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The Deluxe Class size Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen figures come on blister cards, with the plastic bubble both taped and glued to the cardback. Said package is about 7.5 in./19.0 cm wide, 13.4 in./34.0 cm high, and 2.3 in./7.0 cm deep. The card's edges are die-cut, resulting in a more interesting shape than just a plain rectangle, which helps to enhance the presentation. Skids, converted into his Chevy Beat Concept car mode, is situated near the middle of the bubble, surrounded by a fair amount of empty space. Besides being wasteful, I think the size of the car, relative to the size of the packaging, gives the impression that you're not getting much for your money (if you remove the interior tray, you could literally squeeze three, maybe four, Skids in that bubble). While I realize Hasbro has to fit a variety of vehicle types onto one standard cardback, and, naturally, some are going to be bigger than others, I think it would have been wiser for them to package Skids in his robot form in this case, as that has more bulk, and thus, would take up more room and look more impressive--but then they'd also have to increase the depth of the bubble to accommodate it and the robot mode probably would be more likely to get broken in transit/handling than the more compact car form. There's a cardboard insert in the lower portion of the bubble that sports Skids' movie-likeness portrait, as well as his name (Hasbro doesn't have the rights to use just "Skids" anymore, which is why they have to label him "Autobot Skids" to get away with it--isn't copyright law grand?). The right side of the bubble has an Autobot logo sculpted into it, in raised relief, while the left side has a weird, Egyptian-esque symbol (my guess is that has something to do with the movie, which I have yet to see, and The Fallen in particular)--kudos to Hasbro for adding some subtle touches to something most people are just going to pitch in the garbage. The back of the card sports a brief description of the character, a bar graph breaking down Skids capabilities (so you can compare him to your other Robots in Disguise and definitively settle playground disputes over who can outrun or out-shoot whom), and large pictures of both his robot and car modes. The only thing I think is missing are some smaller photos of some of the other characters available in this wave, but I much prefer to see the character specific stuff over that. Upon opening the outer bubble, you'll find that Skids is secured to the interior tray with a number of twist ties. In summary: The packaging looks good, has graphics/info specific to the toy you're getting, isn't too difficult to extract your toy from, but is rather inefficient in its use of space.
Skids' robot mode, which stands about 5.0 in./12.7 cm in height, is an impressive build. The sculpt is complex/intricate, which is typical of the movie Transformers designs in general. The minimalist paintwork and molded-in-the-proper-color parts don't allow the sculpt to shine as brightly as it should, but I'll talk more about that shortly. Skids is a bulky, squat fellow, with a disproportionately large right arm, and quite a bit of car kibble hanging off his body (for those not in the know, 'kibble' is a Transformers toy term that refers to obvious, and often large, pieces from the alt form, in this case a car, that aren't well integrated into the robot mode). Transformers kibble doesn't really bother me like it does some people, but to each his or her own. The head sculpt ranks among the most . . . uh . . . unique I've seen on a Transformer toy--how often have you seen a robot that sports buck teeth, one of which is gold? His mechanical mug won't be winning him any beauty contests, that's for sure. The visible screw heads mar the overall aesthetics a bit, but they're not too numerous and largely confined to the back and interior areas.
The Chevy Beat Concept compact car alternate mode (which is slated to be released in 2011 as the Chevy Spark--but, with the auto industry in the state it's in, who knows what the future will bring) looks good as well. It measures roughly 4.7 in./12.0 cm in length and 2.0 in./5.0 cm in height. The sculpt is pretty much what you'd expect out of a modern automobile--the general shape is streamlined/aerodynamic with relatively little extraneous details. I could definitely picture seeing the Chevy Beat/Spark on the road or in someone's driveway. Zigzag patterns on the sides and a black hood help spice up what could otherwise be a relatively mundane study in lime. Obviously, there are seams in the sculpt to accomodate the chassis breaking apart for transformation, and you can see all kinds of bits and pieces of the robot mode jumbled up in the interior through the blue tinted windows, and likewise, on the bottom if you turn the car over, but, other than that, it's a fairly convincing model. The four wheels are articulated, so, assuming you've got him transformed properly, the vehicle rolls well with a push. On the package photo, it looks like they used transparent red plastic for the tail lights, but, on the production model they're just painted red, which is a shame, as the former would have looked more realistic (the head lights are made from transparent colorless plastic).
