Dungeon Reviews: Skids (1985)

Autobot Theoretician

“Deep down, we are more like than unlike humans.”

Skids was originally released in 1985 (or possibly late 1984) as part of the second round of Autobot car figures. The shortpacked, misunderstood, and obscure Skids has long been one of my favorite Transformers characters. Today we’ll look at the early 2000s Takara “Collection” series reissue.

Packaging

Front/side view

I don’t always discuss the packaging in these reviews, but the “Collection” series has to be mentioned, since we didn’t go over it in Megatron’s review.

Each item in the Collection series came in a numbered box decorated with then-current artwork from Dreamwave Comics.

Front panel open

The front panel of the box opens like a window and is held shut by two velcro pads. Rather than simply a view of the toy inside, each box came with several pages of a guidebook called “T/F WORLD CARD.” This booklet featured original artwork, photography of other G1 figures, an episode guide for the G1 cartoon, character bios, and other neat stuff.

Inner pages

The booklet that came with Skids featured not only a bio for him, but also a bio for the Dinobot Sludge, who didn’t have a reissue in the Collection line. The perforations and hole punches indicated buyers were meant to remove these from the box and assemble a full booklet of what would end up being a survey of the first couple years of the G1 toyline.

I don’t have all the items from the Collection line, but I’m almost tempted to finish the series so I can assemble this booklet. I really like the layout and the artwork. It’s also easy to forget that it was coming out at a time when there weren’t exhaustive references online for Transformers – there weren’t even many published books about them yet.

Box interior

The inside of the box arranged the figure and its accessories in a very pleasing spread. The box insert could be removed and assembled into a display stand of sorts – in a future review I’ll probably show this for one of the other figures I have in this series.

Vehicle Mode

Front/back view

Skids’ alternate mode is a Honda City Turbo. This ultracompact car is somewhat similar to a Honda Civic of the era, but the exact model wasn’t available in the United States in 1985. Since compacts weren’t popular in 1980s America, the artists of the Marvel comic misinterpreted this vehicle mode as a minivan.

Like most other early G1 Autobots, Skids features die-cast parts (in the hood and rear), chrome (headlights and rims) and rubber tires.

The characteristic red stripe and “turbo” emblem are stickers. They seem to have a tendency to peel up – my Skids is on his second set of stickers, and some are already peeling.

Front view

The headlights have a texture almost like compound eyes. Many details of the car mode are provided by stickers, including the front grill, the license plate, and the turn signals. The windshield and doors are constructed of a smoky translucent plastic.

Rear view

The wheels on my Skids tend to turn outward when he’s resting on a flat surface. More sticker details are visible here, like the license plate and two blue squares on the rooftop that fill in what would be incongruous black squares. This attention to car mode coherence isn’t always present, even on early figures like this, so it’s very welcome here.

The brake lights are also sticker details, but both the original stickers and my replacement set failed to keep their adherence to the 90-degree angle between the back and sides of the car. I ended up removing them. Surprisingly, there are sculpted details underneath.

Opening trunk

The trunk hatch can open, revealing a small space inside. This space isn’t really large enough for any of the accessories Skids came with, though you could probably fit a rocket or two in there, or maybe a couple of Skittles if he’s making a late night pantry run.

On the real Honda City, the trunk could stow an included fold-up scooter called a “motocompo.” The original Diaclone release of the toy that became Skids actually includes a miniature motocompo to stash in the trunk, but it was removed for the Transformers version.

With Carly

Even without the motocompo, the trunk is a cute feature and is unique among the early Autobots.

Cockpit

Skids’ vestigial Diaclone cockpit is visible only by pivoting up the whole front of the car mode. The grooved area that makes up the backs of his robot mode legs constitutes a pilot seat.

Pilot seated

There’s no way to move the pilot in or out of the vehicle once you close up the vehicle mode. The dark windows means you can’t even see them in there!

Slamming on the brakes
Comparison

Pictured:

  • Optimus Prime (1984)
  • Bumblebee (1984)

Skids is quite small in his vehicle mode, appropriate to the size of the real-life Honda City compared to his similarly scaled Auto-brethren.

With other Skidses

Pictured:

  • MP-53 Masterpiece Skids
  • LG-20 Legends Skids
  • Legacy Skids

Skids hasn’t had nearly as many toys as most of his fellow Autobot cars. If I did this review a year ago, this photo would only have included the G1 figure and the LG-20 version.

