Articulation: 22 total points - Ball joint neck; Swivel waist; 6 points each arm: Double joint shoulder, upper arm swivel, upper arm hinge, hinge elbow, hinge wrist; 4 points each leg: Ball joint hip, thigh swivel, double hinge knee.
Colors: Molded white, clear blue, black, grey; Painted red, light blue, silver, white.
Accessories: Battle Blades x2
Release Data: Released in March, 2012 in the United States at a retail price of US$12.99
No matter what I ultimately may think of the Transformers Prime toyline, it was
always clear to me that I would have to have a Ratchet. Though any Ratchet can
be a cranky, battle-weary old medic (aside from the movie version who three
films later I still have zero idea of as a character), what grabs this version
and sets him apart is the voice talent of Jeffrey Combs. Though rare to find
him not playing a villain or vague nutjob or some combination of the two ideas,
when he does play a different role you get a character brought to life just by
the way the lines are read. Ratchet was an early favorite in the premiere
miniseries of Transformers Prime, and continues to be a highlight of every
episode he appears in. My great regret of the toy is just that it wasn't a
Voyager to properly depict the size granted by the vehicle form.
"Just because Autobot Ratchet chooses to avoid fighting doesn't mean he never learned how. His intimate knowledge of anatomy allows him to strike with surgical precision, making a fight against him a very painful losing proposition."
Despite other claims that this Ratchet is a "real" ambulance, it really isn't. In the grand tradition of the name, this is still much more of a conversion job on a large SUV or maybe small off-road truck like a Land Rover to serve in a first response role rather than something that could transport patients. Telling in this is the relatively large driver compartment door size, implied second-row windows (plus the rear section not being expanded compared to the driver compartment), and the rear panel not having access doors, but just a variety of hatches of equipment lockers that would otherwise all be internal in a full size ambulance. This is the kind of rescue vehicle that likely would be attached to a fire department and work at an emergency site to triage and administer first aid while waiting for the real ambulances to arrive. In that capacity, the vehicle mode is probably not too far out of scale to other Deluxe cars in the Prime lines. But it is just a little bit sad to find that after all this time and being cruelly teased with the idea, there still isn't a Ratchet that becomes a typical sort of ambulance.
Ratchet is reasonably solid. My example has some issue of panels not wanting to really close flush, especially the forward roof and windshield panels. This may be an isolated case, as well as it might take some extra corrections during transformation to help everything seat a little more precisely. I hope so, at least - one thing I really hate in vehicle Transformers is panels that won't close fully and leave big gaps visible. Ratchet has good ground clearance, as well as enough weight to make sure the wheels will actually roll and not tend to drag on smooth surfaces. There are tabs to store Ratchet's weapons inside the door panels, and even with the blades in place, there's no need to worry about them scraping as the toy rolls along. Ratchet has two 5mm peg holes in the middle of the roof, behind the easy-to-miss light bar. While they're practically useless for the weapons Ratchet comes with, I'm sure they'd be good for arming the toy with borrowed gear from other toys! For Ratchet's own weapons, the holes on the front bumper might be a little more helpful.
And here I thought Wheeljack had unintuitive steps! Just for the highlights, snapping the windshield panels in place on the back of the legs is going to feel like you're doing something really bad to the toy the first time, but the thick flanges in the hinge arms are supposed to lock in behind the knee. The tailgate triggers the head to pop up on a spring when it's moved in place as the backpack, and is immobilized the rest of the time, so don't try to start with that, even though it'll at first seem to most obvious place to try. Plus, the forearms come together in a kind of neatly designed panel wraparound system that I find myself wishing a few other toys had been able to utilize.
The thick torso and rounder proportions help to indicate the sense that Ratchet's CG model gives off, looking like an overweight human. Mind you, as an overweight human I wish I looked this flat-stomached. But compared to what are sometimes downright Bruce Timm body styles, Ratchet can clearly be seen as chunkier than the average bot. But much like Animated, this is accomplished through a lot of cheating. The entire torso is its own block of material that doesn't contribute to the vehicle mode at all, and much the same can be said of the legs. But like Animated, it is something of a requirement to transition from a very square truck to a much more round robot, and Ratchet is so far probably one of the worst cases of this practice even counting Arcee. But outside of having a ridiculous number of moving parts and a super-fragile build, the options are limited while still adhering to the established character model. And that is one thing this manages, even if sometimes in a vague sense. For one, the face is a lot more simple. To borrow the comparison once more, it looks like it was taken from a Bruce Timm character with the general smoothness and big, wide chin. It loses some of the personality and especially age carried in the character model. Part of it is the sculpt, another is that the eyes look too big because while the pupils are molded in, there's nothing to prevent the rest of the eye lighting up with them and making them look huge. A lot of the subtle elements in the face on the cartoon just aren't well represented in plastic, so it looks off even while following the major, obvious design elements. Same thing happens with the (fake) doors on the chest. In cartoon, the windows are 90% transparent, so you see the red behind them, but the toy opts for blue paint over white plastic, completely changing the color balance of the torso. It's things like that, which are by themselves minor and often unavoidable, but they get together and really start standing out and throw off just how close the generally really well done sculpt actually looks to the character. There's a little more to that as well, but I'll cover that separately in a bit.
