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By Thomas Wheeler

Ricochet is one of the more interesting entries in the world of Transformers. Although technically a Generation One character, his introduction is far more recent than most of those individuals.

When Hasbro made the decision to produce the Generation One Commemorative Series, one Transformer in particular caused a bit of controversy. This was a version of Jazz, that was -- in Japan, anyway -- part of the Targetmasters series, and was one of the most popular of the original Transformers, due in a large degree to the fact that he'd never been released in the United States.

So when plans were made to release this toy as part of the Commemorative Series, it was decided that some changes would be made. The figure was drastically recolored -- given a glossy black paint job instead of Jazz's traditional white, and the character was renamed "Ricochet". The details on Jazz on robot form that were normally a sort of dark blue were made white for Ricochet, and the result was a very cool robot that didn't look much like Jazz, and indeed didn't look a lot like any other previous Autobot.

The character proved quite popular, and has now made the transition over to the Alternators world. Now, technically, Jazz has already turned up in the Alternators series, although he had to use his original Japanese name "Meister" for some reason of legalities. But any longtime Transformers fan knows who he is. Interestingly, the car used for Ricochet is not the one that was used for Jazz. But that's okay. The Targetmasters Jazz that was used for the "G1" Ricochet wasn't an exact match for the original G1 Jazz, either.

Ricochet, in the Alternators line, is a Subaru Impreza WRX. This vehicle has turned up twice before. In fact, it was the very first Alternator, Smokescreen, and then appeared not too long after as Silverstreak. As I've said many times before, I don't fault either Hasbro or Takara for wanting to get multiple uses out of these Alternator molds. The astounding amount of design and engineering that has to go into these toys, creating an authentic 1:24 scale model of an existing vehicle, satisfactory to the company that produces the actual automobile, complete with moving parts, and then enabling that toy to transform into a decently articulated humanoid robot that, in most cases, has to bear some resemblance to its Generation One ancestor, is nothing short of staggering. I'd want to get the most possible use out of all of those, too.

Although in Ricochet's case, matching him to his G1 counterpart probably wasn't as high a priority as it would've been for some others. Still, Hasbro did an excellent job. Jazz, Meister, Ricochet, call him whatever you like, was certainly designed as a sporty car, the the Impreza comes close enough for that. And there's no mistaking the color scheme. The black body with the white head, arms, and legs is unusual enough for any Autobot that there's no question who the character is. Throw in the metallic gold face, and the flame design on the hood and doors, and yep
-- it's Ricochet. Absolutely no question about it.

The Alternators do not include full character profiles, but with the advent of the new package design, they do include single line character quotes. Ricochet's is, "If I don't catch you, my missiles will." Seems fitting enough. Ricochet is a bit cocky and a bit ill-tempered, but he also tends to have the skill to back up his attitude.

And I'd like to say this about the new packaging. While the changeover from a full box with a window to what amounts to a plastic bubble on a cardboard platform might bother some people, it has one very distinct advantage that a box cannot provide -- it's now possible to carefully inspect the toy from virtually every angle (except the underside) prior to buying. This is a good way to check out the basic structure, assembly, and paint job of the toy while it's still in package. Given the quality issues creeping into the action figure world right and left (issues which thankfully have not seemed to creep into Transformers very much), I welcome the opportunity to inspect the merchandise to this degree.

Ricochet is not a particularly difficult transformation, at least not from the standpoint of Alternators, which admittedly are pretty complex across the board. It can be a little tricky to get his head to pop up through the hood, and then close the hood properly. His lower legs are unusual in the the back windows of the car essentially become shin guards. Hope that's bulletproof glass. And be sure to being the back of his feet down, or his lower wheels will essentially give him a rollerblade effect and he'll scoot right across the table surface. Ricochet's weapon is a gun that transforms from part of his engine.

And as with his assortment companion, Rollbar, Ricochet's rear license plate is a duplicate of an actual state license plate, a new feature with Alternators as of this assortment. The plate still says "RICOCHET", but the state represented is New Jersey. (Although granted, the license plate splits in half as part of the transformation, and is still visible on the figure in robot form, and someone who doesn't know the characters name might wonder who Rico and Chet are...)

Which brings me to a final comment that I don't think I touch on often enough with Alternators -- the amazing detail level. Studying one of these Alternators in either car or robot form is pretty amazing. The detailed official state license plates are just the newest feature. The colored plastic of the headlight and tail-lights. The articulated hands. The nicely detailed dashboard. The official car logos. The painted ridges on the back windows. The neatly sculpted and painted face. The sheer amount of detail, workmanship, assembly, and movement is enough to impress any toy fan -- and probably a lot of car aficionados, as well. I, for one, am not easily impressed by toys these days. I've never failed to be impressed by the Transformers Alternators.

And RICOCHET is certainly a worthy addition to the collection. He has my most enthusiastic recommendation!