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Heinrad's Review: Kabaya Candy Wave 4: Hot Rod/Rodimus, Victory Leo, and Inferno

Uh.... I'm guessing that on the boxes are brief profiles of the characters. Or possibly pun filled jokes. I can't tell.

I've always been curious about the Kabaya kits. I've seen pictures of the old ones from way back in the 80s(Although it has to be said that a neon green, though completely accurate, Rodimus Prime isn't something I've ever wanted), but a few years ago, I'm guessing Kabaya discovered more than one color for their little kits and went nuts. Although the only other set I know of is the Convoy/God Ginrai/Star Saber set. In pictures, they look amazing.

In person..... Well, in person is another matter.

The thing that really drew me to wave 4 is that they decided to do a miniature version of the Japanese release of Masterpiece Rodimus Prime. I've got the American release, and I think it's an amazing figure(as a bonus, Roddy was even intact out of packaging. He was fine until the cat knocked him over a couple of times and the spoiler mount broke), but the thing that made me really curious was the trailer. I'd seen reviews, but I couldn't talk myself into spending Primus knows how much on a figure that seems to disintegrate almost as soon as you opened the package.
Then, lo and behold, Kabaya makes this kit. Although I do find it interesting that if you want to make the "full Roddy", you have to get Victory Leo and Inferno as well. And thanks to these guys in the Phillipines, I've done just that.

So let's start with kit #1 in this set, Hot Rod.(At least, I think it says Hot Rod.)

Hot Rod! That laughing young daredevil, full of vigor, excitement and.... uh..... no elbows?
Assembling him wasn't that hard. I barely even need the instructions. And when you have him all together, he looks pretty cool, if a bit stiff. His head can turn from side to side, he's got pivot points on his shoulders. Articulation drops off a bit at this point. While there are pivot points at his hips and knees, they only go to the side and are there because of the transformation. Height wise, he's head and shoulders taller than DOTM Legion class Sideswipe, and while far more colorful, doesn't look nearly as sturdy.
Transformation is fairly simple: Take the backpack(formed by the trunk/back of the car) off, flip the chest up, flip the arms down and take the exhaust pipes off, line up the hood of the car with the roof(the hinge is a bit fiddly), pivot around at the waist, fold the legs to the side at the knees, then again at the hips, locking the hands in at the sides, put the exhaust pipes back on so the connect to the ones on the back of the car, put the trunk/backpack with spoiler on into position, and there you have it, a tiny Hot Rod.

For Rodimus pieces, Hot Rod comes with the sides of the trailer, the big exhausts, and the rifle.

On to kit #2: Victory Leo. The poor sod.
The more I see of poor ol' Victory Leo, the less I want him. The full sized version might have been wonderous, but the Kabaya version suffers from the same problem that my KO RM version does. The figure is designed to be little more than a bunch of booster parts for Star Saber, so the whole togetherness of the figure is lacking. Which basically means that Victory Leo isn't so much of a brick as a small pile of rocks held together by mutual consensus. The fact that's he's a peg together model kit doesn't help him any, either. Posability is very limited, with articulation at the shoulders and sort-of elbows(only reason he's got them is because of the lion mode feet), and hip articulation like Hot Rod's. You can pose him doing a side kick or a rather painful looking split, but that's about it.

Transformation isn't too difficult. Flip the arms up into a lion-like pose, flip the hands around so it's the feet. Then it gets a little tricky. You have to pull the legs out of their hip joints, pull these two side panels down(one on each leg), pull the thigh sections out of each leg, and move the thigh sections down one peg hole. Put them back in, flip the panels back up, plug the legs back into the hip joints, flip the hind lion legs down(after cursing them for having come off several times during all of this), and there you have him, Victory Leo. Looking a bit wobbly.

Leo's Rodimus pieces are the Combat Deck Gun and mount.

And, saving what might be the best for last, or at least as good as Roddy, we have kit #3: Inferno. Or whatever they call him. Must learn to read kanji at some point.......

Inferno! That raging firebrand of recklessness! And he has elbows!!!!! No knees or hips, but elbows! Eh. Can't win them all, I guess......

Of the three figures, you can tell Roddy was a labor of love for somebody(or a cause of mental breakdown because they had to miniaturize a complex figure and still have it come out right), Leo was a by-the-numbers redo of a 20 year old design, and Inferno had some thought put into him. I missed the original Generations Inferno release, and this one matches the pictures I saw. He's bulky and looks like a fire engine. And to Kabaya's credit, he's got the most complex(in terms of annoyance) transformation of all of them.

