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Blackjack's Review: Beast Wars Ravage

Name: Ravage
Allegiance: Decepticon/Predacon
Repaint of: Beast Wars Cheetor (Transmetal 2)
Accessories: Gun, Missile, Tail

So, Beast Wars. There’s a lot that I can say about Beast Wars. You either think it’s the best thing ever, or that it’s an abomination that shouldn’t be allowed to exist. When I discovered the multiple continuities that make up the Transformers franchise, I was part of the latter camp (what is these fleshy stuff eeeww) until I actually, you know, watched the show. Then I became a bigger fan of Beast Wars than I am G1. The fact that Beast era toys match up to the standards of modern toys doesn’t hurt either.

But Beast Wars has a rather small cast, in part due to the fact that at that time, the limited CGI technologies necessitated a limit in the characters available for the cartoon to promote. Of course, the small cast proved very, very successful in creating actual characterization for each and every member of the cast, most especially compared to G1’s rather one-dimensional cartoon characters

Of course, Beast Wars didn’t exactly trample all over the good memories of the original cartoon. It has been established multiple times in the show that the Maximals and Predacons we saw are ‘descendants’ of the original Autobots and Decepticons, so to speak, and have came from the far future into the past. Long story short, the Predacon Megatron (not to be confused with the Decepticon Megatron) is actually following a Terminator-style plan to change the timeline to better fit the Decepticons and Predacons, only instead of Sarah Connor, Megatron is going to kill Optimus Prime.

And in the Season Two finale… enter Ravage, who helped to escalate said plan. Unlike Megatron, Ravage is not a new character sharing a name with a G1 Transformer. No, Ravage is the actual G1 cassette-jaguar Decepticon, in a new body, still alive and kicking as one of the last survivors of the Great Wars. The show used a repainted Transmetal Cheetor body with Cheetor’s original body’s beast mode head, but somehow Hasbro didn’t capitalize on this and didn’t make a toy of Ravage.

Takara did, however, make a show-accurate toy of Ravage (or rather, Jaguar) by retooling Transmetal Cheetor with a new head. Instead of releasing this wondrous tooling, Hasbro decided to release instead a different Cheetor repaint – a repaint of the Transmetal 2 toy as a Walmart Exclusive ‘Tripredacus Agent’. Hasbro would again release a repaint of the original Cheetor toy again as Tripredacus Agent, but never the Transmetal, show-accurate Transmetal body tooling.

Ravage appeared in this Transmetal 2 body first when 3H revived him for their aborted Beast Wars storyline, then again when IDW revived him for their Beast Wars storyline. The difference between the two? 3H used the actual robot mode meant for the toy, whereas IDW instead had Ravage’s robot mode as ‘beast mode standing up’ so Ravage wouldn’t have a humanoid head. Which I’m totally fine with, for the record, since Ravage looked better without said humanoid head. (Plus Don Figueroa’s art made him look incredible)

So IDW’s Beast Wars comics were among the first comics I read during my sojourn into Transformers fandom, and such they have a long, lasting impact on me, as do some of the Marvel comic arcs. I count Retrax, Manterror, Torca, Wolfang and Spittor as memorable as Cliffjumper, Laserbeak, Mindwipe and Brainstorm were in the Marvel comics… background characters who simply looked quite interesting. And thus I am a rather big fan of this body for Ravage.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this toy. In an ideal world I would obviously want the cartoon-accurate Takara Transmetal toy, but since this is not an ideal world I’ll have to make do with this… and since I’m probably one of the five people in the world who cared about this body, I like him. Not sure if everyone will share the same opinion as I do, so let me tackle this as objectively as possible.

Beast Mode
So, while I initially thought Transmetal 2’s were horrid-yet-wicked-awesome mutant beasts, once I saw several in person I kind of became a big fan of them. The two I owned before Ravage – Ramulus and Prowl – had this ‘asymmetric symmetry’ thing going on. At first glance they look just like any other beast toy out there, symmetric and everything except for one or two parts like Prowl’s monocle eye or Ravage’s left arm being encased in gold armour, but as you look closer you realize loads of little sculpted details that differ between the right and left sides of the beast modes… little sculpted details which make you really appreciate the thought they put into designing these toys. And since asymmetry isn’t really common in the natural world, so our brain subconsciously already detects these oddities, classifies them as ‘weird’.

Ravage was repainted from Transmetal 2 Cheetor since they’re both cats, and I guess it’s the logical thing to do. So Ravage shares Cheetor’s beast mode… which, in this case, isn’t a cheetah, but rather a monster cat which has large fangs, so I’m assuming it’s supposed to be some sort of sabertooth tiger? After all, Transmetal 2 Cheetor didn’t have spots… I’m not very good at distinguishing cats by their build. Anyway, Ravage/Cheetor turns into this wicked-looking cyborg feline… and you really can tell that it’s half-organic, half-mechanical. Fur detailing is moulded onto the toy, juxtaposed alongside exposed robotic detailing which are exposed in different degrees and places on either side. As I said before, this creates a powerful illusion. There’re a lot of mean angles and curves and the end result looks like a really awesome killing murder-beast thing. I’m personally a big fan of the wicked-looking blades that jut out of Ravage’s ‘elbows’ and how the tail is bent like it could whip a foe. If, you know, the awesomely-sculpted sharp claws aren’t enough to kill whichever Maximal is unfortunate enough to meet Ravage at night.

