"Legends" Targetmaster Hot Rodimus with Firebolt Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Deluxe, Generation One, Legends, Targetmasters

Legends

Hot Rod General Information:
Release Date: September 30, 2017
Price Point: 4000 Yen (Takara Tomy suggested retail price)
Retailer: Japanese Exclusive
Accessories: Headmaster figure, Firebolt Targetmaster figure/weapon

Translation below by Doug Dlin:
Freed from the burdens of command, for Rodimus, the days of adventure to new worlds have been a series of thrills. Meeting with his new partners and powering up into a Headmaster/Targetmaster may be nothing more to him than the results of the adventures that have now become his routine. However, these experiences are nothing less than training for when he once again assumes the office of commander in the future.

When Takara Tomy decided to release the Titan Master figures in Japan they did not follow the exact same release pattern as Hasbro. Instead of just having the characters packaged as Headmasters/Titan Masters, they decided to go the extra mile and include a Targetmaster weapon for those characters who were Targetmasters in Generation One. One of these characters was Hot Rodimus (whose full name for this release is "Targetmaster Hot Rodimus"). This figure is a retool and redeco of "Titans Return" Hot Rod. Check out my Hot Rod review for a detailed look at the sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Packaging:
The "Legends" packaging is a combination of modern and Generation One elements blended together into a box. Unlike the "Generations" versions of these figures the "Legends" figures are packaged in boxes. The box is rectangular and set horizontally. With the figure packed in vehicle mode behind a window, it recalls the design that was used for G1 Targetmaster Hot Rod's packaging. The packaging uses a vertical Transformers logo on the left side of the box (if you are facing it). On the other side is package art for the character and a grid background, a detail inspired by G1 packaging. Firebolt is on the lower left of the package in robot mode while Hot Rodimus' head is in the upper right hand corner and labeled as "Head Master" (two words, not one). The back of the packaging shows the figure in both modes and Firebolt's ability to transform into Hot Rodimus' weapon. It also shows the ability for the Head Master to fit inside the vehicle mode in a small window to the side.

Head Master

Unlike the "Titans Return" line, the "Legends" line seems to be treating the Head Master figures as the core personality of the character. Much like the "Headmasters" cartoon in Japan, the body was basically a large mech suit (known as a 'Transtector' in "Headmasters" and "Masterforce" lingo) being controlled by the smaller head. Now I grant this is not exactly in line with the Hot Rod history most fans know, but it makes sense in the context of the toy line since Takara Tomy is not necesarily following the whole "Prime Trilogy" story. With that in mind, the Firedrive figure from "Titans Return" Hot Rod has been reused, but given a deco based on the appearance of Hot Rodimus himself.

The Head Master figure is cast in maroon and black plastic. The maroon is int(ended to match up more with the character's look in the G1 cartoon. The figure is mostly maroon with black used for the arms and lower legs. The eyes are painted light blue and the face is grey. The chest is painted light orange. These are the same colors found on the Transtector vehicle/robot body. It really is great to see the Head Master figure painted. It really helps to bring out the sculpted details and it looks fantastic.

While all the joints are nice and tight on my Head Master figure, it looks like some accident happened during manufacturing. The blue visor eyes have two small notches on my copy of this figure. It looks like this detail may have been scratched somehow when the paint was still wet. While unfortunate, I have not heard about this being a rampant issue so it may just be my copy of the figure.

The head mode uses the same sculpt as Firedrive's face plate. However, the deco is very different. The face plate is cast in maroon plastic, but it also has metallic red/purple colored designs around the helmet (such as the circles on the sides of the head). The crest and face are painted light grey and his eyes are blue. In a really nice extra touch, the curved sections on the sides of the head are painted maroon to match up with the portion on the face plate. This offers some nice, painted detail continuity between the face plate and the section that forms the Head Master's arms.

Overall the Head Master figure looks awesome. The paint helps show just how much detail these figures have and how color helps bring them out.

