Transformers PRIME - Robots In Disguise Autobot Ratchet
(February, 2012) Overview: Well, the Transformers Prime-Robots In Disguise toyline has finally hit the store shelves. Amongst the lineup are the second wave of deluxe-class "revealers" toys, which includes both Arcee and Chief Medical-Officer Ratchet, which is one of the toys I've really been waiting for.
Ratchet is my favorite character on "Transformers PRIME", which is saying something since I'm such an Optimus Prime/Peter Cullen fanboy. The fact is, I've been a fan of Ratchet as a character since MARVEL made such good use of him time-and-again in their G1 Transformers comics, but even that nostalgia-factor wasn't what really cemented his position in the PRIME series. No, it was the stellar voice-work of the awesome Jeffrey Combs that did it. I've been a fan of Combs since waaaaay back in the mid-80's when he featured so prominently in the Lovcraftian shocker 'Re-Animator', and its sequel. He would go on to feature in such genre fare as the disturbing 'Castle Freak', the very Doctor Strange-esque 'Doctor Mordrid', and Peter Jackson's comic-thriller 'The Frighteners' which would be Michael J. Fox's last feature-film. He's also well-known to Trekkies thanks to recurring roles on 'Star Trek-Deep Space Nine' as the Ferengi, Brunt, and the Vorta-Clone known as Weyoun, and would later become a semi-regular on 'Star Trek-Enterprise' as the Andorian Commander Shran. He's also done quite a bit of voice-work, garnering particular praise from comic fans thanks to his superb work on 'Justice League Unlimited' as the enigmatic and paranoid hero, The Question.
In a rather odd note, this acquisition marks my very first purchase of ANY version of Ratchet. The 1984 original has eluded me for many years, and once I've managed to snag Ratchet and Sunstreaker, I'll have completed my collection of first-year Transformers toys. Also, I never saw Universe Ratchet in stores, and he's become a pricey target in the time since. BUT, I think I've rambled on enough. Let's get on with the review, shall we?
Review: Like all the RID deluxes, Ratchet comes packaged in his vehicle mode. The RID packaging is predominantly white, with red accents for Autobots. The overall effect is quite nice, and thus the RID cards make for an attractive MOC display. On the back, we get a bio for the toy within, and Hasbro's rather infamous, over-processed stock-photos, along with what amounts to an advert for the Transformers PRIME television series. In what I consider a nice and useful touch, each toy in the series is numbered, and the number appears on the back of the card, and also on the lower right side of the cardboard insert behind the plastic blister on the front.
Now released from his plastic and cardboard prison, we can get a better look at Ratchet in his ambulance mode. His front and rear bumpers, and his grille, are painted silver. His hood and roof is predominantly a bright shade of red, and the rest of him is predominantly white: both hallmarks of most versions of Ratchet. The white paint used on the translucent blue windshield/roof parts matches up with the white plastic that comprises the greater portion of the toy's construction.
It quickly becomes apparent that we're seeing a typical lack of certain paint-applications as well. In Ratchet's case, his hubcaps are unpainted, which has become a common Hasbro theme, and the red "heart monitor" deco along the sides of the rear-portion of the ambulance are absent. Also, save for the silver on the bumper, the back of the ambulance is just a mass of unpainted white plastic. What may be most annoying is the fact that the light-bar is represented by two red paint-apps on white plastic, and the result doesn't look much like a light-bar at all.
Unfortunately, there's a rather sizable gap between the hood/roof halves in the ambulance mode. I don't know if this is a design issue, or a QC issue in my case. Its somewhat unsightly, but not a dealbreaker. Also, you'll notice two large holes on the far sides of the front bumper, and here is where you can plug Ratchet's battle-blades while he's in vehicle mode, so he can...cut things while driving I guess. I consider this to be pretty silly, but hey, maybe the kids will dig it. The blades, by the way, are made of a rubbery, silver plastic.
Ratchet's transformation isn't too difficult at all, but some care should probably be taken when separating the two sets of side panels. Also, when you slide down the rear-portion of the ambulance onto Ratchet's back, SURPRISE, his head snaps out automatically, jack-in-the-box style, minus "Pop Goes the Weasel". Once transformed, Ratchet is again predominantly white, with red and silver trim. His knee-guards, biceps, hips, and the parts holding the translucent roof/hood sections in place are cast in a medium silver-gray plastic. Translucent blue plastic is used to give him light-piped eyes, and that effect comes off quite nicely. He has fake panels on his chest that are intended to be his vehicle-mode doors, complete with a metallic blue paint where the windows would be. Some people find this sort of thing to be a cheat, but it doesn't bother me one bit. Besides, it would have been VERY hard to pull off this aspect of the transformation in a larger toy, let alone a deluxe.
Again, there are some problems with a lack of paint-apps in robot mode as well. The sections on his upper-legs that are intended to be reflectors-lights are unpainted, and there's no red trip around the fake chest-windows. His forearms lack the red seen in the show, but that would not have been possible to replicate without adding red to portions of the Ambulance mode where it simply doesn't exist in the show. This is an annoying design conflict, and the presence of the heart-monitor deco would have helped here a little bit.
Ratchet is quite poseable, and has hinged knees and elbows, and a second hinge connecting to the bicep-swivel as well. His waist swivels, as do his thighs, and he has ball-jointed hips and shoulders. Due to his transformation, his shoulders can also tilt backwards as well, which can add to his poseability. His head is ball-jointed, but its movement is limited due to a lack of clearance. However, its not too bad. His wrists do not turn, but they do tilt back as part of his transformation.
Speaking of the wrist-tilt, that leads to Ratchet's battle-blades. He can hold them like regular knives, or you can tilt his hands back while he's holding the blades so you can duplicate their appearance in the TV-series. Once that's done, Ratchet is ready to join Optimus Prime and perform some battlefield surgery!
The Good: Despite climbing prices, deluxe-class Transformers remain a good value, and that's an important consideration for both parents and Transformers enthusiasts. Ratchet has a solid if unspectacular vehicle-mode that tabs together very well. He transforms into a very poseable robot mode that's quite faithful to his TV-series appearance. His battle-blades add to the play-factor, and look pretty cool when deployed in the TV-series manner. Also, his light-piping works really well.
The Bad: The biggest problem is a lack of paint-applications, but to be honest I'm used to that at this point. I dislike the gap in his hood in vehicle mode, and I dislike the peg-holes for the battle-blades on his front-bumper. Also, the price of deluxes has gone up a bit, while their mass has shrunk somewhat. While that's just the reality of things these days, I don't have to like it.
Verdict: I've been anticipating this toy for a couple of months now, and I'm not disappointed. I think the designers did a pretty good job in duplicating his in-show look as best they could. He's fun to play with, and looks good on my shelf. As I've said before about other toys in the deluxe size-class, Ratchet has a lot of playability, and a child could easily tote this toy around to the playground, or take it along for a trip to Grandma's. And if you happen to be a collector who displays their toys at work, he looks neat and doesn't take up much space.
My overall grade for this toy would be a solid B, and it comes with my recommendation.
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Last Revised: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012