"Transformers Universe 2.0" Hound with Ravage Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: December 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Weapon, Ravage figure

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Chief tracker and scout for OPTIMUS PRIME, AUTOBOT HOUND packs some of the most sophisticated sensing technology of any of the AUTOBOTS. He is capable of tracking even the most stealthy and light-footed DECEPTICON – namely RAVAGE through rivers, across bare rock, and even through the air by the spare whisper of electromagnetic radiation the robot panther leaves behind. Though RAVAGE can hide almost perfectly in even the slightest shadow, no amount of skill can prevent AUTOBOT HOUND from finding him.

Convert this advanced conversion figure from robot mode to off-road vehicle mode - and back again! Complete with a hologram projector in robot mode and an included RAVAGE beast-to-machine figure, this is one mighty pair for your collection.

One of the ideas behind this iteration of the "Transformers Universe" line was to pay proper homage to the heritage of the Transformers line. A quarter of a century of history is pretty amazing for any product to have, no less a toy line based on plastic robots that become vehicles, animals and other assorted things. Sometimes, these homages take an unexpected yet pleasant form. Such is the case with the release of Universe Hound. While one would expect Hound to just come as a stand alone figure like Prowl or Ironhide, the designers added a bit more value to the package by including a mini-figure: Ravage! Both represent updated versions of their classic selves, but why pair a Decepticon cassette with Hound? This goes back to the original series where one of the key plot points involved the Autobots (Hound among them) having captured Ravage and then "accidentally" allowing him to escape to set up Megatron and the Decepticons in a trap. It is really cool to see a story/plot point working its way into a figure two pack of two cool characters.




Beast Mode:
There were a lot of things about the G1 cartoon that we kid accepted without much question. One of them was "How come this thin cassette tape turns into this wider jaguar thingie?". I know I didn't care and was quite happy that my G1 Ravage figure was thin as a cookie and still represented the character well. However, with "Universe" aimed at older collectors who have had years to question things like "mass conversion" with Transformers, the designers decided to go back to the drawing board with Ravage and create a figure that could transform from a beast mode with some width into a cassette form.

Ravage is packaged in beast mode, which makes sense since he'd look rather dull (and to some, archaic) as a cassette tape. While thin, the original Ravage figure was missing many of the curves one would associate with a felinoid robot as well as the animated version of the character. This new version of Ravage seeks to correct that. While his head design retains a very angular design akin to the G1 toy design, his main body is angled in a way that makes him look like he is about to pounce. His shoulders are arched up, his spine set down and his back legs set at a high angle. The combination of these angles really looks dynamic. Add to that the curved shape of his legs (both top and bottom sections) and this Ravage looks a lot more slick than his G1 counterpart.

While Ravage does not include any accessories, his famous side mounted rocket launchers have not been forgotten. Instead of having them mounted onto the sides of his legs, small "rockets" have been sculpted onto the top of his legs, shaped much like the ones from the G1 figure. That said, Ravage does have holes on the sides of his legs which will allow you to attach G1 Ravage's weapons if you have them, which is a cool touch and really brings together the "old and the new" in one figure.

The rockets aren't the only small details in this figure. The head sculpt is intricate, with smaller designs such as his nose, teeth and cheeks all present. His legs have smaller lines on them that define the shape of the legs more and each of his paws has segments representing toes. I'm also fond of the fact that his leg line details are on both sides of the legs, not just the sides that face outward.

Ravage is entirely madeup of black plastic. Some silver paint applications are used on the lower legs. This color very closely matches the color of G1 Ravage's legs. On the head, his eyes are colored red, matching his appearance in the animated program. On his back is a purple Decepticon symbol. I wish the designers had painted the rockets as well so they could stand out more.

There are eight points of articulation in this figure. This is pretty good if you consider that Ravage is basically an accessory for Hound. However I would have liked to see the paws be able to move. As it stands now if you raise his legs, his paws wind up pointing up which looks a bit odd. Still, I really like the look of this figure and it truly captures the spirit of the original's beast form.