Firebolt

Replacing the two blasters included with "Titans Return" Hot Rod is a completely new figure: Firebolt! In the Generation One era, Firebolt was Hot Rod's Targetmaster partner from the planet Nebulos. This figure is a completely new sculpt developed just for this set.

Robot Mode:
Firebolt's design is based on his G1 counterpart. Some of the key features of that design show up here including:

  • The helmet section on the head is round, with a crest in the middle and visor eyes. The visor eyes come from the animation model used in the G1 "Rebirth" mini-series.
  • The shoulders look like horizontal cylinders with layered armor designs forming vertical lines.
  • The chest has trapezoid shapes on either side and comes out at angles.
  • The mid-body area has a trapezoid shaped "abdomen" section.
  • The legs feature knee armor that sticks out a bit, leading to a curve on the lower legs that lead to the feet.
  • The outer parts of each lower leg feature two horizontal lines sticking out a bit. G1 Firebolt had similar details.

All that said, this figure seeks to modernize the G1 Firebolt design. There are plenty more line details on him such as a series of vertical lines in the chest and extra details in the legs. The arms also feature some extra line details not seen on G1 Firebolt. From a sculpting perspective it's a fantastic update of the original character.

Firebolt is cast in silver and clear plastic. Silver makes up most of the body while the weapon barrels on his back are clear plastic. Silver paint is used to provide additional detailing from the chest all the way down to the feet. The face is actually painted light grey and the eyes are light blue. These colors are not taken from the G1 Firebolt toy, but rather they come from the "Rebirth" animation model. You would think silver on silver would look kind of plain, but it actually looks great.

There are six points of articulation on this figure. The shoulders and knees are ball joints while there is one central "trunk" formed from the head down to the waist. If you turn the waist/hip area, the head turns with it.

Transformation to Weapon Mode:

  1. Swing the weapon barrels on the back up over the head.
  2. Rotate the waist/hip area around.
  3. Rotate each lower leg around.
  4. Swing the legs up and connect the tabs on the lower legs to the corresponding grooves on the top of the weapon.

Weapon Mode:
Firebolt's weapon mode borrows its basic shape from the G1 Firebolt design. This means two weapon barrels in the front and very obvious robot arms on the sides and very obvious robot legs on top in the back. This may sound lame, but really to me there is a fun, G1 charm to the design. Sure you can tell "Oh, this weapon becomes something else." but it still is a cool looking blaster! Like the G1 weapon, this design features two small panels sticking up vertically on the top of the barrels. However this weapon benefits from having a bunch of extra detailing including some small details added to the area around the end of each barrel and small fins that come out on the sides.

The clear plastic makes up the front half of the weapon, but it too has silver paint on it, offering some consistency with the rest of the figure. Some parts are left unpainted however to give the impression of power coursing through the weapon (or at least that's how it works in my imagination).

Firebolt has a 5mm peg in the bottom to allow larger figures to hold him in weapon mode. There are two interesting features in this form that I had not expected. One is a 5mm port underneath the weapon barrels, allowing you to connect additional weaponry or even potentially link two Targetmasters together! The other odd detail are two Titan Master/Head Master sized pegs on the top of the weapon barrels. They fit the ports on the Head Master figure's foot perfectly, but the two pegs are too far apart to have one Head Master standing on both, so you are actually meant to put two Head Master figures there. What I cannot figure out is why you would do that. The instructions unfortunately do not give any clue as to why this feature exists, so I mention it here as a mystery that I hope will one day be solved.

Hot Rodimus

Vehicle Mode:
Hot Rodimus' vehicle mode gives you a really good look at the two things that have changed most with this release of the figure: the newly tooled section in front and the new colors. First let's dive into the retooling.

The piece that makes up the hood/engine section in this mode is all new. That is not to say it is not based on the original hood/chest piece design, but functionally speaking this piece is different, even if its base aesthetics are still the same. It is still an angled piece that is beveled on the sides with an engine. However on the original version, the very front folded down as part of the transformation. On this figure the front edge of this section is not a separate piece and cannot flip down. Also, the engine from "Titans Return" Hot Rod has been replaced with a different engine design. This has a 5mm port in it that allows you to attach Firebolt in weapon mode (or any weapon with a 5mm peg). In robot mode, this engine piece flips back to reveal Hot Rodimus' "collar".

