"Transformers Energon" Inferno Toy Review


"Transformers Energon" Logo

General Information:
Release Year: December 2003
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $10.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2
Accessories: Missile, Missile launcher

For the first time in a while, we get an Autobot named Inferno who turns into a fire truck. This new character being introduced into the Armada/Energon continuity is designed to merge with Hot Shot. The later part of this review will focus on both those combined robots with an emphasis on how to transform Hot Shot into his half of those robots. The actual reviews for the robots themselves will be available in both this review and the Inferno review.

Vehicle Mode:
When last year's comic book series "The War Within" debuted, many fans fell in love with the redesigns done to classic characters, portraying them as they looked on Cybertron millions of years ago. Their forms were more alien and sci-fi, but hinted at the forms they would later get on Earth. One of these designs has lent some influence to Energon Inferno. Specifically, if you check out War Within Ironhide's vehicle form, you'll note that it has similarities to Inferno's form. This was absolutely intentional and neat in its own way. The primary similarity is the front of the vehicle. The shape of the windshield is probably the biggest detail that comes straight out of the War Within design. Of course, this isn't Ironhide, it's Inferno, so details such as a large weapon on top (which one can also imagine as a water hose), sirens and a bit more tech detail than Ironhide had in War Within.

I must confess to being rather fond of Inferno's sculpt. There is a lot of detail in this toy, and the design looks functional and cool at the same time. Starting with the front, it looks like there is a winch on there with rope (non functional, but sculpted nicely). The sirens are small and unobtrusive. The cannon top has some tubes running from end to end and the mechanism which turns it looks like a container that could be holding water or some flame retardant foam. The sides of the vehicle have neat details such as vents, ladders and tubes. The right side features a nicely heat stamped Autobot symbol. In a real nice touch, the ends of Inferno's feet form an area where one could imagine Cybertronian (or human) fire fighters standing on at the rear of the vehicle.

Inferno's not all about looks, there is some play value here too. The cannon on the top of the vehicle can be rotated by turning the container next to it. The missile is fired by the black trigger on top, and actually shoots fairly far. On both sides of the vehicle, towards the middle are Mini-Con Powerlinx points. This is a perfect place to attach everything from vehicles to Mini-Cons that become weapons such as Firebot. Towards the back of the vehicle, you'll find a hole on either side that you can fit Omnicon weapons or even Hot Shot's weapon into. Hasbro has standardized the peg and hole sizes between Armada and Energon, so this adds a level of interaction between your toys that really elevates the figure's fun factor.

There are no surprises in Inferno's deco. He's mostly red with the cannon on top and other parts being silver. There is some gold used for detailing on the front and sides of the vehicle. A bit of blue gray is used too, most evident on the cannon base and the missile in the cannon.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the silver pieces on the sides of the vehicle back.
  2. Swing down the lower section of the vehicle. Flip the black ends up to form the robot feet.
  3. Swing the robot arms forward.
  4. Position the cannon so it faces forward.
  5. Flip the blue pieces on the robot head back to reveal the face.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Inferno is reminscent of his Generation One namesake in many ways. His primary color is primarily red, with some black parts such as his lower arms and feet. His robot head reminds me a bit of G1 Inferno as it has a nice, high central crest and two small "wings" sticking out at the sides. The face is metallic blue and the area around it is painted gold, which really looks fantastic. In this form you can see his Autobot Spark Crystal on his left shoulder and his "Spark of Combination" symbol on his right.

Inferno has fifteen points of articulation, not including his arm mounted cannon which can swivel 180 degrees. Despite his bulk, these points of articulation are all actually meaningful points of articulation such as his shoulders, elbow and knees. After going through Armada which featured mostly limited articulation, it's nice to have new Transformers that go back to the Beast Wars to Robots in Disguise era of movement.

The Powerlinx points that Inferno has in vehicle form can also be used here since they wind up on his shoulders. They are facing forward, so some Mini-Cons will work better than others. My particular favorite for the spot is Makeshift from the Emergency Team since you can move his cannons forward.

Spark of Combination:
The big gimmick here extends beyond Powerlinx points and transforming. Inferno can combine with fellow Autobot Hot Shot to form two robots, either Powerlinx Inferno or Powerlinx Hot Shot. The two robots basically transform into half a robot and combine in the middle. A similar transformation pattern was used for the Multiforce team from Generation One, a group of six robots that could each combine with each other to form larger robots. There were dozens of combinations possible. Here things are a bit more restricted (although there is a chance future 'bots may be able to combine with these first wave toys - but that's speculation on my part).

