A few months back, I got caught up in the mania of Siege and threw in a flurry of pre-orders in one large clump. Completely forgotten, amongst them all, was a pre-order I’d also dropped in there for Generations Selects Ricochet. The second time he’s appeared in Generations form, this time it’s not as wallet busting or difficult to obtain as the Takara exclusive that eluded my grasp way back in 2011, meaning I could actually buy it. A MIRACLE.
Fast forward to many, many months later and whoomp here he is. Stylishly late to the point that nobody cares anymore but me, because I’d passed on the original incarnation of this toy as Jazz. As a new figure in my eyes the flame of interest still flickers, especially as Ricochet comes with his origins shrouded in the obscure and oh do I love the obscure. Originally a Japan only character, Stepper was a 1988 redeco of G1 Jazz with a Targetmaster added to the package, but no substantial character to speak of. Rechristened Ricochet for the west, he still lacks any tangible background but his air of mystery and gorgeous 80’s style racing colour palette are enough to make him stand out in his own fantastic way.
As a fan, I just had to write something about this guy. A little, itty bitty, something – but still a something.
According to ever reliable TFwiki, Ricochet, like PotP Jazz before him, has been given the form of a Le Mans style race car that takes its inspiration from a Porsche 962. As a non car guy, it reminds me of plenty of the Matchbox cars that littered my bedroom floor as a kid, and that one Gobot I remember that didn’t have a top hat. It’s a familiar looking racing car despite not being an exact rendition of any individual model, and it’s retro, Earth vehicle feel evokes G1 in a way most modern deluxes don’t. A black, white and gold deco, reminiscent of the John Player Special race cars of the 70’s and 80’s only cements this further. Being an 80’s kid from the UK it screams Scalextric so hard.
Sharing a mold with Jazz means the physical sculpting of this toy is identical and it’s down to the deco to imbue it with it’s own sense of life. Dripping cool and retro, that JPS colour scheme does a tremendous job. Jazz was easily skippable because it didn’t look as good as the old Reveal The Shield figure, which continues to age like the finest bottle of wine from your local Somerfield. Ricochet on the other hand inverts the colours to focus on the black and golds with the arrogance of a racing champ. Had Hasbro included his Targetmaster it would have to be some future version Auggie Cahnay. Warden – you can have that one for free.
A clear plastic canopy only adds to the vintage vibe this vehicle mode wears so proudly. There is no interior to speak of, but just having clear windows tickles the nostalgia that a painted windscreen doesn’t tend to. Similarly, he rolls well enough to actually race across flat surfaces and he has 3 ports for connecting weapons or whatever accessories. On a car mode that so strongly presses the image of it’s only purpose being to race, any mounted accessories just seem superfluous. Much more fun is the ability to shove those Siege flame effects into the exhaust.
As Ricochet is a refugee from Power of the Primes, he can combine with any compatible torso from PotP or Combiner Wars to act as either an arm or a…shin. Being an exclusive figure he doesn’t have a bespoke team to belong to, earning him the role as the Autobots utility player – their very own James Perch. Despite being an Autobot he fits in thematically best with the Stunticons for obvious reasons, even if the white combiner hand he is packaged with gives him something of a Michael Jackson glove.
Sailing the same seas as the good ship Combiner Wars means the transformation for Ricochet is familiar even if you did skip PotP Jazz. His lower legs open and extend much like the old CW deluxes did, but the M Night Shyamalan twist here isn’t that Ricochet was a ghost all along (spoilers!) but that he has bona-fide little feet that can pop out. Out with old molded, permanent A stance feet from Combiner Wars, in with as many movable golden boots as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
After that it’s the standard arms out of side, flip hood to form chest sort of affair, with a clever attempt to minimise the massive gap between the overhanging chest hood and abdomen by folding the central strip of the hood into a goatee beard that Beppe Di Marco would be proud of. The side effect of this is that Ricochet doesn’t have a visible Autobot badge in robot mode which I swear is becoming a trend that only I am bothered about. Difficult the transformation is not, but it ensures the quick switching of modes that is central to any combiner limbs chances of keeping kids imaginations, and mine, engaged.
Inheriting a body from Jazz is one thing, but Ricochet’s inversion of black and white topped off with the sacred colours of the Caramac bar, gold and red, lets him wear this mold like it’s all his own. Often, an iconic character like Jazz is so defined by the details of their original form that it is tough to separate them from it as we pick at any new form, treating as little more than a fun diversion. No matter what new form Jazz gets squeezed into he will always be that classic Porsche 935. Freed from the weight of an iconic history, Ricochet gets to own this mold in a way Jazz would never be able to because he’s such an obscure character with little significant history of his own to cling to.
Even though the car mode is different to G1 figure, the hanging, “Shaggy from Scooby Doo” proportions of the original Jazz robot model are still well realised right down to the lower legs that flare out like, well, flares. However, the small but wide hood is at odds with the figures lengthy arms and legs leading the figure to be haunted by a feeling that it’s stretched. Forever cursed to look like a fun house mirror reflection.
Running into this mold so hot on the heels of Siege doesn’t do it as much harm in the articulation stakes as I thought it might. Most things are on a ball joint, including the head (with it’s smushed face), and even though the feet don’t pivot outward the width of his lower legs mean he balances fine. Rotating wrists do also put in an appearance but they aren’t much use due to the flap behind them. Should you dare try to turn them into a “I’ll get you Gadget” shaky fist pose, the hands to tend to pop off entirely.
On mine the joints veer from looser than Kevin Bacon’s dancing, to tighter than a festival wristband. His left arm can barely hold itself up, yet his thigh swivels refuse to budge even slightly. I mean, dude, come on, get on DDP Yoga or something.
As previously mentioned the original G1 Stepper figure also came with Targetmaster partner, but this Generations Selects figure does not. Taking into account the Battlemasters prevalence in Siege, Takara’s plethora of Targetmasters from their Legends line AND there being a perfect Nightstick mold available – it’s an odd thing to exclude. Instead this “exclusive” edition gives you the same small gun and “Prime armour”/combiner hand (now in white) that Jazz had.
Yay. *insert party blower noise*
Skipping the Jazz version of this toy definitely gave me an appreciation for it as Ricochet that I otherwise might not have had. Often when you get a repaint it’s familiarity super kicks your interest into retirement. You’ve already been there and the new colours are interesting for all of the 15 seconds before you stick it on a shelf at the back of a line up. Completely new to me, it imprints on my mind as Ricochet and doesn’t feel like the stopgap that it did as Jazz. That being said, the mould isn’t one of the best of recent years, with some weird proportions, loose limbs, a face sculpt so soft I can’t tell if that’s a mouth or a tumour, and the lingering spectre of a combiner gimmick shoved in there for the sake of it. As an already pretty forgettable Jazz figure this guy is easy enough to overlook, but perhaps that’s where it’s strength lies – in the Jazz version of this figure being forgotten. With many people sticking with RTS Jazz in their collections it lets Ricochet claim something as his own, a chance for him to offer something other than just being a recolour in your collection. As an opportunity to give Ricochet a unique presence on a shelf maybe that’s where this toy does it’s best work.