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Ratchet

Transformers Animated
by yo go re

Let's review something we should have done years ago.

Ratchet was, at one time, one of the most promising medical minds on Cybertron. After his experiences with Lockdown though, all he wanted to do was disappear. An assignment to a deep space repair crew was just what he was looking for. He never wanted to be in the middle of a new war against Megatron, but if that's where fate puts him, he'll do his best to keep his comrades safe and sound.

Ratchet's altmode is an ambulance, or at least what passes for an ambulance in the world of Animated. It's curvy and rounded, rather than a box on wheels like most emergency vehicles are these days. The front end has crash bars and what appears to be a winch, plus tiny little lights sculpted on the bumper. The hood slops up to the windshield, and there are emergency lights on the roof. We get sculpted side mirrors and windows, plus the etched-in doors of tool boxes down by the runners at the bottom.

Since the Red Cross owns the "blocky red plus sign on a white background" symbol, modern toys aren't allowed to use that any more - these days, Ratchet typically gets a stylized cardiogram graphic, a red circle with a jagged white line running through it (though it's a bit curvy, to match the Animated aesthetic). That's tampoed on both sides of the bus.

Hasbro's customer service website is currently broken, so we can't link you to Ratchet's instructions, but changing him isn't terribly hard. Raise the back end over the roof, extend the forearms, flip up the side panels, unfold the feet, spread the arms to the sides, lower the legs and tuck in the hood, drop the roof down (which will make the head pop up automatically), then finish up by turning the arms down into their proper position.

Animated Ratchet introduced the "grumpy old man" personality that was later carried over into Prime - he complained about those dang kids, had flashbacks about his experiences during the war, all the stuff old people do. Ate whatever the Cybertronian equivalent of Werther's Originals are and had dinner at 4pm. Just one more example of Animated's enduring legacy!

One of the cool things about Animated was the way the designs matched the characterization. Ratchet is a doctor and an old war veteran, so he looks like both. The red sections on his arms make him look like he's wearing long rubber gloves (for surgery, of course), and the hood of his altmode doesn't fold all the way away, leaving him with a bit of a paunch. The panels on his shoulders are bigger and pointier than they were on the cartoon, and the feet are smaller, but overall this is a decent representation of what was seen on the cartoon, and suits the character as he was written.

Even the head gets in on the action. The G1 Ratchet had no head (on the toy - the cartoon and comic both gave him one), so that couldn't provide any influence. The character was originally going to be called Red Alert, but there isn't much of a connection there, either. He ends up with several scars on his face, and the right half of his crest has been broken. He looks like an old guy who's seen some hard times.

Ratchet moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, fingers and thumbs, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. Continuing the trend of weapons that come out of the characters' hands, Ratchet has spring-loaded bits that flip out of his elbows and swing all the way around to be held in his hands. They're meant to represent the magnetic clamps he uses in the show, but each one only covers half the weapon, and they don't point the right way.

He's also armed with four tools that can be held in either hand: they're designed like a screwdriver, wrench, hammer and can opener! Each has a clamp that attaches to the hinge of the magnet weapon, to help hold them in place, or they can be stored in his back. There's nothing to do with them in vehicle mode, though. Plus, if you got Lockdown, you can plug the EMP Generator into Ratchet's forearm "war wound" - in the fiction, the weapon was his originally Ratchet's, so he's just getting it back.

Ratchet was a pretty heavy pegwarmer when he came out - for whatever reason, fans just weren't interested in the crotchety old medic. It's kind of a shame, too, because the character is cool and the toy is pretty fun. Don't let the fact that people didn't care in 2008 make you not care now.

-- 08/02/16


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