“ Brand: Hasbro / Age: 5 Years+ „
Over the last year or so my little boy has become quite a fan of Transformers, he's only 4 years old but can already name all the characters and even work out how to change the toys from one form to another. It was for his 4th birthday earlier this year that he asked for some new transformer toys and among the selection he received was Voyager Ratchet from the Transformers movie.
Voyager Ratchet is based on the classic transformers idea coming in the form of a vehicle, Ratchet is an American emergency services vehicle in green and red, but able to change into a robot with the help of a clever design that allows you to move around parts of the toy until it is completely "transformed" The toy is suitable for 5 years upwards and while this was too old for Christopher I didn't have the heart to tell his Great Granddad he was too young for it so we let him have Ratchet and hoped he'd be able to use it properly.
After quite a struggle removing Ratchet from the packet the first thing Christopher wanted was for it to be put into robot mode, I was never very good at Transformers so I gave his Daddy the honours and, with a little help from the instruction sheet, soon enough Christopher was happily playing with the robot. Compared to the older Transformer toys this one is about the same level of difficulty in changing forms however one aspect that is different to the 80's toys, or at least the ones we played with, is that some parts have to be completely removed from Ratchet the vehicle and repositioned in order to make Ratchet the robot properly, most notably the roof rack which has to be made into a shield, apart form this coming away from the original idea of Transformers it can also make it hard to keep all the pieces together and inevitably something is going to get lost.
I was rather disappointed with the fact that the toy is made of plastic, back in the 80's when they were first released many of the Transformers were made of metal making them very strong and durable, Christopher is a very gentle boy and plays nicely with his toys but even the most gentle handed of people can break a plastic toy and this has happened with Ratchet, and not just at the hands of Christopher either but by myself and his Daddy too. It's not that parts of him have snapped but the doors have been pulled off, his hand, his leg..........we've managed to attach them back on again and he looks like new, you'd never know he'd come apart but you don't expect a £20 toy to come apart so easily, if a full grown adult with a childhoods worth of Transformers experience can break the toy the how is a 5 year old going to manage. I guess it's probably designed that way so if a part does fall of you can put it back easily unlike with the 80's metal ones but it somewhat takes away from the magic of the toys design, almost like peeling the coloured stickers off of a Rubix cube in order to make up the matching sides properly.
The movie based Transformers manage to maintain the classic transformers ideal but with a little added detail and seriousness, they don't quite have the bright colours and fun aspect of those based on the cartoons, not that this bothers Christopher and he'll happily play with Ratchet alongside his Transformer Cyber Slammers and other toys. Christopher is really at an age where he likes playing with these kind of character toys, making them walk or drive around talking to each other and saving the world, he'll play for hours given the chance and will even let his little sister join in ever so often, but only if she plays as Bumblebee which strangely enough was the only 80's Transformer my brother would let me play with when we were little. As far as being able to transform the toy on his own, well he's not quite managed it yet but he's well on his way to mastering it, which is quite a relief as I feel awful silly being told off by a 4 year old for not putting the robots head on the right way or his feet back to front.
The toy is not perfectly designed by any means, I think the choice to use plastic has taken away a lot of the quality of the toy and makes it difficult for many of the robots parts to stay firmly in place however Christopher adores it and I'm sure many other Transformers fan, young or old, will love it too. We were lucky to receive his as a gift and if I'm honest I'm not sure if I would buy it myself, looking at it on a shelf might be enough to convince me but I think I would end up disappointed to get home and find the quality lacking. Id recommend it to die hard fans and collectors or maybe even to those who don't mind piecing broken toys back together but if you aren't one of those people then there are far better Transformer toys available to suit your needs.
Transformer Movie Autobot Ratchet can be found at Toys R Us for £19.99 or from Amazon-
http://www.amazon.co.uk/ Transformers-Movie-Voyager-Autobot-Ratchet/ dp/B000NLONF4/ ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=kids&qid=1221223972&sr=1-1
An alternate version in white is also available for the same price.
Also on Ciao
Includes a battle feature and are packed in vehicle mode!