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By Thomas Wheeler

There are two groups of Transformers, that date back to the earliest days of Generation One, that are particularly popular and well-known among Transformers fans. Technically, they aren't the sort of established, separately-named groups, like the Constructicons or the Aerialbots, but they are groups nevertheless, and there is one such group within the ranks of the Decepticons, and another among the Autobots.

The Decepticon group is led by Soundwave, and his group consists of a series of smaller associates with names such as Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy, Buzzsaw, and Laserbeak. His Autobot counterpart is named Blaster, and he has companions named Rewind, Eject, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw, among others.

Several years ago, Hasbro started to bring back many of the original, Generation One Transformers, into new, modern forms, ones that -- most especially -- were significantly more and better articulated in their robot forms than their original ancestors. As cool as the original, 1980's, Generation One Transformers were, as much of a pop culture phenomenon as they caused, with their amazing toys, a superb animated series, and an excellent comic book, making them one of the top pop culture concepts of the 80's that has endured to this day -- the original toys really couldn't do all that much in their humanoid, robotic forms. The transforming function was certainly cool, and most definitely innovative, but this lack of articulation was an unfortunate limitation, especially in lieu of their very action-packed comic books, animated series, and even package illustrations.

The Transformers, as an overall concept, finally got past this limitation by the time of Beast Wars, a superb concept and series in its own right, with connections to G1, and Hasbro finally decided to cut the original Transformers a break after many series that followed in the toy aisles, and brought them back in all-new, but entirely recognizable forms in a line originally called Transformers Classics, now known as Transformers Generations.

This line has come and gone, mostly to make room for lines based on the live-action movies or whatever the current animation is, but it's back now, tied in to a new video game called "Fall of Cybertron", which relates events that take place just before the G1 Transformers' Earth-based adventures that we know so well, and appears poised to continue into the Transformers' 30th Anniversary in 2014.

The Classics/Generations line has, over the years, been quite extensive, and many of the major players from Generation One have made their way into it. But there have been exceptions. And two of the most glaring exceptions have been Soundwave and Blaster, and really, it's been more than two, since their associates have missed out, as well.

Why? Unfortunately, their "alt modes", their non-robotic modes, had the bad luck to become, well, outmoded. Other Transformers can transform into things that either don't become outmoded, or which can be fairly easily updated or upgraded -- cars, trucks, planes, tanks, guns, whatever. And there are some Transformers whose alt modes remained somewhat more Cybertronian in design, even as they ventured to Earth.

But Soundwave transformed into a portable cassette tape player, and Blaster transformed into a portable radio with a tape deck. And both robots' various associates transformed into miniature audio cassettes.

Now, people still use radios, certainly. But they don't much use tape decks or cassettes. I do, but then if I was any more behind the technological times, I'd probably have to go join an Amish community. Many people today seem to operate on the principle of, "If it's new, it's cool, I want it", and the previous version ends up tossed out. I operate on the principle of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- use it, don't replace it."

That being said, I know enough to know that I'm not going to be able to buy audio cassettes all that readily, and while I honestly don't know if a new stereo set would include a tape player, since I haven't checked, I'd be surprised if it did.

So despite their popularity within the Transformers concept, Soundwave, Blaster, and their assorted associates have had a hard time finding their way into the Generations line, simply because the alt modes of these fantastic futuristic robots -- had been trumped by advances in real-world entertainment technology.

Ah, but this new War of Cybertron video game which has been linked to the Generations action figure line finally gives these fine robots their chance! Taking place on Cybertron just prior to their voyage to Earth, the game features many of the best-known Transformers from the world of Generation One -- in their pre-Earth, Cybertronian modes! And that includes Soundwave, Blaster, and all their little buddies.

Toywise, both Soundwave and Blaster are based on the same set of molds, with obvious color differences as well as distinctive heads and chest hatches. Both transform into "Cybertronian Communications Trucks", but their robotic modes are more than recognizable as the characters we came to know back in the 1980's. And their companions obviously don't transform into cassettes. Rather, they transform into "Data Discs". Works for me...

Both Blaster and Soundwave come with one Data Disc companion, Steeljaw for Blaster, and Laserbeak for Soundwave. The rest of their companions are sold separately in two-packs, which is a very nice acknowledgment of the original versions of these toys, since that's precisely how they were sold back in the 1980's.

