Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Revenge of the Fallen Ravage (Legends)

Continuing my recent theme of ten-year-old movie toys and - finally - completing the write-ups for my collection of Revenge of the Fallen toys, here we have the second mold made of Ravage, yet another G1 character who got a bit of a raw deal out of that movie.

The Decepticons' master spy, a renowned lurker-in-the-shadows, got turned into a shiny, bare-metallic cyclopean robo-kitty whose contributions to comic relief far outweighed his few awesome moments of action. Rather than sneaking into the N.E.S.T. holding facility to steal their Allspark fragment, he went in all guns blazing and essentially provided a distraction for the weird gestalt known as Reedman, which he had merely deployed by coughing his component ballbearings down a ventilator shaft. His only other significant contributions were delivering Scalpel to the captive Sam Witwicky (anyone else find it odd that Soundwave ejects Ravage, then Ravage ejects both Reeman and Scalpel, without any indication of how either got inside him?), and then getting his spine ripped out by the tail when it went up against Bumblebee during the climactic battle of the movie.

His Deluxe class toy proved to be disappointing, in that it had only a perfunctory alternate mode - dubbed 'Re-entry Mode' and supposedly representing his 'missile' form after Soundwave shot him down to Earth - and a colourscheme that was more G1 than movie. After about a year - and a couple of repaints - Hasbro released a completely new mold, in the smallest current size class. There were two positive signs on this version - first and foremost, his colourscheme was very much movie-style bare metallic. Perhaps more interestingly, its alternate mode was based on the fish/submersible form Ravage was given in his concept art, but which didn't make it into the movie.

Is it possible that a tiny Legends class figure is better than a Deluxe?

Robot Mode (aka Still Really The Only Mode Worth Looking At):
I'll say this about the Legends class version of Ravage: he's certainly a cute little robo-kitty. I mean, I know he's basically made of sharp edges, so hardly a lap cat. That grappling hook tail would likely be problematic, too, and the machine guns mounted over his hips don't exactly bespeak of friendliness... but the design is actually not bad.

Of course, in toy form, at this scale, the detail and sharpness of the sculpt is much reduced. The spine has a row of short thoracic spikes running down it as far as the gun mounting, and his 'ribs' are present (on his back/sides, at least). The legs are far simpler in their detailing, but seeming more accurate in their overall look than those of the Deluxe. Both sets of legs are largely made up of armour chunks with notches and panel lines visible, but the forelegs feature something like internal piston detail, while the back legs feature exaggerated tarsel spikes - these almost looking like wings, for reasons which become apparent in his alternate mode.

The paint job is pretty simple - key details are picked out in a very washed-out gold-ish metallic paint - the spikes down his spine, the pistons in his forelegs, the disc details marking his rear legs' upper joints, and the tarsal spikes. I'm not completely certain, but it looks as though the teeth are painted silver (at some angles, that is - at other angles it just looks as though the metallic grey plastic is catching the light particularly well). His single eye is painted in a strange, sort-of metallic orange, and mine has an off-centre dot that's far denser than the rest of the coverage, looking like an unintentional glowing pupil. The advantage this version of Ravage has is that it's base plastic colour is closer to the bare metal look of the CGI, and Ravage was seen so briefly, and without any of the sort of pornographic lingering shots the Autobots' vehicle modes were subject to, that he really didn't need any more paintwork.

Like the Deluxe, dinky Ravage has a pair of guns mounted over his haunches, but these are connected via a post that runs through the clip holding them in place, so they can't move independently. His tail's grappling hook tip has lost two of its larger prongs and all of the smaller, hooked prongs are represented here by tiny nubs.

There's not a great deal to say about the head sculpt except that it's reasonably accurate, for its size. The finer details have been lost, and the mouth is molded in a fixed open position that reminds me oddly of a hyena. Inside the mouth is a curious lump that might be intended to represent the delivery tube for Reedman's ballbearings, or it might simply be a symptom of the way the mold was built. There is a screw going up into the jaw from below, but the shape and position of the lump doesn't match up with it.

Fish/Submersible Mode:
While I was photographing this, I tried to look up what sort of fish it was modelled on... but I was unable to find either the concept art that showed this form, or any fish with a similar snout. The closest I could come was some sort of Ichthyosaur, but there's quite a range of those, and not all of them have this kind of pointed snout with a drooping tip. About mid-way down the snout section, a little ahead of the cat's still-visible eye, there are two recessed nubs which are picked out with the pale metallic paint, and could represent eyes or guns... Since this form wasn't seen in the movie, it's impossible to say for certain.

Still, the toy's designer deserves some praise for creating an alternate mode for the kitty-bot that vaguely resembles a fish. The joined legs can be angled down a little, so that the tarsel spikes better resemble flippers but, past a certain point, the forelegs tend to pop off their ball joints, or the legs just separate from each other. I believe they're intended to stand out perpendicular to the body, which is certainly where the joints seem most comfortable resting. I also quite like how the cat's tail-hook has been repurposed into the fish's bottom jaw.

There's not much else to say about this form. It exists... it refers to an element of concept art that wasn't used in the finished movie... Gappy and bitty though it may be, it's a stronger alternate mode than the Deluxe class toy's so-called 'Re-entry mode'.

It should come as no surprise that a toy this size has a very simple transformation - the cat's belly becomes the fish's snout, the hip section folds down under the body, the legs fold around toward each other and peg together at the ankle, with the toes poking into the body. Finally, the tail swings round so that the tip can peg in to the bottom of the snout section. It all looks a bit random and perfunctory, to be honest, but it's probably not the worst I've seen.

It gets a bit difficult when I want to write about his articulation because, as much as I want to praise the designers and engineers who worked on this version of the toy for the articulation they managed to work into it, it's actually quite limited. The hips and shoulders are all ball joints with slots cut into the tops of the joints for transformation purposes, but the front legs are fixed in a tight curl, and the wrists are pinned with a little over 90° range. Transformation joints allow the shoulders to swing back and forward a short way, helping him appear slightly more dynamic, but the effect is quite minimal. The hind legs fare only a little better, with only one pinned joint between the hip and the ankle, and the lower section of leg fixed in about a 90° bend. The ankles only offer something in the region of 45°, so the hind legs just don't feel adaptable enough and, no matter what you do, Ravage always ends up with his head dipped low to the ground. Had the elbows also been pinned hinges, he could have stood straighter. As it is, he's always in a 'ready to pounce' pose, no matter what you were aiming for. On the upside, the tail, while hinged only at the base and molded in a fixed curve, has almost a 180° range due to transformation. The head, much like the Deluxe class version, is fixed in place, but this one lacks even the hinged jaw and ears. Granted, one cannot expect much from a Legends class toy, but Ravage deserved those extra joints in his forelegs and some kind of neck.

On balance, I'd have to say that I personally find the Legends class toy to be better than the Deluxe, but that comes with some significant caveats. The Deluxe had a terrible alternate mode and a hopelessly wrong colourscheme, but was very nicely poseable. This version sacrifices a good deal of the poseability but, broadly speaking, looks better. Just one more joint in each foreleg and some kind of mobility for the head - be it a ball joint or just some side-to-side swing - would have made this a fantastic toy for its size class, rather than just a good one.

Also worth considering that this one is slightly more in-scale with the other movie toys of that era - like the first movie's Deluxe class Scorponok, the larger Ravage is far too big a cat.

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