The name of the robot depends on which robot transforms into the upper body. If the robot forms the upper body, the robot is called by that name. The robots each combine by connecting with each other via a series of clips at the middle section of the combined robot. On Hot Shot, these clips are where his robot head would be in robot form. Each of the instruction sets below begin with the toy in robot form.

Transformation to become Powerlinx Hot Shot

  1. Detach the cannon from Inferno's arm.
  2. Fold the blue face covers over Inferno's face.
  3. Swing the robot head on the blue jointed piece down so his head is against his back.
  4. Straighten each arm and swing it up so it's connected to the shoulder armor (like it would be in vehicle mode).
  5. Swing up the black and gold piece under the windshield, then swing the windshield piece forward.
  6. In the robot legs, you'll see a black piece with a gold end. Fold these down.
  7. Swing the robot arms back as if turning the toy back into vehicle mode.
  8. Now move the robot legs forward, and fit the robot arms into the slots left open by folding the black and gold pieces down.
  9. The missile launcher can be placed in the hands of the Hot Shot half of Powerlinx Hot Shot.s

Transformation to become Powerlinx Inferno

  1. Swing up the black and gold piece under the windshield, then fold the windshield/chest piece down.
  2. Position the robot head so it is looking straight up.
  3. Swing the robot legs up so they are behind the robot head.
  4. Position the arms so they are aligned with the robot head.
  5. Swing out the black and gold inner leg sections to form Powerlinx Inferno's cannons.

Powerlinx Hot Shot:
Powerlinx Hot Shot actually reflects some of the fears I have about the whole "2 bots forming another bot" concept running through Energon. Unlike the alternate "Powerlinx Inferno" combination, this form is lacking in poseability and the scale of some parts are really off. The worst offender in this case are the arms. Formed by Hot Shot's robot legs, he has moderately sized upper arms which then connect to huge forearms. There are fist details sculpted into the arms to give the appearance of actual robot arms, and the holes there help you keep Powerlinx Hot Shot well armed. Still, the arms are just so big that they make Powerlinx Hot Shot look all out of proportion.

Moving on to the legs, while the legs and lower body have much more appropriate proportions, the legs are unable to move due to the way they are formed. This eliminates a huge range of potential poseability. In terms of pure appearance however, it is nice how the Autobot Spark Crystal shows (right side up to boot) on the right leg, and the "Powerlinx" symbol appears on the left. It makes up for the rather disconcerting upside down Autobot Spark Crystal on the chest.

The best way to accept Powerlinx Hot Shot is to just take him for what he is, an oddly proportioned combiner. He can still move his arms (thankfully) and hold weapons such as the Energon Saber. For extra fun, hook up Mini-Cons to the Powerlinx points on the legs.

Powerlinx Inferno:
One of my fears with the combined forms of the Energon Autobots was that they would be virtually useless as toys and just be glorified, combined statues. Fortunately Powerlinx Inferno puts that idea to rest. While definitely a bit bulky in the back (all those robot bits have to go somewhere), Powerlinx Inferno looks very good for a robot made of two distinct forms. The colors match up well, which also helps. Since neither 'bot is particularly super bright, the subdued colors don't conflict.

The other fear I had was that each combined form would be a really big brick with no poseability. For Powerlinx Inferno however, this fear is unfounded. Powerlinx Inferno actually has fourteen points of articulation (and meaningful articulation at that, including arms, shoulders, knees etc.). If you want to go nuts and add in the two back mounted weapons, Powerlinx Inferno actually has sixteen points of articulation.

With only the weapons included with Hot Shot and Inferno, Powerlinx Inferno is already well armed. A cannon on one arm, a missile launcher in hand and the two big honkin' cannons formed from Inferno's legs all work together to make Powerlinx Inferno look formidable. You can utilize the Powerlinx Mini-Con points on the shoulders to add more firepower, and his fists can fit weapons such as the Star Saber or Omnicon weapons.

The only slight disappointment, and it is a very slight one, is that Powerlinx Inferno uses the same robot head as Inferno. It would have been really cool if the combination of the two formed a "new" robot with a new head and identity. This hardly detracts from the fun of the toy, but it is something that bugged me.

Powerlinx Inferno is actually the superior of the two combined forms of Hot Shot and Inferno. It has the most poseability and the best visual appeal of the two.

Energon Inferno is one of my favorite figures of the line so far. He has two cool modes, he has great poseability, and his "Powerlinx" combined form is the superior of the two! Hasbro and Takara deserve praise for making a toy that is fun and looks great at the same time. Highly recommended.

Lightbox Gallery