It's Grabuge! Yep, that's his name. That's his name because Grabuge's American name, "Ruckus," wasn't an available trademark, so Fun Publications went for his ... French-Canadian name? Sure. Why not. Grabuuuuuuuuuuuge.
Out of most of this series of Subscription Service guys, Gra-- RUCKUS is the one I am most grateful for. You see, he was the original intent for the toy. When Hasbro was figuring out Menasor and realizing that Wildrider was a trademark they weren't likely to get back soon, there was apparently a time window when they sculpted the guy to look like Ruckus, the 1988 Triggercon. Which is, frankly, amazing. Too amazing, apparently, since they either realized "oh shit this guy's name ain't available either" or "oh shit Menasor can't have a beige leg" and decoed the toy to look sorta like Wildrider and gave him the name "Offroad" and decided he was a new guy.
BUT WHO WILL GIVE US THIS TOY AS RUCKUS???
Fun Publications will!
(note: there were some people who were upset that if FP were gonna make a Ruckus, that they'd use this mold instead of, like, Swindle, and no amount of "BUT THIS SCULPT IS RUCKUS THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT" would deter them from their folly)
Like a lot of this series of Subscription figures so far, Ruckus is...............80% paint? For seriously, you see that beige crotchpiece and the beige torso midsection/combiner peg and the beige elbow/shoulder jointage? Everything else is purple plastic! The rest of his torso, painted. The doors on his shoulders, painted. The inside of the truck hood on his back behind his head, painted. Yes, that's painted. It's purple plastic under there. Boggles the mind. The entire roof of the car and bed of the truck, painted. All the teal, painted. There is a friggin' lot of paint here.
It makes me wonder what Hasbro's version of the deco would have looked like. It would have used a tenth of the paint, that's for sure, and wouldn't have been such a slavish replication of the original toy's deco. It would have had to adhere more to the plastic breakdowns of the toy, deco-wise, and probably very loosely interpret the original's color arrangements. Sometimes I lie awake at night and ponder these things.
Because I have insomnia.
You probably haven't seen me talk about many Robots in Disguise toys here, and for a pretty good reason -- I don't really buy many! I mean, the cartoon's okay, and the toys look okay, but early on, before the toyline hit, it became apparent that I would be more frustrated with the toyline than I would find enjoyment out of it, due to my particular eccentricities.
You see, it was going to be a pretty small line, as far as "real" toys go (the non one-step or two-step guys), and they were all going to be Deluxe Class-sized. So I'm sitting there, looking at this coming line-up, realizing that if I was going to start collecting these guys, I was going to have to get used to having a Grimlock (who is very large in the cartoon) who was the same size as every other toy. And that chafed my bum, I realized I could save myself a lot of storage space and money, and decided that I was cool skipping on it all. I mean, minus Strongarm, of course, OBVIOUSLY. Strongarm is great.
But at some point last year, Japan's version of the toyline decided to go balls-out and make everyone a properly-transforming larger Grimlock that's not a one- or two-step toy. They grabbed Fall of Cybertron Grimlock (who may or may not be the same character depending on who you ask and how you look at things) and then retooled the crap out of it. New torsos, new robot legs, new shoulders, new fists, new heads -- there was a lot of new stuff to make him look like Robots in Disguise Grimlock instead of "basically G1-style Grimlock" -- and kazam you have a Grimlock who technically solves my Grimlock Problem or, perhaps, my RID collection problem.
And then Hasbro brought him over, put him in a Platinum Edition set with a redecoed RID Bumblebee, and now Entertainment Earth has him as an exclusive in the United States. Entertainment Earth also sent me these two to review! So here I go.
Let's talk about Bumblebee. If you have a Transformers Prime Vehicon toy (from the RID subline, not the First Edition) then this Bumblebee's going to feel very similar as far as transformation processes go. The roof folds up on the back of the robot legs, the arms pull out from the sides, and the rear bumper hangs off the back of the head. There's a sword that stores underneath the car mode. I got one the regular retail version in the take-home bag for Toy Fair 2015, but this is the PREMIUM EDITION! Mostly that means he's in a more metallic gold-ish color instead of canary yellow and he has a handful of new paint operations. There's black on his feet, there's red on his headlights, there's some silver on his sword... it's not a lot added here. But he's not really the main attraction; Grimlock is.
Fall of Cybertron Grimlock was not a well-received toy, and the retooling present in this version sort of addresses the perceived problems. His dino hips/robot shoulders accordion out during transformation, and it's incredibly easy to get them so untransformed that you can't remember how to inch them back turn by turn into the way they're supposed to go. It's one of those things where you wish you could leave a trail of breadcrumbs for yourself to find your way back home, but this is a plastic robot toy's shoulder apparatus, so that's not really possible. However, the retooling done to make Grimlock into another Grimlock removes the need to untransform the shoulders so much to get him back and forth between robot and dinosaur modes. All the possibility for over-accordioning his shoulders is there, but so long as you temper yourself, you can probably avoid getting lost in the woods.
The other thing people didn't like about the toy was how empty he is if you look at him from the bottom in dinosaur mode. You know that scene in Pete's Dragon where they put a big sheet over the dragon and he runs around and you can see a dragon-shaped sheet and there's nothing underneath it? No, you don't know that scene, because I'm really old and nobody has watched Pete's Dragon in thirty years. But the toy is kind of like that, trust me.
