Review by EVA_Unit_4A
A boy’s first car should be a special event in his life. Finding the right girl is also important, and to do that, he needs a special car. But for Sam Witwicky, he is completely unaware of how special his car really is… until it drives away from his house all by itself… and changes into a giant robot! Sam soon finds himself as the key to ending an intergalactic battle between two factions of a race of alien robots which can change shape at will- the peaceful Autobots and dangerous Decepticons- as they fight to find and retake the powerful AllSpark Cube that created their race. But enemies lie in wait on Earth as well. While the Decepticons are already on our planet looking for their long-lost leader Megatron, the United States secret government organization Sector 7 already knows about the alien robots, and will do anything to keep them hidden. It is not until the great & noble Optimus Prime and several other Autobots crash-land on Earth in their search for the god-like Cube that the 10,000 year-old stalemated war begins anew- with the fate of both races in the hands of these intelligent, powerful alien robots in disguise… and a boy and his car.
The Autobots have been searching long and hard for the AllSpark Cube since their leader, Optimus Prime, desperately cast it into space to prevent Megatron from getting his metallic claws on it and bringing a new order of domination and suffering to the already-demolished planet of Cybertron. Before then, both Autobots and Decepticons waged a long war against each other for possession of the Cube. So Ratchet certainly got a lot of practice in his duties as a Cybertronian doctor during the war, soon finding himself being drawn closer and closer to the front lines and becoming a field medic. This put him closest to the suffering of his fellow bots, and while initially as determined as the other Autobots to stop the Decepticons from getting control of the Cube, the thousands of deaths forced him to rethink his position. This led him to the idea that the war might be settled without violence, a policy which sometimes put him in conflict with other Autobots, including Optimus Prime himself. But he was still willing to follow his leader to a primitive alien planet where the Cube might be resting. Hard-landing on the planet (Earth), he narrowly escaped detection from a large group of intelligent natives and quickly assumed the appearance of a Search-and-Rescue vehicle- a neon green & yellow Hummer H2. His skills as a healer would come in handy as the Autobot scout on Earth- Bumblebee- still had not had his vocal processor repaired from his last battle. Even later, his idea of solving problems without conflict would have to be put aside once more when they engaged the Decepticons in Mission City to prevent them from taking the rediscovered AllSpark Cube. Ratchet stands 20’ (6.7m) tall in his upright robot mode, and his only energy weapon is a laser cannon in his right forearm; there is also a large collapsible cutting blade in that arm as well. On his left arm is both a double circular saw blade, and a large claw that can double as a stretcher to haul injured Autobots off the battlefield. For his trip to Earth, he studied many of its languages through a planet-wide information network, and so he is fluent in English. Ratchet’s voice is performed by film and TV actor Robert Foxworth.
Ratchet’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a real H2 Hummer™ sports utility vehicle, designed by General Motors Corporation™ and manufactured by AM General™ . The H2 is the second domesticated, general-distribution version of the US military’s original HMMVW (the first being a more-direct Hummer H1™), and is designed as an SUV incorporating many of the original’s highlights in style, integrity, and performance rather than costing more to produce and buy the battle-hardened version. For the sake of the character- whose origins go all the way back to the G1 series in 1984- the H2 in the film was modified into an all-terrain Search-and-Rescue (SAR) emergency truck, but dressed in neon green and yellow with a red stripe.
(I’ll leave it to you to figure out what all they modified to change the standard H2 into a SAR truck. I’m not gonna fall into that trap again like I did for Ironhide’s review, no way…)
In original pre-production concept artwork for the film, Ratchet was going to carry his original white and red paint colors, but this was changed in favor of the more-acceptable/standardized reflective neon green and yellow frequently used by other real emergency rescue vehicles like fire engines and ambulances. Notice also that the front half of the vehicle in that concept artwork is very similar to the GMC TopKick™ C4500 used for Ironhide's vehicle mode... which makes sense because the variable-use TopKick design has been used for ambulances before! The later Voyager-class Rescue Ratchet repaint would use the classic white and red coloring and different decorations, but no other changes were made to that toy.
