You break it, I'll remake it.
Toyline: Generation 1
Subline: Encore Series
Year: 2008 (re-issue of the 1984 original)
Ratchet was the best tool-and-die man on Cybertron. In his workbay on Earth he can make anything from a pin to a missile. Repairs injured Autobots, given the right parts. Likes to party, give backtalk, but does any job as well as anyone. Has laser scalpels, arc-welders, electron microscopes, circuit sensors, fluid dispensers at his disposal. Sometimes his having a good time interferes with his effectiveness.
Ratchet probably takes the award for G1 Autobot that looks least like his cartoon counterpart. The robot doesn't have a head. Hailing from the Diaclone days, it is little more than the cab of the ambulance vehicle with arms and legs. There is a seat behind the windshield where the Diaclone driver could sit.
Reprolabels issues special stickers so you could have Ratchet's face on the seat behind the windshield, turning him into a rather stocky robot, but at least now he's recognisable. This design was actually an inspiration for several War Within designs used in Dreamwave's comic book series. The Encore series went one step further and included a cardboard cut-out you can stick in front of the driver's seat, giving Ratchet a (two-dimensional) head that actually sits in top of the windshield instead of behind it.
Despite my love for all things G1, though, I have to say that Ratchet in robot mode is not a very good figure. With or without the head (sticker or cardboard, take your pick), he is a very ungainly looking figure. The arms are fully posable at the shoulders and there are good details, but it doesn't change the fact that Ratchet just doesn't look the part of the living, humanoid robot. Among the early G1 figures Ratchet might well be the least desirable.
The emphasis of most early G1 figures was a realistic alternate mode with the robot mode coming second. Ratchet is a good example of this. His vehicle mode looks pretty excellent, a well-done miniature version of an ambulance. There is the driver's seat visible through the windshield (with Ratchet's face on it if you applied the special sticker) and there seems to be all sorts of equipment in the back , as befits an emergency vehicle. So to sum it up, a very good vehicle mode, nothing bad to say here.
Partners / Add-Ons:
The back of Ratchet's vehicle mode is a separate module that opens up into a kind of battle station, though in Ratchet's case it's probably more fitting to call it a repair station. It has a rotating gun in front, as well as a missile launcher mounted on a posable arm. Ratchet can stand solidly behind the launcher, giving him a sort-of 'attack mode'. The trailer section might actually be superior to the Ratchet robot itself.
Ratchet was one of the original Autobot cast and appeared in the first two seasons of the G1 cartoon before being killed during Transformers the Movie (the 1986 animated one, that is). He was one of the more likeable characters, always complaining about the work he had to do, but always fixing up his buddies without fail. He was pretty much the same in the comic books, though he did feature more heavily there, at one time being the only Autobot left free to save his fellows. Ratchet also features frequently in the IDW series of comics.
As a figure, though, Ratchet is a very mixed blessing. The vehicle mode is excellent and the trailer / battle station looks pretty good, too, but the robot mode, such as it is, is a big disappointment. It is somewhat improved by using either the sticker face or the cardboard one, but even with those, he looks... unfinished. I realize it's twenty-four years too late, but I wish Hasbro would have selected a better Diaclone figure (though I haven't the faintest which) to represent this excellent character. As it is, I can only call Ratchet average, and that's only because I love the character and his alternate mode is good.