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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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wyze2099's review: Ratchet

Name: Ratchet
Function: Medic
Sub-Group: None

I'd include a quote here, but if the figure's box provided one, it's in Japanese, which I can't read.

First of all, I'm well aware that this figure is a redeco of Universe Ironhide, so any gripes about the mold itself aren't really Ratchet's fault. That said, some buyers (myself included) might get Universe/Henkei Ratchet without having owned Ironhide first, so I thought I'd discuss the mold's strengths and weaknesses in detail so that such buyers are aware of what they're getting.

Alternate Mode:

Ratchet's alternate mode is an SUV redecoed with a white-and-red paint job and a siren to look like an ambulance. The SUV in question, of course, was a Universe Ironhide figure. It looks like it could carry wounded human passengers through the middle of a Transformer battle. Problem is, it looks like it took damage from that battle. The way the pieces are arranged in vehicle mode makes it look like each side of the figure had been hit by a missile and pieced back together. There are a lot of seams and lines to tip one off that this isn't just an emergency SUV toy.

Also, I'm disappointed that this Henkei version doesn't have the "H3LP U2" license plate that the Universe counterpart is supposed to have. While I can understand that Japanese buyers might not be able to read it or get the reference, but I thought it was a neat nod to G1, and I was looking forward to it.

This figure does a better job of portraying the blue painted areas on each side as windows. It's a vast improvement over Universe Ironhide's color scheme, and I was hoping it would be. Whether it's due to a different shade of blue, or the fact that it's on a white background instead of a red one, I don't know, but the painted windows were a huge factor for me to avoid buying Ironhide. But I still question why those parts of the figure couldn't have been made out of the same clear blue plastic as the front and rear windows, with the surrounding non-window parts painted over.

As this is a Henkei figure, Takara has given different parts of it a shiny chrome paint job. It's supposed to look classy, I guess, but unfortunately the placement of the chrome parts seems random at best. Sure, making Ratchet's Gatling gun/cutting tool weapon chrome is a no-brainer, and it works well ... but why in the world did they make the headlights and taillights chrome? That makes no sense, because Ratchet's not going to be able to shine his lights at night, and I doubt you're ever going to see an SUV of any type with chrome headlights. It would have been better to make the lights out of the same transparent red plastic as the siren, and make the front bumper guard the chrome piece.

Robot Mode:

Ratchet's white-and-red paint job is iconic and definitely eye-catching. The color scheme, true to G1, makes for a striking image that would stand out on a shelf even with other Transformers, and it forgives a lot. Heck robot mode looks fairly heavy-duty, as another side-effect of being a redecoed Ironhide. The figure looks big and blocky, and it can easily stand on its own two feet, especially when you fold out the pieces attached to the backs of its feet. Those pieces seem to primarily serve as a way to fill out part of the vehicle mode's undercarriage; according to the instructions you're supposed to flip the pieces up to rest on the backs of the robot mode's calves. I usually leave these pieces down as added support so Ratchet can stay standing in a variety of poses.

Most of those poses make Ratchet look vaguely like a cantankerous old man, which I chalk up to another result of using Ironhide's mold. It wasn't until Transformers: Animated that I actually saw Ratchet as a cranky old character comparable to G1 Ironhide or Kup. In Generation One he seemed to act younger, but I guess it makes sense that Ratchet could be from the same assembly line as Ironhide. But I digress.

Besides the cranky old man thing, this figure also looks as if it had been folded into shape like an origami crane. This is because (and yes, again, this is the Ironhide mold's fault) the figure possesses quite possibly the most needlessly-complicated transformation scheme of any TF toy I've ever owned. While I like that the SUV's rear end serves as his chest (and the engine-block-like plate that slides into place behind the rear window is a neat touch), the designers at Hasbro chose some very odd, angular shapes for the rest of Ratchet's body.

At first glance, the body parts look pretty cool to me and reminiscent of the 2007 movie TFs ... but the transformation process to achieve the robot mode is ridiculous. Straight out of the package, I tried transforming it without instructions to determine the complexity of the process. A lot of the parts folded out and came together in a way that's similar to Automorphing, but I messed up the sequence quite a few times. In a few cases, it's clear how the vehicle parts are supposed to unfold to become body parts, but the further one gets into the transformation process, the less intuitive it becomes.

What is clear is that there were several ways the toy's designers could have made the process much simpler. For instance, the legs could have unfolded from the SUV mode in a manner similar to the way Universe Hound's legs unfold from the rear section of its jeep mode. There's really nothing wrong with simplicity; Classics Bumblebee and Universe Hound are examples of figures with fairly simple transformations that still result in great-looking figures. Instead, Hasbro chose to take the hard route, which resulted in a mold that makes most of the 2007 movie-based figures look simple, and they're based on character models with thousands of moving parts!

Also, I haven't been able to get Ratchet's head to fully rise into place; the best I can achieve makes it look like Ratchet's gazing downward at a slight angle. Whether that's true of the mold itself or this particular toy, I couldn't say.

But again, very little of that is Ratchet's fault, and the figure seems to make the best of the mold it was given. So instead I'll make mention of something that might be exclusive to Universe Ratchet, or even to the toy I'm holding: its left arm keeps falling off. This happened when I first transformed it from vehicle mode, it happened each subsequent time I've tried to transform it, and it happens any time I put the toy in a pose that requires its left arm to move. I haven't encountered the same problems from the right arm, thankfully.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 10 out of 10, but not in a good way. This toy is so needlessly complicated to transform that I finally understand why so many fans hate the mold.
Durability: 7. For the most part, the pieces all stay in place, and it's fairly sturdy in robot mode while still being poseable ... but that left arm keeps. Coming. Off.
Fun: 6. Ratchet's neat to look at, especially on the shelf, and he can handle quite a few different poses, but having to put that arm back on hampers the enjoyment quite a bit.
Price: 5. It's more costly than its Universe counterpart will be, no doubt due to its chrome parts and the fact that I bought it online from BigBadToyStore.com, where it was imported from Japan. As online ordering is no doubt the most common way readers of this review will obtain a figure, expect to pay at least as much for this Deluxe-class figure as you'd pay for a Voyager class figure.
Overall: 6. To be honest, the main reasons to get this figure would be if you're a fan of Ratchet, and/or you like the shiny-chrome Henkei figures. Unfortunately, this neat-looking figure is saddled with a mold that's really not doing it any favors.
 
 
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