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Ratchet

Transformers Bumblebee
by yo go re

Medic!

As the Decepticons launch their final assault, Ratchet and the Autobots find themselves outnumbered and flee Cybertron in escape pods.

Like we said before, the Cybertron scenes in Bumblebee were a late addition to the script: originally, all we saw was the hologram 'bee projected of Optimus Prime, but test audiences wanted to see more, so the filmmakers quickly threw some things together. Needing to fill an entire battle scene, they got their Ironhide model approved, then stocked the Autobot side with a bunch of recolored drones. But they also took the opportunity to add another named character, in the form of Ratchet.

The choice does make sense. Back in Generation 1, Ratchet and Ironhide shared the same molds, so copying that here is just as logical as turning Starscram into any of the other Seekers. The body looks sturdy and strong, with thick, blocky limbs and large pads running over the shoulders. We even get a nice nod to the old design in the form of a big blue windshield on the chest, though in this case it's a series of angled panels rather than a single flat piece of glass. Grey panels break up all the white on the body, with just a few accents of red to really tie him in with the '80s ambulance.

Due to the Diaclone toy they were based on, neither Ratchet nor Ironhide actually had a head back in the day: the assumption might have been that their windshields became sort of a large "face," but instead the cartoon made that their chests with a newly designed head up on their shoulders, making that the default difference between them. Ratchet was given an angled crest (red for the movie, grey for the cartoon) on his forehead, and a silver face showing from within a white "helmet" section. The eyes are lightpiped, but unlike Soundwave, they didn't neuter it by painting over them.

The figure's articulation is better than you might expect. He's got a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and hinged rocker ankles. The rocker part in that last one doesn't go very far, thanks to the shape of the feet and the legs, but it is there. The hips on mine are a little wobbly, but no telling if that's true of all of them or not. The figure includes a large grey rifle that can be held in either hand, or stored on his back.

Converting Ratchet is a little tricky, because there's a swivel in his waist and a swivel in his lower back, and if you turn the wrong one at the wrong time, things will never line up. To begin, fold his hands away, open the flaps on his back, raise the little panel over his head, and fold the entire torso up. Tuck the feet away, rotate the thighs 180°, lift the legs forward at the tips, extend the chest, open the shoulder flaps farther, rotate the lower back, bend the knees and wrap the chest over them, fold the arms around the sides, and put the forearms away underneath.

1984 Ratchet's altmode was a Nissan Vanette, a stumpy little vehicle with a flat front and a high roof. Bumblebee Ratchet never converted on-screen, so Hasbro designed this one with Emiliano Santalucia. It keeps the windshield right up front, overhanging the wheels slightly in fact, but the proportions remain closer to a van than a car, and the red stripes on the rear suggest emergency lights. The gun can store on the roof, which seems rather obtrusive. The shades of white tend to vary a lot between the pieces, but not so much that things look out of place.

You get the feeling that by the time the studio went to add the Cybertron scenes, they were pretty confident that Bumblebee would be the start of a new continuity rather than a prequel to the existing one: how else would you explain a robot who looks like this would later look like this? Changing altmodes is one thing, but redesigning your entire body is another. It's been real tough trying to get a Ratchet recently, with the Earthrise one being exclusive to an Amazon two-pack and the Siege one being a Walgreens exclusive which never seemed to show up, but this movieverse one scratches the itch nicely.

-- 04/05/22


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