Transformers Ironhide
Transformers Ironhide
Transformers Ironhide
Transformers Ironhide

Ahhh, Ironhide, dismissed out of hand by most Transformers fans because "he doesn't look like he does on the cartoon". Considering in the cartoon he was a person wearing cardboard boxes on their limbs that was only remembered due to a preposterous accent, I consider this to be a plus.

There have been various attempts to replicate his cartoon look, ranging from dull non-transforming PVC figures with no articulation or charm to the incredibly ugly 2008 Universe toy that also manages to look basically nothing like the cartoon model while also being the same charmless generic crap Hasbro have tended to turn out over the past five years. The original (with a few very minor changes) was recently made widely available again as part of Takara's Encore reissue series.


Ironhide's alternate mode is a mini-van, with the emphasis on mini - both in terms of what it's meant to be, and the toy itself. The Vanette is, as the name suggests, quite a compact design, and the toy responds by having one of the smallest alt modes in the range - about the same size as Skids. Ironhide is almost entirely red - a scheme devised for Transformers only. The Diaclone version was black with red secondary colours, and was issued in America as part of the very short-lived Diakron series; more recently eHobby issued it in Transformers packaging as one of their exclusive tie-ins to the Encore programme (probably not coincidentally, the Diaclone scheme was picked by Mark for the Vanette in their Robo Car range, later issued in America as the Convertors figure Van). The red is only really broken up by yellow stripes down the sides of the van. These were stickers on the original, but have been changed to tampographed paint applications for the reissue. On paper this is a really good move, but sadly TakaraTomy have skimped a little and the paint is rather thin and wishy-washy.

It's not the only problem either. The thing is covered with join lines - some of this can be put down to the age of the mould used for the reissue, but they've always been present on the figure. It's a shame, as it really breaks up the shape. Chromed parts from the battle sled are also plainly visible inside the windows, while the back is a bit of a mess. Not only is there a gaping hole in the rear, but there's a completely opaque trio of windows. The latter is, I admit, a difficult call - hollowing them out for transparent plastic would weaken the section for the other mode, while stickering them would highlight their difference to the other windows. I would have said making all the windows a dark translucent colour and then applying black stickers on the back would be the way to go, but then the windscreen would be translucent too. So it's a basic design fault, for what that's worth.


So, onto the robot mode. There are actually two components to this configuration - a small conventional robot, and a mobile battle sled. The former can stand on the latter, and is often exclusively shown to do so in promotional images, toy instructions, whenever Frank Springer got confused and drew the toy model instead of the character model, and so on. While not an instant answer, this does explain some of the flack the poor thing gets. The transformation itself is quite straightforward for a figure from the range, the battle sled especially more unfolding than really transforming - you can see the early inspiration for the Battle Convoy trailer in the rough design. Ironhide is also one of the most durable Autobot cars, incidentally - he's still brittle compared to modern toys, of course, or even contemporary Popy designs, but there's nothing that's an accident waiting to happen. Takara even made the thin moving parts that connect the arms to the body (I hesitate to describe them as shoulders) out of diecast in a rare sensible use of the material.

The robot module is one of the smallest from the assortment too - it's around the same height as Hound, but nowhere near as bulky. Indeed, there's only a vague stab at giving the thing a torso with the chromed block under the sort-of head. Yes, the head - the design was, of course, made for a line which pitched its' robots as mecha suits, so instead of a head there's a seat for a pilot. This sports a rather cartoony face sticker (added for the Transformers release) which is a bit unconvincing, but then this makes it quite charming. There have been some pathetic attempts to modify this to resemble the bland cartoon model - the Encore features a small cardboard cut-out that sits behind the windscreen with a drawing of the cartoon face (I am not making this up) sitting on top, giving the impression the robot's arms come out of its' hips, while a fan-made custom head piece gives much the same impression, but with a three-dimensional head... The most obvious customisation would be to create a piece that actually sat in the seat, even if it was behind the windscreen. The most obvious course of action full-stop is to just leave it be as it's going to take more than a generic head to make the thing look like the animation model, and just enjoy the damn figure for its' original design... Because once you get your head out of your arse and stop expecting this to look like the cartoon character, there's plenty to enjoy about Ironhide. He looks unique for the line (well, obviously aside from Ratchet), the battle sled is good fun, and the robot has real gawky charm to it. Let something a bit different in, for God's sake... There are plenty of Transformers that are just humanoid shapes with car parts hanging off, so enjoy the rare variety.


Ironhide won't be to most tastes. Or indeed many at all. Even the most generous would probably have to admit he's one of the weakest of the Autobot cars. However, he's certainly different, and taps the same vein as the first series of Super Gobots, presenting a memorable, different look. The alternate mode and the robot module are both darling, while the battle sled is a nice extra. Considering the Encore reissue is very cheap (at around £15), he's worth a pop just for the sake of variety, just don't expect much more than a well-made novelty.