Hasbro Transformers Studio Series Autobot Hot Rod Hasbro, 2021
Day #2,270: January 21, 2021
Autobot Hot Rod Transformers - Studio Series 86 #04
Transformers Studio Series Voyager Class Toy
Item No.: Asst. E0702 No. F0712 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:2 blasters, 3 blast effects, Matrix of Leadership, saw hand, backdrop Action Feature:Transforms from car to robot, fists flip out for tools, helmet pops open for the targeting visor Retail:$29.99 Availability: January 2021 Other: A tiny Masterpiece Edition
You probably know all about this Autobot Hot Rod thanks to the eyebrow-raising decision to make a Deluxe-size ($20) toy at a Voyager price point ($30.) After years of Deluxe Hot Rods, one had to wonder why Hasbro and Takara-Tomy decided to charge an extra ten bucks for a medium-sized figure - and once you get it in your hands, it makes sense. It's probably a couple of bucks more than you'd like to pay, but if this were a typical deluxe toy you wouldn't get the arsenal of gear - and Hasbro accessory packs are far and few between.
Packaged in robot mode, this 5 1/2-inch tall figure has a lot of what made Leader-class Optimus Prime great last year - and more. He's got the Matrix, but he can't store it - however his hands seem a little more well-suited to holding it. The fists are grey (not orange, like the original toy) and have opening fingers to open the artifact. (Artifact does not open.) You can, however, clip on blue energy to give that illusion, if that's a thing you want to do. His hands can also grip the toy-based blasters, molded in red and painted in silver. They look great! They also sport 3mm tips for the included energy blasts, which can also connect to his silver wrist blasters like in the animation. The fact that they made blaster bolts that look good on the wrists and guns is nothing short of astonishing - that's some impressive design work.
Interestingly, the hands are flippable. The right hand has a welding torch if you flip it around so you can fix Kup - and hoo boy, does he look like he could use some fixing - while the left fist flips to reveal a standard-issue 5mm peg. You can mount Hot Rod's pizza cutter weapon there if you like. It's kind of amazing that an expensive Masterpiece's toy has been translated to a $30 mass-market release in terms of gear. The articulation is mostly better - he can't sit quite as well - but these are some of the best knee and elbow joints on a robot in disguise. The elbow bends more than 90 degrees, which is unheard-of in Transformers. The knees are double-jointed and can go back quite a ways, but this is also necessary for transformation. I should also note that the knees are an iffy yellow color - as is a part on the back - presumably because someone didn't want to run another sprue to match the neighboring plastics. (It would probably cost tens of thousands of dollars to do more frames in the right colors. I think they should've done it, they're going to sell a ton of these.)
While the shoulders don't have quite the range of movement I would have preferred, they do swivel out a bit, an they do swing forward all the way. This is certainly good enough, with a true yellow spoiler on his back, clear blue visor, and lots of bright colors precisely where I want them. It's legit. If this were a non-transforming figure for $20-$25, you'd say "OK this is good enough if not better than I expected." Not to dunk on the R.E.D. figures, but this is significantly better than most of them - and it transforms, too.
The figure works well with - but departs from - the War for Cybertron Trilogy dudes in numerous meaningful waves. The figure keeps 5mm holes on the feet, but the arms, legs, and back lack them - you're not going to "gear up" with Fossilizers or Micromasters bases.
Get the instructions for transformation - Hot Rod throws you for a few loops. There's a bunch of car parts that fold up behind the arms and lower legs (and back) to ensure the figure's silhouette closely matches the ideal of the animation model, with so many unusual flips and twists that it feels like you're paying for a puzzle. The arms rotate in a clever way, and everything seems to fit together pretty well - minus the gear, I couldn't quite replicate the pile-of-crap on the car hood as outlined in the instructions for fear of paint scrapage. Your mileage may vary.
The car mode is very good, but this is a toy with an emphasis on the robot - to amazing levels. The proportions of the car aren't quite what you remember from the Masterpieces, animation models, or previous toys as the robot arms stick out a bit, and the windshield's not quite the right size - but the spoiler is perfect, unfortunately the yellow was also used for a piece connector and it's ugly. You still get the visible engine, painted hubcaps, and marvelously bright colors - it feels right, but you know it's maybe 90-95% right. I still like it a lot, and I think you will too. I wouldn't poo-poo Hasbro considering a line of toys that aim to replicate a perfect vehicle mode at the expense of the robot some day, though.
For fans without a Hot Rod, get this one - it's $30 and great. If you're like me and still have your original one and numerous Hot Rod remakes from over the years, it's still impressive with great hip movement, astounding knee articulation, rocker ankles, and oh so many accessories. I would say "it's never going to get better than this, folks" but that's likely to be proven false within 5 years. Hasbro and Takara-Tomy keep making incremental improvements to their toys and while some of them are a lateral move, many - especially lately - are incredibly impressive. If you're happy with your old Hot Rod toys, look at this one anyway. You can always leave the old ones in car mode. Along with the new Jazz, this figure is infuriatingly good - the face is gorgeous, and the colors are exactly what you want. I can't say the same about Kup and Blurr.
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