Posted March 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm
For a while I was searching Targets pretty hard for this guy.  But of course the day after I gave up looking for a while was the day Graham found him for me at the nearby Target I check every day.   Ain't it always the way.  That was more than a week ago, but I had to take my desktop computer in for some repairs (everything's fine now), so I haven't been pushing the toy reviews since then.  But I'm back in business, and here we are again!

Ratchet's my favorite character on Transformers Prime.  That's not saying a whole lot because Ratchet is often my favorite character in any given Transformers series, but it's still true, so I'm still saying it!  He is my second-favorite Ratchet, if only because no new Ratchet is likely to top the one who singlehandedly fought Megatron when I was 5 years old, because as a human I am a big sack of chemical-induced emotions.  I like to think Prime Ratchet is basically what G1 Marvel Ratchet would have been like if we'd seen G1 Marvel Ratchet at times when he wasn't trying to kamakaze himself.  He's snarky, cranky, doesn't put up with bullshit, and has a healthy understanding of his place in the universe, for good or ill.  He's the Autobot closest to Optimus Prime, has known him the longest, and that means Ratchet can call him out when Optimus is acting stupid.  And despite Ratchet's slight superiority complex, he's sad that he can't do more than medicine to further the Autobot cause, and would be willing to give up nearly anything of himself to right that perceived shortfall.

(The episode that aired Saturday night was a good example of this.)

Prime Ratchet is an actual ambulance.  I shouldn't have to point that out, but Ratchets rarely are.  The first one was a minivan with flashers, the second one was a Mercedes SUV with a ladder painted on it, the third one was a H2 Hummer made up to look like an ambulance, evil Mirrorverse Ratchet is a crane, and only Animated and Prime Ratchets seem to be actual amblances rather than converted versions of nonambulance vehicles.  And as a real ambulance, the Deluxe Class is probably a little small for Ratchet, considering most of the Deluxe Class toys are sports cars.  Indeed, Ratchet is one of the tallest Autobots on the show, only shorter than Optimus Prime and of equal or greater height than Bulkhead.  But at the next size class up, there's a real possibility a Voyager Ratchet would be too close to (or greater than) Voyager Optimus Prime's height, so Deluxe is good enough for me.

Like his casemates Arcee and Cliffjumper, Ratchet's transformation depends on a lot of "cheating."  Not many of the vehicle mode parts become parts of the robot.  About a third of the ambulance is a shell that slides down over the backs and sides of his legs.  His robot mode torso gives hints of being vehicle mode parts, but those hints are only sculpted detail.  The ambulance doors sculpted on to his chest, for example, are not the vehicle mode's actual doors.  (And for good reason, the sculpted chest-doors are about half the size of the vehicle mode's actual doors.  The show model does a lot of cheating of its own.)

This cheating doesn't make him a bad toy by default.  He's reasonably easy to get in and out of either mode, and that middle-third-of-his-vehicle-mode shellforming is really the only shellforming that occurs.  (I'm not sure how to classify how his forearms transform -- the back walls of the ambulance fold around his forearms to complete them, but that seems like it's not strictly "shellforming" as we usually define it.)

Ratchet has a lot of paint, but the usual budgeted amount is not nearly enough to give him all of the red areas he has on the cartoon.  (Probably another symptom of the fake kibble, since the red stripes on his fake doors and his real doors have to be painted twice.)  He's also missing the red zig-zagged line that runs down the side of the ambulance, but the way his arms break up during transformation would complicate that.  I took to this guy with my own paint pretty quickly after taking these photos of the "stock" version.

Ratchet comes with two rubbery surgical "battle blades."  Presumably they're rubbery so they can be sculpted to look sharp rather than horribly blunted for child safety.  In vehicle mode, the blades can store underneath or they can peg into the front bumper.  You know, for ram-stabbing.  In robot mode, Ratchet can either hold them upright in his fists, or his fists can fold down into his wrists so that it looks like the blades are protruding from his arms as they do on the show.  There is sadly no storage for the blades in robot mode.  Which is kind of disappointing, considering Ratchet's got a lot of backpack space.

I like Ratchet a lot.  He evokes the character I enjoy as well as can be expected for a $12 toy, and he's fun to transform back and forth.  He's even better if you throw some red and silver on him.  I'll show you guys photos of that later.

Did I mention that Ratchet is voiced by Jeffrey Combs?