For whatever reason, and perhaps it's simply because they received more screen time, Soundwave's minions have always been the better known group. Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy, Laserbeak -- they've always been more prominent than Blaster's Rewind, Steeljaw, and the others. But I'm pleased to see that they're all being produced.

I came across the second of the Autobot two-packs that I needed, which contained two of Blaster's associates, EJECT and RAMHORN. Let's have an individual look at each character, and each toy. We'll start with --

EJECT - One of two humanoid robots, the other being Rewind, that are associated with Blaster, much as Rumble and Frenzy are with Soundwave. In both instances, the respective robots are differently-colored twins of one another, since they were obviously based on the same set of molds, both originally, and now for the Generations line.

The initial Hasbro releases of Eject and Ramhorn had chromed-gold weapons, subsequent releases used chromed-silver. Eject shares a mold with the Autobot Rewind. The mold was later recolored for the ehobby exclusive toy Flipsides and Kiss Players Rosanne.

Don't ask, you really don't want to know. Suffice to say there's a pink version out there...

His bio described him as an idealistic Autobot who believed that sports could be the answer to replacing Cybertronian gladiator games or even the war itself. He genuinely wants a Cybertron free of war, although he hasn't had much success in bringing other Autobots around to the concept.

As a member of the Autobot communications sub-group Eject frequently worked with its other members - Blaster, Grand Slam, Raindance, Ramhorn, Rewind and Steeljaw.

Eject first appeared as one of Blaster's warriors in the Transformers movie, where he participated in the battle for Autobot City.

In episode 78, "Madman's Paradise", Spike and Carly hosted a banquet for a visiting ambassador. Daniel got bored and wandered off. Grimlock followed him, and they fell into a lost chamber where Quintessons banished their criminals to other dimensions. They slipped through to the sorcerous other-dimensional realm of Menonia, and were tricked into fighting on the Red Wizard's side, only to find out that he was the Quintesson criminal, who overthrew the Golden One. Ultra Magnus, Blaster, Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw followed, and using Blaster's amplification, they help the Golden One defeat the Red Wizard. With the help of Perceptor, the Autobots and Daniel are returned to Cybertron.

Although Eject did not appear in the U.S. Marvel Comics, he did make one appearance in a Marvel U.K. exclusive story.

In the Dreamwave comics, Eject was among the many Autobots who congregated in a secret base during the "Age of Wrath", when the recently-returned Megatron's Aerospace Extermination Squadron covered the planet Cybertron, capturing countless Autobot heroes and sending the remnants of the army underground.

It is unknown if his alternate mode at the time was still some form of data-storage device, or if he had a vehicular mode.

In the fourth G.I. Joe vs. the Transformers series from Devil's Due Publishing, Eject was shown to be part of a small unit commanded by Prowl working with former G.I. Joe leader General Hawk to stop the spread of Cybertronian technology on Earth. Attempting to apprehend the Cobra affiliated arms dealer Destro, Eject, able to hide out due to the small size of his cassette mode, took down eight Snake battlesuits on his own, Relaxing watching Earth TV, the group were ambushed by the Cobra-La affiliated Monster Pretenders (who had been able to track them due to an organic device in Destro's cargo). Eject was able to escape with the G.I. Joe member Firewall, intending to head back and help the others.

Although, not shown, he presumably rescued them, as they were seen being repaied. He, Firewall and a reluctant Optimus Prime then settled in to watch some Earth TV.

Here Eject displays a considerable love for Earth sports programs (similar to the G1 character Wreck-Gar), even comparing his battle against the Snake battlesuits to a basketball game.

So, how's the modern figure? Very cool. As before, Eject and Rewind have the same mold. But whereas Rewind has a mostly black body with some metallic gold and pale gray trim, Eject has a blue body with some metallic gold and pale gray trim. Both figures have gold visors for their eyes, and little shields over their lower faces, but Rewind's is red, whereas Eject's is orange. Both also have the Autobot emblem imprinted on their abdomens.

Eject stands about 2-3/4" in height to the top of his head, and is a full 3" in total height allowing for raised shoulders. He is nicely detailed and very neatly painted, and his head design, which looks as though it has something of a crown around its brow, is very reminiscent of the original figure.

