"Studio Series" 86 Hot Rod Toy Review

01/25/21

General Information
Release Date: December 2020
Price Point: $29.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Amazon, Target, Walmart etc.)
Accessories: Blasters x 2, Hand Saw, Matrix of Leadership, Matrix Blast Effect, Wrist Blaster Blast Effects x 2

*Special thanks to fellow fan Bowser Flatliner for picking up this figure for me to review!

Official images and text in italics are from Amazon.com

  • STUDIO SERIES VOYAGER CLASS: Voyager Class figures are 6.5-inch collectible action figures inspired by iconic movie scenes and designed with specs and details to reflect the Transformers movie universe, now including The Transformers: The Movie!
  • 6.5-INCH SCALE AUTOBOT HOT ROD: Figure features vivid, movie-inspired deco, is highly articulated for posability and comes with buzz saw and spark welder hand attachments, a Matrix of Leadership with energy effect, 2 blasters and 2 blast effects accessories
  • BIG SCREEN INSPIRED: Figure scale reflects the character’s size in the world of The Transformers: The Movie. Figure and packaging are inspired by the iconic The Depths of Unicron scene
  • 2 ICONIC MODES: Figure features classic conversion between robot and sports car modes in 29 steps. Perfect for fans looking for a more advanced converting figure. For kids and adults ages 8 and up
  • REMOVABLE BACKDROP: Removable backdrop displays Autobot Hot Rod figure in the The Depths of Unicron scene

This Studio Series 86 Voyager Class The Transformers: The Movie-inspired Autobot Hot Rod figure converts from robot to sports car mode in 29 steps. Remove backdrop to showcase Hot Rod in the The Depths of Unicron scene. In the The Depths of Unicron scene from The Transformers: The Movie, Hot Rod embraces his destiny, becoming Rodimus Prime and defeating Unicron. Pose the figure out with the included Matrix of Leadership and attach the energy effect to recreate this classic movie moment.

In 2021 the Studio Series line expanded its scope. Instead of only focusing on the characters from the live action "Bayverse" movies from the 2000's, the line grew to include characters from the first theatrical Transformers film: the 1986 animated movie! This basically turned one portion of Studio Series into a de facto extension of the G1 "arm" of the Generations line. Until now, this was largely filled by figures from the Prime Wars and War for Cybertron series with some back up via Selects. Hot Rod was one of the first figures released in this new "sub-line" (or sub-sub-line, really). Since he was first introduced in the 1986 film, this was a very appropriate character to choose to kick off this new extension of Studio Series.

The character of Hot Rod has hardly been ignored over the years. He has appeared quite a lot. Examples of the character include:

Packaging:
Hot Rod uses the same style of Studio Series packaging as previous waves. This includes the black background, the vertical Transformers logo and the words "Studio Series" set against a light blue background. However, the numbering of these figures is separate from the previous Studio Series figures. The year "86" has been added on in large letters, and next to it is a smaller number for the specific figure. In Hot Rod's case he is "86 04" (the fourth figure in the series). The logo from the animated movie is found on the front, top and back of the box. Hot Rod's artwork features the character holding the Autobot Matrix of Leadership glowing with energy. On the back the figure's CG renders are shown in both forms with various accessories attached. A 29 (yes, 29) step transformation is called out between the two modes. The insert inside the box is a backdrop featuring the interior of Unicron, a callout to the place where Hot Rod would open the Matrix and rise up as Rodimus Prime!

Accessories:
Hot Rod is sold at a Voyager Class price point, but the figure is actually a Deluxe Class sized figure. Part of the reason he is being sold at this price point is the plethora of accessories included with the figure! Here's a rundown of what comes with this new version of the Turbo Revin' Young Punk!

  • Autobot Matrix of Leadership: At a key point in the film, Hot Rod opens the Autobot Matrix of Leadership and "powers up" into the new Autobot leader Rodimus Prime. Thus, a Matrix accessory is included with this figure. This is the same sculpt as the Matrix included with Earthrise Optimus Prime (my buddy Swiper noticed this before me). The Matrix has a lot of detailing including a lot of the greebles on the ball in the center and handles. The crystal in the middle is also sculpted in, making for a beautiful piece. The piece is cast in translucent blue plastic. Silver and gold paint details are used to color the accessory. This piece interacts with the star shaped Blast Effect, which attaches to the gabs in between the handles and the "ball" in the center. This recreates the look of the Matrix pouring its energy out as it destroys Unicron!
  • Blast Effect (Matrix): The "Matrix" Blast Effect is a translucent blue, PVC plastic piece that simulates the energy coming out of the Matrix. This piece attaches to the Matrix via two tabs on the back. Unfortunately it is a very specialized Blast Effect and does not have the normal port to attach to figures and other accessories, but it still looks fantastic.
  • Blasters: Taking a cue from the original Hot Rod action figure, this version of the character includes two distinct blasters. Each is roughly modeled on weapons associated with the character. While both have horizontal "fins" towards the back, they have very distinct sculpts, especially the barrels which differ in shape. Each blaster has a 5mm port at the base and the ends are designed to accommodate Blast Effects. Each blaster is cast in red plastic with silver painted on every part but the handle.
  • Saw: At a key point in the 1986 film, one of Hot Rod's hands disappears into his forearm and is replaced with a saw. Many Autobots did this in the earlier episodes of G1 but the gimmick was eventually dropped. Still, the saw was part of a significant action scene, so it is great to see it included here. The saw is a round "blade" attached to a base. There is a hinge allowing you to spin the saw. The base is a purple plastic (matching the legs on the figure) and the blade is silver. You attach this to Hot Rod by swinging out his left forearm/hand, rotating it around and revealing a 5mm peg. The saw then attaches to that piece.
  • Blast Effects (arm blasters): While this Hot Rod figure does have blasters, in the film he primarily used the exhaust pipes attached to his forearms as blasters. This figure includes two Blast Effects that call back to those blasters. The Blast Effects are both made of translucent blue PVC plastic and they are shaped like flames so they can be interpreted as "blaster fire" or "exhaust" in vehicle mode. Each has one port, allowing you to attach it to his "wrist blasters". I love the "dual purpose" design of these Blast Effects!