The package designates Skids as a Level 3 "Advanced Conversion", and you'd better believe it. I'd even go so far as to say that ROTF Skids is the most complicated Transformer that I currently have in my toy collection. Converting him from car-to-robot, and back again, is a bear, although it does get easier with practice. Mine came with the wrong instructions to boot (his brother Mudflap's), which only made things more frustrating. Some of the parts are designed to pop off if you exert too much force (or so Hasbro claims, I didn't cause anything to pop off myself), but, still, exercise some caution/patience. Don't force things if they don't seem like they're gonna go and look/think carefully before you move something if you're stumped. I think Skids might very well prove too much for younger children or those that are easily frustrated. That said, while he's definitely a challenge to convert, one can't help but admire the engineering that went into making him--Kudos to Hasbro's design team/sculptors.
For the most part, Skids hues are simply a result of the color of the molded plastics he's constructed from--there's not a heck of a lot of paint work here. I have to say I think they went a wee bit overboard with the sheer amount of green on this guy, even though it comes in two shades. While it's true that there's some black, gray, silver, and blue to break things up and contrast with the greens, color-wise, Skids still ends up looking very much like a mechanized Kermit The Frog. What paint ops Skids does have are largely limited to his head and auto chassis, as well as a tampo Autobot symbol on his steel crotch--all of which are virtually flawless in execution. The "SKIDS" license plate is a nice touch too. It looks to me like the rear topmost section of the car is actually painted, and not cast in that color--what impresses me about that is Hasbro got the paint to match the color of the surrounding green plastic almost perfectly, always a tricky thing to do. If you've spent any time at all looking at customized Transformers figures, than you probably know how dramatic a difference a simple black paint wash, some dry brushing, or black line work can have on Robots in Disguise--while it would probably add some additional cost on Hasbro's part to do so, I think their Transformers figures would benefit from a little more TLC in that regard, as it gives them a much more realistic look and helps bring out the finer details in the sculpt that tend to get overlooked in monochrome plastic.
As one would expect from an object that has to change from one thing to another, articulation is plentiful and varied. As I previously mentioned, in vehicle mode, the only moving parts are the four wheels, but it's a completely different story in robot mode. Let me break it down, moving upwards from the feet: The ankles are ball jointed, rotating completely around and moving side-to-side, as well as forwards-and-backwards. Farther up the ankle is another pivoting joint that allows the foot to be swung up-and-down, parallel to the lower leg--this is mainly of use for the transformation process, but can be used in robot mode to get deeper crouching stances while keeping the feet flat on whatever surface you're posing Skids upon. Attached to the outer sides of the lower leg are the front door/wheel portions of the car body. This entire assembly rotates, folds up into a "U" shape (around the lower leg in robot mode), via two pivot joints, and the window folds down too. Moving up to the knees, we find not one, not two, but four joints: Three vertical pivot points, and one horizontal rotating joint. The overall effect is kind of like a hock/fetlock arrangement on a horse. Next we have ball-jointed hips, these rotate completely around and also move in-and-out from the body--you can even have Skids do the splits if you like. That's twenty-two joints in just the legs alone so far! Now, let's talk about the body. Firstly, the "Mech Alive" action feature causes four panels, and the head, to move, when the car's grill is depressed. This assembly contains numerous, small, moving parts, but I don't know that I feel right tacking all of that stuff onto the traditional articulation count, your opinion may differ. With that matter out of the way, the whole front section of the car/body rotates up and down on two separate pin joints. Skids head rotates completely around at the top of the neck joint, and