Clay's review: Henkei Hot Rod
Hot Shot (Hot Rod in Japan)
Adding flavor to the selection of characters of the Henkei line, Armada Hot Shot does a good job of representing most of the 2002-2006 gimmick offerings (because a car turning into a robot just isn't enough!). While Armada/Energon/Cybertron seemed to be designed with a learning curve in mind, gradually growing more complex, this do-over of the first Hot Shot fits more neatly with the rest of the Classics stuff. It's mostly an improvement in terms of detail and articulation, but it does have some problems of its own.
Hot Shot once again turns into a yellow car with various deformities to accommodate some features. In this case, it's the large gap in the rear spoiler to allow for the helicopter to dock. While silly, it is perfectly indicative of the Armada line.
Aside from that awkwardness of the car mode, the real problem is the shade of yellow used. Unlike, say, Bumblebee
, Hot Shot is a pale shade of yellow that actually looks green in low light. Other than that, it's a perfectly serviceable car mode, and mostly locks down neatly (the left door on mine is stubborn about clamping down: I think it may just be mine, though).
Hot Shot's robot mode greatly improves upon the original's articulation and sculpted detail. However, his arms are a bit more flimsy because of the extra joints (they don't really want to lock into the chest), and the transformation is a wee bit too complicated than it really needs to be. Hot Shot has a surprisingly intricate transformation given his previous toy, and it's perhaps an overcompensation for the overall simplicity of the Armada line. But to be fair, Hot Shot is not a disaster like Galvatron
. The only feature that isn't straightforward to figure out is that car parts on his back have to be set asymmetrically, one on top of the other.
But perhaps I'm being too negative. Hot Shot is actually pretty neat once you get him into robot mode, and despite having a fair bit of car parts hanging off, none of his kibble gets in the way of his impressive amount of articulation. His visor can lower, and has a targeting reticule over the right eye. Very small and subtle detail! Hot Shot's head also makes for a cute homage to the LEGO mini figure space helmet.
His weapons can be used three different ways. They can be put on his arms near the elbow, held in his hands, or placed on his back (in the car mode's storage spot) to function as jet boosters just as Rodimus'
It's important to note that only the Henkei version actually comes with the weapons. The Hasbro version of Hot Shot has them omitted for reasons of cost. Given the variety of ways in which they can be used, and that they form the mufflers of the car, it makes the Henkei version much more appealing than if the accessories weren't so integrated.
Hot Shot comes with his little helicopter minicon Jolt, and oh my word is it ever a step backward! The Armada version of Jolt is solid, well-constructed, can stand, is reasonably articulated, and doesn't fall apart. The Universe Jolt is the opposite of these things. The greatest failure is that the helicopter transforms by essentially folding in half. Instead of this hinge being mounted on a metal pin, it is held in place by two small plastic pegs in the shoulder of each arm. Thus transforming Jolt not only causes the arms to fall off, but also his body to divide in half. Unfortunately, this new Jolt is a slight bit smaller than the original, meaning that if you have the older one you can't simply substitute it out.
On the bright side, Hot Shot has no "active" minicon ports, so Jolt's poorness can be largely ignored.
7. The original Hot Shot was very simple to transform, whereas this one comes off as slightly complicated in an effort to balance the average between the two figures.
9. Aside from Jolt, Hot Shot is pretty sturdy and has no parts that seem like they would break before disconnecting intact.
8. The weapons really add to his display value, and he's stout enough to be fiddled with, so Hot Shot's pretty fun either being played with or looked at on the shelf.
6. Henkei deluxe figures tend to be about $20 to $30 by the time they cross the Pacific. Hot Shot provides a legitimate reason for wanting the Japanese version - the inclusion of the weapons - but it's still steep for a deluxe.
7 or 8. Having an Armada character represented in Henkei/Universe really adds to the weight of the line being a celebration of the entire franchise and not just certain parts. Jolt is strictly inferior to its predecessor, but Hot Shot is rather nice overall even if he does have a few quirks. He's not the best figure in the line, but he's far better than the weak designs called Cheetor and Galvatron.