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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's review of: Rodimus Major

Name: Rodimus Major [a.k.a. Hot Rod]
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Cavalier
Sub-Group: NA
"My actions speak louder than words."

Hot Rod is an all-American-boy Autobot. He's a typical adolescent who dreams of being heroic and important. He tends to not follow rules too closely. Although he means well, Hot Rod's impulsive actions often get him into trouble. He carries two photon lasers that temporarily electromagnetize an enemy robot's microcircuts. Speed: 120mph. Range: 4 miles. He can be hotheaded, but he's always a well meaning, admirable lad and a brave and honorable fighter.

I'll unabashedly admit that Hot Rod is one of my favourite figures. He's one of the best toys from the G1 era, and probably the best non-Diaclone-mold Autobot, but that's only part of the reason why. Since I was born in '84, I missed out on the wave of Optimus hero worship that a lot of my older friends (and a lot of the current members of the fandom) were afflicted by. I didn't start watching the Transformers cartoons until I was three, and by that time the Rodimus Prime era had begun. So of course, I grew attached to Rodimus (and his non-Matrixed self, too) in the same way that so many older boys attached to Optimus. And while he stopped being my favourite TF shortly after I started reading the comics, the character still has a special place in my heart.

I got my first Hot Rod toy, the Targetmaster version, when I was about five. He saw a lot of wear over the years, and he's not really suitable for display anymore (though Firebolt miraculously managed to survive). When Hasbro reissued Hot Rod (now called Rodimus Major for legal reasons, but generally referred to by the original name because it's easier for all concerned) in their Commemerative Series, I happily snatched him up to replace my worn-out Targetmaster. The reissue isn't the same as my old version; he's a re-release of the very first Hot Rod figure, with different weapons and a few other differences. For the most part, the Reissue is the better figure.

Vehicle Mode:
Hot Rod's alternate mode is a wonderful embodiment of his cartoon/comic self: a maroon futuristic sportscar with exhaust piping on the sides, a huge yellow spoiler and the signature flame deco on the hood. The lines are a bit less smooth than his animated version, but the effect is no less spectacular. This is a car built for speed, no doubt, but the primary purpose of all this decoration is visual. And it works: Hot Rod is a damned impressive display piece in this mode, and instantly recognisable as himself.

Roddy features rubber tires and a lot of chromework (the exhaust pipes and the engine block that protrudes from the hood), both rarities for post-movie G1 figures. His windshield is translucent blue plastic that contrasts nicely with his maroon body. Underneath the window, you can see a pair of seats (a nice and wholly cosmetic touch that I really appreciate; it shows that the designers put a lot of effort into him). As with most Autobot cars, picking him up and looking at his undercarriage will reveal a slew of robot mode parts (hands and head, in this case).

You can mount one of his guns on his engine, though doing so ruins the sleek look of the vehicle.

Overall, Hot Rod's car mode is one of the better examples of futuristic ground vehicles in the G1 line. He can display in this mode alongside the earlier Diaclone-mold cars without looking horribly out of place, which is more than I could say for 90% of the toys that followed him. The only thing that takes away from this mode (and it's a bit silly) is that, when compared to Rodimus Prime's bigger, more powerful, and even more distinctive vehicle mode, it doesn't look so good.

Robot Mode:
Hot Rod's robot mode isn't quite as media-accurate as his vehicle mode, but it's still more easily recognisable than most of his contemporaries. The main colour here is still maroon, making up his arms, lower legs, head, and (where it's not covered by the flame deco) his chest. Orange enters the picture now, though, in the form of his thighs, hands, and shoulders. The yellow spoiler is positioned behind his back, points-up. The chromed exhaust pipes are split up now, with part of them on his forearms (serving as wrist lasers), and the rest left behind on his legs. All in all, a very nice-looking robot.

Hot Rod's shoulders are a bit different than his cartoon version, though not enough that I'd noticed before having it pointed out to me. The biggest point of divergence comes in the lower legs; whereas toy Hot Rod's lower legs are bulky and maroon with chromed exhaust pipes, the cartoon version has smooth grey lower legs. There's a good reason for that; Rodimus Prime doesn't have the pipes on his legs, and by eliminating them from the animation model they could create a more smooth Hot Rod-to-Rodimus transition. I don't particularly care about the differences, but I've heard people railing against this toy because of them before.

Hot Rod has about average articulation for a G1 toy; his shoulders, elbows and wrists all move. This allows him a wide field of fire when wielding his weapons, but is otherwise useless for posing. Despite that, the figure manages to look rather dynamic. Though he doesn't have any more joints, he looks like he does.

Roddy's pretty well armed in robot mode. Aside from his wrist lasers, he's got two photon beam rifles. The rifles are similar but not identical, a nice touch that shows just how much thought the designers put into the toy. They're also about a million times better-looking than the silly folded midget that TM Hot Rod uses for a weapon.

As a note, Hot Rod's feet are metal. There's absolutely no reason for that, but, like the weapons, it's a nice touch.

I compared Hot Rod's vehicle mode negatively to Rodimus Prime's but no such comparison can be made here. There's no competition; Hot Rod is simply beautiful, and puts his more mature incarnation to shame.

Transformation: 7 - Not exactly a masterful work of engineering, but the vehicle and robot modes both look like they should.
Durability: 8 - Admittedly I've already gone through Hot Rod, but that's only because the joints got incredably loose; nothing on the figure actually broke beyond repair. The reissue looks to be, if anything, slightly tougher.
Fun: 7 - No poseability to speak of, but he's got a neat car mode and a pretty robot mode.
Price: 10 - He's been reissued so many times that you shouldn't have trouble finding some version of him for a reasonable price.
Summary: 9 - One of my favorite G1 figures, and one with a very important character attached to it. Highly recommended.

 
 
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