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Blackjack's review: Ravage

Name: Ravage
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Infiltration; Espionage; Minion Carrier; Thievery; Sneaking; Appeasing G1/BW fans; Looking generally badass
Sub-Group: ROTF Deluxe Class

"Rawr."

Ravage has always been a fan favourite. Among the original cast of the Transformers, be it the TV show or the comics, Ravage instantly got popular with the kids. Well, because most of the Autobots' robot modes are generic humanoids, perhaps with different colours or a faceplate or two, and all of them turn into cars and trucks. The Decepticons had more variety. The first year started off with a gun for their leader, a trio of F15 jets (which are cooler than, say, a truck), a tape deck with minions (two robots, two condors and a jaguar) that turn into cassettes, and a camera that splits into three robots. Even the most hardcore fans would admit that the Decepticons had more variety in their troops.

Oh, and Ravage is a JAGUAR not a dog or a wolf. So that we're clear.

Voiced by Frank Welker, the jaguar (not a panther, not a wolf, and definitely not. A. Dog.) Decepticon mostly appeared alongside his 'carrier' Soundwave. Now G1 Soundwave, he turns into a microcassette player, and he has five minions who turns into cassettes. The humanoid Frenzy and Rumble, the condors Laserbeak and Buzzsaw, and the panther Ravage. While Ravage usually growls and hisses, he does get a line in the pilot episode (More than Meets the Eye). Ravage would continue appearing throughout season two and had a role in the movie. In season three, however, he all but disappeared, although he had a little screen time in 'Call of the Primitives'.

In the comics, Ravage is a more talkative fella. In fact, all of the animal Cassettecons (Laserbeak, Buzzsaw and Ravage) talk in their comic appearances. While Buzzsaw and Laserbeak later became mute for no apparent reason after issue 5, Ravage still speaks, at least in the UK comics and later US comics. Bob Budiasky put Ravage out of action for a long time by having Skids kick him down a well, but in the UK stories, Ravage was brought online in Time Wars, and subsequently returned to the main US stories when Simon Furman took over. Ravage would make semi-regular appearances throughout the rest of the comic's run.

Does it end there? Nooooo. Being the popular chap he is, Ravage is one of the two G1 transformers (aside from cameos of the deactivated Prime, Megatron, Prowl, et cetera) that traveled into the past from the future. Starscream's immortal spark appeared for one episode of Beast Wars, and in season two, Ravage arrived. Still transforming into a cassette, he had an all-new robot mode (which is basically the Tigatron/Cheetor model with new hands and a different head sprayed black, but hey, it's the thought that counts.). He talks! Ravage's loyalties jump from the Predacons' Tripredacus Council to BW Megatron, and... oh, what the hell, just watch the episode. Regardless, Ravage kicked the bucket and died with the words "DECEPTICONS FOREVEEEEEEER!" on his lips. Alas, poor Ravage. We will miss him dearly...

Wait, what's this? Simon Furman writes Beast Wars comics for IDW? There's a chance that- yes! He resurrected Ravage! Now in a Transmetal 2 body (which is Cheetor's TM2 body with the beast head for the robot, but again, it's the thought that counts), Ravage serves as Magmatron's lieutenant and was a major player in IDW's Beast Wars: the Gathering and Beast Wars: the Ascending.

G1 Ravage has quite a number of toys. In G1 he is a wafer-thin jaguar that transforms into a Microcassette. Much later, this toy was repainted as Howlback and Glit, and was reissued several times. In Beast Wars, Ravage/Tripredacus Agent got a toy, which is a repaint of Cheetor. I think he got a few other Cheetor repaints as toys as well, but I'm not sure. Very recently, in 2008/9, Universe 2.0 released an all-new mold for Ravage, with a more 3-D jaguar mode, but sacrificing weaponry and articulation in the process.

His Japanese name is Jaguar. How very creative.

It is somewhere after G1 that Hasbro lost the trademark for Ravage (which is why the BW toy was marketted as Tripredacus Agent). Therefore, in Transformers: Energon, the Terrorcon that transformed into a jaguar was named Battle Ravage, and repainted into Command Ravage. Nothing much to note about these Ravages; they are just generic Vehicon-esque cannon-fodder.

Oh, and the Shattered Glass universe has their own Ravage! (Well, basically he's the Glit toy with a new name and purpose...)

Flash-forward to 2007. Yes, here comes the movie! Originally, Soundwave was slated to be in the movie, but after negative fan reaction, the character that was supposed to be Soundwave was renamed Blackout. In an earlier draft, Captain Lennox's men were supposed to be stalked by Ravage in a jungle, but the idea was scrapped for being stalked by Scorponok in a desert. Ah. Shoot. Well, there's always the sequel, no? After much rumours, the first teaser surfaced, and did we get Ravage? Oh yes. Appearing in his new cyclopean Movieverse design in the very first trailer, Ravage received mostly positive feedback. He's awesome.

