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Transformers: The Movie
by yo go re

This doesn't look anything like an elephant!

Ironhide bravely fights off a Decepticon ambush on the Autobot shuttle.

The Transformers cartoon severely effed up when it decided to redesign Ironhide (and Ratchet) to have heads. Cowardly, even! We're not saying they should have stuck with the Diaclone "giant mech suit" thing, with a tiny pilot sitting in the chair behind the windshield like this was a cross between a Power Loader and a Gundam (though that would have been a bold choice to make), we're saying that they should have either drawn the seat as a head behind glass, like Dreamwave's design for pre-Earth Ironhide, of they should have just made the windshield the head, the way some GoBots did. Why are you not as brave as Gobots, Transformers?

That said, the cartoon did design them a head up on top of their shoulders, so '80s kids have wanted toys that looked like that since 1984. The Studio Series line is about being as true to the source material as possible, so Ironhide has his classic cartoon look: a silver face inside a red helmet with bumps over the ears and a mohawk over the top.

His body is very square and blocky, befitting the animation style at the time - you don't want to design a lot of weird, complicated shapes when every frame has to be drawn by hand. Stack them cubes! Considering that he was the Autobots' powerhouse, making him look so big and sturdy makes sense. There are sculpted panel lines on the surfaces, but also quite a bit of kibble; not "here are obvious vehile parts" kind, but the "look at all these visible toy hinges" kind. He's mostly red, obviously, with dark grey hands, shoulders, and waist, and light gray legs and crotch-flap.

Ironhide is armed with a pair of silver pistols. In the cartoon, he had a "water gun" that could actually shoot any kind of liquid at all. It was never drawn consistently, sometimes being a separate gun, sometimes being a cannon that came out of his hand, sometime his fingers, sometimes he just shot it straight out of his wrists... you get the idea. So two pistols? Sure. They can store on his back when he's not using them, which is cool. The toy moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and head.

Converting Ironhide involves a lot of "push these plastic tabs together, hard" stuff, which doesn't bode well for the toy's long-term survivability. Open his chest, fold out the little window-nubs, and tuck his head away in the chest cavity before closing the windshield again. Lower the bumper, raise the arms, tip the chest back and then rotate it around. Bend the arms down slightly, put the hands away, raise little flaps on the shins so you can move the feet up, then finish wrapping all the flaps around.

The original Ironhide changed into a Nissan Sunny-Vanette Coach SGL. The new one is similar, though not licensed - no more turning into an SUV for him! This is definitely close to the animated model, though with a few minor oddities. For instance, the area that should be a yellow stipe along his side is sculpted, but not painted. Neither is the rear window, but that one might be so we don't notice it's substantially lower on the van's body than all the other windows. There are still lots of visible hinges sticking out on the sides, and two bumps of translucent blue plastic stick up through the roof, obviously intended as an attachment point when this is repainted as Ratchet sometime in the future. You can plug the guns on up there, or stow them underneath the back end so they stick out like exhaust pipes.

The Studio Series toys still come with backdrops. Ironhide's is the bridge of the Ark or whatever ship it was on where he died. I'mma be honest with you, here: I was taken to see Transformers: the Movie when it was in theaters, and it made zero impact on my tiny child brain. The parents of all us kids in the group were worried about Spike cursing, but literally none of us noticed it at all. I don't even know if we noticed that Optimus Prime died and didn't come back by the end. It was just 75 minutes of flashing lights and colors then, and that's basically all it is now. Maybe you had to be older to like it. Or younger. I don't know. All I know is that if this isn't the Ark, if this is some other ship with some other name, I honestly don't care. It's a bunch of orange technology with stars visible through the windshield, which is a cool backdrop for lots of characters. There's a big piece of tape right across the center, presumably to prevent the toy from scraping the art before you open the box.

It's been a long wait for a really good Ironhide... and it's not really over yet. All those big hinges on the outside of both the robot and the altmode make the design feel incomplete. Of course, if they really bother you, there's always the full-priced Masterpiece version. This is definitely the best mass market Ironhide there's been, which makes us at least slightly look forward to the day they decide to do Ratchet, too.

-- 02/07/23

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