When I was a little boy of about ten years old, there came into existence the crazy idea that maybe Hasbro should make new versions of old popular Transformers characters, because maybe kids had grown attached to Transformers as people and not entirely just as a gimmick. And so we got Optimus Prime as a Powermaster and Jazz and Bumblebee and Starscream and Grimlock as Pretenders. And I realized... wait, we can get OLD guys as NEW guys??? I can have chances to buy all the guys I didn't manage to get in 1984?
Strange new possibilities awoke in me, and I designed a combiner (because old guys come back as special features like Powermasters or Pretenders) that was made up of a bunch of 1984 guys I wanted to have toys of. Ratchet, Ironhide, Wheeljack, and Prowl combined with Optimus Prime (because of course the torso would be Optimus Prime, duh doy) to form a bigger robot. Ratchet and Ironhide would finally have toys that had heads like they did in the comics, and Wheeljack and Prowl were just other guys I wanted because they were important in the early Marvel stuff I had. (Essentially, I was recreating the Autobot cast of "DIS-Integrated Circuits!" minus the Jazz I already had a Pretender of, plus Ironhide who I thought needed a toy with a head.)
WELL HEY GREAT NEWS! Combiner Wars gave us all those guys, true to my ten-year-old self's designs. Well, minus Ratchet. We knew there was a possible Ratchet head for the Combiner Wars First Aid toy hidden somewhere in the tooling, but would Hasbro put out a SECOND nigh-identical white-with-red ambulance guy? Sometimes Hasbro just puts alternate heads into tooling for a rainy day and then never actually uses them. Would my childhood fanfic combiner never fully come to be?
Screw y'all, 'cuz it has! ...by the skin of its teeth! Hasbro told BotCon, HEY, you guys use our Ratchet tooling for your customization class toy, all right? And BotCon was all, yes daddy. And, lo, the childhood was saved.
But, jeez, is my Ratchet cup runneth over. Shawn Tessmann, who runs the customization class, came up with FIVE seperate ways to paint up your Ratchet, and four of them are awesome. There's the red-headed Marvel Ratchet that I was always going to make no matter what, there was the cartoon-style version (no thank you!), there was an amazing-looking neonish G2 Ratchet, there was a Shattered Glass Ratchet, and there was a fifth option where you use the First Aid head that remained on the sprue to make Medix, the Rescue Bots-inspired additional member of the Protectobots.
I had preordered two Ratchets, one to paint and one to keep around just in case because RATCHET, but now I kind of have a deficit of Ratchets to make into the other possibilities. In time, I tell myself, in time. For now, I have this lone Marvel-style Ratchet. He makes me supremely happy! Frankly, red-headed Ratchet makes me happy in general, as if it's a load-bearing Jenga piece of my soul. And thanks to some very good friends and also eBay, I have everything needed to complete him -- stickers, Enigma of Combination, and all.
(is there anything more really required in life than good friends and eBay?)
(okay, there's also Amazon.com)
Like last year's Covenant of Primus, the Enigma of Combination is a sort-of-not-really-Hasbro-blessed fan-made accessory to go with the customization class toy. Ratchet can hold it and also it can plug into Optimus Prime's combiner mode chest. ...way better than Blackjack or Rodimus, I can tell you.
So, at long last, my childhood combiner is complete. I will likely keep Ratchet as an arm, because he's special to me and I can see him better that way on a shelf, rather than hiding as a leg behind something else on display. His translucent combiner fist is supposed to be all Healy Powers anyway, and I imagine it's probably rough to try to kick someone into health.