"Transformers Universe 2.0" Hot Shot Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: November 2008
Price Point: $11.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Mini-Con Jolt

Transformers Universe seeks to celebrate many aspects of Transformers. While Generation One is certainly its focus, Armada got a little bit of love towards the end of 2008 with the release of Hot Shot. Instead of a redeco of the Armada Hot Shot figure, Hasbro and Tomy went back to the drawing board to engineer a whole new figure along with Hot Shot's Mini-Con buddy Jolt.

Jolt Review

Vehicle Mode:
Like his previous incarnation, Mini-Con Jolt transforms into a helicopter. However, this time around he's much more streamlined. Whereas the first Jolt has a very wide front end, the new one has a more oval shaped and thinner nose. The tail section is also much more streamlines, narrowing towards the middle of the vehicle rather than at the very end. That said, there are still many elements that carried over from the Armada design into this one. Like the Armada Jolt, this one has tubes at the end of each rotor, with one end coming to a point. The sides have turbines mounted on them and the tail has two horizontal stabilizers and a rotor at the very end with a vertical stabilizer attached.

One of the things Armada Jolt had going for him was a good amount of sculpted detail, and Universe Jolt also features quite a bit of detailing. This is most notable if you look at the sides, which have lines sculpted in representing his windows and doors. You can also look at the top of the rotor and find lots of line detailing as well, a feature he shares with Armada Jolt.

Jolt is mostly cast in red plastic, a much darker shade than his Armada predecessor. Black plastic is used for contrast on the turbines and his rotor blades. Paint decos are done up in light blue, found on his front windows and pink, found on the back. the blue color looks nice against the red color, and the pink is a bit unexpected, but looks cool as well.

Jolt's rotors can be spun by pushing them, the same "action feature" that Armada Jolt had. Nothing mind blowing, but it's nice to see this wasn't somehow lost.

In terms of pure appearance, Universe Jolt definitely has a leg up on his predecessor. Between the darker shade of red, the contrasting black plastic and his detailing he is one neat looking Mini-Con.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the bottom of the figure down to form the robot legs.
  2. Swing the cockpit section down.

Robot Mode:
I do find it kind of funny that this Jolt's transformation differs from his predecessor's a lot, yet the two still wind up looking almost exactly alike in robot mode. The same basic design from Armada Jolt is retained, including a bullet shaped head, the back of the helicopter (stabilizers and all) forming the front of his body, with the tail of the vehicle winding up between his legs. The turbines from the sides of the vehicles become tube shaped armd and his rotors wind up on his back. His head sculpt is also based on Armada Jolt's, with two eyes, a mouthplate and a small chin piece on top of the mouthplate. The designers were definitely aiming for fidelity to the first Armada Jolt and they succeeded.

Jolt's only new color in this form is silver, which is used to paint the face. The pink details from the vehicle mode wind up on his chest here, providing a nice splash of color that Armada Jolt didn't have in robot mode. Here, the black color really shows its strength as it keeps the red from being an overwhelming color on the figure. Black is found on his upper arms and the rotors on his back.

Jolt has seven points of articulation. Four are found on the arms, which can move up and down and bend at the elbows. The only problem are the legs, which are so amazingly loose the figure can't even stand. If you notice in the pictures above, I have the figure leaning up against something just to support it. I tried to raise the arms, pose him, move the legs around - but to no avail. He is simply too back heavy to stand properly, which gets infuriating after a while.

I'm a big fan of Mini-Cons and the myriad designs they brought to the table in the Transformers line. Knowing just how much they have done in the past with Mini-Cons, it's a shame to see this one fail in the standing department when everything else looks so good.

Hot Shot Review

Vehicle Mode:
Hot Shot's vehicle mode is largely based on the Audi TT, a car first launched in 1998. Due to licensing issues, his form is heavily modified of course, but with some of the curved parts such as the front end and the curves over the wheel wells, you can still see the Audi inspired design elements intact on this new version of the character. Unlike the Audi, Hot Shot is heavily modified, with an engine sticking out of the hood in the front and spoilers mounted onto the back of the vehicle.

Universe Hot Shot carries over some key details from the Armada version including the engine mounted on the front, the spoilers in the back and a "V" shaped design on the top of the cabin section. Here however the "V" shape is much wider, and his engine is set wide going from side to side rather than being set like Armada Hot Shot's, which was long, going from the front to the back of the vehicle. Armada Hot Shot's spoiler parts were located in the same place, with a split in the middle, however Universe Hot Shot's spoilers are raised slightly, giving them a much more dynamic look. The headlights and front grille have also been changed, with Armada Hot Shot having circular headlights and Universe Hot Shot having more angled looking headlights. Universe Hot Shot's grille is significantly wider than Armada Hot Shot's as well.

Some of the more subtle design elements of the vehicle have been changed between Armada Hot Shot and Universe Hot Shot. In general, Armada Hot Shot is much wider and a tad longer in vehicle mode than the Universe version. This is due to Universe Hot Shot being designed with a much sleeker profile. For instance, the wheel wells on the rear section do not flare out to the sides as much on Universe Hot Shot as they do on Armada Hot Shot. The front end of Armada Hot Shot was basically one large curved piece whereas Universe Hot Shot has a curve that leads to parts of the front end pointing outwards towards the bottom, forming something of a "scoop" in the front.

