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

Name: Ratchet (Limited Edition Best Buy Exclusive Metallic Finish / ‘Premium’)
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Medic
Sub-Group: Voyager Class

Autobot Ratchet is devoted to saving life, no matter what form it takes, or whose it is. No one among the Autobots hasn’t 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.

Ratchet was the last of the Autobots I picked up from the Movie. Although not my least favourite character or design (I think that honour falls on Jazz…), I just could not stand the horrendous luminous green that Hasbro and Takara moulded the Voyager (and Legends Class) figure in! Now, I know Ratchet was rather brightly coloured in the film, but the toys really took this to an extreme. So many of the 2007 live action movie figures were unusually dull and bland in comparison to most Transformers releases in recent years, due to the nature of the film designs, and it just seems that Hasbro latched on to the opportunity to aim a brightly coloured toy at the main Transformers market – children! I am totally cool with this – as I am the addition of blue to Leader Megatron to liven things up a bit. However, unlike Megatron, bright green Ratchet just could not have a place in my collection.

In many ways, it seems a shame that such the Hummer license was used on a bright green custom modified rescue vehicle. This is further compounded by the simple fact that Movie Voyager Ratchet’s mould is absolutely fantastic.

Yet, the only mainstream repaint is a hideous redeco homage to the G1 character.

However, there was an exclusive Best Buy release of the toy with a metallic finish. Unfortunately, living in the UK, I was at the mercy of online scalpers, and did not feel I could justify paying the sums requested for a Voyager figure. This turned out to be a double blow when the Movie Premium series was announced, which allowed me to pick up a decent version of the rather under-rated Jazz mould. Best Buy Ratchet, alas, was considered a forerunner or early installment to this line, and not scheduled for a wider release.

I was fairly dismayed by this turn of events, and had resigned myself to never completing the Big Five movie Autobots.

As time rolled on, though, interest in the two early exclusive metallic finish movie figures (metallic finish Voyager Megatron being the companion piece) seems to have waned, and I was fortuitous enough to pick up Best Buy Ratchet at little more than UK Voyager shelf price!

I have to admit, I am very pleased with the figure, and totally underestimated the mould.

[Packaging note: Interestingly, the standard Movie Voyager Ratchet is depicted in all pictures on the box, while the Rescue Ratchet repaint is shown on the photograph on the instructions, although they are labeled ‘Autobot Ratchet’, and take you through transforming from robot to vehicle, as he is packed (although beware! his windscreen is not correctly transformed when you get him out the box, so be careful turning him into the Hummer).]


Alternate Mode:

Ratchet transforms into a heavily modified Hummer H2, measuring 6 ¾” (17.5cm) from bumper to bumper, placing him at roughly 1/28 scale. The level of detailing is fantastic, and, unlike other reviewers, I don’t think the figure suffers from lack of paint applications – on the contrary, I think that had any more detail been picked out, the figure would have come away appearing cluttered. Also, unlike subsequent ‘Premium’ releases, Best Buy Ratchet does not appear to have any paint applications additional to those on the standard Voyager release.

The majority of the vehicle is a metallic green, which is far duller than the neon of the standard release. As such, the detailing on the bars, tires, mirrors, and underside do not contrast as heavily, while the silver of the lights appear brighter. The red does not appear quite as vibrant, however – both on the light bar, and on the printed details which are so beautifully applied to either side of the Hummer. Indeed, the tiny shield and Autobot insignia on either door are incredibly fine – although the black outlines are misaligned on the left, just as Knightdramon found with the standard release. There is also a gold stripe painted on the rear of the vehicle, and another under each door – also present in the standard release.

The transparent dark blue plastic works well for the windows – although does not completely hide the hinges within. Still, I prefer the transparency to a solid windscreen and door windows which would completely hide these chinks in Ratchet’s disguise!

The one element of the figure which I was particularly pleased with in this mode is the fact that Ratchet’s head is hidden on the underside (at least from the front and sides). I had thought that the head would be visible, based upon photographs – however, I think that the panel which hides the head was absent from many of these (and it does come loose very easily). Still – of my Movie Voyager figures (Ironhide and Blackout being the other two), Ratchet has by far the best disguise. It’s just a shame that you can just see parts of his arms protruding beneath the doors…

It’s not all sunshine and sweets, though. Ratchet’s Hummer mode does not hold together particularly well, and I feel that there is a little too much pressure around the tiny hinges which hold his shoulders / doors to the vehicle. Plus, for some reason, Hasbro cast his feet in black plastic, resulting in two sole-shaped black panels in the roof, which really detracts from the otherwise more ‘realistic’ finish.

Still, overall, a very impressive alternate mode, improved immeasurably by the metallic paint job!