(I would really have liked to have seen this concept version of Ratchet used instead of what we got. Oh well...)
The toy version of the vehicle mode is fairly faithful to its on-screen counterpart- wide, flat nose with roll bar-style brush guard, big tires (I can’t find how big the real ones’ are…), roof-mounted storage rack with painted red strobe and off-road lights and a spare wheel, and the large storage compartment making up the back half. It’s hard to see it even in person, but as part of the trademark, the name Hummer appears on the front grille in very small letters. (I really don’t advise taking the brush guard off of yours’ like I did; mine fell off when the toy was dropped, dislodging it but not breaking it, so I can get away with this. It simply snaps off anyways since it’s just held in by five pegs.) To match the real vehicle, an H2 trademark is molded onto the door just inform of the SAR/Autobot symbol! And just to be sure you don’t miss it those two times, a much larger stylized H2 trademark is molded beneath the nose! (Enough, already-! We got it the first time- it’s an H2! Sheesh…) Other molded details include windshield wipers, the wheel & tire treads, cab lights along the edge of the roof (not painted), some tools along both sides of the roof (not painted), and four additional emergency strobe lights along the sides of the storage compartment (also not painted).
‘Automorph Technology’ is a new special feature that is fairly exclusive to the 2007 movie figures. What Automorph does is when one specific section moves, there is an internal system of gears and levers which moves another part in the same region. (Although, I’m sure a similar function has presented itself in the other lines from the various anime-inspired series. I do know for certain that the huge “Transformers Galaxy Force” Primus figure had such function(s) in his back armor, leg weapon units, and chest/head.) In the Voyager-class Ratchet, there is only one Automorph function:
- After the legs are separated, the feet are flipped [downwards]. As this happens, knee guards rotate out, and the panels along the sides of the storage compartment flex outwards subtly.
Ratchet’s robot mode (back) is a combination of blocky and sharp. Few of the H2’s features punch, through- the most recognizable is the nose, which forms the chest. The roof of the cab flattens itself, flips upside down along with the chest section, and becomes his waist; with the two halves of the windshield hanging off his back. His arms are mostly from the undercarriage, but the back of his shoulders are the door(s), interior of the cab, and the forward side paneling from the cargo section, so you can’t see them. Each hand has four separate, curled fingers; though none of them can move. The cargo section itself actually rotates around so that its outside becomes the inside calves of his legs! The outside (well, “outer side” is more like) contains the ‘heavy detailing’ for his robot legs, in addition to the detail across the front of his thighs. Ratchet’s feet- unlike most of the Cybertronians seen in the movie- has no toes/claws, so this is one familiar/traditional feature to the toys of old. (Actually, the Deluxe-class Autobot Jazz also has a solid foot like this, but so does his on-screen counterpart.)
Ratchet is something along the lines of average in his range of motion. All of his joints- neck, shoulder, elbows, hips, and knees- are free-rotation, with no ball-&-socket joints. His feet and wrists are not capable of being posed; if you try to move the feet, the Automorph feature will go into reverse, and the knee guards will be forced back into the knee joints, possibly breaking the mechanism. The hands are pointed inwards with the elbow joint and, unlike most of the toys in the line, cannot grab onto anything or hold a weapon.
Like the Voyager-class Decepticon Blackout, most of Ratchet’s weapons from the film do not appear in his toy form- a fold-out cannon in his right forearm (a standard feature on all of the Autobots in the movie with the exception of perhaps Jazz), and a spinning double circular saw weapon seen for a split second during the Mission City battle. (It is, in fact, this small saw which slices off Decepticon Brawl’s left arm in the opening minutes of the battle!) Two replacements are used instead. The neon green side section of his right forearm opens and swings out (the hand slips inside a door on the opposite side) and forms a… well- honestly, I don’t really know what this is supposed to be. Scissors, maybe? A mecha-fan? I have no clue! The more obvious weapon is formed from that removable storage rack from his roof, which forms a large claw which mounts to the side of his left arm. A small green peg sticking out of the ‘spare tire’ switches the claw open and closed. When not in use, the storage rack folds back up, and then attaches to Ratchet’s back like some kind of thick wire-mesh cape.
