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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Cal's Review: Ironhide

Name: Ironhide
Allegiance: Autobots
Function: Indestructible Autobot Warrior

“Yee-haw!”

The Autobot army has never seen anyone tougher than Ironhide. Back in boot camp, the trainees considered it good fun to take their best shot at denting his armor. No one ever could. Now, on battlefields across the galaxy, Ironhide uses his ultra-hard armor and fighting skills to battle Decepticons wherever they appear.


Ironhide is one of the most prolific characters in the Transformers universe. Whether it’s the crusty security officer of his origins, the brash young warrior from Energon or the trigger-happy gun expert from the Movie line, you can count on Ironhide to stake his claim in each continuity. His role has been scaled back somewhat in the Animated series, as he is now a member of Rodimus Prime’s team and makes sporadic appearances throughout the show. Takara seem dissatisfied with this, having given Ironhide’s name to mainstay Bulkhead to take advantage of Ironhide’s Movie exposure and renamed Animated Ironhide as “Armorhide”. Confused? Well, I’m sure lots of Japanese G1 fans are. Either way, Ironhide/Armorhide harkens back to his G1 roots as a Southern, gung-ho minibus (of sorts). Oh, and guess what? He’s a remold of Ratchet! *Dull surprise*


ALTERNATE MODE

I’m not even sure what to call Ironhide’s alt mode to begin with. The back of the box describes it as a “Cybertronian Transport Truck”, but you can get away with anything by putting “Cybertronian” in front of an uncanny vehicle. A metal frame with asymmetric protrusions, gizmos, doodads and thingamabobs? It’s a... Cybertronian gyrocopter! Of course. Anyway, this truck thingy was apparently forged from the same protoform mold as Ratchet, and the only difference in this mode is that Ironhide is primarily a reddish orange colour. Like most of the characters in the series, his design spawned from the creativity of Derrick J. Wyatt, who seems to have an affinity for giving Cybertronian vehicles treads instead of wheels. It appears that for all their technological advancements, the Transformers do not seem to have mastered the sacred art of building roads. This unfortunate drawback means that Ironhide is left with four dinky wheels to make up for the fact that his treads don’t roll. I’m sure that some day toy engineering will allow for working treads, but the alternative until then is rather unpractical. Like Longarm, Ironhide’s treads are raised to give the vehicle more clearance underneath. The problem with this design is that the view from below is a little disillusioning. The cab section is completely hollow and Ironhide’s crotch sticks out in the most unnerving way.

There’s less variation in colours compared to Ratchet and the medic insignia above the back treads is absent, but the hot orange plastic looks attractive and dynamic enough for Ironhide’s personality. Coupled with the oblique angle of the cab and the overlapping roof, Ironhide looks more like Rodimus Prime than... uh... Rodimus Prime. The windshield is a flattened slit with some futuristic circuitry detailing, although there’s no space for any kind of passenger section. Up top, we’ve got four yellow clearance lamps and some ribbing that has been painted black on this remold. The weapon storage is rather ungainly and not particularly secure. One of the signature features of the Animated series is that all Transformers have a unique weapon that can be stored away in their alt mode (Dinobots notwithstanding). Ironhide is one of the weaker examples, since his accessories simply hang off the back end of truck. It’s tantamount to realising you have no space left in the closet for your shirt, so you simply grab a coat hanger and hang it on an open door. Given the amount of empty space below the truck, it’s galling that Hasbro couldn’t think of a better way to conceal the weapons underneath. Despite its drawbacks, I can’t hate this mode too much because it seems to fit in well with Cybertron’s style of vehicles, especially if you’re a fan of Don Figueroa’s designs from The War Within.


