Review: Transformers Titans Return Hot Rod

Hot Rod, or Rodimus if you prefer, is one of those Transformers characters who has gone a very long time without a good toy. The first update he got was the Classics figure in 2006, which wasn’t bad for its time, but has aged horribly. The Titanium figure is best left undiscussed, and his first Masterpiece release turned out to be an over-engineered mess. For a while, the only unarguably good Hot Rod toy was Animated Rodimus Major, which is still arguably one of the best Transformer figures period. With 2016 being the 30th anniversary of his debut film, Hot Rod seems to finally been given the spotlight, with a new Masterpiece figure earlier this year, and a brand-new Deluxe Titans Return figure.

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Vehicle Mode

Coming out a bit curvier and a little more bulbous than his G1 design, Hot Rod’s retro-futuristic altmode sports all the characteristic elements: big yellow spoiler, flames on the hood, big ol’ exhaust pipes on the side, and a goofy cockpit-like driver’s cab. As far as Hot Rod hot rods go, this one is pretty solid. It’s not nearly as stylized or wedge-shaped as MP-28 or the Classics toy, but I think it benefits from that decision. The only thing that bugs me is that the silver-painted engine block makes the unpainted grey exhaust pipes look really dull, but that’s just nitpicking.

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Finally, a Hot Rod toy that justifies having an opening cockpit! The windshield flips up to reveal a seat and console that’s just begging for some nice Reprolabels, where a Titan Master can fit in snugly. In this Titan Master’s case, though, he’s very camouflaged with the grey plastic.

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Titan Master

Graduating from Targetmaster to Headmaster, Firedrive is based heavily on Firebolt’s appearance in the G1 cartoon, and pulls off the homage about as well as he can without any paint apps. Sadly, the dull grey plastic, in addition to being very difficult to focus on, leaves Firedrive looking probably the worst of all the Titan Masters released so far. Better luck in the retool, bud.

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Robot Mode

Hot Rod makes for a very striking robot form, though right off the bat, most of what strikes you is how big his shoulders are. This was the biggest point of contention when the figure was first revealed, and maybe I’m used to it by now, but the size doesn’t bother me. What does kind of bother me is how much they hide the yellow spoiler wings, which really throws off the iconic silhouette. The colors, at least, are really nice, going for a more generic cherry red and yellow-orange rather than trying to emulate the cartoon’s varying shades.

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The least appealing aspect of Hot Rod for me is his head. It’s clearly going for a G1 cartoon appearance, and while I would have preferred an IDW style, it’s not too bad. The problem is that it comes off as very dull and very flat. I would have liked to see a little more character packed into the face sculpt, even something as simple as a smirk would make the headsculpt 10x better. He also has the same issue that Scourge had, which is that the shape of his actual head isn’t naturally square, so he looks like someone glued his face to a box. It also doesn’t help that the port for his head is incredibly loose, one of the worst cases I’ve seen in the line. I dunno if it’s just mine, but the design of the clip suggests that it will be a widespread problem, though hopefully not as bad as mine.

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Now that the negatives are out of the way, let’s move on, because Hot Rod is actually a pretty cool toy. His articulation is up to modern standards: swivel head; ball-jointed and hinged shoulders; ball-jointed hips; swivel thighs, biceps, and waist; and single-hinged elbows and knees. Thanks to his relatively clean design, none of his articulation is limited by the sculpt, so he can strike some pretty cool poses.

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For accessories, Hot Rod comes with two grey rifles that are just large enough to look a little awkward when he’s wielding both of them. They’re a decent sculpt and on topic to the G1 toy homage, plus they can do the Titans Return thing where they combine together to form a seat for a Titan Master, where they can sit on it like a turret. How well that works is entirely up to you.

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Overall

Head and neck issues aside, Titans Return Hot Rod is a solid B+ of a figure. Both modes look great and are functional, he resembles the character very well, and there’s nothing fundamentally flawed with the toy (aside from, potentially, the neck port). Is this the definitive Hot Rod toy? No, probably not. Is this the Hot Rod toy I wanted? No, I’d honestly rather the toy been based on the IDW design. But still, it’s a solid toy, and we take what we can get.

Where to Buy

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Comments
6 Responses to “Review: Transformers Titans Return Hot Rod”
  1. I hope you heard Master Mind Creations are in the works for an IDW style Hot Rodimus 😀 Great pictures!

    Like

    • KurtPD says:

      Thanks! I admit I’m on the fence a little with MMC’s Rodimus, but I’ll wait to see how the final toy looks before I pass judgement (though I’ll probably buy it anyway because I’m a sucker for IDW designs).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My Rodimus figure also has the head port problem. It’s way too lose. Great review and pictures!

    Like

    • KurtPD says:

      Thanks! As an aside, I was able to fudge a fix for the neck port by cutting some cardstock material into small strips, folding it up, and cramming it in between the plastic of the neck and the clips in order to put more pressure on the clips of the neck port (that was harder to describe than I thought, but hopefully you get the idea). It’s not perfect, but it results in a much tighter neck socket.

      Like

  3. carnivius says:

    Good review even if I disagree on some points (I’m glad he hasn’t been inspired by the IDW design, I loathe that horrible thing with a passion) but I agree with most of the points about this toy. Although I prefer leaving the chest untransformed, cos I don’t like how bad that missing chunk looks in his stomach area. Also I filed away the underside of his shoulder joints til his shoulders could be lowered as I just don’t think shoulder joints should be that far above the neck. The head joint is absolutely fine on my figure. I didn’t like the red used for the plastic of Hot Rod here though and already painted mine (I went for a Marvel Comic inspired version with silver legs for this one) and I’ve pre-ordered Takara’s retool along with their Kup (which I feel is far superior to Hasbro’s really dull and awkward attempt of Kup)

    Liked by 1 person

    • KurtPD says:

      Thanks for the feedback! I’m definitely with you on Kup. He’ll be the first Titans Return figure that I skip, mostly because that color layout is just awful. Definitely looking forward to Takara Kup, though.

      Like

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