Don’t ask me why [Hasbro] did this; I have no clue…
While Hasbro can certainly be credited with the enormous task of transforming the immensely-complex CGI characters used in the 2007 movie (which- on average- contained 10,000 components per robot!), it should be noted that these are not just straight transitions either. While Ratchet’s head, arms, and legs all hide in roughly the same places in the toy, the process by which he transforms is different, resulting in a slightly different look from his CGI counterpart. One example of this is his shoulders. While the front wheels do end up roughly where his shoulders are, his upper arms (in the film) are made up of the cowling from the nose above the wheels. But on this Voyager-class toy, the inside of the cab makes the shoulders! Another example is how his upper torso is arranged- in the movie, the front brush guard actually splits into three parts, with two of the halves making up lights on his shoulders; but on this toy, the guard remains intact. The most obvious alteration is his lower legs. This is both a fault and strength of the design of the toy. The outside of the legs (as stated earlier) have a detailed sculpt with servos and pistons. But the inside is just the side of the storage compartment for the SAR vehicle. Now, in the movie, Ratchet’s lower legs- while solid and strong-looking- are no where near as blocky, and are completely tech-oriented. Including the other three standard Voyager-class figures- Autobot Ironhide, and Decepticons Blackout and Starscream- Ratchet is perhaps the least accurate [in robot mode] compared to his on-screen counterpart. He is more like a completely reworked character, with the exception of- perhaps- his head.
Now, this lack of continuity between Ratchet’s toy and on-screen designs, I think, makes him more appealing to those fans out there who so disapproved of the movie’s style for the Cybertronians. Here’s why… The toy is blocky, easy to change, his weapons are simple to operate, and his coloring is rather on the simple, sparse side. Now, don’t think I’m gonna be a hater from now on, and that all of the designs from the last 24 years are all crap [on the contrary- I really liked some of the designs from 2006’s “TF:Cybertron” line!], but what I’m saying is that this Voyager-class Ratchet is more related to them in form and function, than in origins and design. Again, that is both the strength and weakness of the toy. Did they make a good toy? Yep. Could they have done better? Not that I can see. Could they have done something different with it? Absolutely!
What the Instructions *Don’t* Tell You
The Voyager-class Ratchet set has three marks in this category, but they are more like nit picks:
- On the back of the box, the two front wheels are slightly twisted inwards above the shoulder. But the instructions just have you turn the arms out of the cab when transforming him, neglecting to mention the extra shoulder joint. While his arms would/can point out diagonally without the change, they are supposed to have that extra shoulder section slide out that little bit.
- The two, em… ‘side guards’ along the back of the vehicle mode need to rotate down and under the vehicle when transforming him. But there is actually a bit more give in their pivoting, and then actually slide up and down a bit. This will increase the movement of the knee since the pipes on the back of his legs won’t bump into them later on. And the same is true when changing him back- they need to slide upwards towards the roof a bit or else they drag on the ground when he’s rolling around.
- When you buy him and first transform him, the instructions say that you have to twist the head around 180-degrees after flipping that panel over. Really, you don’t have to do this; it isn’t that important, and I see no need to do it.
But the instructions don’t tell you any of this…
I’m kinda torn on this toy. It’s a good design, but it doesn’t match what’s seen on-screen. I wish that they had included a gun feature instead of these two claw thingies, even if it didn’t shoot. While the individual four fingers on each hand are a nice change, if a gun had been included, then they could have been molded as fists that could twist. I know that Ratchet is supposed to be a peace advocate (actually, he doesn’t really act like one in the movie- one time he agreed with Ironhide to eliminate Sam’s annoying "parents"!), and the weapons on the Voyager-class toy kinda reflect this since they don’t shoot; maybe that’s why Hasbro went with them. Transformation is pretty straight forward, and easy to comprehend and execute. The Automorph feature, I thought, was pointless and too simple to warrant adding here- those inside panels on the lower legs really were useless because they don’t really change anything noticeable in the end! The mold details are good-to-average compared to others in the line. Oh, I should mention that this is actually one of the few times in the 2007 movie toy line-up where the transparent eyes feature actually works right! (Though, they still aren’t bright enough for my taste…)
I was one of the people who liked this new style for the Cybertronians’; it was something different and unique from the ‘simplified’ blocky armor of the past, and gave them a very organic, non-human-designed feel. However, on this Voyager-class toy- I can say one last time- it was like looking back and being regressive. These are supposed to be inspired by the movie, not discarding those designs- that was the biggest letdown, and forces me to give Ratchet a so-so recommendation.
