Iron birds of fortune
Adrift above the skies
Unseen by naked eyes
Flying tools of torment
Will penetrate the sphere
Erupt the rock of ages
Bringing final fear
That's the song that scores the Decepticon raid on the Autobot shuttle to Earth and the subsequent massacre of the crew. Remember that great line, "Such heroic nonsense", that Megatron utters just before blowing off the head of the dying Autobot? The scene stuck in my head because up until that point, I could never imagine any of these characters taking a hit. You grew up on G.I. Joe and Transformers and He-Man, and you began to think that these people were 1) all immortal, and 2) extremely bad shots. Cartoon characters in the 80's could have given Vogons a run for their money as the worst sharpshooters in existence.
Ironhide was one of those that died on the shuttle, and was in fact the poor "heroic" SOB who got his head smooshed by Megatron's enery cannon. Sad really since he was one of the most fleshed out characters from the first two seasons, interacting with the humans and enjoying life on Earth. The 80's toy looked NOTHING like the cartoon version. The only real parallel was that the two were red and transformed into vans. If you want to see how ridiculous the G1 toy looked like, go to Toy Kingdom and ask about the Ironhide/Ratchet Encore figures. Predictably, they are keeping a few shelves warm for new toys next year.
Thankfully, the new Transformers Universe version looks nothing like the G1 toy. When you first get him, he's in his vehicle mode which frankly speaking, is dissapointing. He's no longer a van, but a weird station wagon/SUV thing. He's like a Cybertronian Soccer Mom.
His headlights and brake lights are all translucent, which is unnecessary, but welcome. You'll notice is that while the windshield, back window and the front door windows are clear plastic, the rear windows and sun roof are not. I can see where this might be necessary, since the transformation involves breaking those rear doors into many differnt parts, but they've painted them over with a rather ugly sky blue. Why not a nice blackish tint which would not have clashed with the red and hidden the cracks, you ask? I really don't know. There's also a hole in the windows at the very back of the car. Why isn't if filled in? I really don't know.
The clear plastic also creates a problem. This being a mass market figure, materials are never as good as they should be. Hasbro tends to skimp on paint, and it looks like the color they used to paint the windshield comes off very easily. You just have to look at the coat the wrong way and it chips. The above picture was taken after two days of regular play.
Other than that one piece, there's no paint applications to speak of in this mode. It's all cast in a rather cheap looking red plastic that makes this look like a Happy Meal toy. If you're going to be displaying him in this form, I'd suggest shelling out for a Japanese Henkei version of the toy. The plastic is noticably darker, with better paints and vac-mettalized parts.
Me, I'd rather keep him in robot mode.
Now this is what' I'm talking about.
In this mode the crusty old soldier looks much closer to his G1 character; bodyguard to Prime, and the Autobot's trusted sargeant. That awful blue of the windows is hidden behind his arms so he's a nice mix of gray, black, and red.
He comes with a great chain gun weapon which slides onto his wrist once you've folded his hand out of the way. with enough imagination, you can pretend it's his firefighting foam launchers. The weapon also has a pop out blade that is supposed to be a "sword" but barely passes as a shoehorn. It's way to short to look like a sword. The whole thing fits nicely under his chassis when he transforms, so if you tend to lose accessories like I do, rejoice.
Articulation is king in my book and this toy has lots. Most of the really necessary stuf is here; head shoulders knees and toes etc. Thigh cuts are present thank zeus. The only thing missing is some extra arm movement. As it is, you need to fiddle with several joints to get them into place since the arms are made from those brokens sections of window that I was ranting about before.
One of the greatest things about his articulation is his feet. He's got a nice wide footprint for stablility and can do all kinds of one footed ballerina/ninja moves, but instead of a simple hinge joint, they gave him a nice ball joint similar to the ones that Stikfas figures have. It allows him to do nice splits that make my crotch hurt just from looking at it
Now the real problem with the US version of Ironhide is one you'll hear all about if you've visited one of the toy forum boards; he's a smurf in disguise. In stead of the silver paint he should have on his face, it looks as if Hasbro skimped yet again and forgot a layer. They left it that same ugly baby blue. Now, it's not as noticeble as you might think, since the blue photographs like silver in the right light, and you can't really see it unless you're holding the toy, but quality control is quality control.
If you're picky, I'd go with the Henkei version of Ironhide. It has the vac-metal chrome parts, silver face, deep red paint, etc. Of course, you have to be willing to pay P1,300 instead ot the P700 asking price of the Hasbro one. Then again, it's a bitch hunting this boy down,so you might not have a choice.