Jun 5, 2013

[Transformers] Hasbro Masterpiece Rodimus

The original 1986 animated Transformers movie remains one of the most memorable animated features that I've ever seen - probably because of the near trauma it represented for my childhood. Beyond it marking the death of the original G1 Optimus Prime, it also helped introduce a wide-variety of new characters to join the Transformers universe.

Hot Rod was certainly one of the more memorable characters that came out in the movie - and one that went on to lead the Autobots as Rodimus Prime. I enjoyed having his original G1 toy since it really helped me feel that I was connecting with the movie. And for a kid, that's a priceless experience indeed.

To date, I only have two other significant Masterpiece figures - Soundwave and Grimlock. But believe it or not, Rodimus here was actually my first.

Synopsis: The Hasbro version of Masterpiece Rodimus was designed to better emulate the original Targetmaster Hot Rod figure released years ago. Beyond how Hasbro versions of Masterpiece figures are typically cheaper than their Takara counterparts, I opted for this version of Rodimus given it more emulates the original toys in terms of coloring and of course the Targetmaster included. Yay for Targetmasters!

In vehicle mode, this figure is a great tribute to the original Hot Rod toy. Everything just feels so right about how he came out from the smooth lines that make up his 1980's concept "futuristic" look and the little details of his headlights and canopy "glass". Plus the figure still has a nice heft to him and thus is a pretty solid figure as a whole.

And yes, he moves smoothly across whatever surface you roll him on in vehicle mode given how they managed to tuck everything in neatly enough. But I have to admit that it's not exactly easy to get him from robot mode back into this vehicle mode - there are a LOT of little bits and pieces that need to be tucked in, angled and pushed firmly into place to make a solid figure. He's still not as annoying to transform as Generations Cybertronian Bumblebee or Cliffjumper, but it's still no cakewalk either.

Beyond the little gimmick of his canopy being able to swivel open just like it did in the movie to let young Daniel in, you can also mount his Targetmaster Offshoot to his hood just like you could with the original toy. After all, what's the point of having a Targetmaster if you can't make the most of his gun in all different modes of the vehicle, right? So he looks nicely menacing with that huge gun on the front.

Now when we get to his robot mode, Masterpiece Rodimus has a wide-variety of little gimmicks and tricks retained from the original Takara version. In past Hasbro Masterpiece releases, they found it appropriate to reduce the number of features and accessories for one reason or another. This time around they pretty much retained everyone save for Rodimus Prime's trailer.

A lot of his gimmicks are centered around his hands, as the designers tried to capture a lot of what Hot Rod had been able to accomplish in the animated movie. Thus his hand can switch to a buzzsaw that can slice through alien cybernetic life or to a welding tool as you can see in the image to the right - great for repairing aged warriors like Kup.

They're not perfectly contained tools though - you swivel out one piece but then have to attach things like the buzzsaw separately. But despite the need to consider storage of these accessories, they're still a lot of fun.

The main feature of this toy is his ability to switch between representing Hot Rod and representing Rodimus Prime. And this is achieved to interchangeable faces that are all hidden within his head. You simply slip the top of his head off and then slide in the right face in order to achieve the look you desire.

One of the simpler and yet more fun gimmicks is the fact that you can slide out a little visor over his eyes - just like what he used in the movie to better target the Decepticons hiding aboard the Autobot shuttle. Thus you get fun little posing opportunities like this one here. DECEPTICONS!!!

Posing him in robot mode isn't a totally ideal circumstance though. While his feet are nicely weighted to give him some stability, his ratchet-socket knees aren't quite as flexible as I'd like them to be. Thus positioning him can be a bit awkward at times as you keep him stable. Plus the Hasbro version made changes to his elbows to add extra kibble - bits that I don't particularly see the point of. So his arms are a little awkward too - there's much better flexibility in other Masterpiece figures.

The last feature that I wanted to highlight involves the little Matrix of Leadership that tucks away neatly in his chest cavity. It's a model that is fairly in scale with the figure and can be generally gripped in his plastic hands. And yes, you can pull the Matrix open in order to better emulate that iconic moment when Hot Rod unlocks the Matrix and becomes Rodimus Prime.

The core plastic of the Matrix is decently translucent and thus appears to glow when you project a light source from behind. It's a nice little detail that is essential in order to make this truly feel like the legendary Matrix that defeated the planet-sized Transformers, Unicron.

Masterpiece Rodimus may not be my favorite Masterpiece figure of them all, but it's still a highly respectable one. While his poseability leaves a little bit to be desired, on the whole he's a great toy with a generous amount of gimmicks and accessories that give him a lot of character. Plus let's face it, everyone who wants a Hot Rod / Rodimus figure is definitely aiming to recreate aspects of the movie. And this toy makes sure that you can do just that. On the whole, I rate this figure a solid 4 out of 5.

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