Transformation to Cassette Mode:

  1. Swing each lower leg up against the upper legs.
  2. Swing the front leg pieces out to the side.
  3. Swing the tail and head down.
  4. Swing the back legs out to the sides.
  5. Rotate the rear legs up to form the rectangular cassette shape.

Cassette Mode:
It's almost strange to say this, but it is kind of hard to tell what Ravage is actually supposd to be in this form. Cassette tapes have been out of mass use for a long time. Even the mini-tapes that Ravage and the cassette-bots emulated are being replaced by digital recorders, so without the holes on either side, you'd almost think Ravage was some random flat thing like a tray or something. What this mode lacks is detail that would scream "tape!" like the original did. G1 Ravage had all sorts of details such as lines indicating how much 'tape' was left, a design in the center that showed a "window" into the cassette tape and even notches painted into the circles replicating the look of a tape's drums. The only detail other than a jumble of beast parts here is the Decepticon symbol. Some extra paint details would have really helped this mode. While it is true he is essentially a glorified accessory, it would have been nice to see one or two paint apps dedicated to his cassette mode.

In a nice design touch, this cassette form is designed to work with the reissued Toys R Us exclusive G1 Soundwave from 2006-07. In reality, that Soundwave actually uses the sculpt of the reissued Soundblaster mold, meaning its chest compartment was designed to hold two G1 cassettes.




Vehicle Mode:
The original Hound was based on the Mitsubishi J59 Jeep, so it was appropriate that his updated vehicle mode have its roots in the Jeep brand as well. In this case, the designers started with the Jeep Hurricane concept and then changed some details to avoide trademark infringement (as they have done with many vehicles). The Hurricane had some very distinct features including an open cabin section, thin guards above each wheel and a very angular design on the side which dipped where the doors are, looking like you could hop out of the vehicle without bothering with a door. It featured large wheels with a wheel cover with six spokes as well as an upswept guard in front of the front grille and headlights. All these features can be found on Hound, but some critical details have been changed. For instance, Jeep vehicles feature a trademark look of round headlights and vertical grilles on their vehicles, whereas Hound's headlights are rectangular and his grille is horizontal. He also sports a winch in front and his dashboard layout is very different than the distinctive Hurricane layout which featured a row of five round displays to the right of the steering wheel.

While a relatively simple looking vehicle, Hound has a lot of detail. Most notably, his wheels are very intricately sculpted, with lots of raised line details. Wheels aren't usually this detailed and it's nice to see such a prominant feature on the vehicle given the attention it deserves. His front end is nicely detailed with horizontal lines on the grille and line details on the curve of the winch representing rope. His back section has raised lines in a horizontal pattern and his dashboard is very well detailed complete with steering wheel, round instrument displays (two versus the five of the Hurricane) and a glove compartment. His bucket seats have lines etched into them where the cushions would be and he has the raised storage compartment between the two seats found in most modern vehicles. He also has other small details ike handles on the doors and some tech detailing on the underside of the doors. Another nice touch are three lights mounted on the top of the windshield.

Hound is cast in olive green, silver, translucent blue, white and black plastic in this form. A majority of the color is green, with black being prominant for the wheels, car interior, grille and the area behind the car seats. Dark silver is used for the cage piece mounted on the front of the jeep. Translucent blue makes up the windshield and headlights.

The color detail on Hound isn't complicated, nor does it need to be. Green paint is used on parts such as the windshield to give it continuity with the rest of the jeep. Silver is used to paint the roll of wire on the winch while dark silver is used on the lower sides of the jeep near the doors as well as the missile like protrusion from his weapon. An olive drab green appears on the back, which harkens back to his G1 days as a military jeep. A red Autobot symbol graces the hood in the center while yellow is used for lights on the front of the vehicle as well as the three lights on the windshield. I was surprised to see that his rear lights are painted red as well since often time rear lights are sculpted, but not painted. In a final nod to his G1 incarnation, a white star can be found on the right side of the vehicle, a reminder of his days as a military jeep.