Ratchet is a pretty limber old dude. Posing suffers for not having a swivel in the forearm or wrist, but it hits some notes otherwise. The head has some restricted movement because of the high collar around it, and the ball joint is limited even then to mostly swivel. It can rock back a little, but it tends to jump forward again as soon as you let it go. The extra transformation joints in the shoulders are pretty good for posing, though it would have been really fantastic to let them sweep forward some and not just back. The legs are a bit restricted in general, especially the knee which despite two hinges can never even quite reach 90 degrees, a result of the vehicle panels stuck on the calves. The hips don't get much forward range either. Thing is, it kinda works for the character; he's an old dude, so of course he's not going to be quite so flexible around the hips. Thanks to the large degree of fakery in the transformation, Ratchet is able to have a waist joint, too! One surprising element is how stable the robot's stance is. The feet are pretty big, and have nice, squared edges. They do such a good job that as long as nothing is over balanced, only one foot needs to be fully on your table to keep a solid stance. And with a bit of care, it's not hard to balance Ratchet just on one foot, either!
One specific element I want to talk about is the paint. It's not about the quality of the applications or anything, not exactly. See, Ratchet is kind of not as colored in as the cartoon model. That's not exactly a new happening or anything. But I kinda can't get over the idea that if less of the transformation was cheated with separate parts, the paint coverage overall might have been a little more complete. I think it's fine that they did as much as they could to make both modes physically accurate even when physics is against the idea, but what did we lose by having such a number of surfaces effectively repeated between modes, and both needing to have the same basic coverage twice? I'm probably thinking on it too much. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish Ratchet had a bit more red in both modes. There's sure a LOT of bare white plastic here...
Ratchet comes with a pair of his "battle blades". These are cast in extremely rubbery plastic, all one piece in a neutral grey. And when I say rubbery, I mean these are some of the softest plastic implements I've dealt with in Transformers, and maybe even in general for toys - and I have some history with figures that have soft plastic weaponry, let me tell you. My main concern here is to be careful about storing these; they will warp, and they'll warp easily. For something this bendy, it doesn't take much length at all to happen.
A couple of interesting points with these. First is they're not identical, they're specifically made for a left or right hand. ...which as I get thinking about it may be a QC problem in the waiting since the difference is subtle. I wouldn't be surprised to find two like blades every now and then. Anyway, there's a space on each blade to make space for the thumb of the intended hand. They can be held by whichever hand, but they only really fit the one hand they were designed for.
The other bit of note is not only is it officially depicted as such, but the blades don't even fit well unless the hands are turned in so that it looks like the blades are projecting out of the forearms. This is the intended use at every level. Where again it will work to a point otherwise, it's only right this way. Alternately, you can plug them in the holes above the ankles and look REALLY interesting.
Those as noted earlier, there is storage for these in vehicle mode, there's not any facility to keep them when not in use in robot mode. And as soft as the blades are to start with, I'd be worried to try to improvise some storage.
I'm a bit torn. It is a physically well done representation of Ratchet, even though it uses a lot of trickery to accomplish it. But I don't mind that on its own when it's to the cause of a better toy in both forms. Give me a solid toy that fakes its way along rather than the same in many tiny parts to all line up perfectly any time. The only hesitation I have with it is the resulting sparse paint coverage and paint that sometimes by necessity changes the look of parts versus how the animation depicts it. Alas in this case, the Takara alternative is worse if anything. Ratchet's definitely a nice figure and I like it even besides being a representation of probably my favorite Autobot among this cast, but man I wish it had more color.
Fortunately, since that can be fixed on the user end with paint or maybe a Reprolabels to come later, it's not something I want to hold against the figure. I'm very very happy with its toy qualities, and I am glad I was able to find and buy one without shipping costs and online markups. Ratchet is Very Good on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale, and could be truly Excellent with some detail painting. Certainly a much better net result than the Soundwave I now almost wish I hadn't bought!
|Date||March 26th 2012|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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