[DISCLAIMER: This last section is not supported, advertised, or endorsed by either Hasbro or Paramount Pictures. It is a fan-supported effort completely independent from all companies affiliates with the 2007 film "Transformers".]
Just before “Transformers” was released into theaters in July, 2007, Warner Brothers’ music label released a single CD containing songs performed by various popular bands that were appearing in the film. (Four of these songs did not make it into the film but were included on the CD anyways, including a remake of the classic G1 Transformers theme by Mute Math!) It was unknown at the time how well the film would do, and so none of the original score composed by Steve Jablonsky was included. Even though the film did quite well internationally in theaters despite criticism from even hardcore Transformers fans, the original score also received praise. After seeing the film, many went to stores to buy “Transformers: The Album”, hoping to be able to listen to some of the original soundtrack (OST). Unfortunately, Warner Brothers had not anticipated this in the pre-release months, and a letter was sent out shortly thereafter that they would not be releasing any of the OST.
(For you anime fans out there, Jablonsky composed the complete score for Katsuhiro Otomo’s 2004 film “Steamboy”. He had also previously collaborated with “Transformers” director Michael Bay to score 2005’s less-successful “The Island”.)
This was criticized by many. The webmaster of The Knight Shift created an online petition mere days after “Transformers” was released in theaters; asking Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, and Warner Brothers to release an OST containing only music composed by Mr. Jablonsky. While sales for “…The Album” dropped rapidly inside of a two week period (from #29 to #76 on the Billboard music charts, and no more than 91,000 units sold), by the end of July, 2,000 signatures had been recorded by the petition, and by mid-August five weeks later, that number had quickly doubled to 4,000.
(Yours truly can be found as entry #1112!)
On August 26th, Warner Brothers announced that- by popular demand- they would be releasing a single CD containing most of the OST from the film! By then, the petition had surpassed 5,000 signatures. The release date would be October 9th, 2007. The movie “Transformers” itself would be released on DVD a few days later on October 16th. Depending how well “Transformers: The Score” does, Warner Brothers mentioned the possibility that a 2-disc OST containing the complete 90 minutes of the score would be released later on. (Please, oh please, oh please, oh please, oh please…)
(Whether intentional or not, October 9th is written out as 09-09, or 9-9. The release date for “Transformers” in the United States was July 4th, 2007- written out as 07-04-07, or 7-4-7 on promotional materials; an obvious & eye-catching though unrelated reference to the famed Boeing 747 wide-body commercial jumbo jet. Playing with numbers, are we…?)
On September 2nd, Steve Jablonsky e-mailed The Knight Shift, thanking them, and everyone who had signed the petition, for supporting him and the music. He also mentioned that an OST had always been in the works, but would have been released later on.
Yay-! I wanted to hear the OST as well, and was quite mad when there wasn’t going to be one released. They neglected to release an OST of Randy Newman’s score when the Star Trek-parody “Galaxy Quest” (1999) came out, and it made me mad! Same with David Arnold’s score for the remake of “Godzilla” (1998).
(I absolutely loved the scene where the Autobots descent from space, and then gather in the alleyway. That inspirational piece of music, alone, convinced me that I wanted this OST!)
If you read these notices at the end of these reviews on CDX, and you too signed the petition, I thank you as well! And if you read it, but did nothing… Heh-, well... I hope a protoform Autobot hard-lands right on your a--!
|Posted 25 August, 2007 - 19:09 by EVA_Unit_4A|