Friday, 18 February 2011

Alternators Ravage (Jaguar XK)

Here's an oddity for the Alternators line - a British car... with a British number plate... but the steering wheel on the wrong side. Actually, that's not much of an oddity, is it? It would have been an oddity if the steering wheel had been on the right side.

And so, after the fan outcry over Alternators Battle Ravage being a biped, and therefor clearly based on X-9/Ravage from Beast Wars Metals, rather than the 'true' Ravage... One could argue back and forth for years as to whether or not they are actually one and the same, but from different parts of their timeline... but the net result would probably be a headache and a huge increase in Geek Points.

Some folks actually managed to get a passable quadruped out of Battle Ravage... but everyone wanted a proper one just the same...


Vehicle Mode:
There's no denying that the Jaguar XK is a gorgeous vehicle, and it's realised here in quite a seamless fashion. Of course, when a TransFormer appears seamless, that can mean only one thing - Robot mode will look pretty awful, with huge chunks of car lying around all over the place.

But still... The Jaguar XK... Wow... What better car to represent Ravage, considering his Japanese name was Jaguar?

And the thing is, looking at it objectively, there's not an awful lot of paintwork on it - just a few touches of silver at the front, round the windows, on the wheels and on the boot. There are even painted details on the tail lights... but it doesn't add up to a great deal of paint. Even so, molded in reasonably glossy black plastic - and it is a good, solid black, with hints of metallic flake - it breaks the mold of the Alternators line, and looks like a no-expense-spared interpretation of the car.

The interior is a bit of a letdown, however, with a very mismatched-looking pale grey floor. That said, it's one of the few Alternator/Binaltech models that vaguely accurately models the foot space underneath the dashboard. It's also a bit lacking in the 'openings' department. Despite having a molded bonnet and a molded boot, netiher open - only the driver and passenger doors open on this model.
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Robot Mode:
Alternators Ravage is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, it's a reasonably convincing quadruped and, while the body is bulked up by large sections of car panelling, it doesn't look too bad because the car's design almost lends itself to being used this way. Sure, there are lots of visible gaps from the side, but they don't ruin the overally appearance.

It's also, considering the history of TransFormers quadrupeds, amazingly poseable. Each leg has at least three joints, and the front legs have ball joints at the knee. Not only that, but the tail is articulated, with a double-joint mid-way down its length, and the neck has two ball-joints, one at the shoulder end, the other at the head end.

And while the vehicle mode is largely a plain (but impressive) black, robot mode introduces purple accents and - amazingly, for a western release - chromed rocket launchers. Admittedly, anything but chrome would have been a crime, considering what an iconic part of Ravage's appearance they are, but it's still somewhat surprising for Hasbro to go that particular extra mile. The design isn't exactly G1 accurate, but at least they're present.

The only bone of contention, really, is the head... it's just too long for any kind of cat. In many ways, the old Battle Ravage head would have been more appropriate, because this Ravage looks more like a dog (almost an interpretation of K-9 from Doctor Who). Still, while the actual paintwork is as limited in robot mode as it is in vehicle mode, it's also just as effective - subtle purple striping on either side, just below the ears, and a Decepticon logo on the left side of the neck. All the claws are silvered, and they've even painted his four prominent fangs.
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Transformation isn't without issue... the front of the car doesn't come apart particularly easily, and getting the tail back into the vehicle mode can be a bit of a pest. Overall, it's pretty impressive, though, and very well thought out. The back legs are particularly effective, though I've seen plenty of photos where the mid-thigh joint hasn't been pulled out, which reduces the apparent length, not to mention the cat-like appearance of the back legs.

Thankfully, the complexity and level of detail to the transformations means that Ravage is one of the most poseable quadruped TransFormers, and is also fairly well-balanced. Were it not for a couple of loose joints on his rear ankles, it would be perfectly possible to give him a convincing mid-pouncing pose. As it is, he can sit, slink, skulk, stalk, beg, and act threatened... if only he could roll over...

So, in many ways, this isn't the greatest Alternator ever... but it's certainly better than anyone had any right to expect from a car that transforms into a quadruped.

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