Thursday, 22 January 2015

TransFormers (Movie) Rescue Ratchet

Sometimes, dear reader, I suspect I let my repaint-purchasing OCD carry me a little too far. I noted in my write-up of the standard movie Ratchet that I hadn't felt the need to replace it with any of the repaints or Deluxe class remakes, but this wasn't - strictly speaking - a replacement. It was... supplementing the original? Complementing it?

Whatever, Hasbro decided to release a G1-inspired repaint of movie Ratchet as an actual ambulance, rather than a Fire Rescue vehicle, without remolding anything. Can that even work? And why is he 'Rescue Ratchet' as an ambulance, when he was originally a Fire Rescue vehicle?

All these questions, and more (maybe) are answered within...


Vehicle Mode:
The first thing one notices about this is that it's an ambulance with bullbars, a roof rack and a spare tyre. That's somehow not quite right. The colours fit the idea, but the accessories just don't. Granted, both the bullbars and the roof rack can be removed with less impact on the look of the vehicle than there was on the original green version, and that makes the vehicle look a little bit more like an ambulance... Except that, without the roof rack, there's no emergency lightbar. The row of lights over the windscreen could have been painted red and/or blue to supplement the bar on the roof rack but, instead, they were painted silver.

It's pretty obvious where the lion's share of the paint budget went on this repaint. This mold requires a fair amount of paint on the doors alone - because they're still molded in translucent plastic - and then there's a huge amount of red winding right the way around the vehicle, featuring a white 'pulse' pattern on the sides. The word 'ambulance' is stamped on the bonnet (y'know, just it case it weren't obvious enough), but it's written the right way round when, traditionally, it would be reversed for the benefit of those seeing the vehicle in their rear-view mirror. The headlights, signal lights and entire front grille are painted, as well as a couple of black panels on the bonnet and the rescue equipment molded onto the angled sections of the roof. Amusingly, while the original's hubcaps were left unpainted, Rescue Ratchet has been given a splash of grey paint on his wheels.

It is a good, detailed mold, just perhaps a little 'rugged' to work as a plain old ambulance (unless it's used out in the wilderness), and a lot of molded detail is lost in the plain white plastic. Still, it all makes for a decent enough homage to G1 Ratchet. Rather more believable than the old Cherry Vanette...
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Robot Mode:
The problem with a mostly-white homage to G1 Ratchet is that it's mostly white... and with so much of the paint budget for this figure going on the vehicle doors and the massive red stripe around vehicle mode, robot mode ends up looking very plain. Hasbro does have a terrible habit of ruining a decent mold with white plastic, and the Voyager class movie Ratchet is certainly a decent mold. The top half is better than the bottom both in terms of paint coverage and molded detail, but the former is still rather sparse. The arms are entirely devoid of paint apart from the silver crosses with embedded Autobot insignias, so the mass of detail on the forearms is wasted.

I like that his biceps, hands and knees are molded in red plastic as that breaks up the predominance of white plastic. The stripe of red plastic leading down from his shin to his foot is decidedly strange but, since there's no robot-specific paint anywhere on the legs, I have to admit that it's another welcome splash of any colour other than white.

The weapon, naturally, remains the same as the standard version of this model - the bizarre butterfly axe that never manages to look quite right however it's positioned. Naturally, it's molded in white plastic and, just as naturally, there's no paint on it, so it kind of just looks as through Ratchet is holding onto an unfinished origami project.

It's the same reasonably accurate head sculpt, but now painted to resemble the G1 character... only it's very specifically painted in the style of the Marvel G1 comic representation of Ratchet - red helmet, white crest - rather than, for example, the G1 cartoon version - white helmet, grey crest. One would hope that was a conscious decision because there's already so much white on this version of the model, making the head white as well would be ridiculous... but then, this is Hasbro. The white crest is represented by the slightly raised portion on his crown, so it ends up looking like a weird kind of mohawk rather than Ratchet's forked crest, so I almost wish they'd just made the whole head red.
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As repaints go, this was pretty obvious... On the one hand, it was good that Hasbro nodded in the general direction of the die-hard G1 fans by issuing G1-themed repaints of characters like Jazz, Ratchet and Starscream, but part of me feels they would have done better to stick to their guns and tell us fans that, nope, this is a whole new continuity. Some of the names remain (because it's good to hold on to trademarks wherever possible), but the characters were so different they should have remained distinct from the G1 characters of old.

It's a shame that this wasn't treated as an opportunity to really go to town on the paintwork and bring out more of the detail than the original release managed as this is still one of my favourite movie molds due to its intriguing and innovative transformation (though possibly also in part because it was one of the first two I bought). Had there been more variety in the colourscheme - and, in particular, some painted detail on the arms - this could have been an excellent release. As it stands, it's a rather ho-hum homage.

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