We'll start with him in fire engine mode. He looks like a fire engine, one with a water cannon on the rear deck. Doors, panels, and windows are picked out in the molding.

Transformation.... is different. While I'm guessing he matches the regular version by having his waist swing back on a hinge, I don't think the regular version has to have the legs pulled out and swapped around. The arms pull out of the peg holes in the back, and out of the big shoulder panels. They then get pegged back into the big shoulder panels at an angle which will make you worry that you're about to break something. They then peg into the sides of the cab. Flip the panel that the head is on up, put the head back on, and there you have him, Inferno.

In robot mode, he's got articulation at the neck, shoulders, and elbows. If you want to be really picky, his fire engine mode deck gun can swivel on it's underarm mount through 180 degrees.

For Rodimus parts, Inferno comes with the deck and cab for Rodimus' trailer.

Bonus Figure!Rodimus Prime!!!!! That still kind of stiff young daredevil, but with an older face and a rifle that's almost as big as he is!

I have to give the guys at Kabaya credit. They came up with a simple solution to the Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime face problem. It's not a terribly good one, in my opinion(more on why later), but it works. Pop Roddy's helmet off, spin his head around to reveal the Rodimus face, and slide the helmet on. Then fold the sides of the combat deck down, swing the gun up, and peg Roddy onto the pegs on the back.

To transform him to vehicle mode, repeat most of the steps to turn him into car mode. When you're done, leave his spoiler off and just put the trunk lid back on. On the trailer, flip the cab section out from under the trailer. Fold the deck gun down, leaving the photonic eliminator rifle plugged into the top of the cannon, flip the sides of the trailer up so it closes around the peg on the rifle. Put the spoiler in place on the cab, take the exhausts off of the Hot Rod, and plug him into the trailer under the cab, facing backwards. And there you have him, Rodimus Prime in vehicle mode. Whatever he's supposed to be.

And now I come to the part about these kits that really made me scratch my head. Stickers. Lots of stickers. And not terribly durable stickers, either.

All three of these figures are masterworks of fine detail. Hot Rod's youthful face. Rodimus' older face, Victory Leo's face. Inferno's face. Windshield wipers are sculpted onto Inferno's windshields. His grill and headlights are detailed. The reason I figured Hot Rod was a labor of love for somebody was that his tires and rims are molded in, unlike Inferno's circles for sticking the stickers onto. And yet, there's no paint. Little Hot Rod will never facially be little Rodimus because I figure putting the helmet on probably destroyed the sticker that's on the back of his head. The windshield and hood stickers on Hot Rod are already showing damage, and I've transformed him twice. Victory Leo's face sticker keeps trying to peel off.

I really like these figures. They're neat, and, especially in Hot Rod's case, fairly well thought out for something that complex. They'd be perfect to put in your cubicle at work. Just hide Leo behind your paper clip dispenser.

Should you go out and buy these? Well, it depends. I got them out of curiosity. The stickers are frustrating, as are Inferno's shoulders, and Victory Leo's just uninspired. Do I regret getting them? No, but again, I was curious.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design:
Hot Rodimus - 7, Victory Leo - 3, Inferno - 5 While Roddy's the most complex and Inferno is marred by the whole dismantling thing, Leo falling apart because you're transforming him is no fun.

Durability: 8.5 None have broken yet, and unless I step on them, they probably won't. The only one with signifigant wear/stress damage so far is Roddy, and that's down to all the stickers and the waist pivot.

Fun: Oh, sure. Ask me a hard one..... If you like putting transformable robot kits together, 9(I got spoiled by Gundam kits). After that, Roddy's a 7, Inferno's a 4, and Leo's a 2.

Aesthetics: The only one the stickers really do anything for is Roddy, and even then it's a mixed blessing. His chest looks great. His legs, not so much. Combined total of 3.

Articulation: 2. Again, spoiled by Gundam kits. But then, I get the impression these are aimed at a different market.

Gum: 2.5 Well, it's chewing gum. Practically flavorless, but you can chew it. You may wish you hadn't later, but you can chew it.

Value/Price: Well, I paid $30 for this set. Which is probably the most anybody should pay, and that includes shipping. I really like the Hot Rod kit, but the other two are.... ehhh. If you can find Roddy and all his trailer bits for less, just go with those.

Overall: 5. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably just get Roddy and the trailer bits. Inferno's kind of cool, but the stickers make him look tatty. And Leo..... poor ol' Victory Leo. You'd think they could have tweaked his design a little.
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