KRUNNK

Robot Mode

Front/Back

Transformation is similar to many other early G1 Autobots – the hood becomes the chest, the doors become wings, and the rear of the vehicle becomes legs.

Unique to Skids is how his head is concealed underneath his hood, which opens up to allow you to flip it out, and how his wheels tuck underneath his feet.

The resulting robot mode is very well proportioned and remains one of the nicest looking of the early Autobots. Lots of stickers provide mechanical detail on the legs and lower torso.

Accessories

Skids comes with an array of chrome weaponry, including a “rocket pod,” three rockets (one I seem to have misplaced), a “liquid nitrogen rifle,” and a “twin electron blaster.”

With liquid nitrogen rifle

The weaponry clips over either of Skids’ forearms.

Skids is articulated at the shoulders (forward/backward and lateral) and wrists, allowing him a decent range of expression with his accessories.

With rocket pod

The rocket pod features a spring-loaded launch gimmick. While this gimmick was weakened for the original American release, it’s fully intact for this Japanese re-release.

The rocket pod was simplified into a small cannon for Skids’ animation model, and he can be seen in the Marvel comics using it as his liquid nitrogen blaster.

I really like this figure’s head sculpt. The silver paint apps and yellow eyes are very striking, and the addition of the silver decals on the “ears” make it stand out among the other Autobots.

Arms up

Strangely, Skids comes with more weapons than he can use. The figure can’t hold all three items at once, and the unused weapon has nowhere to go. Given his role as a scientist, it seems a bit odd that he’s more heavily armed than many of his fellow Autobots. Maybe Wheeljack over-equipped him to hopefully even the odds if he were to get in a fight.

The figure used as an animation model reference must have only come equipped with the twin cannon and the rocket pod, because the long rifle was nowhere to be seen in either the character’s brief appearances in the cartoon or comic book. And speaking of the animation model…

Arm configurations

Infamously, the toy the animators used to reference for Skids’ animation model was mis-transformed. This resulted in the character’s arms sticking out from an awkward angle underneath the car hood, as shown on the right.

I nevertheless somehow have a bit of nostalgia for this configuration, since it’s how the character looks in his Marvel comics appearances. But one way or another I always put him back on the shelf transformed correctly.

Incidentally, the Collection series reissue shown here has a mold flaw that results in one of his rear wheels not folding flush against the bottom of his foot, which is why there’s a slight space underneath one of them. I actually trimmed the plastic down and mostly fixed it, but it still protrudes a bit.

G1 Comparison

Despite his tiny vehicle mode, Skids actually stands pretty tall in robot mode, thanks to how his legs fold up very tightly inside his car mode.

I love the way he looks standing next to Optimus and Bumblebee. I can’t explain why. It just feels “right.”

Skids comparison

Despite modern TF’s tendency to adhere to animation models, none of the newer versions of Skids have replicated the model’s mistransformation or the artists’ van-mode misconception.

Conclusion

“Don’t worry, Charlene. I might’ve failed you in my dreams…but reality will be a different story!”

The very first piece of Transformers media I saw was Marvel’s The Transformers #19, which prominently featured Skids. It wasn’t his spotlight issue – I wouldn’t read that until later – but it did show him driving around distracted by Earth culture and speaking to Optimus as a voice of reason.

As a kid I loved his blue van mode and the way he looked as a robot. Later on, I’d grow to love the character’s bio card, which painted him as so distracted by Earth culture that Wheeljack had to build special brakes for him. He’s interested in everything. I resonate with that.

I’ve always wished for more stories with this version of Skids. IDW heavily featured the character, and I liked those stories, but he may as well be a different guy.

Which brings me back to this original toy. Skids represents a lot of things to me on a character level, but the toy is also one of the most appealing G1 Autobots. The car mode is exquisitely detailed, the robot mode looks great from every angle, he’s decently articulated, and he has lots of accessory options. He may as well be the poster child for “Autobot.” And yet he’s still quite obscure, despite having two major toy releases within the past year.

But maybe the obscurity is one of the reasons I like him so much. Skids is my little corner of G1 that I call my own. I think that’s one of the best things about Transformers – all of us have a favorite obscure character who only had one toy or showed up in one episode. For me, it’s this little weirdo.

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