Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Galaxy Force First Aid

Once upon a time, the TransFormers ambulance was always going to be Ratchet... Sadly, that seems to be a difficult name for Hasbro to hang on to these days without some form of prefix. First Aid, meanwhile, is somehow far easier to use and reuse and, since it was first applied to the Protectobot who also transformed into an ambulance, it's just as appropriate.

Vehicle Mode:
First Aid follows the pattern set by Armada Red Alert, and he's an ambulance made out of some kind of SUV. Well, some kind of emergency vehicle, considering the lightbars and beacons sitting on his roof.

The paint job is a plain and predictable white for the main body of the vehicle, with blue stripes along the bonnet and running down the sides. There's a bit of a glitch, in that the stripes on his sides meet the back wheel arches, but not the front ones... Seems a bit sloppy, for a Takara release. The only other colours are a metallic orange for the headlights, and dark goldy colour for the hubcaps, and a very dark gunmetal used for the bumpers (most of the front and rear), and over the wheel arches. Obviously, one wouldn't expect much from an ambulance... But it's still a shame there's no detail painted into the key slot.

For the most part, this is a good-looking vehicle, and is very solid. Sadly, though, First Aid suffers from a very bad case of Visible Robot Head Syndrome - that's it, sticking up between the lightbars. It doesn't even sink low enough into the body of the vehicle to fully obscure the visor...

On the upside, his key-activated gimmick, while simple, works very well in vehicle mode - the rear doors pop out and a pair of cannons flip forward. Not the most exciting gimmick, maybe, but it's quite effective.
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Robot Mode:
First Aid is a fairly chunky robot... there's no getting around that point. His lower legs do seem disproportionately large. There is, however, a rather clever excuse for this: his accessories are concealed under the car's bonnet on his shins. One leg contains a clawed extension to his right arm-gun, the other contains a hammer attachment.

The colour scheme in robot mode is, naturally, much the same as vehicle mode - very little of what you see in this mode is hidden in his alternate mode, and there are quite a few large vehicle panels hanging off him. However, the fact that a good chunk of these vehicle parts are molded in transparent red plastic means that he gives the impression of being vastly more colourful than he really is, though the white-and-blueness of him is further mitigated by the addition of some torso details painted in using the same metallic orange as the headlights.

Considering he has huge car doors on his shoulders, First Aid's arms have a good range of motion - I guess the door is kept just far enough away from any part of the torso that there's no interference. The legs, too, are pretty good... the only significant limits are imposed by his strange feet - half a foot is folded out from each part of the lower leg, so they're not exactly dynamic.

The head sculpt is more than a little reminiscent of the character from Armada/Micron Legend, except now he somehow conspires to look even more like RoboCop. The light piping is effective within the constraints of the mold - light can only get in through the red bobbles on his 'ears', so you'll only ever see it in action if you view him from an angle.

The key activated gimmick is just as effective in robot mode as it was in vehicle mode, but now his two small cannons flip out over his shoulders. When they're out, the movement of his arms becomes a little less free because the rear doors have popped out further.

Just for fun, and because his legs can be separated, some folks have created a 'Fan Mode' where First Aid looks kind of like a centaur.
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Curiously, First Aid's transformation is not dissimilar to Jackshot's, only the backpack is reduced considerably by the fact that the lower half of the vehicle's rear folds down and forward to become the backs of the legs. It leaves him looking rather like Jackshot, in terms of his silhouette - massive lower legs with windscreen sticking up at the knee, door-wings on his shoulders and a head sticking up out of the roof of the vehicle. Strange that such similar transformations yield such different results...

...Because First Aid is very different - he's far more easily poseable and better balanced, despite similarly clumsy legs and feet, simply because his arms are better placed. It's a bit of a shame that Jackshot's arms weren't handled more like First Aid's... he would have been a much better toy for it. What he loses, versus Jackshot, is the waist articulation... but it's not a great loss.

The big drawback to First Aid - and I should stress this may only pertain to the one I own - is that one of the half-legs likes to pop off at the hip. He's fine once he's clipped together in either mode, but there's always the danger than bits of him will fall apart during transformation.

First Aid's extra weapons - and their convenient storage - hark back very nicely to the Armada/Micron Legend version of the character, Red Alert, though I'm not sure exactly how much use a hammer and a claw would really be to the medic.

The only outright failure in this model is the fact that the head isn't really disguised in vehicle mode... I honestly think that element could have been handled better but, if a visible head in a gaping hole in the vehicle's roof is something you can overlook, First Aid is a cool toy.

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