Allow me to reiterate my feelings on Transformers toys. I collected them as a kid and I had a bunch of them. Because the American toy line was made up of transforming robot figures from multiple Japanese toy lines the size and quality of the toys was not consistent. The toys often had crappy articulation, were too delicate, or did not resemble the characters as they appeared in the cartoons and comics. This is why I parted with 90% of my Transformer toys as a tween. I loved the characters but the toys often failed to capture what I loved about them. Obviously I wish I hadn’t parted with them now but what’s done is done and I’m not interested in re-acquiring all of the old toys that I used to have. What I collect now are newer versions of those characters that I loved. Old school purists might disagree with me but the Transformers being produced today are superior to the ones released in the 80s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the most nostalgic guys you’ll ever meet and I have a soft spot for all of those old figures but they didn’t make for the best play things when I was a kid and they don’t make for the best display pieces now that I’m an adult. The new figures being produced are much more articulated and most importantly they actually resemble the source material. The problem that I have now is that the brand has been around for 30+ years and there’s a whole lot of source material out there that I’m not interested in which the toys are being based on.
The best example is those god awful Michael Bay movies. I hate the way the Transformers looked in those movies and for years I’ve had to put up with Hasbro producing figures based on Bay’s crap-tacular designs. Years before that all of the Transformer toys being produced were based on the CG Beast Wars cartoon which I know has a big following but it was never my cup of tea. I’m a G1 (Generation 1) fan and I’m usually pretty strict about only collecting G1 style figures. I only wish Hasbro spent more time making toys based on the G1 designs.
Ratchet was one of the greatest G1 characters who had one of the worst G1 toys. Ratchet is the Autobot medic who has been a part of the brand since its inception. He had a bigger role in the Marvel comics that even Optimus Prime back in the day. In an early story line all of the Autobots had been taken out of commission by the Decepticons except for Ratchet. He singlehandedly saved the team, “created” the Dinobots, and even developed a personal feud with Megatron.
Ratchet has appeared in almost every incarnation of the Transformers since Generation 1 and he pretty much always transforms into an ambulance. He was even one of the few characters chosen to appear in the live action series.
The first Ratchet figure released back in 1984 was an absolute disgrace. It was the exact same toy as Ironhide, another prominent Transformer that has been around since day 1, only Ironhide was a red minivan while Ratchet was a white one with ambulance deco. When they were transformed into their robot modes they didn’t have heads. No joke, they had no heads. Hasbro included a face sticker which could be placed on the seat in his chest to simulate a face. It was retarded.
Ever since Hasbro began producing the “Classics/Generations” figures in 2006 Ratchet has been high on my “want list”. He’s a cool character with a lot of history and I wanted a modern figure of him based on his classic 80s look from the comics and cartoons. Ratchet remains an important character to the mythos and is featured heavily in the current G1 inspired comics published by IDW which makes him even more desirable. There’s nothing like reading a great story about a character to make me want to display him on my shelf. A very nice new G1 version of the character was released under the “Transformers Universe” banner in 2008 but unfortunately he never showed up in my local stores and he’s really expensive on the secondary market. So my shelves have remained Ratchetless for quite some time.
But as of 2010 there has been a new Transformers animated show on the air called PRIME which spun out of the live action movies. I’ve seen a couple episodes of the show and it’s not too bad and to my surprise they have some pretty cool new designs for some classic characters. I picked up and reviewed the Prime version of Soundwave a while back not because I liked the new design necessarily but because I thought it was interesting. I’ve also bought Prime versions of Cliffjumper and Arcee. Around Christmas time I stumbled across this Prime version of Ratchet. I was going to pass it by initially but after closer inspection I got to thinking that it was pretty cool. It wasn’t as radical a departure from his G1 look as Soundwave was, in fact he retained many of his G1 characteristics including the red pointy plate on his brow. I decided it was better to have this Ratchet in my collection than none at all so I picked him up. Once I got him home and opened him up I found myself really liking it. The colors are bright and vibrant, the face is expressive, and he’s very posable. He comes with two bladed weapons which even make him seem like a real badass for the first time ever. I still hope to own a Ratchet figure that more closely resembles his G1 look one day but in the meantime this will definitely hold me over. 8 out of 10.