AUTOBOT HOT ROD
TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)
“Hot Rod embraces his destiny, becoming Rodimus Prime and defeating Unicron.”
Whoa, spoilers there guys. We just picked up this Hot Rod figure and you’re already telling me he’s irrelevant?
Transformers: The Movie introduced a whole new slate of characters, and at the center of this new cast was the new planned lead for the franchise, Hot Rod, who would become Rodimus Prime before the film’s end. Obviously, this didn’t stick, but that sure was the plan. Even without being the franchise’s lead, Hot Rod’s made out pretty well on the toy front. That being said, he has, as of yet, been absent from the latest incarnation of the line with all of its centralized scaling and such. But, with it being the 35th anniversary of the movie where he’s definitely the lead, it’s hard to say that it was truly a shock that he was included in some sort of capacity this year, now was it?
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Autobot Hot Rod makes up one half of the Voyager Class component for the ’86-inspired Studio Series line-up. He’s figure 86-04 (because 86-03 is the last of the Deluxes, which is Blurrr, and I didn’t wind up grabbing him…yet…). In his robot mode, Hot Rod stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 28 practical points of articulation. Given he’s a Voyager Class figure, Hot Rod does seem a little bit on the smaller side, being more in line with Deluxe scaling. This is, however accurate for Hot Rod from a scaling standpoint, and more over, the higher price point of the figure comes less from sheer sizing of the figure, and more from the complexity of the tooling and engineering. In particular, Hot Rod winds up with an articulation scheme far improved compared to his Deluxe Class companions. He’s not only got more functioning joints when in his robot mode, but also has generally a greater range of motion on those joints. Unlike the last pair of Hot Rods I looked at, he doesn’t suffer from any major points of restriction, which is a real plus. He’s even got hinged hands, meaning it’s a Hot Rod that can finally hold a Matrix. What a crazy concept. The sculpt proper is a pretty spot-on recreation of the animation design, and is just a generally clean looking piece of work. It’s got a nice, sleek feel to it that seems really right for Hot Rod. Even his vehicle mode kibble has been streamlined further than prior releases, meaning he’s a Hot Rod that doesn’t have the whole top of his car mode hanging off his back for once. In addition to the basic robot mode, Hot Rod also has a few cool built-in features, including a visor that drops down from the top of his head (in the same fashion as the Masterpiece version), as well as hands that flip out for his welder and a 5mm peg allowing the mounting of the saw hand for his right and left hands respectively. It helps to really give him that all-encompassing feel. Aiding in the all-encompassing feel are the aforementioned alternate saw hand, his two blasters, the Matrix of Leadership (borrowed from Earthrise Optimus, and capable of actually being held this time around), an effects piece for the Matrix, and two effects for his forearm blasters.
Hot Rod’s alt-mode remains consistent with the other G1-inspired versions of the character, being based on the futuristic sports car mode from the movie. It’s sleek and, like Kup, presumably pretty easy to animate. In the case of Hot Rod, it’s also pretty distinctive, since it’s stuck with the character over the years. The transformation process is a fairly involved set up with a lot of moving parts, but even so I found it to be a little more intuitive than other, more fiddly Studio Series figures. I guess it still counts as a little fiddly, but it just feels less so to me. Also of note about this transformation is that it involves the arms flipping sides, replicating the one notable transformation pattern not done by the toys. The final transformed product looks not unlike the car modes on the other two Hot Rods I have, with the caveat of, of course, still having that more posable robot mode. In car mode, the two blasters can be mounted to the front, and the effects for the forearms now work as exhaust effects. The saw attachment can *technically* go on top of the guns, but due to how the clearance on the parts works, it’s going to cause some paint chipping on the guns, so I didn’t push it.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
As I noted early last year when I reviewed the Power of the Primes Rodimus, I have definitely been wanting a Hot Rod to go with the rest of my updated cast. The inner figure from that set was a decent place holder, in fact more than decent, so when this guy got announced I was intrigued but not certain how essential he’d be. The short of it is that he’s *very* essential. He’s undoubtedly the centerpiece of this particular set, and the most impressive Hot Rod figure I can think of. He just does a lot and he does pretty much all of it very well. He exemplifies the mini-Masterpiece thing that these figures have been doing since Siege in the best possible way.