Eject has some articulation, but articulation isn't really intended as the specialty of these particular Transformers. He can move at the arms, legs, and knees, but the legs and knees are on springs, as part of his transformation.

Here's the cool thing about these particular Transformers. Rather than transforming into cassettes, they transform into "Data Discs", obviously a Cybertronian means of data storage. What impresses me is that there are several robot designs involved in this line, and yet they all transform into same-size Data Discs. And the spring-action feature incorporated into them allows them to at least partially, and in a few cases entirely, transform back into their non-disc modes.

Of course, they need a little help getting into their disc modes. For Eject, that procedure is as follows:

Raise the arms up, tuck the feet in, fold the arms behind the figure's back, then hold them there while you flip the figure over, spread the legs apart, fold them up over the torso, and snap everything into place.

Eject is now in his Data Disc mode. In this mode, he is mostly blue, about 1-1/2" in diameter, and 1/2" thick. He has intricate silver patterning on his top, very clever in design and very high-tech in appearance, with the Autobot emblem in the center of it.

To restore Eject to robot mode, just press the button on the underside of the disc, and fold the feet out and lower the arms.

Now, let's consider the other Autobot in this set:

RAMHORN - Ramhorn is part of the mini-cassette Autobot team and takes on the form of a robotic rhinoceros.

Ramhorn's original bio painted him as extremely unruly and bad-tempered, prone to destroying anyone who violates his territory. His charge is formidable enough to knock a train off its tracks or upend an 18-wheeler with one blow -- which I'm sure was of great comfort to Optimus Prime in his Earth truck mode...

As a member of the Autobot communications sub-group Ramhorn frequently worked with its other members - Blaster, Eject, Grand Slam, Raindance, Rewind and Steeljaw.

Ramhorn first appeared as one of Blaster's warriors in The Transformers: The Movie, where he defended Blaster's communications tower from the Decepticon cassettes.

He appeared in the episode, "Forever is A Long Time Coming". In this episode, Rewind, Blaster, Ramhorn, Blurr and Wreck-Gar are transported to Cybertron's past via a Quintesson time window. He aided the prehistoric Autobots in defeating the Guardian Robots, thus keeping the original timeline intact.

Strangely, Ramhorn had the power of speech in that episode, and only made normal rhino-like sounds for most of his other appearances. You have the strong, silent type. I suppose Ramhorn was the strong, grunting type most of the time.

In episode 78, "Madman's Paradise", Spike and Carly hosted a banquet for a visiting ambassador. Daniel got bored and wandered off. Grimlock followed him and they fell into a lost chamber where Quintessons banished their criminals to other dimensions. They slipped through to the sorcerous other-dimensional realm of Menonia, and were tricked into fighting on the Red Wizard's side, only to find out that he was the Quintesson criminal, who overthrew the Golden One. Ultra Magnus, Blaster, Eject, Rewind, Ramhorn, and Steeljaw followed, and using Blaster's amplification, they help the Golden One defeat the Red Wizard. With the help of Perceptor, the Autobots and Daniel returned to Cybertron.

In "The Quintesson Journal" he was a part of the Autobot team that recovered the Quintesson's recording device.

He also had a small part in "The Ultimate Weapon", teaming with Steeljaw to ram Galvatron's cannon mode.

He later appeared in "Call of the Primitives" as one of the Transformers "Primitives" (animal themed Transformers like the Dinobots and Predacons) summoned by Primacron to battle his creation Tornedron, but was deactivated by the energy creature. He was revived when Grimlock defeated the creature.

In the Dreamwave comics, Ramhorn was among the many Autobots who congregated in a secret base during the "Age of Wrath", when the recently-returned Megatron's Aerospace Extermination Squadron covered the planet Cybertron, capturing countless Autobot heroes and sending the remnants of the army underground.

Although Ramhorn would not appear in the US Transformers comic by Marvel, he appeared in the Marvel UK "Space Pirates" arc. When the Quintessons attacked Autobot City and killed Blaster and the rest of its inhabitants, Rodimus Prime came to investigate. However, when he lost the Matrix and reverted to Hot Rod, he decided to use Blaster's cassettes, including Ramhorn, to fend off the Quintessons while he reactivated Metroplex.

