Sideways is basically an Audi R8, the wide, low-slung budget rocket that sports a Lamborghini engine for under $120k. However, the changes due to not being licensed include moving the air inlets from the doors back to the fender, altering the carbon-fiber B-pillar, and hamper the look of the headlights and inlets below them, all of which the R8 gets its sportiest looks, leaving this car still looking like an Audi, but now a little too much like a less-exciting one. The nose of the car seems a little stretched to me, and slightly raised, but this is more about comparisons to the source material. The back window over the engine is also dropped from the round shape to a shelf, but this isn't a hit to its sporty looks. The paint is a dark gunmetal with black accents, unfortunately the toy relies heavily on paint and many of the samples I've seen at the stores have notably scratched paint on the roof and hood. The windows are translucent magenta (although I believe at least some are painted that color rather than naturally so), the headlamps clear. The vehicle mode is generally solid, it's lightweight but doesn't feel cheap, and there is no kibble to speak of, although there are a few seam lines showing - nothing drastic though. The underside has some kibble which just hits the ground, you can barely roll the car on all 4 wheels. It's a decent sportscar mode, although the changes keep it from being as cool as the real R8, and it's one of those cars that looks more exciting from ground level than above.
It starts with an automorph that's fun and effective, although not always consistent. Push in the grill and the lower torso springs down while the front wheels fold in. I really like that these springs are strong and confident, yet leaves the parts still confident in alt mode as well - I hate saggy wheels. From there it's taking apart panels and folding out parts. I find the official method frustrating and leading to possible breakage, the doors simply don't want to leg go of the rear fenders, while folding up the rear panels and then pulling out the legs to start makes a much easier transition. The official instructions are also dead wrong about how the backpack forms to the figure, it says to fold it all the way to the top, yet there are tabs and slots partway through which lines the rear end up with the chest and looks significantly better. The same instructions also neglect folding up the triangular panels at the back of the hood, even though these give the neck-collar some much-needed context . Getting it back to alt mode isn't too bad, but the rear end and arms don't feel like they have a specific area to go at first, it requires actually finding those spots where they do get locked down to finish the job.
Sideways ends up only really using the hood, front wheels, and rear wheels and fenders for his robot mode. From the side, there are a few gaps, but he gets away with it pretty darn well and does have a core. The rest of the car is kibble, though if you put the backpack onto the slots, it feels a lot more "whole" and less like kibble. Although some similarities to Barricade in the larger sense exist, up close this figure is more its own man, though one could easily believe this was Barricade upgrading to a different alt mode. The figure adds a lot more red and black to the mix, the black looks fine if a little boring, the red is very boring and toyetic but hardly a dealbreaker and would probably look good with a black paint wash. Sideswipe is fairly tall, though the various wings add even more. He's also wide at the hips and shoulders, but doesn't look like a bruiser. His legs are thin and digitigrade, officially they use the rear wheels as the majority of the foot with a tiny front foot, and this works pretty darn well, there are tabs to keep the wheels from rolling, and the front feet stabilize balance. The rear fenders fly off the wheel-feet at an angle, since he's a "courier", this suggests winged boots a la the roman god Mercury. However, the small front feet can also be used as the only foot, and if you unpeg the rear fenders you get an extra mid-leg point of articulation that raises him up even taller and makes the legs more "normal", but then he's standing on tiny feet (which in the movie universe is hardly "out there"), it works but isn't as stable with them dainty feet. The head is basically another movie Decepticon, but has slightly more recognizable features, some gunmetal paint accents, and light-piped magenta eyes that really come through great. The head is on a collar, it's a bit of a cheat but with the backpack folded down and the rear corners of the hood folded up, it looks fine (the more you angle the chest down, the better it looks, and the more you look at it straight on, the worse). He's got 2 sets of wings, the windows and sills create Kickback-style wings that can be moved a little, and the doors are wings on the shoulders which have enough articulation to be moved around to a lot of different orientations. He's got a good amount of sculpted detail, I especially like how the front fenders pulled away from the torso as far as they'll go reveal more stuff and give the figure a narrower chest. The figure's arms are pretty thick, they house the Mech Alive gimmick and clearly were going to house a BETTER iteration of the gimmick before Hasbro got cheap and neutered it. As it exists now, moving the elbow turns a piston inside the bicep (which I do like) and slowly turns a greeble just above the elbow. However, the free-spinning faux-wheel and saw on the forearms reek of "turn the greeble to spin the saw", which would have been WAY cooler than having the saw and faux-wheel spin freely. The black arms could have used some color as well, especially the black saw blade, and why only 1 hand got a true thumb is beyond me.
Well articulated in the upper body with lots going on and very little kibble or hindrances, the head can barely look up and the doors and front fenders occasionally get in the way of some arm poses, but that's about it. The lower body has ok articulation, the hips do most of that, with only hinged knees doing anything else (the tiny front foot is ball-jointed, but using the wheel as the majority of the foot, it's not as usable). The leg articulation isn't a drawback for posing though, as it basically covers everything a human leg can do (the upper thigh swivel comes in handy); on mine the left hip ball joint is loose though. If you can find the balance points then the waist, knee, toe, and hip articulation can get this figure into some really extreme poses, I have mine leaning waaaay forward like he's running or skating, and yet it's quite stable.
Likable, exciting, fun, and well detailed. Poseability is very good once you understand the balance points with the feet and digitigrade knees, and it certainly pulls off wheel-feet better than most. It manages its kibble pretty well, but it is largely a shellformer. Deco is good but could be better, especially the red plastic, and the gunmetal paint seems to be easy to scratch. The mech alive gimmick is sleepy and obviously had something more exciting in mind, so it feels like a lost opportunity, but isn't a major drawback.
I definitely will be buying dlx Dead End when he comes out and won't feel bad about owning this mold twice.
See, that one's a camcorder, that one's a camera, that one's a phone, and they're doing "Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil", get it?