Robot Mode:

Ratchet’s transformation is quite unusual, and belongs to the same family as Leader Class Movie Prime – not like his ex-mould brother turned contortionist, (Movie Voyager Class) Ironhide. And, it’s surprisingly easy, despite it’s complexity – all of his parts lock in place happily (although the rear panels of the Hummer are apt to pop off if you don’t adjust them at the right moment – still, they readily reattach). As far as Automorphs go, his reside in his legs and are utterly pointless – basically, when you flip out his feet, his knees slide out and panels on the insides of his legs protrude, just as with the film design (and, just like his movie counterpart, they have lettering from the Hummer printed along them). Unfortunately, when you pose Ratchet, and shift his feet, you end up with his legs in varying stages of Automorphing. Luckily, the knees and side panels are not particularly obvious at the best of times.

Voyager Ratchet stands an impressive 8” (20cm) tall, and is very bulky, striking an imposing figure beside other Transformers (unlike the gaunt Voyager Ironhide).

I am really impressed at how well the design works – Ratchet has far less faux vehicle parts to create that more authentic Movie design – those are Hummer parts, reconfigured! The design plays on convention, with the front of the Hummer forming the chest – but inverted and warped, with wheels protruding at his shoulders, which looks incredibly cool. I’m also impressed with how little kibble he has – almost everything slides happily into place in this mode, and even the roof rack can be attached to his back (it looks great locked in its open configuration). The peg and socket are designed so as the rack faces downwards in the locked open position. However, it can be arranged so as it faces upwards, with the lights aligning above the wheels on his shoulders, mirroring the Movie design nicely. Alas, I have found this configuration to be rather unstable.

The colours are much the same as with the Hummer, although some of the more interior parts of his robot form (i.e. under the armour plates) are the lime green of the original release, while his hands and elbows are a yellowish gold. These uses of different shades provide added depth to the figure, and surprisingly do not jar. Red and gold stripes decorate various body parts, including his perfectly sculpted head – which benefits from good detail, paint application, and blue light piping. Unfortunately, the feet, although sculpted to match the film design, are cast in solid black (while the Ratchet boasted green plates over much of his feet in the film). A shame – he would have fared better with solid green feet in my opinion, if they had to choose one colour. Alternatively, the green could have been painted on the plates, leaving the black between. Never mind…

Ratchet has two gimmicks (other than Automorph) – he can hold his roof rack as a ‘stretcher’ (erm, maybe for a Legends Class figure…), or use it as a claw (a small peg allows you to open and close it, and it can be locked in the open position), while his right hand can retract, and a butterfly-shaped axe unfolded. I actually really like the axe gimmick (although only one blade is painted with red stripes, while the other’s left plain, which is a bit odd), but don’t care for the basic roof rack thing. However – the peg on the roof rack can act as a Mini-Con port! And so, you can not only attach a Mini-Con to Ratchet, but also use it to activate the claw gimmick. That appeals to me more – certainly the ability to attach a Mini-Con. But I’m a fan of the wee guys. (It’s pretty cool that the Hasbro designers still include Mini-Con ports on some figures in the newer lines. It’s like a hidden underground element of TF culture, only not that sordid… A good few Movie line figures have this feature, as do Classics.)

Ratchet is a real surprise for me – his mould is amazingly good. It’s so unfortunate that the general release versions of this figure are so hideous. This more realistic metallic version just shows how much difference a slightly different shade makes to the figure – it’s such a shame that it was an early exclusive.

However, if you can’t track down this version for a price you’d be happy to pay, I would recommend the bright green standard version, or Rescue Ratchet repaint – both of which so warmed the shelves. The mould is so good, it’s worth suffering the awful colours of the mass market versions!


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 9 – It’s not difficult, although it is fairly unusual – it’s great fun, though, and very well thought out. It’s just a shame the Hummer mode doesn’t seem to hold together that well (it’s just issues with pegs and joints – it has the potential to hold).
Durability: 6 – I am fairly concerned about those hinges at his shoulders, and the rear panels do pop off easily, as does the under panel which hides his head in Hummer mode. He’s a brick otherwise.
Fun: 9 – He’s really great fun! Very well articulated, great transformation, great alternate mode (even if it is a bit rickety). It’s a shame he lacks any real character. Hopefully Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen will set that right in 2009.
Price: 7 – His price is fairly variable just now. A lot of sellers are charging through the nose ( >£40 [$80]) while there are some popping up at more normal Voyager prices. I got mine for £25 including postage to the UK, which I’m chuffed with. (I think the focus has shifted from the Movie line to the Animated figures, perhaps, leaving overpriced metallic Ratchets unsold.)
Overall: 8 – This is a great mould – highly underrated – and this is the best version, in my opinion. However, if you can’t get this release, you owe it to your collection to pick up one of the other two. This is a great Transformer.
 
 
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