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Blackjack's Review: Ramulus

Name: Ramulus
Allegiance: Maximal
Accessories: Horn-Back Assembly/’Double Slagmaker Cannon’

See, I’ve been on a Beast Wars mood for some time now, amassing a group of Beast Wars (and BW-related) toys. Instead of going for ungodly-expensive toys of the show characters, though, I found out I’m a big fan of the peripheral non-show characters that never showed up in the cartoon. I’m not sure which bit appeals to me exactly. It could be the fact that ‘Beast Wars: The Gathering’ is among one of the first Transformers fiction I read and it featured a lot of these undeveloped people. It could be that the scant personalities in their bios and tech specs are as interesting as their G1 counterparts. It could be that, well, simple, sheer variety. There’s only so many ways you can have cars or jets turn into humanoid robots, whereas in the realm of animals there is always different animals to try out, so each and every toy would look and feel different.

Take Ramulus, for example. He’s a ram. An ibex. I don’t think there has been any other Transformer with such an alternate mode. And he’s from the Transmetal Two phase, so his robot and beast modes are both designed to look like some sort of wicked, monstrous amalgamation of the organic and mechanical. Take them both and you have a completely unique toy throughout Transformers’ thirty years of history.

Personality wise, oh… Ramulus’ basically a mellowed-out version of Wolverine. Compared to his fellow non-show Beast Wars characters, Ramulus has actually shown up in quite a few comics, namely 3H’s Wreckers series (where he’s a Wolverine clone through and through) and IDW’s Gathering and Ascending comic series where he was part of the initial group of Maximals before getting phased out in all the mess of the second mini.

Beast Mode:
Ramulus turns into a cyborg male ibex. His main colours are white and a shade of dark gray-brown, in addition to chromed maroon covering his face, ‘biceps’ and part of his back. Green picks out his eyes and some detailing on his biceps, and there’s a bit of blue here and there as well, although not very evident in the beast mode. As I have said before about Transmetal 2 before in this review, Ramulus looks like a cyborg Frankenstein beast, with great sculpted fur detailing on his back and front arms, whereas there are some mechanical details here and there.

Also, a recurrent theme that I absolutely adore among the Transmetal 2’s is the ‘asymmetrical symmetry’. Ramulus physically looks symmetrical, but as you look at him some details on the right and the left sides look different. It could be very blatant, like the positioning of fur and mechanical bits on Ramulus’ left and right, or the fact that the maroon details on Ramulus’ neck fur don’t match up, or the fact that one horn has mode mechanical detail than the other. It could be subtle, like the little mechanical greebles on Ramulus’ shoulders, or the fact that his face has different mechanical detailing. They don’t have to go through all this effort, but damn, whoever designed the moulding and detailing for the Transmetal 2’s deserve some kind of medal in the ‘robot animal design’ category.

Ramulus looks very much like the ibex he’s supposed to turn into, other than the whole frankenbeast theme he has. I do like how his front legs are normal goat hooves, whereas his rear legs are these wicked satyr-looking twin-toed monster toes. I’m not overtly familiar with goats to know how their feet look like, but I’m sure they have the same kind on all four feet. It’s great, though, since it adds to his crazy feel. There aren’t much robotic details that show in the beast mode. His robot fists are obscured by the mechanical gauntlets in robot modes, and aren’t very evident. His robot mode’s ‘ears’ poke out of his neck, and since they’re white on a dark grey background it’s a bit jarring, but the gigantic curved ibex horns kind of obscure this. Speaking of which, the horns simply make him look majestic and grand, curving backwards the way they do. I’m not normally a big fan of goats, but Ramulus had kind of changed that perception. He looks damn wicked. Just imagine him, thundering down onto Predacons and knocking them here and there with his horns.

Ramulus is decently articulated in beast mode, although surprisingly his head can’t move and is stuck there in a ‘ready to charge’ stance, with the mouth pointing diagonally downwards. It’s not a bad pose at least, although I’d rather him be able to turn his heads sideways. The rest of his body is well articulated. The horns can move sideways and hinge outwards a little as part of the weapon gimmick, although it looks rather odd in beast mode. His front legs are articulated on the shoulder and on the elbows, and the elbows can bend inwards a little, helping with the goat posing thing. Ramulus’ waist is freely movable as well as a product of his transformation scheme. I do hope there’s some way to lock it into place, but it isn’t that damning or distracting. His rear legs are articulated in the thighs and two in the knees. Ramulus can assume loads of poses, and all you’d want for a goat. Charging, rearing up to gore someone to death with his hooves, galloping, all the works.

