The main stars of the first series of Generation 1 were the Autobot Cars, and Takara would be remiss not to capitalize on the most evocative car of its time, the Lamborghini Countach LP500S. The more realistic of the Lambo pair was Sideswipe.
Sideswipe, like all the Autobot Cars until 1986, was originally released in Takara’s Diaclone as Car Robot New Countach LP500S. This version included a small plastic and die-cast driver who could sit in the cavity in the center of the car’s cockpit. This version is virtually indistinguishable from the Transformers release, except for minor sticker variations. Like many Diaclone-era Transformers, however, this release was also available in alternate colors. The yellow version later inspired the Transformers character Tigertrack, and the black version (available in a giftset with the Diaclone equivalent of Ultra Magnus) later inspired Transformers’ Deep Cover. Like most Car Robot toys, Sideswipe was designed by Koujin Ohno. The US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy vehicle (aka Transformers G1 Sideswipe) was filed on September 2, 1983 (U.S. Patent No. USD281001 S).
Sideswipe transforms into the 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP500S Walter Wolf Special, chassis nr. 112.0148. As the Walter Wolf Special, Sideswipe features a blend of iconic traits from the LP400, such as the black trapezoidal depression in the roof to accommodate a periscopic rear-view mirror. Sideswipe is highly accurate, featuring chromed “telephone dial” wheels shod in rubber tires, stickers to simulate the black highlights, a Lamborghini bull emblem on the hood, and even sculpted tail lights under the stickered tail lights. The only detail seemingly omitted from the first Walter Wolf Countach are the black-painted fender flares and spoiler pylons. His transformation is a more complex version of a simple scheme: the legs pull straight down from the bottom of the car, the arms pull out to the sides from the door areas, and the hood folds down flat to become his chest. His robot mode distinctly shows his Diaclone heritage, with plenty of stickers and chrome highlights. The die-cast rear fenders of the car weigh down his feet and make him very stable when standing. He comes armed with a very weak shoulder-mounted rocket launcher in the tradition of Car Robot toys, white missiles, and a white rifle.
Sideswipe is prone to a handful of major and minor breakages. Like several of his brethren, Sideswipe’s roof is a separate piece of thin clear plastic attached in only one point by a small hinge, making it a likely point for breakage (though much less so than the Datsun mold). Likewise, his car doors are separately molded from brittle clear plastic, and melt-pinned on at their bottom edge. Even if they are unbroken, it is common to find them somewhat loose due to their lack of proper fasteners. A problem unique to Sideswipe is the tendency for the ends of his tail spoiler to have white stress marks, even if the spoiler does not appear bent.
Like most characters of this era, Sideswipe has a number of production variations. The die-cast stop for his foot hinge may have 1, 2, or 3 bars, in an attempt to prevent wear or over-rotation of the foot piece. Also, a ridge of plastic was added to the underside of later units’ spoilers, perhaps to address the frailty of the ends of this piece. Lastly, his rocket launcher’s chrome piece comes in two varieties: the earlier type (corresponding to 1 foot bar) fits like a cap, covering the entire front face of the launcher, while the later type (corresponding to 2 or 3 bars) fits like a ring, leaving a black circle around the missile’s hole. Interestingly, the cap-type launcher would reappear for various reissue releases.
Sideswipe was available in the United States and UK in 1984. Sideswipe was available again in the US and UK, and debuted Japan in 1985 (as Lambor, with a firing launcher) with a rubsign applied to his left car door. This version received a revised instruction sheet (or tiny addendum slip), as well as a revised tech spec with the “scrambled” red lines replacing the straighter lines of the 1984 box. While he was nominally inlcluded in Milton-Bradley’s 1985 European release, the toy in the package was actually Sunstreaker. He became available in continental Europe in 1986, and continued to be available in the UK. Sideswipe was available again in Europe’s 1991 Classic Heroes line. This version is distinguishable by a mostly blocked (blotted out) date stamp.
Sideswipe was reissued in Japan in 2001 and 2002 packed with Red Alert as an excusive to the World Character Convention and e-HOBBY’s New Year Special, respectively. Sideswipe was reissued in Japan as part of Takara’s The Transformers Collection in 2003. These Japanese versions featured modified paint apps and sticker variations. He was re-released as part of Hasbro’s Toys R Us Commemorative Edition series in 2004, but only in Australia and Canada. This version was finally released in the U.S. in 2005 through KB Toys. This version removed the spring in the launcher completely, as with all U.S. reissues.
Case Assortments (Item#/Asst#): 1984: Autobot Cars Asst. 1 (E5752/5750), 1 per 12; 1985: Autobot Cars Asst. 3 (E5752/5766), 1 per 12
Packaging: Window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Classic Heroes): Gold window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 2 Autobot
Paperwork included (1984): Instruction booklet without rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1984 Catalog; (late 1984) “Reinforcements from Cybertron!”, rubsign instructions addendum.
Paperwork included (1985): Instruction booklet with rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1985 Catalog, “Reinforcements from Cybertron”
Redecos & Retools
Sideswipe’s mold was first used in 1983 to create Diaclone’s Car Robot New Countach LP500S. The mold was modified with a light bar and used for Diaclone Car Robot New Countach Police Car, which was recolored in 1985 as Transformers Red Alert. Sideswipe was heavily redecoed and slightly retooled to create Generation 2 Sideswipe. In Japan, the mold was used in yellow to create Tigertrack for Figure King Magazine, and in black and blue as e-HOBBY Deep Cover. The Diaclone Police version was re-used as e-HOBBY Clamp Down.