Release Year: January 2004
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Side Swipe is the US release of the the Binaltech Transformer known as Lambor. By virtue of his name, Side Swipe manages to avoid the oddity of having his name based on one car type (a Lamborghini) while transforming into another (a Dodge Viper). G1 fans of course will note that the name of the character differs slightly from what they may remember. Whereas the G1 incarnation of the character had one unified word as his name "Sideswipe", in order to be able to trademark the name, Hasbro had to alter it into two words "Side Swipe".
For a detailed review of the toy's mechanics, please read Binaltech Lambor's toy review. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy for this release.
Alternators Side Swipe is a Dodge Viper SRT-10, one of the newer versions of the popular Dodge Viper cars. Sleek and sporty looking, this was a natural vehicle mode choice for a character like Side Swipe since utilizing the Lamborghini brand was not an option. Spiritually the Viper and the Lamborghini have much in common including a low profile, association with fast speed and now the character of Side Swipe.
As with all Alternators releases, any die cast metal parts from Binaltech Lambor have been replaced with plastic parts. However, unlike Smokescreen where this severely subtracted from the toy's appearance, Hasbro seems to have gotten the hang of replicating certain colors in both paint and plastic for this figure. Putting the two side by side, it is actually quite difficult to figure out just which version is which. Both have deep red colors, and while there are variances between some parts (such as the rear section being slightly lighter than the front, these are variances that occurred between the same parts in the Binaltech version.
Another swap of materials can be found with the steering wheel. Binaltech Lambor has a rather solid plastic steering wheel. Side Swipe however has one made out of very flexible, rubbery material. This is most likely made to prevent breakage during transformation, which is both an aesthetic (who wants a broken steering wheel?) and safety (small, sharp parts) issue.
The deco between the two figures is the same, down to the license plate. Here the use of "Side Swp" as the license plate number makes more sense than it did on Lambor. Unfortunately I have found over time and several transformations, the Autobot symbol at the rear section of the vehicle has begun to chip slightly. While on my Lambor there are already two bits of the symbol scraped away, my Side Swipe already has one small bit gone. I do not treat these toys roughly or give them to little kids to play with, so this is something you may wish to be careful with when handling that part.
In robot mode, the Binaltech and Alternators versions of this toy are virtually identical. Only one deco detail separates them. On the chest section of the toy, there are some sculpted tech details. On Lambor, these details are left plain, with no paint application. However, on side Swipe, Hasbro chose to add some black wash, which fills in the crevices and small detail points with dark paint. I am a big fan of black wash for detailing on any type of toy. The vehicle mode does not allow for embellishments such as this due to the need to be faithful to the real life vehicle. In robot mode however such restrictions do not come into play, and details such as this are most welcome.
Functionally speaking there is no difference between Lambor and Side Swipe. The construction on Side Swipe is sturdy and there are no paint chipping issues of course.
While Lambor's use of die cast metal is a huge plus Side Swipe wins out by a nose. The rubbery steering wheel is much more accomodating to transformation and the extra deco in robot mode helps the figure look even better in robot mode. Highly recommended.