This new hood/chest piece is cast in translucent yellow plastic as opposed to the sold red plastic on "Titans Return" Hot Rod. The edges are painted orange in a flame pattern, roughly matching the pattern on "Titans Return" Hot Rod. A red and white Autobot symbol is tampographed on the section in front of the engine. The front edge is painted maroon, matching the color seen on the rest of the figure and Firebolt. A small portion of the front end is left unpainted in the shape of the inner most portion of the headlights. In an interesting design choice, the exposed translucent yellow parts have a bunch of line details in them that look like a series of small armor plates coming together at angles. This piece is a cool idea and it looks great. The dark maroon and orange section call back to the G1 animation model for the character when he was Rodimus Prime and it is also dramatically different from the "Titans Return" release.

The rest of the vehicle is mostly maroon colored. The cabin section is translucent blue, but a much more clear blue than "Titans Return" Hot Rod so you can see right inside. While it is not immediately obvious, the spoiler is also cast in translucent blue, but it has a heavy layer of a deep yellow color on top, with orange used in the middle. Silver paint is used on the engine, the exhaust pipes running along the sides and the rims on the wheels. Finally, yellow paint is used to paint in the "L" shaped headlights in the front. Taken as a whole, this deco has much more paint than the "Titans Return" version and it looks absolutely beautiful. While the "Titans Return" version is a bright throwback to some previous Hot Rod action figures, this one is a really nice homage to the G1 animation.

The cabin section cover can still be lifted so you can place a Head Master figure inside. He also retains the 5mm ports on the sides (near the front wheel wells) to attach extra weapons.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach any weapons and remove the Head Master from the cockpit. Transform the Head Master into head mode. Set all this aside for now.
  2. Lift up the section with the spoiler.
  3. Swing down the lower legs at the back of the figure.
  4. Flip the robot feet up and swing in the sections with the rear wheel wells on them.
  5. Rotate the lower body around.
  6. Swing the sides of the vehicle down to begin forming the robot arms.
  7. On each forearm, swing out the fists.
  8. Swing the front of the vehicle down to form the torso.
  9. On the back, rotate the section with the spoiler around, then push it up against the back.
  10. On the chest, flip the engine in to reveal the "collar" piece.
  11. Attach the head.
  12. Firebolt can be held in either fist in weapon mode.

Robot Mode:
This mode really shows off a lot of the G1 cartoon's color influences on this figure. While maroon plastic still makes up most of the figure, there is a significant amount of orange plastic revealed via the fists and thighs. The front of his lower legs and feet are black, which may throw some folks off but this is actually directly inspired by the G1 cartoon where his lower legs were a dark grey (though in some shots the color would vary, yay inconsistent animation!). The orange paint on the hood/chest section really shows through here, but you'll also find some orange on the top of his forearms (another cartoon detail). Finally some light grey is used on the shoulders, also borrowing a cartoon detail. Overall this deco looks spectacular. It is very eye catching and I love how different it is from "Titans Return" Hot Rod. Whether it is "better" or not depends on your tastes. I personally love its dark tones and the heavy use of G1 cartoon influences.

The joints on this figure feel about the same as my "Titans Return" Hot Rod so not super tight but not loose either. I do wish the hip joints were tighter but he can stand and pose just fine. Firebolt can attach to either wrist or his shoulder ports.

Final Thoughts:
Legends Hot Rodimus is a fantastic retool and redeco. I love how significant the differences are between this figure and its predecessor.

Pros:

  • Excellent sculpt.
  • Rich color scheme.
  • Represents the G1 animation model very well.
  • Fun play value.

Cons:

  • Some copies of the figure have loose hip joints.
  • Some deco points look unfinished (ex: the wheels).