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

Name: Ratchet
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Team Medic
Scale: 1/28

Tech Specs:
AUTOBOT RATCHET is devoted to saving life, no matter what form it takes, and no matter where it is. Every AUTOBOT has had his Spark preserved at least once by him, and more than one DECEPTICON has opened his optical sensors after a mortal blow only to find AUTOBOT RATCHET welding shut the final incision. He joined up with OPTIMUS PRIME not because he wanted to be a soldier but because he believed the AUTOBOTS presented the last, best hope of preserving life in the universe against the evil of the Decepticons.


The last mainline US release of a figure named Ratchet was way back in Universe, when a red repaint of the X-Brawn mould was called Autobot Ratchet. Ever since, he was repainted and slightly remoulded from Energon Towline to star in the 2005 Botcon exclusives. The original toy shared the same mould with Ironhide, bar the ambulance sirens.

I got Ratchet in my impulse to collect all 5 main Autobots in the film. Strangely enough, I opted for the takara version, paid for it, then found out that the only difference is a small paint application and a sticker on the American box. Not really wanting to "burn" the store I ordered from, I accepted the figure and truthfully, I was quite overwhelmed by how good this toy is.


Vehicle Mode

Ratchet makes an appearance as a Hummer H2 Fire Department vehicle. While this mould did not strike me in awe as Ironhide did, it's nevertheless good looking and lavishly detailed. Sculpted detail is better than Ironhide's, with various parts of the vehicle such as the windshield wipers, the grill, the roof accessory and various tools sculpted on (but sadly left unpainted). He measures 17 centimetres from one bumper to another and 9 centimetres from wheel to top of the cage.

Ratchet is cast in neon-green and black. Whilst the green is used for the majority of the vehicle, black is used for parts of the roof, the wheels and the bumpers. The cage section on the top is cast in black as well. Silver is used sparingly for the headlights. Metallic red is used for the tampographed lines on the side of the vehicle (reminiscent of the reading of medical equipment for the heart) and the faux sirens on the roof. Orange is present on the "Fire Department" insignias on either side of the back of the vehicle, although on the left side of mine, they are slightly misaligned. Clear blue plastic is used on both doors and the windshield. The doors are painted over, but the difference between plastic cast in neon-green and plastic painted with it is evident. The doors are slightly brighter than the rest of the vehicle.

Like Ironhide, Ratchet appears to be missing paint applications throughout the figure. There's a lot of details (wipers, shovels on the roof, rims of the wheels, hooks on the rear bumper) that could really use some blackwash or silver paint to become evident. I'm all for touching up my figures, but other fans may not appreciate it. Lastly, the vehicle does not seem to hold together very well. The rear and front sections are locked together by the panels behind the doors, which just clip on a small tab. They tend to dislocate rather easily and the vehicle just flops, legs wanting to unfold and all.

All in all, Ratchet is a nice offering on the license for the Hummer (they finally used it since, what, 2004?) but not that solid. It's the robot mode that's the saving grace of this figure, and what ultimately puts it miles ahead of Ironhide.

Robot Mode

The vehicle mode wasn't that good, the transformation definitely is not as good as Ironhide's, but oh boy, the end result is surely worth it. Ratchet is bulkier than Ironhide throughout, a trait not really appropriate for a medic but still appreciated. Ratchet stands at about 19 centimetres tall to the top of his helmet.

Only one new colour shows up in this form, a pale green that's used for the arms above the elbow, for his hands and for his knee joints. The usual mix of neon green, black, silver and red is present here. In particular, the black chest with the green\silver head makes a nice contrast.

While Ratchet has a relatively simpler transformation than his black comrade, he ends up with more articulation points. It's not that Ironhide's not poseable, it's that Ratchet's more flexible. Ratchet has 21 points of articulation, 5 concentrated on each limb and a head that rotates 360 degrees. A thing one must consider is that Ratchet integrated all vehicle parts almost perfectly in this form, and thus is much more flexible as he has a much better centre of gravity and no kibble to add unnecessary weight. His wide, bulky feet allow perfect stability for most poses, and his arms having two joints at the shoulder intersection offer an array of dynamic poses.

Most of Ratchet's detail is on the lower half of each limb. His forearms have vents, pistons and cables sculpted on and are accompanied by a very alien-looking hand with three fingers. Each finger has panel lines sculpted on. The side of his lower legs is full of faux gears, pistons and even more cables that are unfortunately cast in green. A little silver on those pistons and some other colours on the cables will make him shine out even more. His head sculpt is definitely alien and has very little resemblance to past incarnations of Ratchet. It's as if he has a grid to cover his cheeks, which ends up on the nose (assuming the mouth is right beneath) and a very angular helmet. A red line is running on the top of his helmet, and he has very good light piping (clear blue used for his eyes).

I was initially disappointed by the weaponry offered with Ratchet. His roof cage converts to a giant claw (or a "stretcher") that mounts on his left forearm, and his right arm has a retractable claw\axe that looks anything but. On the positive side, the claw is integrated perfectly on his arm.

Automorph Gimmick
Ratchet has a simple, non obstructive automorph that revolves around his lower legs-pushing down on his feet extends his knee covers and pushes out the side panels on his legs (with the words "Fire Department"). The knee covers look like they can be pushed manually, and the extending panels are no great loss if the automorph malfunctions along the way.

To sum things up, Ratchet is an impossibly good figure. He's wide and imposing, has lots of articulation points and the body to use them, he looks WICKED when posed just right and has a relatively fun vehicle to boot. I'm quite aware that this review is full of comparisons to Ironhide, but as the only other Voyager I have (and a vehicle to boot), and considering the fact that they were moulds brothers in the past, it comes naturally.

Transformation: 7. Not really difficult, but I felt I was forcing the plastic when extending the doors. The roof connection was also a bit tricky as the thing kept unlocking from it's joint.
Durability: 9. Nothing seems prone to breaking, although the parts just behind the knees have a tendency to snap off, and so does his roof.
Fun: 10. Mediocre vehicle mode, but very solid and poseable robot mode.
Price: 10. For 20-22 USD, it's really a wonder why such a good figure is clustering the shelves.
Overall: 10. I have 4 of the 5 main autobots, and this guy ranks second in the awe factor. I know the neon green must be a disappointing factor for the casual collector, but the stellar robot mode makes up for all the mishaps in vehicle mode and colour. Highly recommended.

 
 
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