Then, came June 2009, and Revenge of the Fallen hit the screens. Ravage first appeared when Soundwave 'ejected' Ravage (a meteor/protoform instead of a cassette now) towards the NEST base in Diego Garcia to steal the AllSpark shard. Landing on the coast of the island, Ravage showed us his new kick-ass design. Single yellow eye, a mouth full of teeth, lean feline body, two large weapons on his hind legs and a tail with stinger. Crap, he's badass. And ROTF Ravage is definitely a higher ranking Decepticon that his G1 counterpart. Why? Because G1 Ravage is a minion, shot out by Soundwave when he's too lazy to do something ROTF Ravage comes with his own army of minions (minions of a minion of Soundwave), the Marble-bots. Vomiting the bakugan marbles into the AllSpark containment unit, the Marble-bots transformed, and combined into a reed-thin figure, dubbed 'Reedman' in the credits. Reedy stole the shard, and with Ravage providing cover-fire, they escaped. Next scene they appear in, Ravage landed onboard a ship (using some kind of jets), and with four Constructicons (Long Haul, Rampage, Mixmaster and a Scrapper) dived to Megatron's final resting place. Ravage ejected the Doctor (a.k.a. Scalpel). The Doctor ordered the Scrapper-like Constructicon to be killed, and then used the AllSpark to resurrect Megatron.

Ravage reappeared in the final Egyptian battle, padding around alongside Starscream and Long Haul as they search for Sam and Mikaela, who are hiding in a house. A few scenes later, after Bumblebee killed Rampage, Ravage leaped at 'Bee, clipping off several pieces from Bumblebee. 'Bee grabbed Ravage's tail and head, and pulled. Hard. By pulling the tail, Ravage's liquid-covered spine was torn clean off the body, and Bumblebee threw what's left of Ravage onto the ruins. That's the end of Ravage's movie career. Still, better than nothing. Oh, and Ravage is one of the few transformers that still have their original voice actor in the movie. Frank Welker provides the vocals (rawrs and growls) for ROTF Ravage and G1 Ravage 25 years ago. Frank Welker also provides the voice of G1 and ROTF Soundwave. In the second movie, 'voice actor god' Welker provides the roars and voices of Grindor, Devastator, Soundwave, Ravage and Reedman (the marble-bot formed thingy). In G1, he voiced all of the season 1 Decepticons bar Reflector, Starscream and Thundercracker. Welker also voices Wheelie and Galvatron (in the TV series) as well as a whole slew of other Transformers--Blades, Mirage, Chromedome, Groove, Superion, the Sweeps, the Sharkticons, Mixmaster, Ratbat and assorted animal/human voices. Other than the Transformers, he voices Garfield, Abu from Aladdin, Scooby Doo, the Cave of Wonders, a parrot, Dr Claw, Darkseid, Toyman, Fred, Experiment 621, Wild Bill and Gus Goose, among a few hundred other characters. He also does random animal sounds for TV shows and movies. Yeah. I'm impressed.

Soooo... picking up from Scorponok in the last movie, Ravage is a fully bestial Transformer. Scorponok never transformed, and Ravage never did as well (other than from Protoform to kitty) so I expected the toy to be like Scorponok. Some kind of Action Master Elite, focusing on one kickass awesome beast mode and adding a half-decent second mode (robot mode in Scorponok's case) as an afterthought. Ravage's was the same. However, I wouldn't mind a toy like that, as long as it's decent. Like Scorpy, Ravage is a deluxe class toy, and my first impression was that he's totally kickass.

KITTY MODE

First off... ROTF Ravage doesn't exactly look like a jaguar.

In fact, it doesn't look like any living animal on Earth... It's got mainly feline features, but while G1 Ravage was based on a jaguar (or a puma or a panther), ROTF Ravage is not based on any living (or dead) felines. Sure, it's still quadruped, and it has the basic cat or dog body shape, sleek yet powerful looking. The face has a single purple eye placed in the middle of a feline-esque head. The head looks like a cat... sharp pointy ears, angled features, additional chin potrusions, and two... flat wing-like growths on his cheeks. Oh, and he has no nostrils. The result is a very bestial look, and definitely not from this Earth.

Although I really wished they made his eye orange-red like in the movie, it would stand out more.

Ravage is a nice representation of his character model. Gray-coloured spines line his back, and threatening claws adorn the joints. Two machine-gun-esque weaponry are placed above his hind legs, reminiscent of G1 Ravage's own weaponry. Also, a very long tail ending in a large claw-like... pincer thing. Gave him a scorpion-esque look.

