Saturday, 12 September 2015

DotM Hatchet

Hasbro can make some pretty bizarre choices when it comes to turning 'characters' (and I use the term loosely) from the live action TransFormers movies into toys. Or not turning them into toys. Dark of the Moon featured a plethora of Decepticon troops being brought down from the moon which, you'd have thought, would give them the perfect opportunity to extend the toyline exactly the way they did with the first live action movie... Only by this point, they were already cutting costs, so even some of the 'named' movie bots only came out in one size class and others didn't come out at all.

So, in the movie, the three 'Dreads' - Crankcase, Crowbar and Hatchet - transformed into identical police SUVs. For the toyline, we got a Deluxe class Crankcase, Cyberverse Legion class versions of both Crankcase and Crowbar... and then a Cyberverse Commander class Hatchet, and it was nothing like the character's appearance in the movie...

Vehicle Mode:
Because he's a jet. Apparently based on the Eurofighter Typhoon, no less. All things considered, despite the small size class, it's actually a very decent representation of a jet, and a fair attempt at a (slightly chunky, though not entirely 'Super Deform') version of the Typhoon. Cast in dark charcoal-coloured plastic for the most part, and sparingly decorated with touches of gold and silver paint, there's a lot of molded detail - all the usual panel lines - and a fair attempt at disguising the few robot parts that remain outside the jet, specifically the robot's arms. First and foremost, they're stuck under the wings, with only the claws sticking out being obvious at the back (so far, so RotF Starscream). To enable them to fit snugly, and accommodate the wing-mounted weapons, the forearms open out so that part tabs into the jet's fuselage, revealing molded weapon detail within. Considering the arms are otherwise unsightly bulk tagged onto the bottom of the aircraft, this is a fair compromise.

Another bonus for a model this size is that he comes with one fold-out landing gear wheel at the front. At the rear, poking out of the main part of his wrists and through clever gaps in the wings of his missile/bomb things, are two more wheels. All are molded with rather more detail than we tend to get these days, but none of them roll.

His weapons are a pair of missile/bomb things - referred to as 'attack drones' on Hatchet's TFWiki page - which attach nicely right near the tips of his wings. Each one carries a concealed weapon - one possibly a Gatling-style, six-barrelled gun, the other a more sci-fi looking thing. Considering how slim the wings are and how shallow their sockets, both attach very securely, though they do look ridiculously oversized.
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Robot Mode:
At least Hatchet looks just about right - or, at least, suitably bestial - in robot mode. In the movie, he looked almost like Ravage's bigger 'brother', pounding along on all fours until he was unceremoniously offed by Dino/Mirage during a high-speed chase about five seconds after transforming for the first time.

The first thing to note about this character is that his paint job appears to be based on the suggestions of colour brought about by the variable lighting conditions in the movie - I've seen screenshots where Hatchet's face appears goldish... but it seems most likely it was merely reflecting goldish light. Like virtually every Decepticon in the actual movie, he seemed to be made of bare metal. That said, I think Hasbro did a fair job on this one. There are just enough metallic highlights to keep him looking interesting and without detracting from the molded detail. It's only a shame that a lot of the molded detail will go unnoticed because he's down on all fours, and his enormous chin all but entirely obscures his chest when viewed from the front.

His back - and, indeed, the inside of his chest cavity - is covered with molded detail, let down only by a large and obvious Philips screw right in the middle of his back and a large hole just ahead of it, where a flap of jet mode doesn't quite cover the area vacated by the robot's head. He also manages to look fairly decent from most angles as, even though the jet's wings are folded up on his sides, they don't make him seem overly bulky. The large chunk of jet cockpit in the middle of his tail is a bit difficult to ignore, and the jet's extended nose doesn't make the most convincing tail tip, but it could have been worse. The curved molding on the initial piece of tail is its saving grace as, even with such minimal jointing, it seems quite dynamic.

While his weapons seemed pretty odd in jet mode, they really come into their own in robot mode. They mount in exactly the same place, just facing the opposite direction. Whether it's intentional, I'm not sure, but it almost looks as though they're mounted on - or, at least, attached to - the jet's tailfins, sprouting from Hatchet's collar. Of course, however they're mounted, they're essentially superfluous, as Hatchet was never seen using any weapons in his brief appearance in the movie.

The head sculpt is fantastically detailed for the size, but I can't help thinking they went a bit overboard on the gold paint, making him look ostentatious rather than fearsome, and muddying some of the detail. The movie Decepticon style - as if they're all basically insectoids made of blades and spikes - isn't for some fans, and Hatchet does end up looking rather too organic for a robot, but at least he's consistent with the rest. I'm a little weirded out by what appears to be a nose-ring, and a tiny bit disappointed that his jaw is fixed but, with teeth like that, he certainly looks ferocious.
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Considering the sort of shapeshifting required to turn a jet into a four-legged beasty sort of robot, Hatchet is surprisingly simple and satisfying. The robot's rear end concertinas back into being the jet's front end, the head flips back behind the afterburners... and the arms pretty much stay where they are, in a partly folded up, partly unfolded state. In its own way, and for the size, it's very clever and since TransFormers jets are almost never perfect, it easily gets away with its few flaws.

Cyberverse Commanders, being the Scout class of their time, tended to be fairly well articulated, and Hatchet certainly has his fair share of joints... However, since he's basically built to be on all fours, he does have some limitations. The arms are excellent - if only the wrists were ball-jointed rather than hinged, you could even get him to hold his weapons convincingly while standing upright - but the legs, being digitigrade and a bit on the short side, aren't the most useful. Ball-jointed hips are serviced by hinged knees and ankles, each offering about a 90° bend. He can stand upright, but the vehicle parts that make up his legs make him look awkward in that position as they're designed for the digitigrade look, and he has the jet's front landing gear hanging off his right knee. It's also not entirely clear whether the minimal movement of his head is intentionally part of robot mode's articulation, or simply a result of his transformation but that, again, could have been a ball joint to facilitate some side-to-side movement.

In spite of the incongruity of one of the 'Dreads' being an off-scale jet rather than another car, I have to say that Hatchet is fantastic - easily my favourite of the three, though that probably ain't saying much considering how fragile Crankcase turned out to be and the disappointing Cyberverse-only Crowbar. The use of paintwork is mostly quite strategic, so he doesn't look too plain, and the overall design is pretty cute... for an alien robot beast. The simple fact that this is the only Cyberverse figure I bought should be taken to be very much in Hatchet's favour as the rest of that class were pretty lacklustre. Hatchet is unique and distinctive among the movie series' Decepticon toys, and that can only be a good thing.

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