Armada Toy Reviews: Sideways

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Headmaster, Unicron

General Information:
Price Point: Supercon
Retailer: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart etc.)
Release Date: October 2002
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3 (Advanced)
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Rook Mini-Con figure, Crosswise Mini-Con figure

As the Armada toy line forges on ahead, one can see influences from Generation One encroaching upon the line. One of the most obvious influences is the use of gimmicks from the past in the context of the Armada toy line. Mini-Cons are descendents of Micromasters and groups like the Star Saber echo Targetmaster technology by becoming weapons while the Street Action Team keeps combiners in the game. Sideways does this as well by bringing back memories of a different type of Transformer: the Headmaster.

Headmasters were Transformers whose heads could become smaller robots and pilots for their alternate forms. You can read the review of one such character, Brainstorm in the Generation One section. In this case, Sideways has two Mini-Cons, each able to form a different head for the larger Transformer body.

Crosswise & Rook Review

Crosswise is a combination of light gray and dark gray plastic. His upper legs are black and his lower legs have orange stripes painted on them. This is an important thing to note because there are actually two versions of Sideways (which will be touched on later in this review). The second version has purple stripes on the legs instead, a way for people to differentiate the two when the toy is in package. Unlike other Mini-Cons, Crosswise does not transform into a vehicle or weapon of any kind. His alternate forms are a) A head for Sideways and b) The legs of the Mini-Con combiner formed by Crosswise and Rook together. The face is rather simple, a mouthplate, peg shaped head and eyes in an angry looking slant. Yes, you are seeing correctly, Crosswise has a huge face for a body. That is of course, the face that Sideways uses when Crosswise becomes his head. This is not a bad thing however as the details look "tech" enough to be a body and it hids the fact that his leg joints go all the way up to his shoulders. Crosswise has eight points of articulation, three on each leg and his arms. As a stand alone Mini-Con he's rather odd, but as a part of the trio formed with Sideways and Rook, he
is rather cool.

Rook is mostly black with gray arms, a light gray head and dark gray arms. Because of the very vague appearance of the head Rook forms, he looks a bit less like he has a face on his body than Crosswise. Orange is used on either side of his upper body. Rook has eight points of articulation. Like Crosswise, his legs each have three points, a couple of which are on ball joints. His arms are on ball joints, but because of the way they are up against his body, the range of movement is limited to moving up and down. Rook also does not transform into any sort of vehicle.

Both Mini-Cons can sit on Sideways in vehicle form at the same time (without the combination below). You will notice two rectangular holds on the motorcycle, these correspond to the rectangular pegs on each of the Mini-Cons. This is a minor detail, but a well thought out one. It's nice to have the option of having the figures separate or together as they travel.

Transformation to Combined Form:

  1. Swing the arms back on Rook and forward on Crosswise.
  2. Connect the two robots by placing Crosswise's head behind Rook's and then pushing the two together.
  3. Twist Crosswise's legs around to form the combined form's legs.
  4. Swing Rook's legs down to form the arms.

Combined Form:
No, "Combined Form" is not the official name of this robot. It's the most generic term I can come up with for what is basically a nameless Transformer. This Mini-Con combiner stands a little under 3.5 inches tall. The oddness of some of Crosswise and Rook's parts now make sense when you look at the proportions of this Mini-Con. The robot head is a new one, mostly round with a small face plate and large eyes. It would have been nice to see the eyes or some detail on this face painted, but the designers probably wanted to avoid having the paint peel off during transformation. Thanks to having the legs of Rook for his arms and Crosswise's legs as his own, this combined form has thirteen points of articulation, mostly ball jointed. Having this flexibility is important as this figure is meant to be able to ride on Sideways in vehicle form. The hands (Rook's feet) are molded with fingers and with a curve that allows him to grasp Sideways' handlebars. This combined figure is an interesting touch and looks cool at the same time.

Sideways Review

Vehicle Mode:
Anyone who looks at Sideways and swears he looks familiar is not off at all. His color scheme of yellow and purple, along with the blue "eyes" for headlights in the front of the vehicle very plainly make him look like an ancestor (or relative) of Beast Machines Thrust. The rest of the toy is made up of black and different shades of gray (matching the shades on the Mini-Cons). The exhaust pipes are translucent clear plastic with a nice, bright orange spray op on them.

Sideways technically has four Powerlinx points in this form, but two of them are so close to the ground that they're not really useful here unless he pops a wheelie for a while. The other two are towards the rear of the vehicle and offer a cool place to attach Mini-Cons. The motorcycle design looks roughly like it is based on a ninja bike, but then made larger to accomodate the two Mini-Cons. This works out as it gives the bike a slightly "other worldly" feel to it that one might expect of a motorcycle from Cybertron.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing down the portions with the exhaust pipes, and then flip them out to the sides.
  2. Pull the rear seat portion down, and then split the seat down the middle.
  3. Swing the seat halves down, push them in and straighten them out to form the robot feet.
  4. Move the front of the motorcycle up and then rotate it and swing it down to form the robot chest.
  5. Fold in the parts that the robot shoulders are attached to. Attach the clear pegs on the front portion of the cycle (now the robot chest) to the
    corresponding holes near the shoulders.
  6. Flip the lower arms around.
  7. Swing the tire section around and flip each half of the tire portion up.
  8. Pull the handlebars up to reveal the robot head.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode Sideways, turns out having a third head (beyond the two that the Mini-Cons form). This robot head is a very grim looking one, with blue visor eyes and a jaw set in a serious expression. The exhaust pipes become weapons in this form, wrist mounted missiles. You can attach a Mini-Con to either of the Powerlinx posts on his lower arm and fire the missiles by pushing the Mini-Con forward. For a toy this size, Sideways' articulation is quite limited. He only has six points of articulation. It was a huge disappointment to see that the knees do not bend since it would not have taken a lot of engineering work to make them do so. Also, his robot head could have been made to turn as well. None of the joints really has a wide range of motion either.

As for the Headmaster gimmick, simply take either Mini-Con, raise his arms up and then insert them downwards into the main body (after pushing the robot head down). Move their individual panels up to reveal the robot eyes. As previously mentioned, there are two versions of this toy. In the original, inserting Crosswise reveals an Autobot symbol while inserting Rook reveals a Decepticon symbol. In the later version (where Crosswise's legs have purple stripes), the reverse is true.

Sideways is a mixed bag. He is a visual and functional homage to both Generation One and Beast Machines at the same time. However, he also has limited articulation and detailing. It feels like the designers could have taken him one step further to give him more detail and articulation. What boosts this toy up a bit is of course the cool factor of his character being (what seems to be) a herald of Unicron on the television show. Mildly recommended overall as a strict toy. The recommendation goes up a notch if you take his character on the show into account.