So, how's the toy? Very nicely made, and more interesting than I had suspected. I had identified several basic types of Data Discs in this line, that to one degree or another all used the same mold: Humanoid, which included Rewind, Eject, Rumble, and Frenzy; Avian, which included Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ratbat, and Sunder; and Animal, which included Ravage and Steeljaw. I initially assumed that Ramhorn would also fit into this category, and be yet another recolor.

But he's not. Although Ramhorn is a four-legged robotic animal, he is not a recoloration of the Steeljaw/Ravage molds. Really, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Ravage and Steeljaw's respective species are large felines, known for a certain amount of sleekness and stealth. Those aren't exactly words you're going to use to describe the average rhino -- or Ramhorn, for that matter.

Although Ramhorn shares some limited characteristics with Ravage and Steeljaw, of course, as far as I can tell, he's a largely unique member of this group of Transformers. In rhino mode, he's 2-1/2 inches in length, distinctly shorter then Ravage and Steeljaw, who are closer to four inches. I would not, however, recommend calling Ramhorn "Shorty".

He's more or less a red-orange in color, with gray and metallic gold detailing. His top is a relatively flat surface, although some of the detail gives him a slight hump hear the shoulders. His head is especially angular and has a robotic rhino-horn at the front. His body is stocky and squat, with the legs appearing armored, and he has a short tail in the back. On the whole, the design is very impressive, since one would assume that it had to start as a Data Disc in order to maintain the commonality of these particular Transformers, and somewhere along the way the designers managed to pull a rhino out of it. He has yellow painted eyes and the Autobot emblem on his left side.

Let's consider his transformation into Data Disc mode. It's actually surprisingly simple, especially in light of the fact that I found Ravage and Steeljaw to be the most complicated ones of the group. Fold Ramhorn's horn flat against his head. Tuck his front and then rear legs up against his body, and then fold his head and tail down and into his body. It took a try or two before they fully snapped into place, but they did. The way the legs fold into place, I was reminded a little bit of the way the original cassette form of Ravage works, and while I never owned the original Ramhorn, I wonder if he was structurally similar.

Ramhorn fully transforms back into rhino mode by pressing the button on the underside of his Data Disc mode. As with Eject, of course, in Data Disc mode, Ramhorn is 1-1/2" in diameter and 1/2" thick. He appears mostly gold on the top, with an orange center and sides, and the Autobot emblem printed in gold in the very center of his disc mode.

Both Ramhorn and Eject come with transparent red storage cases that have Autobot emblems on them. I am vaguely reminded of Energon cubes.

The character profile on the back of the package for both figures reads as follows: Eject honestly believes that if the Autobots and the Decepticons could just agree to resolve their disputes through some friendly competition, then the entire war could be brought to an end. Ramhorn disagrees. He'd rather spike a Decepticon on his horn than spike a ball in the end zone.

Short, but it seems to decently reflect the established personalities of both characters.

As for Power Rankings, Eject gets an "8" in Endurance and Courage, a "7" in Intelligence, a "6" in Fireblast, and "4" in Strength, Speed, Rank, and Skill. Ramhorn gets a "10" in Courage, "9" in Strength and Endurance, "6" in Speed, "4" in Rank, Fireblast, and Skill, and a "3" in Intelligence. Ouch. Smacked his head against too many trucks, I guess.

So, what's my final word? I am truly delighted that Shockwave, Blaster, and their various colleagues have finally been brought into the modern Transformers Generations line, and I can certainly live with the fact that they are in their "pre-Earth" modes if that's what it took to do so. Although Ramhorn and Eject, as well as the others, aren't exactly all that articulated, I have to say that I do like the Data Disc concept, and the auto-transform capability that it offers. And there's a nice bit of nostalgia in the fact that these little guys are offered in two-packs, just like their predecessors.

If you're a longtime Transformers fan, you're definitely going to want to track down Soundwave and Blaster, and certainly their affiliated two-packs of associates. And that includes Blaster's buddies, Ramhorn and Eject.

The TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS WAR OF CYBERTRON figures of RAMHORN and EJECT definitely have my highest recommendation!