March 5th, 2009


Physician, transform thyself!

Shortpacked!: Naw, Ethan, get Michael Jordan.

Quick note: Stop emailing me telling me why I'm wrong about Star Wars EU comics! That was a guest review. By another guy who was not me! It said so very plainly. In your EU Star Wars talk I am not interested. If I were, I would have bought the toys and done the review myself! (Man, I got a lot of mail about it. Why don't I ever get a lot of mail about things I write?)

While we North Americans are getting Transformers Universe, a 25th Anniversary Line, Japan is getting many of the same toys, but altered, in a line called Henkei! Henkei!. (I think it means "Transform! Transform!") Takara-Tomy takes the toys released here, decoes them as closely to the original cartoon as possible, even if they were garish lavender, and chromes some parts randomly. This achieves mixed results.

Ratchet here is my first toy from that line. I'm really not satisfied with the American deco, with its incomprehensible vehicle hood deco, mostly, and since Ratchet is one of my favorite characters, I was willing to pay import prices for one. Ratchet was the main character in the first comic book I ever read, "Warrior School!", The Transformers issue 7, so I do have lots of fond memories of him. He was the butt monkey in the Marvel Comics version of Transformers. Bad stuff refused to stop happening to the guy. He tangled with Megatron way more often than Optimus Prime. Why? Because it's way more interesting to see Megatron battle a poor medic with no weapons who has to rely on his brains and wit than Optimus Prime, his boring physical equal.

In the cartoon, Ratchet was just Papa Smurf.

Every Henkei toy is required to have chrome somewhere, even the Beast Wars guys, for whatever unknowable reason, so Ratchet's weapon is chromed, as are his headlights and taillights. It's not the worst thing to be chromed, though I don't think the chrome looks best there. They should really be translucent plastic, like the American version. But oh well! Ratchet is, of course, the same mold as Ironhide but with a new head, so you get all the positives and negatives of that toy here. The vehicle mold has transformation joints spiderwebbed across the side, and his head still ends up at a downcast angle in robot mode, due to some miscalculated engineering.

The colors on Henkei Ratchet are pretty sharp. He's mostly a bright white with spots of deep crimson red. The most interesting deco choice are his shoulders, which are painted red. They were white with red crosses in the cartoon, but the detailing on the shoulders' surfaces would make any cross deco look terrible. So instead of leaving them white, they painted them all red! I like it, because it adds some flavor, and keeps him from being boring. His head, regrettably, is based on the cartoon's color scheme, but I don't expect otherwise. Japan only got the cartoon! I wouldn't expect Japan to color their toy like a version of the character they never got.

Still, I have my own paint. And I have a feeling the head colors will be rectified very soon...

Henkei toys also come with a little mini-comic, which is sweet. I can't read them, but I have a fiancee who can! Without translation, I can tell Ratchet's mini-comic is about him and Inferno rescuing a little girl and also fighting Starscream. I look forward to the mini-comic that comes with Henkei Dinobot and Hot Shot next month, as well. Yeah, I'm getting them, too. You've seen my Dinobot collection, and you know I ain't passing up a variant Hot Shot, especially one that comes with weapons that were budgeted out of the North American release.