Welcome to the second part of our extended look at the latest Movie Masterpiece figure, which also happens to be the final release needed to round out our line-up of 2007 Autobots – it’s Ratchet! If you’ve not yet seen part 1, then we’ve already covered off that rather lovely-looking vehicle form in great detail.
Now it’s time to turn our attention to transformation and beyond, although I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a part of the experience that I was dreading when first assessing this toy. After all, previous MPM releases have often strayed to the overly-complex side of things, with examples such as Ironhide being downright unpleasant in that regard. Fortunately, there are no such concerns here!
By contrast, I’d even go as far as saying that Ratchet is surprisingly simple, all told, especially in areas such as the legs, which arrive almost fully formed when they emerge from the sides of the vehicle. Even aspects such as the backpack, made up of most of the top of the ambulance, are surprisingly intuitive in terms of how they fold up and squish together, to the point where repeat attempts require no need for further consultation with instructional material, in my experience.
That’s not to say there isn’t some clever stuff in there though, and I’m particularly a fan of the way the chest area rotates around on itself in order to end up in the correct configuration. So much of Ratchet’s transformation remains memorable to me based on his big-screen adventures, so it’s truly fun to give it a go in toy form.
And, despite being comparatively simple in MPM terms, the conversion does everything it needs to in order to deliver a very screen-accurate take on the Autobot medic. There are a couple of extra bits of vehicle mode stuff hanging off here and there maybe, but on the whole, it all looks really quite faithful to my eye at least!
That’s not to say that he doesn’t feel a bit kibbly in places, mind. The backpack itself is definitely larger than the CGI model (although still very clean in actuality, I think), but if anything it’s some of the bits that are actually present on the character’s on-screen depiction that make for the most cumbersome parts of this robot design.
Chief amongst those are the front wheel arch sections, which end up in a rather unusual position on the robot mode chest and sort of clip onto the bullbar, although not in any solid fashion. What’s even more strange is that they’re then supposed to peg into Ratchet’s shoulders, meaning that the arms are essentially pinned into position against the chest. It’s all very strange and doesn’t really work, leaving you to unpeg these sections if you want to free up the arms (which of course I did almost immediately!).
However, my least favourite aspect of the robot mode is most definitely the roof rack sections that fold over his shoulders and onto the top of the backpack along with the pieces that form the lightbar. They don’t really have a purposeful position beyond just sticking out rather awkwardly, meaning that it ends up looking like you haven’t folded them away properly. Again, it’s a weird one, especially as you can see how they could have been made to hinge out of the way a lot better than they do!
Still, these nitpicks aside, I do really love how most of the bumpf from the vehicle mode assembles here. Bayformers have this wonderfully chaotic, crunched-up energy to them and whilst it’s never going to be for everyone, I can’t help but find a sense of satisfaction when you see a toy doing it well whilst still feeling cohesive somehow. Ratchet gets it right.
After all, there’s a huge amount of detail going on here, with all kinds of joints, wheels, panels, folds, gears and whatever else positioned all over the shop, yet somehow I think he looks very solid and purposeful in his presentation.
And as I say, it all feels very accurate to the source material as well. Having just done an article on how Ratchet’s look evolved for the film, I took the opportunity to go back and appraise the MPM toy once again, and even looking at some of the closer details on show, I was surprised to see how much the designers get right. I can’t say from personal experience but it certainly seems to be the most accurate take on the character we’ve seen in toy form thus far, as you might expect.
Beyond that though, he just looks great all unto himself. There are tons of nice paint applications all over that really help to elevate the presentation a bit (although as with most MPM toys, I’d argue it could go a lot, lot further!) and of course, a whole ton of moulded detail too. He is very busy aesthetically, but I really think it works.
One thing that is worth noting is that he’s not exactly the most limber of ‘bots, mind. He has all of the necessary points of articulation that most collectors would consider standard by now, but really not a lot beyond that. You can certainly crank a decent enough pose out of him but maybe don’t count on anything too dramatic!
That includes his legs and arms, both of which are impeded in various places by different bits of kibble or just the overall design. The arms are obviously helped a lot once you unpeg those wheel arch pieces, but even then you’re never going to get an amazing range of motion out of them.
The hands are a bit of an oddity, too. I’d never really clocked how unusual Ratchet’s hands are in the films before, but he evidently has two thumbs and then three claw-like fingers. The MPM toy boasts multiple points of articulation in the digits, which certainly helps, although there’s a bit of an art to posing the hands without them looking at least a little awkward, in my opinion.
One thing I didn’t notice initially is that the mouth is also articulated, as you can adjust his jaw up and down should you wish. It’s a neat little touch but one that makes a huge difference in terms of posing and display (especially as it negates the need for swapping out faces).
In terms of other gimmicks, there’s a saw accessory that clips onto the top of his wrist and replicates a similar weapon from the films. It spins quite freely and looks decent with a nice silver finish.
There’s then the rifle accessory that plugs into the same peg hole as the saw, and clips over the top of his open palm to look like he’s holding it. It’s never quite convincing but still, the gun itself looks excellent and has some welcome paint applications to elevate it beyond your typical accessory of this type.
And finally, there are two little miniguns that can be tabbed into small ports on his forearm, again bringing to life a similar feature from the film. These pieces are very small and I have already had one disappear under a table once, so I’m being very careful with them from now on!
Overall then, I’m really quite taken with Ratchet in his robot mode. He may be a little cumbersome in some aspects but there’s really no reason why you can’t pose him nicely all the same, and I feel like the designers have done a great job at capturing the essence of the character from the films.
There’s a real thrill from seeing any of these 2007 designs reproduced in toy form so well and that’s no exception here. I find I am getting a rather bizarre sense of nostalgia from it all, despite still deluding myself that the first film was a relatively recent thing.
Naturally, there’s a temptation to only pose Ratchet (and other MPM examples) in ways that recall scenes from the film, which is really odd considering I never feel the same in regards Generation 1 Masterpiece toys! Despite that, it’s great fun to compare him to all kinds of other MPM-styled releases, both official and non.
There are so many varied options for these things out there now that we’re remarkably well-served on the whole, yet Ratchet had always felt like a sizeable hole in my collection. At long last, that’s been remedied, and he fits in beautifully.
As I briefly speculated in part 1, it does make me wonder where this series of toys will go next, now that the 2007 Autobot crew is complete. Will we see more designs from the first movie, thus rounding out the Decepticon roster?
Or will TakaraTomy move on to other entries in the franchise, exploring any of the various characters from later films? Certainly, there’s more than enough material there for them.
For now, it feels a bit like the Bumblebee movie is the current focus, although I have to say I hope that doesn’t remain exclusively the case. Despite whatever faults these toys may have from time to time, it’s hard for me not to think that TakTom has done a wonderful job with this line-up on the whole.
That’s especially true of the Autobot crew, mind, and of course, there’s a true thrill that comes from seeing medical officer, Ratchet finally united with his colleagues.
It’s incredible to me that this journey began four years ago with MPM-3 Bumblebee, yet it’s still entirely worth the wait just to see these now-iconic characters from the first film all lined up together. It may not be everyone’s Transformers but I’m loving every minute of this.
There are certain singular moments in Masterpiece collecting that will always be remembered, and completing a team often ranks chief amongst them. I can legitimately say this counts as one of those treasured moments, for me.
Now, excuse me whilst I go and put on the Steve Jablonsky score and marvel at this little lot, won’t you?
WHAT’S HOT? Very strong vehicle mode, fun transformation and solid robot mode. Nicely finished too.
WHAT’S NOT? There are some bits of kibble in both modes and the articulation is a little limited in places.