that great considering its small size. However, most of the portrayals of G1 Skids showed him as simply having small, wrist mounted weapons, so this is appropriate to some degree.

More G1 Skids-based colors appear in this form. His mid and lower arms are dark red. Silver appears on his head and legs along with yellow. His hips and waist are red as well, matching those parts on the G1 version of the character. An Autobot symbol is painted onto the left shoulder in red on silver colors.

Skids has an awesome twenty four points of articulation. This includes seven in each arm alone, and four in each leg. While he is bulky, this articulation allows for some very dynamic poses and looks fantastic overall.

Final Thoughts:
While I am not fond of the vehicle mode, it is not because the toy is not sculpted and designed well. It looks great and while the robot head does not really pay homage to the G1 design, the rest of the form works very well as Skids. I am also very fond of the unique transformation scheme of this toy. Highly recommended.

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