Release Date: Third Quarter 2008
Price Point: $29.99
Retailer: Target Exclusive
Ratbat Accessories: Cyber Key, Blades x 2
Springer Accessories: Cyber Key, Missiles x 2, Rotor blades
In "The War Within" series published by Dreamwave Productions, fans were able to read stories that took place in Cybertron's past, millions of years before the conflict on Earth. One of the draws of this series was the ability to see familiar characters in their "original" Cybertronian modes, something that was only once done now and then in flashbacks. As part of the "Transformers Universe" celebration of different eras in Transformers history, two Target exclusive two-packs were created to pay homage to the "War Within" era. This two pack was called the "Standoff Beneath the Streets" and included two figures, Ratbat (a redeco of Galaxy Force Noisemaze aka Cybertron Sideways) and Springer (a redeco of Cybertron Evac aka Galaxy Force Live Convoy). The two figures were packaged in a large box sporting the "Universe 2.0" packaging. They included a reprint of the UK Marvel "Wreckers" comic book. It's a fair bet that the comic book that was intended to be in this two pack was actually packaged in the other exclusive released at the same time. That comic book was a reprint from the "War Within: Dark Ages" series featuring Ratbat and Springer. This review will focus on the changes made to these figures for this release.
I look at Ratbat and really I feel like this figure was an inspired choice to be used for a redeco of this character. The way "War Within" Ratbat was designed, he had a lot of sharp points on his body that served as foreshadowing of his future "bat" beast mode. This included fangs on his mouth and even a large curved opening on his torso with sharp points on the ends resembling fangs. The Noisemaze figure has similar features, but in different places. The robot head has points on the top of his head and the face is sculpted to look like it has sharp teeth on the top and bottom of the mouth area. The chest is curved in the front and actually resembles the head of a bird a bit. Other details on this figure could also be seen as a hint of a future "bat" mode such as his sharp looking bladed weapons, angular legs and sharp looking points on his back.
Ratbat is cast in four primary colors of plastic: metallic purple, grey purple, black and translucent orange (which in some light looks more yellow). The color that shows up the most is metallic purple. This color makes up many parts including the helmet portion of his head, his torso, blade weapons and parts of his legs. Smaller parts such as his waist and forearms are cast in the grey purple color. Black is used for parts of his legs, feet and the weapon on his left arm. The translucent plastic comes into play on the robot head where it make up most of the face (which makes for great light piping) and the blades on his left arm weapon. I have to say that this color combination is fantastic, due in part to how unusual it is to see these colors on a Transformer. The metallic purple is fantastic, with bits of sparkly silver that add depth to the color. The purple grey color is a great contrast with the metallic purple and the black helps ground the other colors.
Paint applications are done in gold, purple and black paint. The gold is used for small details such as the raised sections on his shoulders, the mechanical details on his left arm weapon and half of the top on each blade weapon. Black is used to add color to parts such as the insides of his lower legs. The purple paint is in two shades: metallic and grey, matching up the plastic colors the figure is cast in. This is used to nice effect on the feet where the tops are metallic purple and the rest are purple, which looks fantastic. It's also used on a small detail: his hands. Each hand is cast in metallic purple plastic, but each hand has armor sculpted on the outside of the hand and these parts are painted a grey purple color that matches up very well with the parts sculpted in that color such as his forearms.
Ratbat's Cyber Key is cast in translucent purple plastic. The key inserts into the weapon on his left arm. When the Key is not inserted, you'll see a Decepticon symbol in the slot by the hole where you insert the key. Once you insert the key, you see the Ultracon symbol, which is the sub-group of Decepticons that Ratbat led in the "War Within" comic book. The blades splay out to the sides beautifully so there are no functional issues with the weapon. His weapons fit tightly into his fists and all his joints are solid, which I was pleased to see since this figure has been run at least three times before this release for its American release and two Japanese releases.
Noise Maze's vehicle mode is very much like the robot mode in that it fits the character of Ratbat very well. The vehicle has a very futuristic (or advanced) look to it with its curved nosecone, wide back with raised sections on the top and the sharp wings on the sides. The wings and the cockpit windows shaped like eyes are the parts that really drive home the "bat" appearance to me and reinforce the notion that this could represent Ratbat in his Cybertronian form.
Ratbat's colors all carry over into this form with no real surprises. What does happen however is that the black parts and colors consolidate in the center of the vehicle, running from the area behind the cockpit to the back and to the sides. This also brings the gold painted tech details out more now that they're on top instead of off to the side. A lot of the more complex, sculpted details in this figure are not painted or emphasized here in the same way as Noise Maze. That's not necesarily a bad thing. The way that the metallic purple plastic shines, too much gold emphasis on those details may have been a bit garish. Instead, they play on the vehicle visually in a very subtle manner that looks fantastic.