Robot Mode:
Before getting into the nitty gritty of this figure, it is important to note up front that this is not your traditional Voyager Class figure. Voyager Class figures typically measure about 7 inches (about 17.78 cm) tall and weigh around 6 ounces. In contrast, this figure is basically a Deluxe Class figure with extra accessories. I say "basically" because there is much more going on with this figure than your average Deluxe Class Transformer, but we'll get to that further down this review. Compared to Legends Hot Rod with Firebolt, Hot Rod is about the same height measuring at about 6.25 inches (about 15.875 cm) tall (including the spoiler) but he is nowhere near as wide. In terms of the sheer amount of plastic, Legends Hot Rod weighs in at 3.3 ounces while Hot Rod (with accessires) is about 2.8 ounces. Now, dear reader, it may seem like I am giving you little incentive to want this figure, but there is more to this figure than...well, you know. Let's get to the good stuff!

First let's talk aesthetics. For years now Hasbro and Takara have worked to create a Hot Rod figure that reflects the look of the animation model. Arguably, they succeeded when they created Masterpiece Hot Rod, a figure which one could consider a "gold standard" for the character. However, I consider Masterpiece figures a class all their own, and the price reflects that. I think it is most fair to compare this Hot Rod figure to past ones (some of which I list above) and from that perspective, this one simply beats those by a mile. First, his proportions look great. He is very lean and narrow without a lot of extra bulk, even on his back (where even the Masterpiece version compressed a lot of parts). This is partly what makes him less wide than the Legends figure, but it looks great as a toy version of the G1 animation model. From the head sculpt to the shape of the arms to the curves and lines on the legs, Hot Rod looks like he jumped off the screen into plastic form. Even better? The designers incorporated some extra greebles onto the arms and legs, but they are not highly visible so you can enjoy them without them interfering with the "animated" aesthetic. I personally love the greebles on the legs because they are inspired (in part) by the stickers from the G1 Hot Rod action figure including a triangle.

Hot Rod is made up of red, orange, yellow, and purple plastic. The red, orange and yellow make up most of the figure with the lower legs mostly made up of the purple plastic (leaning towards a mauve tone). There are a lot of paint colors on this figure including yellow, orange, red, silver and maroon. Yellow is used for the flames on his torso with a red Autobot symbol on top. Orange is used for the headlights on his torso and the ovals on the top of the forearms. As you'd expect, silver is used on the blasters mounted on the forearms as well as his shoulders and the crest on his head. For the most part these colors align very well with his animation model. Now, there were some color differences for Hot Rod in the film, with his arms looking magenta in some scenes and then red in others (I have read this was in part due to film transfer quality). I always preferred the red so I am glad the designers went with that color. The deco is absolutely beautiful and I think it looks fantastic.

There are thirty points of articulation on this figure which is above average for a Generations figure. This includes eight points in each arm and six in each leg. The arms include finger articulation, allowing Hot Rod to "properly" hold the Matrix of Leadership with both hands. I was also happy to see the feet can move back and forth and they have ankle articulation, a feature I am happy to see continuing throughout the Generations line.

But wait, there's more! We now touch on the question of value and we see this figure has more than your average Deluxe would, making its price point less about size and bulk and more about play value. Here's a list of what features this figure has packed into it:

  • Visor: Lift up the top of the "helmet" section on the head to reveal a visor that can be flipped out over Hot Rod's eyes. This is a callback to a scene early on in the film where Hot Rod uses this visor to magnify his view of the Autobot shuttle arriving near Autobot City.
  • Welding Torch: After Kup is heavily damaged by a giant mechanical squid on Quintessa, Hot Rod helps weld him back together using a welding torch built into his forearm. Swing the bottom of the right forearm out, rotate the fist around and then close the panel back up and Hot Rod now has a welding torch in place of his hand! You can fit a Blast Effect over the end of the torch, but it pretty much winds up covering most of it.
  • Saw Blade: As mentioned above, one of hot Rod's accessories is a saw blade that attaches to a peg in the left arm. Similar to the Welding Torch, open up the forearm panel, rotate the fist around to reveal a peg. The saw blade then attaches to that and it looks great! I also appreciate the designers making the saw blade able to spin instead of just sculpting this as one non-functional piece.
  • Arm Blasters: As mentioned above, Hot Rod includes two Blast Effect pieces that can connect to his arm mounted blasters.

