Out of the way Hot Rod might be the beginning of the most traumatic few moments of many an 80s kid’s childhood. This Optimus Prime’s desperate statement to the cocky upstart who thought he could help Prime beat Megatron. But after 60 episodes of the cartoon, it was clear Prime didn’t need any help from somebody called Hot Rod.
Despite this rough start, Hot Rod would eventually become one of my favorites of the Transformers: The Movie era crew. And with Hasbro celebrating The Movie with its Studio Series 86 line it wouldn’t make any sense to leave the future Autobot leader behind. Let’s see if this guy has the touch after all.
Packaging: The Studio Series has a simple black and red color scheme with a large portrait of Hot Rod along with several labels throughout showing this figure is from Transformers: The Movie and not the Michael Bay “Transformers movies.”
I really like the larger portrait of Hot Rod at his most pivotal moment of the film as he attempts to open the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. The rear package shows Hot Rod in robot form and alt mode along with the tagline of this set — The Depths of Unicron — from the film’s climactic act.
There’s a basic sentence that Hot Rod lights the darkest hour. It’s simple and plain, but effective. Still, I wish this line had the old school stat card and a longer bio.
Likeness: Hot Rod looks great. The key for me with this line is how closely it resembles the cartoon/movie. This figure looks like it stepped right off a cartoon cell.
All of the core Hot Rod elements are here from his twin gun mounts on his forearm, the big flame wings on the back and all of the glorious paneling.
Hasbro made the right call with the head sculpt and going with a neutral expression instead of a yelling or even smiling expression.
The level of detailing is really impressive and Hot Rod’s figure really is grab him and you’re sold on the line worthy.
Alt Mode: Hot Rod also had one of the cooler alt modes with his ‘futuristic’ racer with oversized fin and extended piping along the side.
The Studio Series figure maintains that sleek style of one of the 86 crew’s fastest vehicles.
Transformation: Hot Rod’s transformation is slightly more complicated than the average car his size and it takes 29 steps. This is probably the first figure I could just follow the instructions and transform without needing to go to YouTube.
Hot Rod’s transformation is pretty smooth and how he gets from one step to the next makes sense with the flow of conversion.
Scale: Hot Rod should be taller than Arcee and — even if it’s slightly — looking up at everyone else. He’s slightly taller than Kup — the one guy from Hot Rod’s era that I’ve opened so far. The difference between the two isn’t so dramatic that it’s an issue.
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Paint: Hot Rod features a very clean paint job, which is tricky considering the atypical combination of colors with the darker pink, orange, yellow and grey.
The silver components have a nice sheen that helps them stand out from other elements of the figure as well.
There is some slight fading on the yellow sections, but for the most part the figure turned out very clean.
Articulation: Hot Rod’s articulation is solid. He can strike a number of fun poses.
The only catch with him is he’s got these tough, rigid shoulders that make that movement way harder than necessary. This was a common issue I heard collectors complaining about and I didn’t magically escape it.
Supposedly there’s a fix for it, but out the package, his shoulders always feel like I’m putting too much force on them and they could snap I move them too quickly.
Hot Rod has:
- ball-jointed shoulders
- wrist hinge
- knees (double-jointed)
Accessories: Hot Rod has a nice slew of accessories.
Naturally he has his blaster featuring the usual amount of detail I’m beginning to expect from this line. He also has two blasters and “sunglasses/binoculars,” which he used to determine the Decepticons where in the Autobots’ ship.
He’s got his circular saw blade he uses to free Kup and break the restraints in Unicron’s tentacles.
These all attach to the fin on Hot Rods back so he can store all of his items when not in use.
There’s also a pair of blue translucent energy effects to affix to the back of Hot Rod in vehicle mode.
Finally, there’s the Matrix. It’s scaled properly to Hot Rod so he can attempt to unlock it.
Keeping with the theme of the series, Hot Rod’s inner package backdrop is from the bowels of Unicron just after he’s retrieved the Matrix from Galvatron and is about to light the darkest hour. Hard to argue with that choice, right?
Worth it? Hot Rod is priced as a deluxe voyager format figure because of the transformation complexity and extra accessories.
I’m not really sure if he’s a $30 figure compared to some of the larger scale figures at that price point. But some of the $20 figures seem like an unreal value so a figure of Hot Rod’s quality that might be more in line with a $25 price balances things out.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Man, Hot Rod is a gateway figure for this 86 Studio Series line if you’re lucky. He could very easily suck you all the way in to these modern take of classic figures.