Cliffbee.com: Henkei Ratchet Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Ratchet
Series: Henkei
Allegiance: Cybertron (Autobot)
Alternate Mode: Paramedic SUV



SUV MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 13.5cm Width: 5.5cm

   A white SUV with a red stripe along either side, Ratchet has a transparent blue windshield, rear window and side front windows while the other side windows are painted metallic blue. His head and taillights are chromed while the grille is silver. The tyres are black, the nudge bar and the rear bumper are red. It's a focused colour scheme which is strongly reminiscent of the G1 toy. Granted there are no red crosses here, and there's a red patch on the roof which doesn't look very good, but the overall look is still good. The switch from a van to an SUV makes Ratchet more of a paramedic van than an ambulance, but the effect is still the same. There are a _lot_ of diagonal seams on either side which breaks up the look of this SUV mode, although I find them less distracting that on Ironhide.

   As much as I like the tribute, the seams on the sides are a distraction. He looks nice from the front, but not so much from the sides. The red panel on top bothers me more. There is a transparent red stroberack on the roof which is added to the mould this time (Ironhide doesn't need one, of course). There is quite a lot of sculpted detail, even if some of it is lost amongst the seams. The front end, running boards and taillights are all well done while there are side mirrors and doorhandles on either side.

   As is typical of the Classics/Universe deluxe toys, there's not really any play value here. The wheels roll and that's it. Ratchet does have a weapon stowed inside, but it can't be deployed in this mode. None of the doors or windows open, since the entire thing unfolds (hence the array of seams).

   A decent vehicle mode which makes for a nice tribute, but it's held back by the unsightly seams on either side and some junk on the roof. I do like this mode, but it's hard to look past the shortcomings. I do like Ratchet's vehicle mode more than Ironhide's, but it's a close thing.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   This transformation is quite complicated so I'll summarise. The front fenders fold down and then unfold into legs. The rear window becomes his chest while the sides unfold into arms. The roof ends up on his back as a backpack and the hidden weapon can clip over either hand. There's a lot of twisting and turning here, as all those seams unfold.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14.5cm Width: 11cm

   A white robot with red on his groin, hands, shoulders and knee joints, Ratchet has dark grey hands and upper arms. His face is painted silver with blue eyes while there's the customary black crest above the eyes. The transparent blue window on his chest has a silver backing including a stamped Autobot logo - this backing slides into place during the transformation, incidentally. While there's no grey back here, this colour scheme is clearly based on the Ratchet we saw in the G1 cartoon. It's an attractive colour scheme, and one that suits the character well.

   There's a huge gulf between the G1 toy and cartoon versions of this character, and while the windshield chest, lights on his hips and overall white colour match the original toy, this robot mode is clearly designed to give us a toy to represent the cartoon character, after all these years. He has the rounded, helmet-like, head from the cartoon as well as the silver lights on his hips. The backpack isn't cartoon accurate, but it's surprisingly minimal for such a deluxe with such an intricate transformation. On that note, the backpack is the only real kibble - everything else is integrated into this robot mode quite nicely.

   Ratchet's head turns although it leans forward slightly so he's permanently looking down - this is the robot mode's main flaw. The shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while the elbows are hinged with rotators below them. His wrists feature both ball joints and inwards-folding hinges while his hands are fixed in a relaxed, open palm, pose. His waist turns while the hips swing and lift out to the sides. His knees are hinged with rotators in mid thigh while the feet have integrated heelspurs and are able to lift up. Overall this poseability is excellent and not really hampered, although it's difficult to fold the rear wheels into his backpack - do it incorrectly and they get in the way of his head. If you leave the wheels out the waist and hips are a little hampered.

   Ratchet's weapon is designed to slide over either hand, and depending on which way it attaches, different armaments emerge. One end features a dark grey gatling gun (my preferred option) while the other features a transparent red blade. Both options work quite well. I like the fact that this particular Henkei toy leaves the chrome (which can be forced in this line) to do its thing on this weapon. There _is_ chrome on the lights, but most of it is on the body of the weapon. Incidentally, the blue eyes have a lightpipe to them, but front on you can't see this since there's a panel behind the head.

   A very well designed robot with a colour scheme that's very close to Ratchet's cartoon representation and great play value. Sure there are few gimmicks, but the weapon is simple and effective while the poseability is a highlight. The head's slight dip is annoying and it can be difficult to get the rear wheels out of the way, but considering this cartoon robot mode has been retconned into a transforming toy, I'm very happy with the result.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   While Ratchet's not a perfect Transformer, this is the first serious effort (BotCon repaints aside) to produce a toy that matches the cartoon Ratchet - and after 25 years, it's well overdue. The robot mode is excellent and the colour scheme is very focussed, and while the vehicle mode is somewhat chopped up, the designer has had to make this work without the liberal dose of cartoon physics that Sunbow was able to rely on. For G1 fans this is an excellent update of Ratchet, and can satisfy cartoon fans in a way that the G1 toy never could, so I'd recommend this toy unequivocally. Leaving the tribute aside, Ratchet is still a good Transformer, even if the robot mode clearly outshines a disappointing vehicle mode. I'd say Ratchet is a touch better than Ironhide, but it's very close - and most fans who are interested in one will want the other anyway - 8.5/10

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