forwards-and-backwards on another joint at the base of the neck. The head and neck assembly are attached to plate that also pivots forwards-and-backwards. Next, the arms, and the entire top of the car, are all attached to one another at the lower body. Let's look at the top of the car first, which serves as Skids' back in robot form. This entire section connects to the body via a bar segment with pin joints on each end (which also rotates, in conjunction with the arm assembly, to spin the whole super structure 360 degrees). The top of the car itself has pin joints at the hood where it joins the windshield, at the top of the windshield, the sun roof, and one more for the rear section--all of those work in conjunction with one another to fold the whole shebang up into a more compact arrangement that then becomes a stylish hunk of sizable kibble. Lastly, we'll look at the arms. The arms proper are connected to the lower body via two struts that fold in-and-out, in a "Y" shape formation, at their base, which also pivots up-and-down via yet another pin joint. The shoulders of the arms have rotating cut joints and also pivot inwards/outwards where they join said struts. The rear wheel section of the chassis is attached to the biceps area and rotates. Moving down the length of the arms, we next encounter rotating cut joints in the upper arms, and double jointed pin elbows (a la Marvel Legends). Now, things diverge a bit because one arm is larger and has an action feature, and the other doesn't. On the smaller, left arm, the only additional joint is a cut wrist. On the larger, right arm we get both pivoting fingers (the three digits move as one unit) and a thumb, but no wrist joint. The action feature involves a moving trigger, pop-up cannon, and pop-out fist. Again, like the Mech Alive chest feature, I'm hesitant to count that stuff alongside 'normal' joints, but whatever. That's it; we're finally finished (are you still with me after all that, or did your mind wander?). By my count, excluding the action features, that's around fifty points of articulation; impressive, no?
Granted, some of them are only good for the conversion process, but most are available in robot form. So, great, he's got a bazillion joints, and can change from car-to-robot-and-back-again, you say, how's the poseability? Well, it's kind of a tricky affair. Skids is rather top heavy, so it's difficult to get him to take any extreme poses without overbalancing him. He stands fine in a "neutral" stance though. Also, some of the joints are a little on the loose side, which can cause his weight to shift unexpectedly at times, causing him to topple as well. I'd say exercise some caution if you're planning on displaying him a good distance above the floor in robot mode--I think he's the type of toy who'll partake in suicidal shelf diving behavior when he's depressed. Unfortunately, there aren't any peg holes in his feet that you could use with any extra figure stands you might have.
For those that are interested in how he compares to the 1985 Generation 1 (hereafter referred to as G1) incarnation, I'd say that, other than the green color scheme (the original Skids is predominately dark blue), and the wacky head sculpt, this toy would make for a pretty good update of the original. Skids zany personality in the movie, however, is a far cry from the studious theoretician portrayed in the G1 continuity.
Most of the ROTF Transformers toys have a "Mech Alive" feature--basically some kind of interior mechanical movement built into the toy. In Skids case, when you push the grill on the front of the vehicle in robot mode, several of the panels on his chest move, as well as his head. It's not terribly exciting, they only move a short distance, but it's something . . . I guess. It kind of makes him look like he's head banging to some good tunes. If you're noticing your Skids' panels move, but not his melon, it's because you don't have the noggin attached correctly--trust me, I speak from experience. If you lift the gray panel underneath the head, you'll notice there's a little tab coming out of the bottom of the neck--that tab has to go in between the two lime green 'gear teeth' like structures located below on what would be the engine of the car--if you don't get that tab in there, the head won't move when you press the grill. It doesn't hurt anything if it's not connected right, I'm just mentioning it so you know.