Hot Shot is cast in yellow, blue, black, clear and translucent blue plastic. Yellow is his primary color of course, but this shade is more muted than the super bright yellow from Armada Hot Shot. The lower section of the front end is made up of blue plastic while the wheels and engine are cast in black plastic. Armada Hot Shot had blue paint on his windows, so following that idea, Universe Hot Shot's windows are cast in translucent blue plastic. The clear plastic comes into play in the front of the vehicle, where it forms the headlights. Paint applications are done in blue, silver, red and black. The blue is the most prominant, featured on the back and sides on the lower half of the vehicle, matching up with the blue plastic from the front of the vehicle. Silver is used on the grille in the front, the sides of the wheels and the license plate in the back. Red is found on the back, where it paints in the details that are the rear lights. An Autobot symbol is on the top of the left side spoiler in red, a reference to the sculpted Autobot symbol from Armada Hot Shot in the same position. A bit of blue-grey is used on the sides for the side windows, which are cast in yellow plastic instead of the translucent blue. Black paint is used for a fun little detail that many hardcore Transformers fans will appreciate. His license plate has the letters "JAAM" on them. This originates from a parody of a comic strip that was included with the Armada toys where Hot Shot went from an Autobot warrior to an Autobot with some type of odd speach imediment. This included a love of Jam or "JAAM". This became the basis of the somewhat fun and silly rating system I use at the bottom of my toy reviews as well. It's really cool to see a fan based joke get some attention on figure created by Hasbro.

Hot Shot does have a Powerlink port on the back of the vehicle like his Armada predecessor, however it's not particularly useful in this mode with respect to combining him with Jolt. Jolt can't really attach to it without looking super odd (well, more odd than Armada Hot Shot with Jolt attached anyhow). To attach Jolt and have the helicopter fit into the curved groove on the back, you don't attach him to the Powerlink port, but rather you slide his arms through the holes on the back of the spoilers. He is meant to lock into place, and he does - but not particlarly well. Shake the figure around a bit and Jolt will fall right out. Considering the Powerlink port here has no action feature associated with it, this is a really sad showing in terms of the ability for both figures to work with each other.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach Jolt if attached.
  2. Swing the door panels out and forward.
  3. Split the front end of the car.
  4. Split the back section and cabin section of the vehicle and swing the sections out to the sides.
  5. Swing the sections from the back of the vehicle and the robot arms up, then swing the robot legs back and connect the waist pieces together.
  6. Rotate the lower legs around so the parts with the circle details face forward.
  7. Swing out the feet on each leg and then swing out the front halves of the feet.
  8. Swing the windshield halves on each leg down, then tuck them in behind the lower legs.
  9. Swing the panels on each forearm down.

Robot Mode:
Like many of the G1 themed Universe figures that have come out in this line, Hot Shot takes the stylings of his predecessor and works them into a new form. All of Hot Shot's primary details from the Armada sculpt are intact including the round shaped head with a visor that swings down, thick, powerful looking arms, the "seat belt" strap-like designs on his torso and the round circles on the front of his lower legs. There's a lot of intricate detail sculpted into this figure and it looks really nice. The visor for the head has a circle on one side and lines on the other sculpted into it. The forearms have layers of detail including a piston on the insides of the arm and circles representing the hinges at the knuckles. The torso has V shaped vents towards the top with the "straps" coming out in seven directions from the center. The center of the chest has a vaguely Matrix like design, perhaps an allusion to him having taken temporary leadership of the Autobots in the Armada series during that cartoon's run. More detail can be found on the upper legs where you'll find tubes and wires. The lower legs have circular details on them, a carry over detail from the original Hot Shot, but other details have been added around the edges that add some nice technical flares to the panel's apperance. You'll also find some nice details on the sides of his lower legs including circles and beveled lines. The one thing this figure definitely has to offer is nicely sculpted detail.

In this form, a lot more blue plastic shows up along with a lot of red that is hidden in vehicle mode. For the most part, his color placement lines up with the Armada version, with the torso, waist and upper legs comprised of red plastic and his forearms and lower legs composed mostly of blue plastic. There is still plenty of yellow however, found on his arms, the front of his legs and his head. Paint applications are done in the same colors as his vehicle mode. There's the grey-blue (used for the details on his legs), silver (found on the face and torso "straps") and blue (found on his shoulders). He does use light piping translucent blue plastic for his eyes, though the effect is not really that strong. Overall, Hot Shot looks fantastic and there's no mistaking who this sculpt is meant to represent.

The problem with this figure comes in its play value and functionality. Hot Shot has seventeen points of articulation in this form, and truth be told they're really nicely done. His arms can turn up, bend at the elbows and turn in and out. His legs can turn at the hip joint and bend at the knees. Unlike Armada Hot Shot, his head is articulated as well, allowing you to move it left and right. The problem is that the rear car "shell" portions on his back wind up blocking his arms from having a full range of motion. They could swing back or turn more but the parts on his back just can't be moved out of the way enough to let that happen.

When it comes to play factor there are issues too. Armada Hot Shot had a Mini-Con activated cannon. Considering the articulation and design here, I wasn't expecting anything quite that elaborate, however I was hoping for a weapon of some sort. As it stands, Jolt can plug into the Powerlink port on his left, back panel and that's it. You'll note however that Hot Shot's forearms do have holes in them both in his fists and on the sides. These are meant for weapons that were kept out of the US release of this figure. Not only were they kept out, the rear section of the vehicle was remolded to cover up the slot where those weapons would have stuck out as exhaust pipes. So while Hot Shot can stand around looking strong and put a Mini-Con on his shoulder, that's pretty much all he has to offer, and considering the obstruction that the back panels cause, this simply isn't enough to justify the price point.

Final Thoughts:
I'm really sad at not being able to recommend this figure. It's not horrible, but there are significant weaknesses that would have been overcome if the back panels had been redesigned. I have to confess if the weapons had been included I would have liked this figure a lot more. The aforementioned weapons are included with the Japanese "Henkei!" version of this figure, so if you're hardcore enough about it you could seek that version out instead. Not recommended.

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