ROBOT MODE

The instructions for transforming Ironhide are some of the sloppiest I’ve seen from Hasbro. Not only do they use the same drawings and stock photos as Ratchet, but the figure is mislabeled as “Cybertroninan Ironhide”. Thankfully, you only have to look at them once, since the transformation is not that challenging. Since it’s made to resemble Earth-mode Ratchet, there are some similarities in the way the legs swing down and the arms fold out from under the roof. In robot mode, Ironhide’s height reaches 16cm (6.3in), which is taller than your average Deluxe. Before his release, Hasbro stated that either Ironhide or Wasp would be given a new head. Since Wasp was never released, I’m glad that Hasbro chose the former. It has a very cylindrical shape with a pronounced crest, reminiscent of a Trojan soldier. He features an off-centre smirk like Bumblebee and some unusually heavy bags under his eyes, making Ironhide look like he’s been working one too many late cycles under Sentinel Minor’s regime. The face is pretty dark because the same shade of grey was used to paint his limbs, but it’s still cartoon-accurate enough to keep the fans happy.

There are, however, some divergences in this figure compared to the character model. The windshield does not fold into his gut, but rather sits on top to form part of Ironhide’s collar. In fact, the whole torso area has a rather segmented appearance, but I’m more worried about the state of the elbows. Although the transformation grants them double joints, the hinges are too far forward and make Ironhide’s forearms look like they’ve nearly been severed by Cyclonus’ blades. This is necessary for the right arm, because the back of the elbow has a spring-loaded peg that you can use to activate Ironhide’s ‘extending iron punch!’ (“Buzz! Use your karate chop action!”) Speaking of which, Ironhide’s name comes from his ability to cover his body in an indestructible armor. *cough*Colossus*cough* Hasbro have tried to simulate that by repurposing Ratchet’s shock paddles as ‘detachable hammer hands’. But let’s not kid ourselves here. They look like silver shock paddles, yet I suppose you could call them Cybertronian knuckledusters with a little imagination. Hey, they’re ‘Cybertronian’ after all!

Ironhide’s general proportions are decent and he has good articulation. The head is on a (bad) ball joint and can look up due to the transformation. The ball-jointed shoulders don’t suffer any obstruction because the pads can be swung out of the way, and his huge fists can fully rotate. The figure lacks waist articulation, but the knees have an extra joint that allows the legs to bend inwards when adopting a wide stance. The feet come with small non-adjustable heel struts, which could threaten the figure in toppling backwards. But thankfully the lower legs can also bend forwards, so you can position them further backwards to help maintain Ironhide’s balance. Overall, it’s a pretty nice figure and a sensible remold of that old crankshaft Ratchet. Although he’s an understated character in the show, his beefy size and bright colours are sure to outshine drab Deceptibums like Blitzwing and Swindle on your shelf. As an extra feature, Ironhide retains Ratchet’s war wound on his left arm, which you can use to attach Lockdown’s EMP generator. Hey, a bot whose only weapons are two recoloured shock paddles can use all the firepower he can get!

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 6/10 - I think the torso could have been a bit more compact. The transformation doesn’t show any great insight, but it holds securely and gets the job done.
Durability: 8/10 - Ironhide is as tough as his name and the paint won’t scratch off, but the weapons are a bit on the loose side. Watch out for that.
Fun: 5/10 - He rolls poorly and his weapons are rather forgettable. He’s not the most enjoyable figure on the line, but he’s reasonably poseable.
Aesthetics: 7/10 - I’m kind of a sucker for the hot orange plastic on this fella, which offsets his overall lack of painted details. The torso is my only gripe in robot mode, and the alt mode design is an acquired taste.
Articulation: 7/10 - Not bad. Ironhide’s excellent knee joints help maintain his balance, but I think the waist and feet could have used a little more articulation.
Value: 6/10 - Ironhide is an exclusive to Toys R’ Us and was never released outside the States. I had a friend visiting from California who helped me offset shipping costs in a combined purchase with Rodimus Minor and Arcee. It averaged £15 shipped per figure, but Ironhide is still the least desirable of the three and you won’t have to break your piggy bank to get one.
Overall: 6/10 - He’s not the most inspired Animated toy by any means, but Ironhide has enough presence and reputation to make him worth adding to your collection. If you’re going for the TRU exclusives, I recommend you try it my way and buy him in a bulk purchase with his casemates.
 
 
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