Hound's weapon is a hologram projector which looks conspicuously like a missile launcher. This weapon clips onto the back of one of the seat guards, mimicking the way G1 Hound's weapon mounted onto the back of the vehicle. In addition, there are two black clips on the back that flip up to allow Hound to carry Ravage around (presumably as a prisoner). These clips slide into the holes in Ravage and hold him there tightly.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach Ravage and the holo projector if attached.
  2. Swing each white seat back down.
  3. Pull the middle to rear half of the vehicle back.
  4. Slide down the panels on the back of the jeep.
  5. Straighten out the back section and split it in half.
  6. Swing up the black seat guards.
  7. From under the front of the vehicle, swing each robot arm down, and then out to the sides.
  8. Swing out the fists from each arm.
  9. Swing down the V shaped waist piece.
  10. Swing out each front tire to the sides.
  11. Push the robot head up through the hood.
  12. Swing the front of the car down to form the robot chest.
  13. Swing each front wheel back and swing them on their hinges so they face outward to the sides.
  14. Straighten out the arms and raise the waist piece up.
  15. Attach the gun to either hand.

Robot Mode:
I think it's fair to say that Hound has been one of those fortunate G1 Transformers who seems to be done properly every time he's made into a new figure. With the possible exception of the unreleased G2 Sgt. Hound figure, every Hound in the past couple years has properly paid homage to the G1 Hound. We've already seen that his vehicle mode is well done, but it's equally satisfying to see that his robot mode was faithful to his G1 animation model.

The G1 Hound figure was an extremely boxy thing. For its time it was a cool (and at the time, unique) figure, but when a model was created for the cartoon show (and comic books), the figure was translated into a shape with much more humanoid proportions. It is that base that was used for Universe Hound's robot mode. Instead of some parts like his feet and chest being overwhelmingly large and obscuring other parts like his arms, his proportions here are much more normal with some parts still exaggerated. For instance, while the front of the car still becomes his chest, the arms fold out from under it and out to the sides, keeping them from being obscured. Thanks to his somewhat unique leg transformation, his legs are longer than you'd expect, making him look tall and proportionate rather than squat.

There are many G1 influences in this design and they include:

  • The head design is a direct translation of his G1 cartoon design, which was very square in shape and a regular face inside the square "helmet" section.
  • The chest is formed from the front of the vehicle.
  • His arms are very boxy, with the shoulders having a curved joint. His lower arms have a yellow stripe going through them, a detail that was on his upper arms in the cartoon.
  • Hound's weapon is heavily based on the G1 design with a distinct missile design that looks more like a big drill bit and a curved barrel with one side extending further than the other.
  • His waist piece has angled line designs reminscent of similar designs on G1 Hound.
  • Like his G1 toy counterpart, Hound's feet are made up from the rear of the vehicle and represent his most exaggerated part. The wheels on the side are also carry over design elements as well.

Most of what you can call Hound's "new" design elements are actually modern takes on previous ones. For instance, his lower arms only have one stripe, whereas G1 Hound had several. His chest is more streamline and angles downward as opposed to G1 Hound's which just faced forward. His legs are designed with a slight angle in the thighs and lower legs, giving him a more dynamic appearance.

Hound reveals more black and white plastic in this form, helping to break up the green color that makes up most of the vehicle mode. The black plastic is used for his shoulders and elbows, fists and lower legs. White is found on the neck section and thighs. Silver, red and yellow paint applications are used for detailing. What's cool is that these are simple decos, but they are very effective in their simplicity. Yellow is found on his lower arms in the aforementioned bands and on his knees. The Autobot symbol on his chest is red and the tail lights point forward in this mode, adding another small splash of color. Silver is found on parts such as his face and waist. His eyes are cast in translucent blue to allow for light piping.

There are thirteen points of articulation on Hound. This doesn't sound like a lot by today's standards, but they serve the figure well. His shoulder and hip joints are ball joints and his arms can swivel outwards as well as bending at the elbows. His weapon can be held in either hand but it's a shame that he can't clip it to his shoulder or torso piece to allow him to look more like his G1 self.

Final Thoughts:
Like Sunstreaker and Sideswipe before him, Hound is a fantastic deluxe sized update of the G1 character. He's instantly recognizable in both modes but manages to look modern as well. Coupled with a cool update of fan favorite Ravage, this is a two pack every fan should own. Highly recommended!

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