As with all Transmetal 2 toys, Ramulus has a Spark Crystal with the Maximal brand on it. It’s the glowing circle on the center of the goat head. You flip down the entire face, eyes and all, and you’ll reveal the Spark Crystal. I’m very indifferent to Spark Crystals as a whole, but I dislike the execution of this particular one, since the hinges required end up where Ramulus’ mouth should be, leaving him mouthless.

Robot Mode:
Ramulus’ transformation is very similar to many other beast modes out there. Stand him up on hind legs, and adjust the rest of the body as needed. It’s a great trick, though, since it means that both hind legs and robot legs will share the same joints. In transformation, you’ll need to remove the entire neck-and-horns section above the head, and after angling the horns horizontally you have the weapon. It looks more like a crazy double-scythe scissor thing that’s only useful to hook around someone’s head and decapitate him, but the bio and comics treat it as a ‘Slagmaker cannon’, which charges electricity or something between the horns and shoot them at the enemy. I prefer crazy-decapitation-scythe myself, since it feels more appropriate for Ramulus. Plus, there’s this scissor-y gimmick which makes the horns move like scissors, but I thought it’s redundant.

In robot mode the colour layout is more or less the same, albeit with less maroon chrome and more white. In robot mode the hip actually does clip on, making him less articulated but more balanced, and it actually works better like this. Combined with his big satyr feet (which have an additional supporter piece that folds out at a third ‘toe’) Ramulus has great balance and can assume loads of crazy poses. His feet can be posed in a generic straight position, but I prefer ‘satyr’ myself. He’s got a definite satyr look to him, considering how most of the organic detailing in robot mode is concentrated from the waist down, his feet look really like that of the traditional satyr, and he’s got goat horn-ears as well.

Ramulus looks like a very, very angry robot. Between his slightly-different eyes and that TMNT grimace, it actually is the one singular time I thought a grimace would look appropriate on a toy. He’s got this look that simply captures the essence of the character, that is, an angry berserker. Even without his slagmaker cannon thingie Ramulus has moulded-in claw gauntlets on both arms, a detail which I appreciate. And as Warcry pointed out, ‘his shoulders can kick people in the face’. That’s right, the front legs are tucked in nicely as some sort of shoulder pads, but they still retain their articulation, and indeed, they can kick people in the face. With goat hooves. This is great.

Articulation-wise. Well, he retains the great leg articulation that I already covered before, which provides him with great balance. His head can rotate, his shoulders and elbows are ball-jointed, and there’s the shoulder-hooves deal going on. It’s pretty standard, with great balance to assume any sort of Predacon-slaying pose you’d want. Overall, he’s not just a great-looking toy, he’s a great toy full stop.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 6/10 Pretty standard. There’s nothing new here if you’ve transformed a couple other quadruped beast transformers, although there are some twists that make his transformation interesting enough.
Durability: 5/10 Ramulus is a Transmetal 2, and thus comes with gratuitous amount of chrome splashed on him. And they chip easily. Mine came already chipped, but I thought it works. Someone like Ramulus is not one to maintain the state of the chrome detailing on his body, after all.
Articulation: 8/10 Pretty great, and the great balance the toy has offsets the lack of a waist joint, which I can live with.
Aesthetics: 10/10 The colour scheme is striking, and I do like him in both robot and beast modes. Your mileage may vary, though, since I understand beasties isn’t to the taste of everyone.
Fun: 9/10 Personally I find him very fun, but again, your mileage may vary on how fun you’ll find a crazy half-organic robot that turns into a frankenibex and has the personality of Wolverine.
Price/Value: 8/10 You can get him for cheap since he’s a non-show Beast Wars character.
Overall: 8/10 There’s nothing special about him, but he’s a great, solid Beast Wars toy that holds up to the standards of even modern toys.
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