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Transformers Animated
by yo go re

This toy is a testament to the importance of being secretive.

The Autobot army has never seen anyone tougher than Ironhide. Back in boot camp, the trainees considered it good fun to take their best shot at denting his armor. No one ever could. Now, on battlefields across the galaxy, Ironhide uses his ultra-hard armor and fighting skills to battle Decepticons wherever they appear.

This figure, a Toys Я Us exclusive, is a repaint of the similarly TRU-excluisve Cybertronian Mode Ratchet, which we have somehow managed to thus-far fail to review. Whoops! Anyway, the original Ratchet (which we've also failed to review) was already a pretty big pegwarmer, so a second version of him didn't sell any better - partially because they made the mistake of packaging him in robot mode. But if Hasbro had told anyone that this repaint was coming, nobody would have ever bought the second Ratchet at all! So, keeping quiet = more sales.

Ironhide's altmode is some kind of outer space van-tank. It doesn't need to make sense, it's from another planet. The body is sleek and pointy, but a cap on the back adds bulk, and the tank treads are on four angled "legs." He kind of looks like a turtle. The vehicle is mostly red and black, with yellow lights, a blue windshield and a silver Autobot logo on the hood.

Converting Ironhide is a Level 3 - "Advanced" - process, most of which can probably be attributed directly to the hassle involved with getting his arms changed. They come out of the back of the van, and there's a lot of tough shifting and twisting to get themin place, no matter which direction you're going. It's not bad engineering or some sort of molding problem, just a tricky design. There is a small molding error on his right knuckles, but it doesn't get in the way of anything.

We've mentioned before that a mistake on Cartoon Network's site led fans to expect Ironhide was a traitor to the Autobots, thus deflecting our suspicion from the real culprit - that's another way secrecy worked out in the character's favor! On the show, he was presented as something of a good ol' boy (providing the contrasting rural stereotype to Bulkhead's total hayseed), which really isn't out of line with any of his previous incarnations. Ironhide likes to fight!

Ironhide gets a new head, which is the one thing he needs to keep him from looking like an inexplicable red repaint Ratchet. It's possible that the shapes on his cheeks are meant to represent sideburns, but between those, the red nose and the mohawk crest on his dome, the overall impression is similar to a Spartan's helmet. Hasbro had money to tool a new head either for Ironhide or (potential Bumblebee repaint) Wasp, and obviously they chose Ironhide; the question then is, would they still have chosen to release Ironhide as the TRU exclusive with the old head, or would we have gotten the otherwise-unreleased Wasp instead?

Like all the Animated toys, Ironhide has good articulation. The head, shoulders and hips are balljointed, the biceps, wrists and thighs are swivels, and the elbows and knees are hinged. The packaging calls out his "Extending iron punch," which is a springy arm that pushes out his right hand via a button on his elbow. Ratchet had the same thing, but it makes a lot more sense for Ironhide. He also has "Detachable hammer hands," silver pads that fit over his knuckles for more punching power. Ratchet had the same things, but they were presented as defibrillator paddles, but here they're more like brass knuckles. Ironhide's red is closer to orange than you might expect. There's been a slight molding change to the knees, providing a smal "lip" that allows them to actually click into place - a very welcome change!

On the cartoon, Ironhide had the ability to armor up - basically, it was TFA taking a page from the X-Men, and making Ironhide into Colossus. An all-silver version of Ironhide would have made for a great exclusive, if the normal release had made it to normal mass retail, instead of being an exclusive itself. If you were smart enough to avoid the Cybertronian Ratchet that originated this mold, then yes, Ironhide is great. If you did buy Ratchet, then you already know what to expect from this release, and you can decide for yourself whether double-dipping is worth it. After all, this is still an all-new character.

-- 11/02/10

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