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Hound w/ Ravage

Transformers Classics
by yo go re

Between Cybertron and the movie toys, Hasbro gave fans a real treat with the Transformers Classics line. The toys were excellent updates of the old characters, and it proved so successful that the idea was repeated a year later. That's not to say that all the figures were winners.

Chief tracker and scout for Optimus Prime, Autobot Hound packs some of the most sophisticated sensing technology of any of the Autobots. He is capable of tracking even the most stealthy and light-footed Decepticon - namely Ravage - through rivers, across bare rock, and even through the air by the spare whisper of electromagnetic radiation the robot panther leaves behind. Though Ravage can hide almost perfectly in even the slightest shadow, no amount of skill can prevent Autobot Hound from finding him.

Hound's skill as a scout comes from the fact that he's wildly in love with Earth. While Jazz digs human culture, Hound is all about the environment: mountains, forests, deserts, everything that isn't just a big ball of metal. He scans everything around him and stores topographical maps in his brain - basically, he's the Transformers equivalent of a tourist who's always snapping pictures of everything or constantly shooting video.

As part of the Universe/Classics 2.0 line, Hound's altmode is no longer an old-fashioned military jeep. Instead, he's slightly futuristic, and ends up looking like Halo's Warthog. All four big chunky wheels roll freely, and a weapon mounts on the rollbar behind the passenger's seat.

The detailing on the vehicle mode is really impressive. The tire treads are intricate, and there's a winch behind the giant bumper. The headlights and winshield are trans blue, and even the dashboard gets some attention. Granted, none of this is as nice as it would be on an Alternator, but it's still above average for a Deluxe class toy.

Converting Hound to a robot isn't difficult, but there are several things that the instructions are just unclear about. For instance, there are multiple ways to get the vehicle's front tires stowed behind Hound's head, and when the chest is in the proper position, there's a big gap between the torso and the waist flap. There's another oddity involving the articulation, but we'll talk about that when we get there.

Aside from the non-aligning waist, Hound's robot form is mostly good. He has comically large feet, like the original toy, but everything else is fairly proportional. His head is a cube, and the colors match the cartoon. The original promo shots for the figure showed him with green biceps and hands, and black forearms - on the actual thing, those colors have been reversed. A yellow stripe runs around the forearm, and there's an Autobot symbol on the jeep's hood, right in front of his head.

Hound's only accessory is the "hologram projector" that he can either hold in his hand, or can be mounted on his shoulder like it was in G1. It's always looked like a rocket launcher, but no, apparently not. The figure has a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. There are unexplained joints on the bottom of his feet that seem related to the tabs on the vehicle mode, but they're actually rockers designed to allow his feet to stand flat on the ground even when his legs are wide.

Packaged along with Hound in this set is a new version of Ravage, the Decepticon sabotuer who usually lived inside Soundwave's chest. Why did they decide to pair these two? I don't know, but I'd sure like to hear. Though Hound is in vehicle mode on the card, Ravage is in his panther form. Now that there's a good reason for - what kid is going to recognize a casette tape? Originally Hasbro planned to call the tape "capture mode," but the final packaging just calls it a tape. There are two fold-up tabs on the back of Hound's jeep mode that allow him to transport the "captured" Ravage.

Ravage's update is really impressive. Though his tape mode is the same size as the G1 version (yes, he'll fit perfectly inside Soundwave, if you have one), the transformation is completely different and leaves us with an impressive animal who actually has some bulk to him, rather than being nearly two-dimensional. He moves at the neck, elbows, hips, knees and tail, and stands 1⅞" tall. There are holes in his legs that will accommodate the G1 figure's missiles, if you so choose, but technically he already has them molded on his hips.

Hound is a decent figure, but he's at the bottom of this new collection of Classics. Well, nearly the bottom. I've gotten a better appreciation of him as I did this review, but he's still not that great. Ravage is very cool (even if his tape mode doesn't have any tape detailing, and is therefore really just a rectangular hexahedron), and is the main thing that's going to sell this set. If Hound came by himself, he'd be a bit too dull to bother with, but pair him with a Decepticon kitty, and suddenly he looks a lot better.

-- 03/17/09

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