On top of all that, Hot Rod can of course hold his blaster weapons in his hands which have 5mm ports. When not in use, the blasters can be stored on the back of the figure using the horizontal "fins" and attaching them to the vertical slots on Hot Rod's back. The saw blade can also attach to his back. All these features and articulation combined are really something you would expect of a Masterpiece level figure, and not so much for an average Generations figure. I am very impressed by all these features and it helps explain the price point in spite of its size.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach all accessories and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the back piece out, then rotate it around.
  4. Swing the section with the arms back, then swing it up so the arms are pointed up.
  5. Rotate the section with the arms around.
  6. Swing up the panel that forms the hood of the car.
  7. Swing each leg out to the sides so they are at angles.
  8. Swing the red sections on the lower legs out. Then swing out the sections with the exhaust pipes on them.
  9. Push the robot feet back into the lower legs.
  10. Rotate the lower body around.
  11. Swing up each lower leg up so the thighs fit into them.
  12. Swing the section with the spoiler down, then move the legs up and tab them into the spoiler piece to form the rear of the vehicle.
  13. Rotate the arms around. On each forearm swing out the red panel on the bottom, then rotate the exhaust pipe "arm blasters" and connect them to the exhaust pipe sections on the rear of the vehicle.
  14. Swing the red panels from the forearms up and over to form part of the sides of the vehicle.
  15. Swing the hood panel out. Inside there are two red panels. Swing those out to form the headlights, then swing the hood panel back into place.

While there are quite a few steps to this transform, it is remarkably intuitive given the end result. Also, keen eyed fans will notice that the part of the transform where the arms rotate around is based on the scene in the movie where he transforms in part by rotating his arms around before they form the sides of the vehicle mode!

Vehicle Mode:
One of the most difficult parts of creating a Hot Rod figure's vehicle form is recreating the extremely sleek and low profile vehicle seen in the G1 animation. Over the years Hasbro has created some really fantastic figures with the Titans Return version coming very close to that low profile vehicle. However, this version of the figure outdoes it in every way. The vehicle is thin and the spoiler angles backwards in a dramatic fashion. At the same time the vehicle is wide, giving it a powerful appearance. I also love that the middle of the vehicle's front end is not just Hot Rod's chest flipped up, but rather a totally different piece with an engine section to boot! I'm absolutely floored by this vehicle mode sculpt. My only issue with it is more of a matter of quality assurance than sculpt. The pieces that are supposed to go over the shoulders to form the outer halves of the headlights do not sit flush against the robot shoulders. Now, the right side is fine, but the left side does not move up all the way. Some fans have had the same issue while others have not, so your mileage will vary.

Not surprisingly, Hot Rod's vehicle mode colors are mostly based on red, orange, yellow and silver colors. However, in an interesting touch the middle section of the car's front end is more of a magenta color, a callback to the various shades of colors seen on Hot Rod mentioned above. The cabin section is translucent blue plastic, a color that goes all the way back to the original G1 Hot Rod action figure. My only reservation about this deco is the yellow hinge piece on top. It is likely this piece was gang molded with the spoiler hence the color, and sadly painting it probably is not a good idea since the constant movement could potentially mess up the paint. Overall, I really dig the deco on this figure. This includes silver painted onto the sides of the wheels, something that is hit or miss on most Transformers figures nowadays.

Hot Rod can attach his weapons to either the engine in front of the slots on top of the car. They tab in via the fins on the weapons, then you can attach the saw blade onto the blasters. The blu "flame" Blast Effects can attach to the back or front of the exhaust pipes. Unfortunately there is nowhere to store the Matrix and its Blast Effect so have a container or Zip Lock bag handy.

Final Thoughts:
Studio Series is an amazing figure. Sure he is a Deluxe Class sized figure at a Voyager price point, but the fact is there is a lot more going on with this figure in terms of complexity than your typical Deluxe Class figure. The aesthetics are amazing and the play value is fantastic. Sure it isn't perfect. The shoulder joints are a bit odd and it could use one or two more paint apps, but to me this is an easy figure to highly recommend!

Pros:

  • Beautiful sculpt.
  • Fantastic deco.
  • Good articulation.
  • Lots of play value.
  • Transformation is intuitive and pays homage to a scene in the movie.

Cons:

  • Some fans will have issues due to the figure's size, a topic I discuss above.
  • A couple paint applications are missing such as his "collar" in robot mode.
  • There is a q/c issue where some copies of this figure have headlights that do not sit flush against the robot shoulders in vehicle mode.