Ratchet: Transformers The Movie

Originally posted at slangards.multiply.com on Dec 18, '08

As I said on my Transformers The Movie (TFtM) Nightwatch Optimus Prime review, I'm not a big fan of this line. I enjoyed the movie for what it was (a great big Hollywood Blockbuster Event), but I never once thought of Michael Bay's Transformers as the ones that I grew up with. From the complexity of their transformations to the cookie cutter characters this movie just wasn't what it could have been.

The same goes for the toys. Because Bay insisted his movie heroes be overly complex, the toymakers were forced to try and duplicate that. Hence you have Transformer toys that have tiny little useless pieces that need to flip out, fold down, or get lost. In addition, you've got all kinds of garishly unecessary paint applications and sculpted planes on these toys meant to imitate the thousands of moving parts in the screen robots. Suffice to say, it doesn't work.

That was why I was pleasantly surprised by the Voyager version of Ratchet. One, he's big. One and a half, he's HEAVY. Two, he's relatively simple compared to the others in the line I bought. Three, Toy Kingdom recently decided to put their stocks of him on sale at P800, about 40% off their initial asking price. It's a real sweet deal if you can still find him on shelf.

The packaging of the TFtM line isn't one of my favorites. Deluxe class toys (mid-sized Transformers) come on card/bubble packs that need to be destroyed to get the toys out. The Voyager (large-sized Transformers) class ones like Ratchet come in boxes that aren't very sturdy and tend to get deformed rather quickly. There's alot of wasted space and about a yard of twist ties. Neither is welcome to a collector. There is a nice window to see through to view the toy, but since paint apps aren't really that much of an issue and not many Transformer collectors keep their toys in the boxes, that's not really a problem.

Ratchet comes out of the box in vehicle mode, a rugged looking Fire Department rescue vehicle. The truck is pretty solid, except in the door area, which is mostly just a facade to hide the robot parts from view. The vehicle itself is pretty good looking, something that might roll down the street at the scene of a fire in the States, with a lot of cage work around it (to protect it from explosions and falling debris maybe?).

I was never sure why they chose the color though, since all the Fire Department vehicles I remember from the States were red and white. Did that change since I left? It may just be as simple as to diffrentiate him from Optimus Prime. There is a later version of him repainted predominantly white like his Generation 1 counterpart (called Rescue Ratchet), but it's ugly if you ask me. The green and black scheme actually looks good on him, if you don't let my preconceptions get in the way.

The transformation is pretty satisfying and it's one of the reasons that this toy won me over. Many in this line are more complicated than they need to be (ie. Ironhide) and tend to just piss you off after awhile, not even resulting in a good looking robot form. Ratchet is relatively straightforward compared to those guys; flip out the legs, turn them, pull out his arms, pull down his chest and lock it, uncover his face and PRESTO! You've got an imposing robot ready to take on the bad guys.

Robot rachet's got more kibble (truck parts that show through on his robot form) than he's got in his vehicle mode, but it's stuff that kind of adds character. Like his wheels, which look like great big shoulder armor. The cage that rests on top of his truck mode is a kind of sheild thingie. It doesn't look all that good actually, but you can either pretend it's got energy coursing through it and deflects weapons fire like a true geek (pew! pew! pa-PING!)... or just take it off.

Initially, I was kind of put off by his puny arms, which look insanely tiny at first glance, but after playing with it and putting him in other poses, they're actually in proportion. The balance between arms and legs makes Ratchet look as if he is carrying a ton of mass, along with a whole lotta inertia when he gets going. A punch from one of those puny arms would go through a skyscraper wall. Basically, it looks weird, but it works.

The one thing that doesn't work is his "axe". If you flip out the armor on his right arm, and unfold it, you get this thing that looks like a butterfly shaped ping pong racket. Not an energon axe. A butterfly shaped ping pong racket. It's ridiculous - just look at the picture.

But it's like his shield. If you don't like it, put it away. All in all, I'd give Ratchet 4 stars out of 5. His mass and relatively simple design make him a great addition to a collection. If you have a choice between him and Ironhide, go for this one. Despite lower demand, Ratchet really is the better of the two Voyager class Movie Autobots.

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