I wasn’t very impressed at the Cheetor toy since the yellow-orange they used didn’t contrast very well with the light grey, but on Ravage, who used three colours instead of two, the mold becomes exponentially far more interesting. All the bestial parts, especially the fur, are cast in black plastic whereas the metallic details are picked out in silver. In addition, Transmetal 2’s have vacuum-metalized parts. In Ravage’s case, his back-mounted cannon, his left thigh and nearly the entirety of his front left arm are vacuum-metalized gold (purple originally on Cheetor, which I thought was a poor deco choice), with red to pick out metallic details here, causing Ravage to look like he’s wearing some sort of armour on his left flank. It really is very striking and attractive, in a black-repaint sort of way.

It’s a pity that you can easily see that between the base of Ravage’s neck all the way down to his kitty-sternum there is a big gaping hole, obviously to aid in transformation to robot mode.

That bit aside, though, Ravage has a pretty awesome set of articulation for a beast mode. His head nods, his front legs are articulated in three parts, he has a waist joint and each of his legs have joints at four points. Also, his tail can rotate (but not bend). I find it rather strange how the left hand has a hinge joint whereas the right hand can only rotate on a point, but I thought this adds to his asymmetrical charm. A bit annoying, though… surely two hinge joints would be better for articulation purposes?

Playability wise, well, you can flip up the chromed bit on his thigh to reveal a funky purple crystal with a Predacon insignia. Yes, in-story Ravage, treated like an old soldier, had received amnesty from the Predacon council and works as a funky Russian secret agent thing. The golden bits on his left arm can also flip up some kind of arm guard or shield or claw or something. It looks rather impractical to be used in combat, but then again it still looks pretty awesome. He’s got that gold cannon sticking out of his back, and it can fire a missile at the push of a button… but it’s attached at a joint and you can lift it up a little and lo, there are four scythe-like blades jutting out from below the gun! It’s creepy and it’s an addition that’s not necessary but the designers put it in just because.

He’s a mean looking mutant cyborg cheetah-jaguar-tiger thing and I love him.

Robot mode:
Okay, his robot mode is ugly. It’s basically standing the beast mode up on hind legs, and doing a bunch rotating to have the robot head out. The robot head is ugly with an ugly grimace, and it’s pretty bland. The entire upper half is boring gray, and it’s no surprise that IDW’s art team elected to have a different robot mode. Of course, IDW’s robot mode is simply… standing the beast mode up on hind legs.

It works better for a robot mode, because this is Ravage and not Cheetor, and even when he has a humanoid body I can’t fathom Ravage having a non-feline face, so that’s the robot mode which I’m going to review. Still, either configuration this is the weaker mode of the two. For one, it looks so much like a hunchbacked Igor, what with the massive hump on Ravage’s back. Of course, IDW comics and their artistic license made him look amazing with him assuming a slightly-crouched position which gives the mental image of a powerful hunter instead of what the toy suggests… ‘yesshhh mashteeerrr’

Oh, also Ravage has fingers, and he can hold the removable tail as a mean whip thing, or hold the back-rocket gun on the scythes. Since the wrists are articulated differently, though, Ravage will have to hold one of the weapons sideways, which doesn’t always look good.

It’s a pretty boring robot mode. Where he looks all mean and feline in beast mode, in robot mode he looks awkward and clumsy and all Igor-like. His ‘proper’ robot mode doesn’t really look any more better, though, so either way he’s got a sub-par robot mode.

Yeeeah, I can’t think of anything else to say about his robot mode, it’s pretty meh.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 4/10 While it leaves both robot and beast mode with a whole slew of articulation points, it’s a pretty lazy transformation design. This seems to be the default for many beast mode toys, though, and admittedly both modes aren’t that compromised. Transforming him ‘properly’ into his proper beast mode takes some annoying fiddling as well. And then there’s the aforementioned hole in the beast mode chest, though.

Durability: 6/10 There isn’t much that’ll break. Even the wicked elbow-blades seem pretty durable. However, this is a Transmetal 2 toy, and the chrome is liable to flake off with rough play. My Ravage has immaculate chrome, but having seen (and caused) destruction of chrome before, I have to warn you – do not mess with the chrome.

Aesthetics: 9/10 If my praise of Ravage’s wicked-looking cyborg beast mode hasn’t clued you in – I’m a big fan for these sort of things. And the black, silver and gold really stand out, making him a suitably evil-looking bastard. If you don’t like beasties, then, well, you should learn to like them.

Articulation: 7/10 He’s okay for a toy his size, but the weirdly different wrists kind of bug me. Also, the elbow can also only rotate instead of being on a hinge joint, which decks off some points as well.

Fun: 8/10 Mmm, I do like him a lot and had loads of fun with him. Less fun when the rather sensitive missile launcher shot the missile across the room into a pile of junk and I had to dig it out.

Price/Value: 4/10 Ravage is slightly harder to find than other Beast Wars toys from his time due to being a Walmart exclusive and everything. Plus, you know, show character. Plus, you know, G1 show character. And he isn’t that good a toy compared to the Transmetal toy, so…

Overall: 5/10 At the end of the day Ravage really is an average toy. A good looking one, but then almost anything looks good in black. If you can get him for cheap he’s a great addition to any Beast Wars collection, but if you absolutely must have a Beast Wars Ravage toy, go hunt down the Takara Transmetal one. This one simply isn’t that good a toy apart from the looks.
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