Skids' oversized right arm also has a spring-loaded punching action. Press the little gray tab near his elbow and the fist juts forward a short distance to dislocate the jaw of any Decepticon who happens to be in its path. A little gray cannon also raises up from his forearm at the same time. Make sure you have his articulated finger joints closed into a clenched fist before you push the hand back down to re-arm the mechanism, as the fingers sculpt can get in the way if they're "open", preventing the hand from locking down properly. I like this feature a lot better than the Mech Alive one, and it's built into the figure's design well enough that is doesn't interfere with the toy's overall appearance or articulation (the right arm is actually supposed to be larger than the left, it's designed that way in the CG movie model, it's not an unfortunate side effect of the action feature, like one might assume).
Also, while Hasbro doesn't state it anywhere, Skids eyes are light-piped. If you hold the back of his head up to a relatively strong light source, his peepers will 'glow' blue as light passes through them. Light-piping works best with red plastic in my opinion (check out some of the recent Playmates Terminator Salvation figures to see good examples of that)--the light blue color doesn't really offer much visual 'pop'. It's nice that they included it, but, it's something that they could have easily skipped and it really wouldn't have mattered.
Nada, all you get is the instruction sheet--unfortunately, mine came with his brother Mudflap's instead of Skid's (doh!). While the two are somewhat similar in design, they're not identical twins, so Mudflap's paperwork didn't do me much good. I ended up winging it, using the two photos on the cardback as a rough guide, until I was able to get online a couple of days later and download a scan of Skids' sheet from Unicron.com to help me out.
While I haven't seen the movie, I have read that Skids used a grappling gun while fighting Devastator--I think that would've made a good, and relevant, addition to the figure, possibly with some kind of winch mechanism action feature.
My Mother bought Skids for me, so I'm a happy camper as far as money is involved, because I didn't have to spend any. Deluxe Class size Transformers, such as Skids, usually run in the neighborhood of $10-15, depending on the retailer (try to get 'em on sale if you can). While Skids isn't very large, one can argue that Transformers are worth a bit more than your average action figure, due to their ability to convert from one form to another, which requires significantly more engineering/design work that your typical humanoid toy. Well, you can keep rationalizing it to yourself that way at the cash register, right?
- Excellent sculpt, both in robot and car modes.
- Conversion from one form to another, or 'two toys in one' if you like that better, is, and always has been, the strong point of the Transformers concept.
- Impressive engineering. Just designing this guy must have been a nightmare in itself, Kudos to Hasbro's staff!
- Lots of articulation. While, admittedly, much of it is there to facilitate the transformation process, most of the joints are also functional in robot mode for posing.
- Difficult and tricky to transform. I wouldn't recommend him to the impatient or easily frustrated. Compounding things, the wrong instructions were packaged with my figure--for a lot of toys, that probably wouldn't be a huge deal, but for a Transformer, especially this one, it is.
- Minimal paintwork. Most of the color is simply a result of molding the plastics in the appropriate hues.
- No accessories. While I haven't seen the movie myself, it's my understanding that he did use a grappling gun on Devastator--it would have been nice to see that included, possibly with some kind of a winch action feature.
- The action features he does have don't do a whole lot for the figure, but then, they don't really hurt it either.
- Top heavy, which can make him tricky to pose. Some of the joints are on the loose side as well, which can also prove frustrating.
- Packaging space could have been better utilized, or decreased in size.
Where to Buy:
You shouldn't have any trouble finding plenty of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen product at any of the major retailers (Wal-Mart, Target, etc.). In the unlikely event you can't find any at your local stores, my advice would be to check out some of the many online retailers, or, as a last resort, eBay.
The manufacturer recommends this figure for ages 5 and up. I think transforming Skids might prove too difficult for many younger children though--you'll have to use your own discretion on whether you think they'll be able to handle it or not. While he's fairly solidly built, and some of his parts are designed to pop off if you exert too much pressure, it is possible to break him during transformation/play if you're too rough and force things in directions they were never meant to go.
Additionally, some people have been critical of Skids, and his brother Mudflap, claiming that they are portrayed as racist caricatures in the Revenge of The Fallen film. I haven't seen the movie, so I can't say one way or another, but it is something to be aware of. There's plenty of commentary about it on the internet if you care to look into it for yourself.