Nov 16, 2022, 8:12:29 PM11/16/22
So, it's no secret that Ironhide's cartoon design took huge creative liberties compared to his G1 toy (as well as Ratchet, of course). There have been various attempts at producing an Ironhide that a) changes from van to robot without splitting apart and b) actually has a head. The Universe toy from 2008, the first toy specifically designed to look like the cartoon, was halfway decent, but his vehicle mode was more Skids-like and the transformation was fidgety and had design issues. Even the Masterpiece toy by Takara didn't quite manage a robot configuration with perfect fidelity to the TV show. Siege and Earthrise weren't bad, certainly, but Earthrise did the whole partsforming thing, so it was kind of cheatsy. And now Studio Series has effectively left them in the dust.
While he's Deluxe-sized (5.75" in height), he's sold as a Voyager to allow for the complexity required for his design. Despite the price bump, though, they still didn't paint the yellow stripes on the sides of his van mode. Sad.
Anyway, his robot mode is kind of spectacular. It's boxy and beautiful, and enjoys close fidelity to the animation model. Only a handful of design elements (the headlights-and-bumper assembly on his back, the obvious transformation hinges in his shoulders, the folded-up window panels on his legs) betray an almost perfect synergy with his cartoon look. They did a good job of hiding his wheels—the rear wheels are totally concealed within the legs, and the front wheels are tucked away on his torso so that they're visible, but not super conspicuous. He's mostly red, with a light grey pelvis and upper legs, a translucent blue windshield, painted dark grey fists and shoulders, and a silver face and blue eyes.
He looks like pieces of his pelvis are designed to flip up to allow clearance for his legs, but in fact the entire front of the pelvis swings up. There are obvious panel lines, which suggests to me that maybe the pieces were indeed designed to flip up originally, but they switched to having it all one piece for cost reasons. But, that's just a guess.
He comes with two generic pistols, which are identical to the ones we see Ratchet carrying during the shuttle attack in The Transformers: the Movie. Ironhide has only one of these in the film, but Ratchet had two, and it makes sense to just design the toy to include two, so Ratchet will be screen accurate later on. You can always give Ironhide's spare gun to another toy like Bumblebee or Wheeljack, who also carried this type of gun from time to time.
Transformation is about what you'd expect when it comes to the broad strokes (chest becomes the front window) but in other ways it's crazy. Almost all of the van mode panels are contained within the legs. The feet explode to become the rear window and rear bumper; the panels on the legs unfold to form the middle third of the van; the forearms actually become part of the roof. There are some tabs to help hold things together, and he does require a little bit of panel massage to get things into place, but it's all pretty intuitive, and he holds together well once you get there. I do worry a little about the long-term integrity of the folding panels, since pieces of them are made out of translucent blue plastic.
As a vehicle, he's a little longer and less chibi than a Nissan Cherry Vanette, with the toy being about 4.75" in length and about 2.25" tall. He's not as cute as the G1 toy, but he's the right shape and configuration and definitely recognizable as Ironhide. There are a couple of obvious hinges on either side, but aside from that, it's a damn good van mode. All the windows are translucent and functional except for the rear window, which is sculpted but opaque red. But, it's sure a shame about those missing yellow stripes. The toy is sculpted with the stripes in the right spot, so it wouldn't be impossible for customizers to paint him and/or put stickers there. But, its a shame since it really is part of his signature look. They're arguably as important as Starscream's wing stripes.
There are two tabs on the roof that can accept his guns if you want to mount them there, but their true purpose is pretty obviously to accept the roof lights, when they do the Ratchet version of this mold. They're also designed to plug underneath the rear bumper and poke out like exhaust pipes. (The instructions don't say this, but you can also mount the guns under the front bumper and have them face forwards.)
I kind of like this toy a lot. It's the total package. Good robot mode, satisfying transformation, good van mode. It hits all the right buttons. It's the definitive neo-G1 Ironhide. I will buy this toy again as Ratchet, or DK-2 Guard, or whoever they want to sell it as.
Zob (insert Ethel Mer-Man joke here)