The Reverend's review: Ratbat
"The road is my dinner plate."
Has no friends, only business partners... his only allegiance is to himself. Refuels by plunging his mecha-fangs into new cars' gas lines -- the better made the car, the better the gasoline tastes. Maximum flying speed: 65mph. Carries two radar-guided, free-electron lasers that detect the presence of an object as small as a fly. Wings contain mechanical sensors for locating fuel sources. Has one foot wingspan that can enlarge to ten feet. Wings are vulnerable to artillery.
Ratbat appeared in both the G1 comic and cartoon, albeit with very different portrayals - in the comic, he was verbal, intelligent and rose to Decepticon leader, while in the animation he was strictly a bestial spy who let out a shriek from time to time. Regardless of which you prefer, G1 Ratbat's toy form is somewhat sought after, partly because of its well-known fragility. And because, well, bats are just kind of cool.
(Oh yeah, and I have to mention a point in the Marvel US comic where Ratbat not only managed to surreptitiously transform and sneak into a cassette deck without anyone noticing, but he also somehow got the door open from inside when he needed to get out. Now that's talent.)
Ratbat is a purple cassette tape, bearing a label with a silver and black outline and some purple striping. His reel teeth are molded, not painted or labeled on, and he has the gradient, almost-holographic sticker passing as the clear window to his tape reels. Some Ratbats have a tendency to look "bent" from the side, as if the wings are back-bent - I believe its from the screws on each "shoulder" holding the wings on being too tight, but as I don't have any mint Ratbats I can't be sure. Like all cassettes, he only looks the part from one face, but as they go he's doing a good job of looking the part (no animal parts obvious from the cassette sides, minus the lines between parts and the very tops of his feet visible at the bottom.
Ratbat's transformation bears similarity to the "bird" cassettes, except that he's meant to stand upright instead of parallel with the ground, which actually works well for the figure. His body is black, with little purple feet supporting him, and purple wings and head with gold-flecked eyes. As noted in the Tech Specs, his wings swing out of the cassette much like Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, and Squawktalk, but they can unfold to a much larger wingspan. He has a small claw on each wing and large ears on his head (often found missing or broken on loose samples). Each foot has a single claw as well. His free-electron lasers actually point forward instead of "up" when Ratbat is standing upright. Oh yeah, and inserting them in place gives him chrome/gold nipples in bat mode. After all the jokes about the nipples in that Batman flick, I had to mention that. His wings bear an intricate bit of molded machinery in front (the forelimbs are particularly picked out), and he also has some etching and detailing on his lower wings and chest. He also has molded fangs - from some angles they give him a doglike look, but not as bad as it could have been.
Although he's just as "flat" as his cassette brethren, Ratbat displays well because of his transformation - since the wide sides of the cassette are his front and back instead of his sides, he escapes the unwieldy look of guys like Overkill. The toy's resemblance and sharing of characteristics with an actual bat is iffy (Mindwipe and Skar are definitely closer to the real thing), its a decent design given that he has to become a cassette in alternate mode.
Marks out of ten for the following:
4/10. Simple, but somewhat intricate due to the fragility of the small pieces. The alternate mode does doom him to some inescapable amount of flatness.
5/10. Yikes. The ears are near-legendary for their breakability, the wings have to be a total mess when they get loose, and sticker peel on this particular cassette is going to be a real pain, especially on the backs of the wings.
8/10. He's a good example of a Decepticon cassette, even though his alternate mode has limited play value, with great characterization in the non-animation realm. And yeah, the fact that he's a bat goes well with the imagination.
5/10. Ick, I've seen Ratbat bouncing around the price range, partly due to his lack of durability. If you just want a Ratbat to play with, there are KOs available for cheap. If you don't own any cassettes but want new-looking ones, consider the Encore set that contains him. If you absolutely must have a genuine, unbroken G1, your search may take time.
8/10. Although he came later in the series, he's a popular cassette, and justifiably so.