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The Ark

Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

In Generation 1, the Autobots came to Earth in a ship called the Ark, which crashed into a mountain and eventually became their headquarters. And unless you count the shoddily made cardboard version the SDCC Dinobots came in, there's never been a toy of that ship. But thanks to Dark of the Moon, we have a toy of a ship inspired by it.

Autobot Roller is the pilot of the mighty starship that at one time was the flagship of the Autobot fleet. Together they protect the vast expanse of outer space from the Decepticon threat.

Yeah, that's fine, let's talk about Roller first. He matters. (What's the emoticon for eye-rolling, again?) [ᕙ(◔̯◔)ᕗ --ed.] Anyway, during the opening scenes of the movie, when we see the Ark in action, it's being crewed by a bunch of generic, unidentifiable Autobots, who all look very much like Roller's robot mode. The only substantial differences are that this one has kibble for an altmode, and that it's got actual colors instead of being a single shade of visually dead grey. Instead, this little dude's got his grey accented by white, blue and gold, which really does a nice job of making him "pop." The balljointed hips are loose, making the knees pretty much useless, and he has a balljointed left shoulder and a shouder and elbow joint on the right arm.

Roller turns not into a tiny truck, but into a... thing. It's half extraplanetary rover, half bomb-disposal robot. The thin tank treads and the grabbed arm on the front look like something your local SWAT team would have access to, but then it has some satellite dishes and a huge solar panel on the top. Amusingly, this looks like a scaled-down version of the Lunar Crawler that came with Ratchet - and honestly, given the comparative scale of 1) humans to Ratchet, 2) Ratchet to the Lunar Crawler, 3) Roller to the Ark, and 4) the Ark to humans (as seen in the film), it seems likely they're truly meant to be the same thing, that Roller can turn into a big suit of armor for tiny little Ratchet.

But enough about Roller, let's talk Ark! The ship seen in this toy is pretty much identical to the one from the film in every way - same shape, same proportions, same guns sticking out all over... it's great!

The Ark measures approximately 10" wide, 3½" tall, and more than 11" long. There's a hollow cockpit with four nose guns, lots of panel lines all over the surface, and four large circular engines sticking out the back. The main guns are large and blocky, while there are smaller round guns sculpted farther back on the body. Two weird guns jut off the back - they seem completely out of place, but if you look at the digital model used for the film, they're there.

To really up the firepower, the surface has tons of 5mm ports (for the standardized weapons the figures carry), 3m ports (for the Legends-class weapons) and C-joint bars (remember when those were a thing for like a week?) scattered all over the place. The cockpit opens, and a suitably small TF can be put inside (probably in vehicle mode, unless they're going to be laying down). The weight of a figure will press down a panel that activates engine and flight sounds, and makes a light inside ship flash. A golden button behind the cockpit lights up the clear guns on either side of the cockpit and makes laser sounds.

When you spread the sides of the ship, the center bit raises straight up, becoming a control tower. Hey, nobody said this was a complicated conversion. You do have to unfold a few internal pieces if you want them out, so this isn't a completely automatic change.

Since this is, sadly, not an Animated toy, the Ark does not turn into Omega Supreme - it's just a fairly typical playset, with fairly typical playset features, like a "repair bay" and a launching ramp. Wait, aren't those the exact same things Optimus Prime's trailer had? Yes, yes they are. Rather than assuming this is what the Ark actually turns into, I'm going to play like it's just the area immediately inside the cockpit; you know, like if there was a toy of the Enterprise that unfolded to be the bridge.

The floor has a very intricate honeycomb pattern, and there's a large cannon in the center of the room. On the left side is a flat bed that can be elevated so figures can be "repaired" by the golden orange clamp; on the right are five little gray pillars that hinge up to form a space bridge platform! Those are a major plot point in the movie, so it's nice that they're here. At the rear, under the command station, is a prison with spring-loaded doors. A lever raises the back of the ramp to send any figure on it zooming away, and most of the guns are removable (and have 5mm posts so they can be traded around). There are more light and sound features in this mode, if you opt to install the necessary AA batteries. I didn't.

The digital model for the Ark was reused in Age of Extinction as a smaller part of Lockdown's ship, suggesting it's a standard model on Cybertron. It's not the most exciting toy ever, but it hung around stores long enough to get reduced to some pretty deep clearance prices. Though frankly we're surprised Hasbro never did an orange repaint of it and tried to pass it off as the G1 version.

-- 04/26/16

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