The main colour is black, with light gray on parts of the joints and the lower hind legs, which harks back to G1. The spines are a purple-gray. Cobalt (dark green-blue) line his chassis and many other details to freshen him up a little. Darker shades of gray and cobalt round up the colour scheme. The result is Geewun-esque, especially with the silver finish on the back thighs, the weapon placement and the gray lower legs, resembling the similarly chromed part of the G1 toy.

His limbs are very posable and fun to pose with. Numerous joints on the legs gave him a really Action Master-esque feel. Even the gun can move up and down, and the tail has two bending joints and a spinning joint midway, though it can't go over the back like Scorponok's. He has four claws on each limb, two longer ones pointing forward and two shorter ones pointing backwards, with Bayformer spikes on the joints. This means Ravage can maintain a large number of poses without toppling.

Oh, and his back half and frontal half are joined by a ball joint. It gives him additional posability, but (whether intentional or not) this makes him very show accurate. Unlike Jazz, he can actually be torn apart into two like his death scene in the movie. Nice.

Now for the Mech-Alive gimmicks. For the likes of Chromia, Demolishor or Skids, the Mech-Alive gimmick doesn't really get in the way of transformation, and looks neat as a little additional bonus. However, some are utter fail. Ravage's is one of them. Basically this just means you push one of the spines backwards and the head moves forward and the jaw opens, and the facial spines move. Now this isn't bad, a nice bonus. However, to make way for this gimmick, Ravage's neck articulation was sacrificed, and his head is static. Ravage could've been a much better toy if they canceled the gimmick, kept the hinge for the mouth and added a ball joint in the neck.

Sadly, the Marble-cons and their gestalt form Reedy (credits call him Reedman, while the novelization called him 'the reed-thin figure'. Reedy it is, then.) aren't included. Boo hiss.

Overall, Ravage's a mean little kitty. A mean little metal demon kitty from space, that is. Posability is excellent, and he can strike a number of badass poses. The failing thing is that they could've expanded the tail's joints a bit more, and we could do without the gimmick, but those are minor complaints.

PROTOFORM MODE

As much as I'm tempted to write a sarcastic remark here and go straight to the marking system, I've found myself loving the comet mode.

While the only other toys that tried to emulate a protoform/re-entry mode are Protoform Starscream and Protoform Optimus Prime from the first movie (both toys finally found their use depicting Screamer and Prime's Cybertronian robot modes). Basically Prime's is just a gray comet with a window-cab slapped on, while Screamer's is a brown comet with a Seeker chest slapped on.

Ravage's transformation isn't as straightforward as it seemed. While the end result looks like the kitty from hell with the front legs covering the face with the back legs and tail hiding under, Ravage's protoform mode (which, according to his bio, is faster than 15 times the speed of sound. The speed of sound in air is approximately 330 m/s. Do the math. He's that fast.) actually has insectoid wings that slide out during transformation. His weapons are raised up like tanks, to blow up whatever obstacle that stood in front of this meteor. Lastly, the tail spikes unfolds like a dagger/bayonet, making Ravage a mean meteor.

There are molded rocket afterburners and a cockpit-esque thing in what used to be Ravage's stomach. Nice detailing. While I still consider this a 'bonus' mode to complement the excellent kitty mode, unlike Scorponok's half-assed 'let's give him the standard Scorponok transformation scheme and call it a robot mode!', at least some work have been put into Ravage's protoform mode. Nice to see Hasbro actually cares for once.

Nice to see the movie interpretation of a 'cassette', mm? Oh, and this isn't the only Protoform Ravage toy. ROTF Soundwave also comes with a missile that is sculpted like this, sans the guns and wings. And face.

Overall, this is a lame alternate mode, but then, I consider it as an afterthought. This figure is so awesome that even if it's an Action Master (Elite, actually. European's Action Master Elite... a posable mode and a halfhearted alt-mode), I'll still buy it.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation- 3/10 Not particularly hard, but you'll need instructions for the first time to see all the steps that needed to be done. I don't really mind.
Durability- 8/10 Some of the joints feel loose, especially the ball joint connecting the two halves of the body together. The plastic joining the tail and the backside might break if you force it too hard. Otherwise, he's very sturdy.
Fun- 10/10 As usual, I am very gracious with the fun portion. But that's because it's justifiable. Even the protoform mode is fun. You can practically recreate every scene in which Ravage appeared (even his death, if you have the Ultra class Bumblebee) save for ejecting those marblecons.
Price- 8/10 You get a wonderful 'Action Master Elite'. A wonderful kitty mode, and a not-too-useless protoform mode.
Overall- 9/10 Go get him. Rawr.
 
 
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