During the events of "The War Within Dark Ages" Ratbat and his Ultracons encountered Springer and chaos ensued. That made him a great choice to face off with Ratbat in this two pack. Using Cybertron Evac was a really nice choice. During the time frame of "Dark Ages", Springer only had one transform: a helicopter mode, so there was no need to worry about his third ground mode. At Botcon 2007, Hasbro stated that they felt it was appropriate to focus on his helicopter mode since the Botcon 2007 exclusive Springer focused on his ground mode.
Structurally speaking, Springer doesn't really have many details in common with the artwork used in that issue. Perhaps the two aspecs that I would say match up the best (and I use that term loosely) are the head design and the "back pack". With his central crest, curved area above his brow and vertical protrusions on the sides, his head design bears resemblance to the comic book appearance. On Evac's back, he has a "back pack" that contains his Cyber Key action feature which includes two missile launchers and the two halves of his tail fins from the vehicle mode. In the artwork for "Dark Ages" Springer, he has an engine/helicopter blade mechanism on his back, so while they do not necesarily share the same function, the idea of having mechanics related to his vehicle mode on his back is intact.
In terms of color differences, Evac's color are very broken up with a combination of paint applications and the base plastic colors. Springer is a bit more uniform. His base plastic colors are green, grey (in two shades), yellow and translucent blue. The green and grey colors are ones that carry over from G1 Springer. The green is used on several components including his fists, upper body, shoulders, head, feet and parts of his back pack. Light grey is used on his upper arms, upper legs, missile launchers and small parts of his weapons on his left and right arms. Yellow is used on smaller parts such as the trigger for his left arm weapon and the missile launchers on his back. It may sound odd, but out of all the colors I found the use of the yellow plastic the nicest touch. It's subtle, but it is a direct carry over from the yellow on the original Springer. It's also a color that isn't often used on plastic for Transformers. Translucent blue plastic is used for his eyes and for the vehicle mode windows, matching up with the colors used in the comic book he is based on.
It sounds almost repetitive to say, but paint applications are almost all the same colors as the plastic used on the figure. The only addition is red on one spot on his back. Green is used the most. You'll find it on his chest, waist and parts of the helicopter parts on his back. Yellow is used primarily for smaller details such as wires on his back, his knees and lines on his feet. Light grey is used to break up some of the other colors. You'll find the biggest example of this on the chest. Light grey is also used for his face. My favorite paint apps are the ones on his backpack. I really like the way the yellow is used to color line details with some red in the center.
Springer's joints are all tight, however on mine the parts where the left and right halves of his right leg are supposed to meet weren't assembled perfectly, so there is a tiny gap there. It doesn't affect the functionality of the figure but I thought it worth mentioning. The helicopter blade weapon spins just as good as the one on my Evac figure, and the winch on the right arm also works perfectly. The blade weapon is particularly appropriate for Springer since his G1 incarnation had a sword as one of his weapons, formed from the helicopter blades.
The Cyber Key feature still works well on this figure. The Cyber Key is cast in translucent red plastic with the Autobot symbol colored silver. The missile launchers deploy quickly and fire just as well as those on my Evac figure.
Evac's vehicle mode is based on a real life vehicle, the European Dauphin. While this makes him a non-Cybertronian vehicle, it is a rather sleek and futuristic looking vehicle so it still works as an example of an advanced aircraft.
Springer's vehicle mode is not a simple one to one replacement of colors. In many ways, he's more detailed, which I really like in any redeco. The base plastic colors are the same as the robot mode, but in this form the green color is a lot more condensed. It makes up most of the vehicle mode with the grey parts showing up mostly in the helicopter blades, missile launchers, landing gear and the lower half of the vehicle towards the front. You can see a bit more of the light grey plastic used here on the rear fin, where it makes up the inner rotor blades that can spin independently of each other.
Yellow and grey paint are used for detailing. The best details are found on the top of the helicopter. The yellow tube details near the Cyber Key port are highly visible here and look fantastic. The front section attached to the helicopter blades has a lot of detail compared to Evac, which only had one color there. On Springer the two oval shaped vents are colored grey, and the center section is painted yellow. A large Autobot symbol is tampographed in the middle. I love how detailed this section is. Yellow is also found along the front end, looking like a strip of lights. This is another section that was left unpainted on Evac, so it was nice to see it painted here.
All of Springer's weapons become functional parts of the vehicle mode, so they work fine including the rotor blades and the missile launchers. His landing gear is also nice and tight, sliding in and out of its slots perfectly.
Creating a fully faithful toy version of Ratbat would have taken creating a whole new sculpt, so it is best to say that this figure is more of a very well thought out homage to "War Within" Ratbat. The sculpt is fantastic and the colors are awesome on their own, but match the character as well. I'm always happy when a redeco doesn't just replicate the same pattern as its base figure and Ratbat is certainly distinctive from his source figure. Fantastic work.
While a bit more obvious as a choice for a redeco, Springer is no less cool. He is instantly recognizable as Springer and the deco looks fantastic. Kudos to the designers for using a different deco scheme than Evac.
Overall, this isn't a cheap two pack, but for anyone who's been wanting more "War Within" based figures, this is definitely for you. It is unfortunate that the wrong comic was packaged with it, but overall I rate this as recommended!