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Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

The Transformers movies are actually fairly clever about working the toyline's weird history into the narrative. They've had Cassetticons, Pretenders, Combiners, beastmodes, triple-changers, capes, beards, females... and now they've even done their version of Clones.

Decepticon Hatchet enforces his commanders' wishes with merciless efficiency. Fast and heavily armed, this Decepticon is not to be underestimated. His four-legged robot mode allows for superior mobility on the galaxy's roughest terrain.

The original Clones were pairs of Transformers that had identical robot modes, but changed into different altmodes, so this isn't quite the same deal - in Transformers 3 (aka, the "good" sequel), there was a team of Decepticons known as the Dreads. All three disguised themselves as Chevy Suburbans, but they each became unique robots. For instance, Hatchet here is a quadruped, while his two buddies stood upright.

Hatchet shares the same colorscheme as his fellow Dread, Crankcase: black, gold and silver, with red eyes. His face looks less like the Predator and more like a cat, though. The top of his head is sculpted with two little flares that could even be construed as ears. Most Transformers have humanoid faces, but not Hatchet.

The rest of his body is highly detailed. The arms have just the kind of "exposed mechanisms" design we've come to expect from the movies, with lots of technological detail sculpted below the surface. The spines on his tail are reminiscent of Ravage's, and his rear legs are digitigrade (but so are a lot of the movieformers, both Autobot and Decepticon). The chest is fully detailed, though you'll rarely see it; while Hatchet has enough articulation (and balance) to stand on his hind legs, you can't tip his head down far enough to have him pass as a biped.

Hatchet has a pair of weapons mounted above his shoulders: one is a Gatling gun, and the other is a more traditional blaster rifle. They attach via thin pegs, so they can be used by any Cyberverse-scale figure with the appropriate holes in their hands. It's not mentioned anywhere in the instructions, but you can combine the two weapons end-to-end, forming more of a rifle.

To convert Hatchet, begin by removing the guns and setting them aside. Straighten his arms, turn them palm-up, then swing them down and lower the wings. Spread the back-flaps, fold over the panel that hides his spine, tuck the head away and fold the flaps back over it. Push in the tip of the tail and fold the rear legs up to complete the cockpit. All that's left is to split the forearms and fold them back beneath the wings.

So, with all this talk of "wings" and "cockpits" and whatnot, you can probably guess that Hatchet doesn't turn into a Chevy Suburban. No, for some reason Hasbro decided to make him a jet - an STBLDF Eurofighter Typhoon. What, a land-based vehicle was too good for him? The plane is 4½" long, 1⅝" tall and has a 3¼" wingspan. The landing gear is just molded, not free-rolling, but it folds down from under the nosecone in the front, so it doesn't have to hang in the way while he's in flight.

The robot's guns become weapons for the jet. All you have to do is flip the gun barrel over and suddenly you have two bombs that tuck under the wings. Well, the packaging refers to them as "drones," and sure, the shape of them is close enough for government work, but drones don't launch from under planes' wings. Still, it's pretty awesome that you've got two identical-looking things that change into different devices.

If only the same had held true for the figures themselves. In the movie, all three of the Dreads had identical altmodes, but unique robot modes - how incredible would it have been if Hasbro did the same thing now? Package them in robot mode, so parents would know they weren't buying the same thing over again, and have them all turn into (mostly) identical trucks. If they'd done that, we could have even overlooked Crankcase's mutilated hands, based just on principle. Granted, Hatchet is cool, and it's unusual to have a beast mode paired with a vehicle mode, so we can still recommend him by himself - it just would have been better with three trucks.

-- 05/15/12

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