Blackjack's review: Ransack
Back in the distant past of Cybertron, when flight was a new technology, Ransack was first of the flying aces. He was a ruthless combatant, blasting his opponents out of the the sky and then strafing the helpless troops stuck on the ground without cover. He may be past his prime and equipped with outdated weapons now, but there was a time when Ransack was the most feared name on Cybertron.
Ransack is one of those modern toys who has the fortune to have a good bio. In addition to having an interesting design – a WWI era biplane that transforms into an interestingly old-looking robot, Ransack is also characterized by his packaging as an old war veteran, one of the first that discovered the art of flying that’s now past his prime. The Titan comics and the official novelization of ROTF had Ransack be a Seeker, or at least ROTF’s version of it – ancient transformers sent to seek things all over the galaxy. Simon Furman also had Ransack appear in his Nefarious series but the mere existence of that particular series is an insult to ROTF, and ROTF is not exactly the pillar of good writing either.
Apparently Ransack was in (a) version of the ROTF script, long enough to have his scene adapted into the novelization as another Seeker – unnamed but described as a WWI airplane – that attacked Jetfire and immediately got curbstomped. Designs of a Ford T Seeker (which was one of the pictures that Simmons showed Sam in the movie) that has an identical robot mode to Ransack has been shown, so like many other fellow early ROTF toys, Ransack was based on a rejected design.
Anyway, ROTF had lots of original Scouts-class moulds, and a lot of them caught my interest. There was a toaster (which was sadly quite horrible), a Red Bull truck, a microscope spider (also horrible sadly), a sleek-looking futuristic race car, a forklift, a warship… but none caught my attention as much as Ransack. In addition to having a relatively interesting bio, Ransack also had a very eye-catching design that’s certainly unconventional.
Ransack is another one of those names that Hasbro keeps reusing but was never really featured on a major character. The original bearer of the name came all the way from G1, where he was the only member of the Deluxe Insecticons not to have a wacky personality quirk. G2 featured a different Ransack, who was part of the Rotor Force team and transformed into a WWII Corsair plane. In Armada, he’s a dune buggy Mini-Con. Universe slapped the name on a random Decepticon. Cybertron’s Ransack is a slightly more prominent character, a luckless motorcycle Decepticon that gets to be cannon fodder. The second Universe line slapped it on a random Mini-Con.
Ransack transforms into a WWI biplane, and the internet tells me that it’s specifically the Albratos D.III, and is a first amongst the myriad Transformers. By the same token, G2 Ransack is also the first WWII plane Transformer. Ransack is a pretty colourful plane at that. His wings are painted in a shade of tan, and then given additional brown decals to simulate the papery wings of that time. The main body of the plane is a fetching shade of maroon with gold and red streaks, with the nosecone painted gold and the rear wings cast in gray and given blood-red details. A slight sheen of gold is painted on the edges of the rear wings which is a nice little piece of detail. Ransack’s propeller, wheels, support struts, weapons and chair are all cast in dary gray, and the engine is in a shiny silver. Two Decepticon modified Decepticon insignias sit proudly on either side of the upper wings.
It’s, all in all, a pretty eye-catching paint scheme, yet really feels at home amongst real-life WWI biplanes. I’m not quite sure if Ransack is based on an actual design, but this mixture of realism and attractiveness is certainly welcome.
Ransack follows the same standard of detailing seen in most movie toys, cramming a lot of detailing into a figure his size. The wings are given grooves to resemble the biplane’s characteristic papery wings, and there are all sorts of ridges and grooves all over his body. Impressed. The propeller rotates nicely as well, which is a fun little thing. A pair of machineguns stick out from under the right wing, and a pair of missiles under the left. Nearly no robot kibble can be seen, and everything slides beautifully into the biplane mode. There are, of course, some join lines and if you look closely the struts behind the weapons are the robot hands, but they are pretty well hidden. A pretty astounding effort for something as skeletal as a biplane, I must say.
Ransack displays very, very well in this mode, looking like a little model plane. This is easily one of my all-time favourite alternate modes, and Ransack has decorated my desk in this mode for quite some time.
Transforming Ransack is pretty smooth. Ransack is one of those toys whose transformation produces extremely satisfying results, yet is still easy enough to do blindfolded. It’s just so smooth and easy and flows so great from one mode to the next. It’s a rarity to see a great robot and alternate mode that doesn’t involve a rather frustrating transformation.
And unlike many of his classmates (Knock Out and Rollbar being the prime offenders), Ransack absolutely looks like he belongs in a Bayformer set. He’s designed to be old and skeletal just like his fellow Seeker Jetfire, and his robot mode does pull off this look brilliantly. The combination of the thin, gangly limbs, the wrinkled face and the silver helmet makes him look like a gloriously cranky old guy. Despite initially looking messy to me, I’ve quickly grown to like it. His design exudes character, and while said character might be identical to Jetfire it’s a look Ransack pulls off so well in his unique way that I don’t care.
Ransack has a pretty wide range of articulation in this mode. His neck is double jointed, although the range of movement is relatively limited. His shoulders are ball-jointed and his elbows hinged, he’s got the ever-elusive waist joint, his thighs are on ball joints, his feet are both hinged and his knees have awesome hinges that allow them to bend forwards and backwards. The wings can move as well, moving from a tucked-down position to moving at an angle backwards and upwards. All around Ransack is an expressive figure and you can just imagine him ranting and while his wings move around in the background.
However, the years have not been kind to Ransack. His thin, skeletal legs have not broken, but they’ve grown quite loose that posing him in anything that doesn’t involve standing straight will inevitably lead to Ransack doing the splits. I do blame his knees' wide range of motion, most egregiously the unnecessary ability for the knee to bend forwards. He must be ranting about how his joints aren’t what they used to.
Oh, and Ransack has a ‘battle mode’, which is basically the robot mode with the propeller and wings moved into the alternate mode position. Yeah, whatever.
Overall, Ransack is a grand little figure that, while despite become slightly more fragile in the five years or so that I owned him, still manages to retain the top spot for the Scouts class bracket in my heart. His robot mode might be the weaker of the two but he’s still a damn good little toy.
Marks out of ten for the following:
10/10 This is as close to a perfect transformation as you can get. It’s just so easy and satisfying since both modes are just brilliant, and the transformation seamlessly allows you to transform between the two. More like this, please, Hasbro, and less Mixmasters.
8/10 The ball joints are sturdier than I thought would be, and none of them have broken on me yet despite popping off all the time (Ransack used to get blown up all the time during my playtimes) but the lower body has grown relatively loose over the years.
10/10 I’m a big fan of Bayformer designs barring a few exceptions, and Ransack fits perfectly with the aesthetic without being too weird. He’s got the perfect blend of being realistic and being eye-catching, and while looking like an crotchety old robot isn’t the best thing ever, Ransack pulls the look off very well. And that biplane mode is just impressive.
7/10 Ransack is very, very very
well articulated for a toy his size. He used to, anyway. Right now my Ransack has a bunch of loose joints in the lower body that make posing and balance slightly more difficult, but he’s still pretty good in this regard.
9/10 Ransack was one of the most played-with Decepticons in my collection for a reason.
9/10 Yeah, Ransack is a keeper.
9/10 Whatever you may feel about ROTF and the Scouts class selection, Ransack is a gem among a stream of mixed results that ROTF produced. He’s got a lot of great personality in his design, and generally is full of awesome win and is still a personal favourite due to how well-executed he is.