The Human Alliance series of Transformers Movie toys are widely regarded as the very best to have come out of the Bayverse group of releases, premiering around the time of Revenge Of The Fallen (ROTF). Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Jazz and Barricade are utterly magnificent creations, but none of the others ever got my attention, so were never bought. I think it is also accepted that after the ROTF range, the HA toys went slightly downhill, I know upon seeing Soundwave I lost heart for the line completely. Recently I purchased the above Dark Of The Moon (DOTM) repaint of the Human Alliance Skids. This toy is now a black vehicle with green stripes, seen for a micro-second in DOTM, and the same mould as the all green version released during ROTF.
I'm really not kidding you here, I bought this from my friend because it was DIRT cheap, we're talking like £3 and no weapon, transforming Elita-1 motorcycle or Epps human figurine. I bought it because of the gorgeous vehicle mode and because movie fever has taken me a little bit.
Now when I played with it the transformation drove me insane and I offered it to a collector to help with a sale. Since then I have discovered how to transform it properly step by step realising just how many little tiny panels and sections can be manipulated to make it more movie-like. This is a complex, intricate and well-designed toy. I think if it had a different head (despite being completely movie accurate) it would be absolutely every bit a Human Alliance masterpiece as Jazz or Barricade. This is a freaking terrific transformer, I will be hunting its mould-mates. First though, pictures of it in vehicle mode, the main reason I bought it:
ROTF/DOTM Skids is a Chevrolet Beat, repainted from the regular green of ROTF. It has an interior, accurate vehicle mode and is very lovely indeed, a definite improvement on the colours of ROTF Skids. This alone was enough to sell me on the toy, and because I was eager to see at exactly which point the Human Alliance toys stopped being the unofficial Movie Masterpiece line. It does seem as though Skids suffers easy paint wear if the stripes are anything to go by, but as for quality, I see now it is right up there with the best HA has to offer.
Initially the robot mode was something I could not use to display the toy, that goofball head sculpt pretty much relegating the figure out of the HA magic circle. Time is a softening drug, though, and as I got more in tune with how to transform the figure back and forth without frustrating dead ends, it has grown on me immensely. It's actually displayed in robot mode now in front of the TV. The above images show him fully transformed, but here are all the little bits I hadn't noticed first few times through. I know I could have hit up the wiki for all the details but I still love the element of discovery with my Transformers (that don't cost the Earth), and it's helped me appreciate this figure for the beauty that it is.
The first thing I missed was that the rear doors of the vehicle which start out on the outside of Skids's feet can be un-clipped and rotated around to the inner ankle area, increasing stability and improving the overall balance of the look in that section of the toy. Also, come on, we all love having extra panels to rotate, slide, clip and flip on a Transformer.
I discovered this one through frustrated fiddling (oo er), the thin sections of hood can be folded up to act as a collar for Skids in robot mode. This is very Bayverse and reminiscent of the same gimmick on HA Jazz. Both add to the look of their respective robots.
Things started to really impress me here, all the effort that went in to making every part of the toy interactive,useful and part of the aesthetic. These small adjustable flaps above the front wheel arches can also be flattened to give a cleaner look to the shoulders in robot mode.
In my first images of DOTM Skids from my New Arrivals post, the minigun above his head can be seen pointing upwards, as can the shoulder flaps discussed just above. I just figured it was the best they could do with the mould. It turns out that black plastic section it is connected to can be forced a little and clicks further forwards, allowing the minigun to be pointed straight outwards over Skids's head. Brilliant, and very glad this can be done.
Just discovering that the above gold-coloured joint meant that shoulders could be shoved up higher and that the whole fold-away section for the shoulders and arms could be compacted further in vehicle mode - leading to much better fit - because of that joint made me very happy.
Another little detail! The wheel arch covers can be ever-so-slightly folded outwards to create a slight misalignment with the wheels themselves, adding further to the whole Bay-style look of these Transformers where every panel and surface folds, bends, contorts or rotates into some twisted version of a vehicle hanging off a robot from every angle. I like movie-verse robots and character models, so this was just a bonus and it made the toy have a transformation process one step longer, in a good way.
And finally, the robot head. That horrific sculpt that - according to Dan Ghile - is screaming out for a top hat to rescue it. However, I was not applying enough pressure to his...whatever those things above his forehead are, because with a bit more oomph it makes his dorky mouth move. Hey, they didn't have to include the feature, but there it is. One of many that add to his charm and make him more than a deluxe or a voyager.
The overall result of all these little details is this:
Those are just the details that took me a while to discover. There are still all the ones that make him a successful bot that I discovered immediately; the fold-down heel spurs, the rotating roof half, the side skirts, the hood that clips onto the bottom of the back kibble, the flip-out gun and human interaction accessories, DOTM Skids is completely lovely and I do now really want the ROTF HA Skids and Mudflap.
I don't know if this number plate is new to DOTM Skids, because if you look carefully you can see an unpainted set of raised letters underneath the "SK33DZ" that simply reads "Skids". Maybe that's what the ROTF one had.
All that said, my conclusion is that DOTM HA Skids is the best toy from DOTM, and I say this with ignorant confidence having never owned any other DOTM toys and fully aware that this is a ROTF mould. Yes he has an ugly face and garish green innards, yes one arm is longer than the other, yes he has door wings exposed unlike the movie character model and he resembles a derpy little troll, but he is every bit the top drawer Human Alliance transformer, worthy of the name. A masterpiece by any other name is still a masterpiece.
All the best