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Rattrap

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

For someone who didn't watch Beast Wars, I sure am building a collection of the main cast.

This Maximal spy can infiltrate any area because he's willing to go where no other bot is willing to go: the garbage. Burrowing through trash and rubble keeps Rattrap out of the line of fire. You could say it's not courageous... but then you probably haven't smelled that trash barge.

Technically this "isn't" Beast Wars Rattrap - like Waspinator, he's been showing up in the IDW comics, so this is Generation 1 Rattrap. Yes, technically Beast Wars is part of G1, but the comics continuity is slightly different - for instance, Rattrap was alive during the Great War, rather than coming online millions of years later. Arcee's not his distant great-aunt, she's his contemporary.

Rattrap's head is very strongly influenced by the cartoon model, including the angled eyebrow ridge, the almost skeletal nose, and the things on the cheeks that look like gills. And of course the top of his head is honeycombed - a feature that the animators originally considered making an exposed brain, a sign that he was malformed and in need of life support.

The original Rattrap toy was a shellformer with a ton of kibble sticking off his back. This version is far from kibble-free, but it's more... organic, for lack of a better word. It's divided up better, you see. He gets a lot of junk up near his shoulders, as well as a mouse head on his chest and a visible tail dangling between his legs.

The robot parts are definitely taken from the old cartoon. It's most obvious on his shoulders and forearms, but the legs gamely attempt to do their part, as well - clawed toes, orange bulges on the shins, bars over the front of the knees, and creepy, creepy, flesh-colored hips.

Another cue this toy takes from its 1996 predecessor is its gun. Or "guns," as the case may be. Rattrap has one big rifle, which can be separated into two smaller pistols. Additionally, his left arm opens up, and another piece can be removed from inside. The instructions make it look like this thing is a pair of binoculars or something, but a bit of research reveals that it's supposed to be a bomb he used in Episode 9. The accessories are made from the same translucent plastic as his brain, which makes them look rather insubstantial. Plus the handles are just slightly too wide for his hands, which may lead to stress marks in the future.

Rattrap's articulation is not problem free. Oh, there's plenty of it - hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge elbows, balljointed shoulders, a swivel neck, plus all the various joints that are used to convert him - but a lot of the plastic is a bit more pliable than it perhaps should be, so it kind of "grips" when you try to move pieces (most notably the elbow swivels). Some people reported problems with the knees cracking, but that was only on the earliest samples. As if you needed another excuse to not spend a lot of money to own a toy before it shows up in stores. This slightly-too-soft plastic also causes some problems when you're turning the toy into a robot: it's mainly the pink stuff, and that's what holds the kibble, so it's not easy to get it into the proper place; you really have to force it, and it often feels like you're going to damage the figure.

Converting Rattrap is a very complex process - not that it's hard to remember where things go, in the broadest terms, but all the robot pieces have very specific positions they need to be in in order to fit the beast mode together properly.

In Beast Wars Rattrap changed into a rat, of course. But that is no longer the case! IDW Rattrap instead turns into a Z'verein mole-rat, a creature native to a planet where he was stationed for a few million years. What's the difference between a rat and a Z'verein mole-rat? Effectively nothing.

The rat is 7½" from nose to tail, and the highest point on his body - his hunched back - is a little more than 2¼" tall. The entire surface of the figure is given a nice furry sculpt. He has an up-turned black nose, solid black eyes, and white paint apps on his teeth. the interiors of his ears are pink, matching his feet and tail, and there's an airbrushing of brown fur at the back of the figure.

There's a surprising amount of articulation in this mode, as well. The tail has a hinge at the base, but there's a wire running its length so you can bend and pose it. The hips and shoulders rotate, the rear feet are hinged, and the front feet swivel. His mouth opens, and his head can be hinged down.

All that articulation allows you to do something the older toys never could. See, in the cartoon, Rattrap (in Beast Mode) would often sit up on his haunches while having conversations, and the most any of the previous toys could do was fake that pose. This one, thanks to the hinged tail and movable legs, can actually do it. There's even an extra flap of "skin" in the neck so that you can hinge the rat face down without revealing the robot's head inside. How fun! Oh, and I guess Z'verein mole-rats also have a bunch of robot kibble on their stomachs, rather than skin and fur.

In accordance with prophecy, Rattrap comes with a comicbook reprint, designed to introduce you to the characters/hook you on IDW's comics. His is Robots in Disguise #24, with a new cover, but it's still a weird choice - the chief reason being that Rattrap doesn't appear in a single panel anywhere in the book. Dollars to doughnuts this book was accidentally switched with Skywarp's, since Rattrap appears in that one and Skywarp doesn't. Also, you get the feeling it was assembled out of order: there are two storylines going on, and while the B story progresses in the normal order, the A story starts in the middle, then ends, then the first four pages turn up near the back of the book. Plus there's a page from a different comic in there randomly.

Beast Wars Rattrap was pessimistic and sarcastic, but was generally a good guy; the IDW comics make more of The Starscream (coincidentally enough, to Starscream himself) and thus, kind of a dick. He's still nominally a good guy, but he does some pretty scummy things. Maybe they're setting him up for a character arc, and he'll become a hero later?

-- 10/14/14


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