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Rack'n'Ruin

Transformers: Cyberverse
by yo go re

Today is Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - so in numerical notation, 2/22/22 (or 22/2/22 for our non-American friends). A few years back, someone noticed this coincidence coming, and suggested it be dubbed "Twosday." We love a good pun here, so welcome to a doubly special Transformers Twosday!

Rack'N'Ruin draws his weapon to harness the power of Energon for an Energon Armor-Up!

Rack'n'Ruin (or "Rack and Ruin," or "Rack 'N' Ruin," or "Rack n' Ruin," or whatever other way the letterers felt like spelling it that day) was/were created by writer Simon Furman for the UK TF comics. They were part of the Wreckers, the fan-favorite Autobot commando unit with the high mortality rate. Back in the '80s, appearing in the comics was not a path to getting your own toy, like it is today, so comics-only they remained. Until now!

Every new TF franchise does its part to mine and homage the past, and so 2018's "Cyberverse" franchise (Hasbro's most recent attempt at aligning lore from multiple continuities into one) included Rack'n'Ruin as one of the main Autobots, introducing them to animation for the first time ever! Even if their appearance was drastically different from the comic. In the books, they had two fully separate bodies that were joined side-by-side at the shoulder (it was revealed they had to be surgically combined to save their lives after a grievous injury); in Cyberverse, they were simply born as conjoined twins, having one big blocky body with two heads. And two torsos, really, if you look at it, but only one set of legs. (The divided torsos are clearer in the animation than on the toy.)

The original(s) also had heads that were basically smooth dome helmets with a visor slit. This new one drastically changes that, giving them almost-identical faces - "almost," because Rack has a monocle-type ring over his right eye while Ruin gets nothing. But you know what these faces really remind us of? Animated! Look at that smirk. Look at that chin! You could drop this toy into a display next to Bulkhead and Rodimus Minor, and nothing would look the least bit out of place.

Rack'n'Ruin's articulation is better than you might expect, though still too slight. They're roughly Voyager sized, standing slightly above 5¾" tall at the heads (and a bit more than that if you leave their gun attached to their back), and move with swivel/​hinge knees, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge elbows, and balljointed shoulders. There are no waists, thanks to the design of the robot, and no necks, thanks to the design of the toy and its play feature. But why no sort of wrists? Overall, this feels like a smaller toy that's been upsized.

As mentioned, their gun stows on the back, but can be held in either hand. The Cyberverse Ultra Class figures feature flip-out "Energon armor," which is just a thin piece of translucent blue plastic that's springloaded to pop out of the torso and cover the heads and chests when you hinge the body open. It's fine for what it is, but I'd rather drop this and get more articulation (and torsos that are more obviously separate like they are in the art). Or even paint it rather than making it clear, because in a neat little touch, the bits of armor that go over the heads are simple domes with a visor slit - the same as the G1 character had!

Converting the figure is a little complex, simply because you have to twist the legs around so much at various points. You start by hinging the shoulders backwards, then it's bending the knees, rolling the legs upward so the heels are in the armpits before flipping them and the waist piece all the way back down, twisting the knees upwards, tucking the torso between the legs, then finishing the folding of the shoulders to get them into position.

Easy enough once you're used to it, but hard to visualize.

In the Marvel comics, Rack'n'Ruin couldn't transform anymore as a side effect of their emergency surgery (they'd previously turned into mini-jets); in the IDW comics, they couldn't transform because they'd blown out the organ that lets them do that by going too fast. So this Cyberverse incarnation is the first to actually convert into anything else! Their altmode is some sort of low-profile armored car with big guns on the sides and a mine plow in the front. There's a big gap right in the center of the windshield, and nothing covers the back of the car, but the fact this mode exists at all is a step forward. And really, the design of the vehicle feels like something that would have fit in Animated as well, so between that and the faces, that's the collection I'm adding this to.

Given the way Transformers as a brand works, this is unlikely to be the last Rack'n'Ruin toy we ever get: this is simply their first appearance outside of comics, and now that they've been established as something that's able to be done as a toy, the idea will repeat itself. The Cyberverse character was inspired by the IDW character who was inspired by the Marvel character, and someday a future character will be inspired by the Cyberverse one in turn. And sure, this is a good first-effort toy, but improvements could still be made.

-- 02/22/22


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