Honestly, that part I don't mind too much. Like, I'm not gonna be shoving my eyeballs in this toy's underside anyway. He's gonna stand upright on the shelf, not hanging around lying around on his back, exposing how little robot he has under there. If you have a bunch of RID Mini-Cons, though, this problem is partly addressed. There's ports tooled in there for you to fill him up with specific Mini-Cons. I don't know what they are because, again, I haven't collected much RID. But it's nice that you can do this if you have the toys available to you.
The original FOC Grimlock also had electronic lights for when you open up his jaw with a lever behind his head. This RID retooling has neither the electronics nor the lever to open his jaw, which is sad. The new dinosaur head does have an opening jaw, however, with both the top of the skull rising a little and the jaw itself hinging down more. You have to -- gasp -- use your finger, though.
Grimlock still comes with Grimlock's sword and shield. They don't suit this version of the character very well, but you can pretty easily forget you own them. I'm sure some other toy could borrow 'em.
Unlike Platinum Bumblebee's seemingly scant bit of paint, Platinum Grimlock feels covered with it. Lots of details here and there, from silver and green and charcoal to yellow. That and the retooling is where all the money went, and it's all very pleasing. He doesn't look unfinished, and I don't think I see any deco that my mind thinks is missing.
Hey, you guys! Entertainment Earth has a fancy new exclusive toy set! It’s one of those Platinum dealies where you get all the paint and whatnot, so if you saw Deluxe Bumblebee in stores last year and were like, okay, but what if this thing were painted, or if you saw Deluxe Grimlock and were like, okay, but what if this were scaled to Bumblebee correctly – these are your guys.
I will have one soon! And I will talk about it too much then, I’m pretty sure. You know how I am.
Yay, it's (Universe) Ramjet! The original Universe Ramjet was some sure-whatever store exclusive redeco of Armada Skywarp, who would be otherwise entirely foregettable if he hadn't been used in very early Fun Publications fiction as a cosmic-level jackass. Ramjet had been caught between dimensions too many times, and so his body was in a constant state of making and unmaking that resulted in him looking like he was bathed in Kirby Krackles while melting randomly and growing tendrils. The original toy did not look like this. He was just an unremarkable white/red/blue redeco of another toy, as I said above.
And so I grabbed a grill lighter and melted mine a bunch and then put some splashes of purple on him. That's exactly the kind of embarrassing nerd I am. A toy-ruiner.
Anyway, at the end of that storyline, he got thrown back into the space between dimensions and wasn't heard from again... until now! When he has a new toy! Weird how that works out! Ramjet's back, from outer space, and I guess he's not structurally bonkers anymore. Which is fine. I don't need to take another grill lighter to another toy.
The new Ramjet is a retool of the new Armada Starscream toy (the one I really like), now retooled to have a head that looks like the Skywarp version of that toy. (A Skywarp version of this Ramjet tooling will be sold later this year.) Neato New Retooled Ramjet doesn't have all the retoolings that the original version did -- there's no VTOLs on his tailfins, nor are his nosecone wings trimmed. But it still works.
It's neat how the new finned head works with the toy. The original head pushed straight down during transformation, but the remake folded the head face-down 90 degrees. There's no room for a fin at the top of the head if you do that! .... unless you make sure the neck balljoint is at the back of the helmet, allowing the headfin to still point up even as you push it down and forward.
New Ramjet is a sharp-looking toy, though packaging problems have kinda messed with many folks'. The top layer of packaging foam was left out, and so many people's Ramjets had paint scratches across the tops of theirs as it arrived. Mine was relatively lucky -- there's just a chip of blue gone at the top of one of the shoulder intakes. If you look for this guy on the second market, make sure there's good pictures of him.
Or don't. Having an awful finish is kind of his original motif.
Japan is probably not too big on Skids. He, like, showed up barely in two episodes of the original cartoon, with a line of dialogue each (performed by a different voice actor for each appearance in both English and Japanese), and Japan didn't get the Marvel comics where he had a spotlight issue and several other appearances. His toy wasn't released normally over there, as it was available not separately, but only in a boxset with Sunstreaker and Buzzsaw. And so it's not surprising that it took so long for TakaraTomy to put out their own version of our Generations Skids.
It IS kind of surprising that it's such a perfect deco replica of his appearance in IDW's More Than Meets The Eye comic book series. Like, I'm not sure that's released properly over there. I think you hafta get it on iTunes or something. I mean, there seems to be a small fanbase in Japan for it, but I don't think that's a widespread thing. Honestly, I don't really know. My knowledge here is spotty. If someone wants to fill me in on Japan's relationship with IDW Transformers comics, that'd be neato.
But, yeah, instead of trying to deco Skids hardcore like the cartoon, they made sure to MTMTE him up, including painting pink stripes across his hood despite there not being any sculpting there to suggest a need for that. Nope, he gets those stripes (and basically everything else) off his color model for an American comic.
And so, obviously, I had to get him. I mean, I'd put Reprolabels on my domestic Skids to get those necessary stripes and other details on there (as you can see in the photos -- that toy ain't stock), but this TakaraTomy version is so much more comprehensive in replicating the MTMTE color model than the domestic version + stickers. He's got the black toes and the silver ankles and the red hands and tummy, and I adore the use of pink for the stripes, as well.
Addendum: After taking a photo of the new toy next to the old one with the stickers, I tried to remove the stickers to get a more fair visual assessment of the two toys unaltered. BAD IDEA. Those Reprolabels are not meant to come off. You leave a lot of silver chrome behind, and I'll probably hafta get some serious Goo-Be-Gone to remove it, if I decide to at some point. You can get the American toy carded on eBay for like $8, so I'm not sure it's worth selling the thing once I subtract the cost of the Goo-Be-Gone. If it even works. Meh!