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Series: Masterpiece Hasbro Edition
Allegiance: Autobot
Year: 2011

Robot Mode: Man, where to begin? Let’s start off by saying that you actually have two different robot modes in this figure, though the differences between the two are not that pronounced. On one had you have Hot Rod, the hotheaded youngster we saw in the 1986 Transformers movie, on the other hand there is Rodimus Prime, the new Autobot leader we saw at the end of said movie and in the entire third season of the cartoon. They’re basically the same robot except for three differences. One, Rodimus Prime is slightly taller, as you extend the legs at the hips a bit. Two, Rodimus’ spoiler is at a different angle and set slightly higher. And third, the face changes.

The changing faces is really what makes the difference here. One is the youthful looking countenance of Hot Rod, the other is the more lined, longer, and older-looking Rodimus kisser. It really shouldn’t make much of a difference, but it does. With the different faces, it really seems like you have two different versions of the character right here in one single robot. Very nicely done, one of the best minimalistic transformations I’ve ever seen.

Now on to other things. Regardless of whether you have him in Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime mode, most things about the robot mode stay the same. First thing, the looks. Without a doubt, this is the character we saw in the movie and cartoon, the likeness is extraordinarily well done. I’ve always been a big fan of the Hot Rod / Rodimus look and this figure here captures it to perfection. Posability is fabulous, too, the only thing one might complain about (if one were actively looking for something to complain about) would be the hands, where the fingers are not individually posable. Apart from that, though, everything works great.

Now to the overall design. The original Japanese version of this toy had some stability issues, but this figure here doesn’t, at least not to the degree the first one had. The big spoiler on his back is a tiny bit wobbly, but that’s not a big thing. Rodimus’ upper body is basically comprised of three layers, both the chest and the back flip outwards for the transformation. The fastenings between these layers are not the greatest in the world (a single clamp for the chest, a grey ‘hat’ for the back) and do occasionally come loose if you pose the figure too much, but neither is a deal-breaker for me. The stability issue is the only thing, though, that ruins the A+ rating for this figure, though.

On to the gimmicks, of which Rodimus has a lot, many of them harkening back to his appearance in the 1986 movie. Starting at the top, Rodimus has a blue visor he can pull down over his eyes, presumably as binoculars. This gimmick works with both faces. Further down we see that Rodimus can switch either (or both) of his hands for a grey clamp where you can fasten either a spinning buzz saw (used to decimate mechanical octopi) or a kind of welding apparatus (used to repair an injured Kup). Sadly no Masterpiece Kup seems to be on the horizon here.

Moving on, Rodimus comes with the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Two of them, in fact. One, about the same size as the one sitting in Masterpiece Optimus Prime’s chest, is meant to be held in his hands. The other, much smaller one is sitting in a compartment inside his chest. I was a bit taken aback here at first, but I found this a more sensible solution than trying to engineer Rodimus’ rather slim torso to hold the full-sized Matrix. Nicely done.

Finally Hot Rod / Rodimus comes with two weapons (plus a Targetmaster, see below). They are near mirror-images of the guns G1 Hot Rod carried, though of course bigger, more detailed, and painted better. But now for the kicker: the two guns can combine into Rodimus Prime’s long rifle. A simple, elegant, and extremely well-done solution. I really like the weapons, both split apart and combined.

Final words on the robot mode: Spectacular! Amazing! Wonderful! Originally I was a tiny bit bummed out that Rodimus here is a good deal smaller than Masterpiece Optimus Prime, but he is actually just about Leader-sized, making him a perfect opponent for Leader-sized Galvatrons such as Cybertron Galvatron, for example, and he can also go one on one with the similar-sized G1 Galvatron. So really, nothing at all to complain about here except that the figure’s stability could still be improved a bit. Other than that: perfect!

Alternate Mode: Seeing as the US version of Rodimus Prime comes without a trailer (see Remarks), what you have here is solely the Hot Rod alternate mode, a futuristic sports car. Now the transformation for getting there is complex and should not be attempted without the instructions, at least not on your first try. It’s nowhere near as complicated as the transformation of Masterpiece Megatron, though, and doesn’t take nearly as long. And it is actually easier to transform him from car to robot than the other way around. I wouldn’t transform him too often, though, as the chrome paint and some of the orange on the hood is already starting to show a little wear after just two turns back and forth.

As for the car mode itself, it looks like a bigger, more streamlined, more detailed version of the car mode G1 Hot Rod had, so no complaints. The driver’s cabin opens to show a sculpted interior (though you see his robot feet inside), the engine block visible on top of the hood can double as a mount for the Targetmaster weapon, the tires are rubber, and popping the hood even gives you a view of the (smaller) Autobot Matrix. The only slight downside of this mold is that you really need to tuck everything in properly, because otherwise it’ll drag on the ground. Apart from that, though, a great-looking, very cartoon-accurate car mode.

Partner / Add-On: One thing the Hasbro version of this figure has over the Takara version is the addition of Offshot, a Targetmaster. Hot Rod’s original Targetmaster partner was called Firebolt, actually, but apparently that trademark is currently not in Hasbro’s possession.

Offshoot is about the size of a Legends-figure, but far more posable than any Legends figure I’ve ever seen. He has just about the same posability I’d expect from a good Scout-class figure. He transforms into a double-barreled weapon very similar to the one the original G1 Firebolt became, though more detailed and with a different transformation scheme. So the bottom line here: Best Targetmaster figure ever, ‘nuff said!

Remarks: I don’t think I have to write much about the history of the Rodimus character, do I? Most people hate him for being the guy who replaced Optimus Prime (and kinda got him killed, too). Personally, though, I always liked Rodimus and to this day I’m sad that his ascendance to Autobot leader has never been repeated in any Transformers continuity.

The toy itself has a bit of a history, too. Originally sold as part of the Japanese Masterpiece line-up, it included a big trailer so that you could have Rodimus Prime’s vehicle mode, too. For all that it was bigger, though, the trailer barely offered anything more than the trailer of the original G1 Rodimus Prime toy did. In addition the first MP Rodimus was apparently plagued by design flaws and cost well over 200 dollars. So overall I’m more than happy to get him for just 60 Euros without a trailer but with a Targetmaster. And he gets bonus points for being the first Masterpiece toy ever to be available in German retail.

MP Rodimus (the Japanese version) came out nearly at the same time as the Protector Upgrade from Fansproject, so comparing the two comes naturally. Protector Rodimus is better in terms of scale and stability, while MP Rodimus here is far more cartoon accurate and just plain fun. So the bottom line here: Buy this toy! The only conceivable reason you might have for not getting it is for you to be a rabid Rodimus-hater or already owning the Masterpiece version. In the latter case, I’d still recommend buying this one and selling off your other one sans the trailer.

Rating: A
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