Friday, November 29, 2013

Hasbro Transformers Generations Hot Rod 2010

If I cover a fair number of Transformers on this site, it's for two reasons. One, they were easily my favorite toys when I was growing up. By far, they were my toys of choice when I had the chance to choose any figure I wanted. Second, it's because I've only recently gotten back into the line. You can blame the Armada trilogy for that. Overly-steeped in anime stylings and seemingly made of cheap plastic, I just could not get into the designs or the feel of the modern toys. Recently, Hasbro seems to have decided that it actually wants to make figures that are more reminiscent of the original designs. It's no coincidence that they have been getting more of my money since making that decision.

Hot Rod (and his later incarnation, Rodimus Prime) came out of the Transformers:The Movie line of figures. The movie hit the reset button in a lot of ways with the show, killing off major characters and bringing in previously unheard of ones. One of the biggest changes was killing off Optimus Prime (uhm.. spoiler, I guess?) and replacing him with Hot Rod. Once Hot Rod opens the Matrix of Leadership, he is transformed into the more powerful Rodimus Prime, new leader of the Autobots.  I wasn't happy to see Optimus Prime go, but man.. what a great design Rodimus got. Here's what the original G1 figure looked like (note: not my image).

The G1 figure is surprisingly affordable for a Generation 1 toy, but there are definitely advantages to buying a modernized form. For example, while the vehicle mode for Rodimus is impressive, the robot mode is.. decidedly less so. For the modern figure, however, it is able to use a more complicated transformation process which leads to a much more accurate depiction in robot mode. Also, there is that one small bit of benefit from modern engineering - actual articulation!!
As you can probably tell from the images, the car mode is sleek and exciting. It looks great on a shelf and the red and yellow manage to not look entirely like cheap plastic. There are aspects that I wish had been done differently - black instead of gray on the tires, and a darker color for the windows, for example. Still, the wheels roll, the car is undeniably a car without a lot of robot kibble showing through, and the entire design is lovingly created to resemble the original without being too beholden to it.
Even with the car turned over, it's not immediately obvious that this is a robot. It might have just been a fluke of the engineering, but it's a nice fluke. Most Transformers are obvious once they are turned over, but Hot Rod manages to blend in nicely regardless of how the car is positioned.
Figure mode is almost entirely impressive, with only a couple of quibbles that I have. The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic, giving personality and intricate details on a very small scale. That it can also swivel is just an added benefit. The arms are mounted on ball joints, although they are a bit limited, and the elbows are just hinges. One of the two quibbles is in the forearms. The way they hang down so far past the wrists is distracting. I wish there had been a bit more engineering so that perhaps they would fold back on themselves or otherwise have a way of hiding that bit of extra plastic, but I know cost had to have been a factor in deciding not to.
The other quibble is on his back. The rear of the car rotates, with the spoilers inverting. The problem is that the swivel is very loose and it can be very easy to lose the look of the spoilers acting as his "wings." It was a good idea and a way of trying to meet in the middle between the car and the robot, but it lost something in execution, at least on my figure.
I bought this figure online as part of a two-pack with Cyclonus, which is another fantastic figure well worth buying. There are some third party upgrades to this figure available which will make  him more show accurate and closer to Rodimus Prime than Hot Rod, but there are two problems. First, I really like this guy as he is.. I'm not so in love with the Generation 1 designs that I'm entirely opposed to new takes on them - I just need that take to be something other than what Armada did. Secondly, they are NOT cheap. Third parties are great for getting done what Hasbro doesn't for whatever reason, but the extremely limited production numbers lead to much higher costs, and that can be be a real speed bump for a more frugal collector such as myself.
This is a body that was originally released in 2006 for their Classics line and then redecorated a few times since them. What that means is that there are more than a few ways to get him, and they're all well worth it. If you can find him for a fair price, this is a figure that both young and old can enjoy. He's poseable, solid, and able to withstand mid-level playing. (Don't try eating him or throwing him off of a high balcony, but otherwise he should be fine) If you want a Hot Rod with a modern aesthetic without paying a great deal of money for the Masterpiece figure, this is probably one of your best bets at the moment. He doesn't have the trailer and some of the decos could be a bit better, but he's still a world away from the original figure without losing any of the magic and feel.


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